Tuesday, May 22, 2018

NBTM for Accidental Jesus Freak by Amber Lea Starfire

Accidental Jesus Freak
by Amber Lea Starfire


GENRE: Memoir



In 1973, Linda was a flute player and music major at a California community college, until she met and
fell madly in love with a charismatic piano player, plunging into his world of music-making and
drug-fueled parties. When, just three weeks after their wedding, he reveals that he's been "born again,"
Linda makes the spontaneous decision to follow him into his new religion and, unwittingly, into a life of
communal living, male domination, and magical thinking.

With unflinching candor, Amber Starfire chronicles her journey as Linda Carr into the evangelical church
culture, where she gives up everything for her husband and their music ministry. But in the process, she
loses her most valuable assets: her identity and sense of self-worth. It is only when Linda returns to live
with her birth family and faces her complicated relationship with her mother that she finds new purpose
and the courage to begin to extricating herself from the limiting beliefs of her past.

Accidental Jesus Freak is the story of one woman, one marriage, and one kind of fundamentalism, but it
is also the story of the healing that is possible when we are true to ourselves. Both a cautionary tale and
celebration of personal empowerment, Accidental Jesus Freak is a powerful reminder for anyone who
seeks to live a life authentic to who they truly are.


Excerpt Two:

By spring we were behind on rent and utility payments and were running out of food. Paul was deep into
one of his depressions, so the Beulah Band wasn’t practicing or performing. Without the focus provided
by our music and without Paul’s guidance, the commune began to erode at the edges, crumbling into the
sea of reality. One by one, people drifted away, most moving back to Portland to take up residence with
family or friends. Soon there was just a core of us left: three families, including Paul and Barney’s, two
married couples without children, and a few young bachelors.

I remember quite distinctly the day we gave up. The group had exactly $20 remaining in our coffers—not
enough to pay any of our bills. Not even enough to buy food for dinner. So, in typical throw-it-to-the-wind
fashion, we traipsed up the street to the local Dairy Queen and bought $20 worth of banana splits to
share. It felt reckless and fitting to celebrate the demise of our grand communal experiment in this

I have a polaroid taken that day outside the Dairy Queen. Fourteen adults and five children smile and
squint into the sun like one big happy family. Eric and I stand at the back of the group, round-faced in
our youth, his hand placed protectively on my arm. I remember feeling both relieved and sad. I was
tired of the strain of trying to keep food on the table, tired of the squabbling, the lack of privacy, and
feeling shut out by the men. I was ready to live like a normal married couple, just Eric and me on our
own. Yet there was a bitter-sweetness to those banana splits.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Amber Lea Starfire MA, MFA, is an author, editor, and creative writing coach whose passion is helping
others tell their stories. She has published two memoirs: Accidental Jesus Freak: One Woman’s
Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom (2017) and Not the Mother I Remember: A Memoir —
finalist for both the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2013-2014 Sarton Women’s
Literary Awards. She has also published several books of non-fiction, including Journaling the Chakras:
Eight Weeks to Self-Discovery, and Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts &
Meditations. Amber is co-editor of the award-winning anthology, Times They Were A-Changing:
Women Remember the '60s & '70s. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in
numerous anthologies and literary journals.

Website and Social Media Links:

Interview with Amber Starfire

  1. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
This question doesn’t seem as though it would apply to memoir but, ironically enough, it does. There are characters in real life whose personalities are so big, they hijack everyone’s attention. So why not characters written from memory? In Accidental Jesus Freak, Eric, my husband, is certainly one of those characters. In our life together, his wants and needs, goals and desires, consumed mine — and so, in a way, his story (or rather, my story about him) sometimes jockeyed for space with mine. And Paul, Eric’s musician friend and spiritual leader was another of those characters. It was important that their characters be written in such a way that readers could feel their influence, without letting them take over the narrative. So, being in control of their characterization on the page was essential.
  1. Convince us why you feel your book is a must-read.
Accidental Jesus Freak is a must-read for any person, especially any woman, who has struggled to gain a sense of self within a culture that suppresses her authentic self-expression, wants, needs, and goals to something “higher”: a religion, a man, or a belief system of any kind.
It’s also a must-read for anyone curious about the Jesus Movement of the 70s, and for people who wonder why otherwise normal, intelligent young people would flock to get caught up in a religious cult.
  1. Have you written any other books that are not published?
No, not at this time. I have six published books — two memoirs and four nonfiction — as well as two anthologies I’ve edited or co-edited. I’m currently working on a book of journaling prompts that explore relationships, which is scheduled for release toward the end of this year.
  1. Pen or type writer or computer?
Definitely a computer. (Does anyone actually use typewriters anymore?)
  1. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Only that I know you’ll be intrigued, enjoy, and resonate with many aspects of my story in Accidental Jesus Freak. And I invite everyone who reads it to contact me and let me know which parts of it they could most relate to or are curious about.

I’d also like to thank you for hosting me and my new memoir.



Amber Lea Starfire will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter
during the tour.


  1. I enjoyed getting to know your book and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. I have enjoyed the tour. The book sounds great.

  3. I've really enjoyed following the tour for Accidental Jesus Freak and can't wait to check it out - thanks for sharing all of the great posts along the way :)

  4. I was really enjoying following this tour, thank you for all the great blog posts and excerpts!

  5. Congrats on the tour and I appreciate the book description, excerpt and the great giveaway as well. Love the tours, I get to find books and share with my sisters and now my twin daughters who all love to read. We have found some amazing books for everyone. So, thank you!