Today we get to learn five secrets from Julie. We all LOVE secrets, right? Me, too.
Bio: Julie Eberhart Painter, a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has ten books in print. Previously, she worked with nursing homes as a volunteer coordinator and later as a community ombudsman. She spent eighteen years with Hospice of Volusia/Flagler in Port Orange, Florida and contributed to and edited two of their self-help books.
Five Secrets we may not know about Morning After Midnight’s “conception”, but will after today!
1) Who my favorite male nurse is, and what he did to save my life – twice:
The character of Aaron is the fulfilment of a deathbed promise -- mine. Mothers’ Day eve, 2010, due to a medication error, I went from unbearable itching into anaphylactic shock. One of my night heroes, an experienced male CNA, didn’t even ask for authorization. “You’re goin’ to the hospital, girl.” He dashed out in the hallway and dialed 911.
I vowed I’d write a book about a male nurse in his honor, and I did. The working title came from the advertisement, “Are you man enough to be a nurse?” But the finished product I called MORNING AFTER MIDNIGHT. The main character is still my hero; his quick thinking saved my life. Only his Harley was missing from my description of the real Aaron in my book.
2) Our first “southern exposure” in 1960 came as a result of a business transfer from Philadelphia, PA to Dallas, TX:
Everything that meant home turned to unfamiliar culture shock. Shipped to a foreign environment where no one knew “our language,” we dropped out of civilization into a cultural abyss. Where we were used to conservative, quiet and formal, we got brash and noisy. Accustomed to small self-contained lawns, we owned a vast expanse of black gumbo soil that ranged from white ash to black goop after the rain (months later). We had to plant plugs of grass with blades wide as lettuce. My roses, which bloomed undisciplined and untended in Philadelphia, now needed coaxing by scientific agriculture and blind faith. Just before cold weather set in, one lone “Yellow Rose of Texas” showed its surprised face. I rushed to the back yard and plunged my nose into the parched petals. The yellow rose blossom had no fragrance.
The children stayed with a neighbor while I sped downtown to the Dallas courthouse to register for a homestead exemption. I used the Yankee convertible with the back window out. Now I knew why Texans drive so fast. It’s cooler.
“YOU ARE NOW ENTERING DOWNTOWN DALLAS,” the sign proclaimed. What? Where? Cotton fields lined each side of the two-lane highway. The horizon undulated in the dry, 105-degree August heat. Where were the tall buildings? Where was the city? I couldn’t gather the vast horizon into a collectable mass—no clouds, no mountains, nothing but dark blue sky above the flat brown land.
When invited to, “Y’all come back,” we came. We weren’t expected, but there we were on time and ready to party. Lost, disoriented and otherwise befuddled, this was home, or I tried to make is so. Each evening after dark, the neighbors, like cats and lightening bugs, came out of their houses. Children stayed up much later even as late as eleven to play outside -- strangers in a strange land.
3.)Which scenes in the book actually happened in real life?
The most revealing scene from MORNING AFTER MIDNIGHT is when our hero Aaron becomes an Eagle Scout. Let’s just say, this happened to someone I know.
Aaron invites his “other” grandparents, to witness his Eagle Scout ceremony. These are the parents of his birth father, whom his mother never married, in a small gossipy southern Georgia town where his mother has a whole new life – and reputation.
When Aaron told his grandparents what he’d done, the words were barely out of his mouth and Gram exploded. “You invited them! Why? Where have they been all these years? They think they can show up now, seventeen years later and be welcomed with open arms?”
“Gram, I think you know why the Frasers have been AWOL in my life. You and Mom saw to that.”
Dreading the kind of cool reception they’d get, Aaron could only pray the Frasers would not reconsider. The week before the ceremony, he sweated it out.
They showed up on time having come directly from a hotel in town. His grandfather, Rennie Fraser, brought his old Boy Scout sash and his badges to show Aaron what they were like back then.
“Thank you, sir. Those are impressive and different from what we work on now.” He looked around. “It’s nice to see both my families together in one auditorium.”
“We’re honored that you asked us.”
Aaron stood among his boyhood friends in the church’s largest meeting room, knowing he had family of his own. But he needed a hacksaw to cut the tension. He hoped everyone would stay civil and not embarrass him.
During the reception, Aaron heard one of Gram’s neighbors ask her, “I thought they were out of the picture all these years, Ella?”
Gram stammered through a weak, rambling explanation.
“Is this the first husband’s family?” the woman persisted.
“No, no, they’re just…well you know.” Ella made a beeline for the kitchen under the guise of bringing out more refreshments.
The neighbor turned to Aaron’s mother. “I didn’t know you’d been married before, Lonnie Jo.”
His mother turned red and asked if everyone had enough punch.
His mother and grandmother returned empty-handed a few minutes later. They looked as if they wished the floor would swallow them up before the whole story of his mother and “that Fraser boy” came out.
Aaron took his soda and stepped outside hoping Mr. Fraser would follow him; but Rennie was already sitting on a low stone wall by the parking lot.
“I hope that wasn’t too uncomfortable for y’all,” Aaron said.
Rennie tapped his heel with his empty pipe and looked at Aaron. “Not as uncomfortable as it was for some other people I could mention.”
“Ummm. Are you sorry I got you into it?”
“Goodness, no. It brought back a lot of happy memories. Although, the Eagle Scouts have certainly changed since I was young. We thought the environment was the air around us. We never thought anyone could get a badge for studying crop rotation in Asia.” He laughed. “I’m really out of touch.” He looked at his stainless steel Rolex. “We’d better get going. It’s late and getting a bit tense in there.”
They walked back in. “Margaret, I think we should head back to the hotel and let these nice folks celebrate without us.”
He took his wife’s arm, and they walked to the car where Aaron waited to open the passenger side door. Standing there in the half-lit street, Aaron looked into the car at the people who were his father’s parents. How different they were from the picture his grandparents had painted. He slapped the roof of the car for good measure. “You drive safe now. Thanks for coming.”
4.) Not exactly a secret: I was an interior designer before I became a writer.
That brief career has helped me in my writing description. At parties for fun, I mime chairs and couches in periods. Currently my best is a Hepplewhite dinner chair, with arms, of course.
5.) Last but not least, I managed to delay my writing career until I had something to write about.
My husband and I raised three children, traveled to more than 70 exotic locales, such a Tahiti, Chili’s Easter Island, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Kenya, South Africa, China and Antarctica. We moved into new homes around the country 17 times and played tournament bridge in each new hometown When I was a teen, I studied eight years of ballet, two of voice and one of piano. I love all music except the asthmatic hard rock sounds of today. And I’m proud to say that I predicted that with rap music there would be a revival of poetry.
Find Julie at:
The Writer's Vineyard where I blog every fourth Monday
Goodreads Blog Posts where I have a new blog every Tuesday
Goodreads Blog Posts where I have a new blog every Tuesday
Social Media Links:Champagne Book Club via Facebook