Q & A with Martha Louise Hunter, Author of Painting Juliana

I had the pleasure of a little back and forth via email with Martha.
A little game I like to play is - I imagine if the person lived next door to me, would I like them, would they be "normal", would we be friends? She seems very nice and very personable (and very normal, LOL). I could defiantly imagine us being friends if we lived next door. I would invite her over for coffee (or tea... or wine) on the front porch and we would chat about her next book.
Thank you Martha! For having this little front porch chat with me!

Quickly, give us the title of your book and a 30 word or less tagline.
"Painting Juliana"
A young girl’s terrifying nightmare, a collection of mysterious oil paintings, and a red, flaming firebird all have the same message: Stop running, stand still, and let the funnel cloud suck you up inside.

Why did you go with that particular cover image?
 I wanted something with an ethereal quality that is full of hope.

How did you come to write Painting Juliana? 
Someone asked me a simple question:  What’s the thing you most want to do in your life? I answered without hesitation: Write a book. Their next question: Why don’t you?

Do you have any strange writing habits – like writing in the shower?
I have some of my best ideas while driving down the highway. Maybe it’s not particularly safe, but I keep a legal pad on the passenger seat.

A particular dream about a funnel cloud is a big part of the novel. Do you have any recurring dreams?
Sadly, yes. I’m in a college math final having no idea I was even signed up for the class. It's dreadful.

What is your book’s genre? 
It’s a jumble of genres – Literary, Magical Realism and Mystery.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Accepting responsibility for our own choices in life, rather than laying the blame at our parents’ feet is a healing experience. It's easier to pass through the door and walk ahead when we've set down the baggage first.

What was the hardest part about writing Painting Juliana?

 What type of scene is the hardest for you to write?
A sex scene, because it’s hard not to imagine my mother reading it, but who doesn’t love a good sex scene? Although I’ve never asked, but since she has four kids, I imagine my mom does, too.

What would you like your tombstone to say?
Cherished mother, artist and friend.

Which character will you miss the most?
Definitely Hugh, because he’s based on my dad who we lost to Alzheimer’s.  I wrote this book as a tribute of sorts to him. Writing it, I kept hearing the words in my head, "Read the Book," and it seemed like a little nudge from him, reminding me to never give up doing hard things in my own life like I was making Juliana do.

Runner-up, Oliver. He’s a dirty dog, but I sure had a ball writing him.  Oh, and Señor Sanchez because he's a ball-buster and a softie at the same time.

If you were a super hero, what would your name be?
I know it’s already been taken, but I'd have to go with Wonder Woman.

 If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your movie, who would they be?
Hmm-m... that's a fun question. Juliana, Amy Adams. Hugh, Tom Skerrit. Carmen, Salma Hayek. Richard, Benjamin Bratt, Kimberley, Cameron Diaz. Señor Sanchez, Hector Elizondo. Oliver, Tom Selleck, of course. Or, maybe Rob Lowe. 

 What were your experiences with reading when you were growing up?
The literature in school was basically torturous.  The first book I remember enjoying was Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rodgers when I was 11 years old.

 Who’s your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
The biggest compliment I can give a writer is when I’ve lost all awareness that I’m even reading, and for that, Pat Conroy is the master. I really enjoy Ha Jin, Gabriel García Marquez and Anna Quindlen.

What’s your favorite novel of all time? 
That's easy -- Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to communicate with past civilizations.

If you learned anything from writing Painting Juliana, what was it? 
Don’t fall too in love with your own words. No matter how many hours you’ve spent on a passage, sure, it’s painful, but sometimes you’ve got to kiss it goodbye.

Do you have another novel in the works?
Yep. It’s about a boy who’s haunted by night terrors and the reasons behind them. Working title, The Little Man Inside the Boy. I keep hearing Painting Juliana needs a sequel, so I’ve started that, too. Working title, Juliana Paints.

Read my review of Painting Juliana - HERE

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