Anne Freeman’s life has unfolded much like that of her protagonists since the publication of her first book, Returning to Adelaide, two years ago, a love letter to her Greek heritage.

With another book she is now relishing all that comes from sharing what she loves most to do. Writing.

“I think in Australia, particularly around women who write for women, there’s such a supportive community. The writers support one another and readers and writers support each other. I’ve never, in my whole professional adult life, experienced anything so supportive and nurturing. And it’s a joy to be a part of it,” Freeman tells Neos Kosmos just after the release of her latest book Me that You See.

With Lexi Karras, the Greek Australian protagonist, Anne Freeman dives into current-day Melbourne as she sets the scene and characters for her engaging new novel. With online sex work as part of the backdrop, she explores themes of feminism, living your truth, women supporting women, toxic masculinity, and our desire to connect.

“What started the whole thing was a podcast that I listened to a few years back called the Butterfly Effect, where writer and journalist Jon Ronson, examines the impact that free pornography on the Internet has had on the people that make up the industry. What happens to their livelihood that is..”

One of the things that this podcast explored was the ways in which these people were able to pivot and develop new income streams for themselves. And webcamming was one of them.

Photo: Mauro Trentin

“For many of the women in the story, they’re camming, for various reasons. One is an entrepreneur who’s looking to start her fashion label, and another is just leaning into her sexuality.”

Freeman delves into this world, challenging taboos in order to show that there is humanity on both sides of the lens. Women with rich personalities, and men who tune in for a whole host of reasons. From social anxiety, living remotely, to having a disability.

But this world serves as the beginning of trouble for Lexi who finds herself doing something drastic as a perfect storm of elements come to play in her life. We follow her journey, as her life spirals from self-sabotage, insecurity, and shame to finding the courage to own her truth.

“I think if we can’t live authentically and own our choices, then we’re in slippery territory,” Freeman said describing how Me That You See, is really about shedding the masks behind which we hide, even from ourselves, and having the courage to write our own story.

A mother of two young children, with a day job as well, Freeman says how important it is to carve the time to work on what she finds most meaningful.

“Writing novels and short stories, that’s the thing that I see as my legacy work… Books are forever. It’s really an exercise in mindfulness to prioritise my own work. Just being able to consistently show up, little and often, can be very impactful. It doesn’t just go for writing.”

She finds that if she can give herself that small amount of time, acting from the heart, there’s a ripple effect that benefits everyone.

“I’m a better person in my life. I’m a better mother, I’m a better wife, I’m a better colleague, I’m a better friend.”

Though she writes for an audience of women, interestingly some of her best reviews have come from men.

Anne Freeman (right) in conversation with Marion Osmond at the book launch in Northcote. Photo: Mauro Trentin

“I think there’s a certain quadrant of men who don’t want to read or view women-led stories, but there are others, the kind of wonderful men -the allies, the supporters- I am fortunate to have in my life who are there for good storytelling. It doesn’t matter who’s in the driver’s seat, as long as the storytelling is good.”

Me That You See was longlisted in the 2023 Grindstone Literary International Novel Prize and shortlisted in the 2022 Hawkeye Manuscript Development Prize, and since 2021, the Greek Australian author has won numerous awards for her writing.

“I really put myself out there before I was published. I set up a little Instagram account, Anne Freeman Writes, and started posting in earnest. It was very tentative at first and I felt a little bit of imposter syndrome. But it was through putting myself out there that I found other people like me and I was able to connect with the Australian Writing and Reading community which is so nurturing,” Freeman offers her advice to aspiring writers.

“You find your tribe, you find your supporters, you might find someone who is at the same stage as you, and you can help each other, swap pages, workshop ideas. Going to writing groups is another wonderful way of connecting with your people.”

When you share your most your innermost dream, you can feel very vulnerable, she adds, but if you can get past that, you’ll just get better.

“And once you’ve got a community around you, sitting down at your desk every day to write feels easier.”