Interview with Author Justine Johnston Hemmestad 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m a mother of seven kids, five of them grown, and a grandmother of two beautiful boys. But years before all of that, when I was 19 and newly married, the car I was driving was hit by a city bus. I sustained a severe brain injury and nearly died; my prognosis was not good. However, being a mother a few years after, as well as writing, helped me to slowly recover. Almost 15 years after my brain injury I started college again and now I have a Master’s Degree in English Literature (I felt that if I wanted to hone my writing skills I needed to read and learn from the masters of the craft). 25 years after my car accident my first book was published, and now 32 years after my car accident my third book has just been published. So writing has essentially been my rehab.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was just learning that I have Scottish ancestry, and I also love Shakespeare and read that he had based the three witches in Macbeth on the Three Fates of ancient Greek lore. I thought that was so interesting and I asked, “What if…” which I wanted to explore. I felt there would be so many questions that would drive my story and there were. I’ve also always loved fantasy, so I knew those things would be the components for my story, but when I commissioned my oldest son Bradley Hemmestad to create a book cover for me was when I became really inspired – his art helped shape my story completely.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That we learn from past, present, and future – I would love readers to see things in a way they hadn’t thought of before, through the lens of fascination.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The realm of possibility drew me to fantasy. I love history and the lessons that fill history, then embellishing that history within fantasy so I can stretch boundaries.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I think I would be too scared to sit down with any of the main characters in my book; I think they would find it hard to contain their innate power. I imagine Clotho as so otherworldly that she likely wouldn’t communicate on human terms and would probably lose patience, I also think that Apollo would be terrifying because there’s no earthly limit to his power the judgements he makes, and I think Macbeth would be frightening because he was driven by the fortitude of his ancestors and the passion in his beliefs. They would all be larger than life. I really included any questions I want to ask them in my book itself – like what are ancient Greek gods doing in medieval Scotland?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

https://aelpress.com/index.php/2022/08/31/macbeths-spinners-cover-reveal/ and https://www.amazon.com/Macbeths-Spinners-Justine-Johnston-Hemmestad-ebook/dp/B0BGQXWJ7P/ref=sr_1_5?crid=234DTASM14KLR&keywords=Antimony+and+Elder+Lace+Press&qid=1664473594&sprefix=antimony+and+elder+lace+press%2Caps%2C102&sr=8-5  and https://www.facebook.com/JustineJohnstonHemmestadauthor in addition to the wonderful interviews I’ve been so lucky to give.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Ask many, many questions of the characters in your story. They’ll reveal the direction they want to take. Listen to your dreams, like Toni Morrison did to write her masterpiece, Beloved. Don’t try to force your characters into a direction they don’t want to take or you’ll lose the sense of effortlessness that makes a story easy to get lost in.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

The future holds A LOT of writing. I’m trying to get the word out about my digital novel Macbeth’s Spinners, and I’m also working on another novel about the disappearance of Roanoke in early American history (I’m planning to infuse that story with fantasy as well). 

Thank you for this interview, Anthony!

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About the Author

Justine Johnston Hemmestad is an editor, the author of three novels, and is included in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (after having been in a car accident that left her severely brain injured at 19). She is a graduate of The University of Iowa and has also graduated from the English Literature Master’s Degree program with distinction at Northern Arizona University. Her personal webpage is at https://know-your-craft.webnode.page/ , her amazon author’s page is at https://www.amazon.com/Justine-Johnston-Hemmestad/e/B01DHSLN0M?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060 and she’s on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JustineJohnstonHemmestadauthor 

My publisher and I are donating part of the profits to Laughing at My Nightmare charity https://www.laughingatmynightmare.com/         

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