Three cheers for another new Texas author! Martha Louise Hunter has just released her first novel, Painting Juliana, published by Goldminds Publishing. I had a chance to visit with Martha about her book and the writing process.
Painting Juliana starts with a recurring dream that Juliana has had since childhood. It’s so vivid it made me want to know more about how you came up with that, and whether you’ve ever experienced a recurring dream or nightmare.
Juliana’s dream is a foreshadowing vehicle. You know it’s coming back when the damn rain just won’t stop beginning when her father, Hugh, is still living at home. Juliana is lying in bed, listening to the rain dripping into a puddle outside her window and thinking about her two children, while Hugh is eating s’mores in the kitchen. The storm is bad, and they join forces, holding hands when the lightning cracks outside the window.
In a broad sense, for both Juliana and Hugh, the storm is a metaphor for the bad crap that just happens to us in life. The storm also represents Hugh’s race against Alzheimer’s –– no matter how fast he goes, it’s always going to catch him.
Knowing I wanted a device like this, I had an image of Juliana’s father, Hugh, riding down the highway on a vintage motorcycle. The funnel cloud on the horizon didn’t come until later, when I knew I had to make Juliana “face the storm.” You can’t overcome your problems in life unless you face them down –– it’s the only way to change your future. The funnel represents what Juliana was scared of, but she needn’t have been. Although it looked big and scary, it in fact was beautiful –– dazzling white and outlined in gleaming gold –– and it ended up helping her.
My recurring dream is much worse. I’m sitting in a college math final having no idea I’d even signed up for the class –– freaks me out every time I have it. I do have a pleasant one that I have, too, though not nearly as often. I’m a grownup but I’ve just arrived at the summer camp I went to as a kid. I’m so excited, saying to myself, “I’ll get to work out, get a tan… it’s awesome!”
Juliana loses everything in a pileup of terrible circumstances –– her husband, her children, her home, her income, and even her social standing. And with the exception of her children, what she thought she had turns out to be a mirage of sorts. How difficult was it to chart out Juliana’s growth as misfortune after misfortune comes at her?
I knew where she was –– pain –– and where she was going –– growth. Figuring out how to do that is like building a bridge. The characters have to bounce off each other to build that bridge.
Juliana was too scared to stand up to her daughter, Lindsey, afraid she’d lose her. She had to buckle to her husband, Oliver, because she didn’t think she’d Continue reading →