After I interviewed the lovely Melissa Foster on my blog, she invited me to join one of her private Facebook groups. I immediately jumped at the chance, and I’m so glad I did. That group is the nicest, most supportive bunch of people I’ve ever “met”…and certainly on the Internet!
I was running out of people to interview on my blog, so one day I put out a call to the group. I was amazed at the immediate, overwhelming response. It was awesome!
One of the first to respond with complete answers to the author interview questions was Barbie Herrera, who writes under the pen name of Martha Emms. So she was the first one I scheduled to appear on my blog. Here she discusses her book, Portrait of Our Marriage: Memoirs of Love, Family, the Internet, and Obsession.
1. How would you describe your book to someone who has not yet read it?
Portrait of Our Marriage: Memoirs of Love, Family, the Internet, and Obsession is a fun, sexy reality romance that is intense and so real some may find it shocking. A must read!
2. Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
I don’t believe there is any singular cut and dry message in the book, although there are several that people may pick up on. One would be to be confident in your comfort zone. Don’t let what others believe is okay for them infringe on what you are comfortable doing.
3. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?
Oh, this is an easy one! The theme of the show would be how porn addiction can affect a marriage, as told from a woman’s point of view.
4. How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?
Although I don’t personally know these women, I based a lot of the story on the information and events eight women shared with me about their lives. These were women who were living with a spouse addicted to porn, and even though there were some similarities, there were also differences in how far the addiction had progressed and how it was affecting the women.
5. How did you get the idea for the novel?
I had watched an episode on The Oprah Show, years ago, that was about men who were addicted to porn. Later that evening, I had a dream, and it was the story of a woman remembering events in her life as she looked at pictures.
While she looked at the pictures, she was forced to face the fact that her husband’s interest in porn had escalated into an obsession. I kept having dreams about the story, and it was like watching a movie. I knew I had to write about it.
6. Which came first, the title or the novel?
The idea for the novel came first and then the title.
7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Wow! I think I have to say the dialogue I’m proud of is where Nicky, the main character, is trying to warn her son about porn. That scene was a tough one. For Nicky, it was vital that she warn her son about what could happen, especially after seeing the changes in her husband…and with all the easy access online, she didn’t want her son becoming addicted also. To her, it was important to warn him about pornography without telling him about his father’s addiction.
Talking about porn with your children, teenagers, or young adults is a touchy subject, and I wanted it to be authentic. So I tried discussing the issue with my two sons and was amazed at how their reactions were so similar. Along with the protests, I was besieged with ewwws,. LOL. I know with all the sex on TV some may feel it’s not a big deal, but it is an issue to be aware of, and even though it’s not a big scene in the book, I thought it was an important part of the story.
8. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book?
Normally, I wouldn’t talk about the ending. But…heck, people are reading reviews. They’re out there, so why hide from it? As a first time author, I will bite the bullet and discuss this.
When you write a story that is, in many ways, based on real lives and real issues, you don’t get to throw the fantasy ending in. The ending was a tough call for me. You want to make the reader happy, but as an author you also have to stay true to the story. I anguished over making the call, but still…
No, I wouldn’t change anything in the book…except there may be a sequel. I have had people inquire about it…wanting to know more about the main character and what happens to the women in the women’s group. So I am thinking about this.
9. What inspired you to write your first book?
I was inspired to write Portrait of our Marriage after having so many dreams about it. I felt that it must be a message in some way. Then, later almost affirming my decision to write the story, I watched Joel Osteen on TV.
He was saying that we are often given ideas…prompts that we should listen to. That God wants us to succeed and sometimes friends – even family – can talk us out of achieving our dreams. But if we have a strong feeling and desire to achieve a dream, we should go for it. He didn’t say that verbatim, but that was the gist. Anyway, after hearing him, I knew I needed to write this story.
10. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve learned many things as a new writer and will be learning for a long time. One thing I believe is important is your editor. You should respect what they say and suggest, but you should also listen to your voice. It is your story, after all.
Also, get a highly recommended proofreader. Learn social networking and, most importantly, never give up.
11. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?
My favorite part is reading it while having the book in hand and knowing I took the story from the beginning to the end and gave it life. I believe strongly in the story and want others to read it. My least favorite part is not having money to really promote it the way I wish I could.
12. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?
Well, I’m working on a family fiction book right now which is different for me, and I would like to try some horror or sci-fi. But I’m really fascinated by and want to learn more about Steampunk. I love all the images I’ve seen and pinned on Pinterest, and I’ve enjoyed some of the samples I’ve read. Very interesting.
13. What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber.
14. What’s up next for you? I’m working on a family fiction that involves pets and another adult fiction. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I am now contemplating doing a sequel to Portrait of Our Marriage.
15. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Believe in your story. Have fun, imagine, create, and do it. Write. Also, there are many, many, super nice, knowledgeable authors out there on the social network that share their knowledge and support each other. Writers are wonderful people! And the most important advice is, don’t let fear of rejection stop you. You can’t succeed if you don’t try.
16. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m new. Portrait of Our Marriage is my first book. I use the pen name Martha Emms, in honor of my mom and aunt. I hope you will give my book a chance. It is as close to a true story as one can get. It is not a story about judgments or right or wrong but it is about life. It’s not about what will be but it is about what can happen. Still today the stigma lingers on, that if there is problems with sex in a relationship, that it is the woman’s fault. We need conversation. Today is the time to put a stop to blame and nonsense. Portrait of Our Marriage is not written just for women, it is a good read for men also. My book is not a lecture but it is an entertaining and intense journey about falling in love, passion, family, adventure, drama, and the saga of love versus addiction.