27 Nov 2013

Martha Emms : Portrait of Our Marriage

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PORTRAIT OF OUR MARRIAGE

Memoirs of Love, Family, the Internet, and Obsession

“Portrait of Our Marriage” by Martha Emma was an unexpectedly emotional and gripping reading experience. Like Nick, the narrator and many of her friends in the book I fell in love with the idea of that perfect and happy marriage, the man of her dreams: dead sexy, considerate and loving. 
Like her I led myself to believe that it was her overreacting and would have given her exactly the kind of advice all the friends in the novel gave her.

This fictional memoir is particularly apt in its portrayal of the subtle changes and nuances of ‘normal masturbation’ to actual porn addiction. Written with raw honesty and often explicit detail this novel takes no prisoners and calls a spade a spade, particularly when letting the women of Nick’s support group talk, scenes that do however work particularly well and let the readers sigh with relief in the same was as the women of said group. The book dares to look at sexuality and marital relations with an honesty that many don’t. It may be uncomfortable for some but I feel the direct approach is needed to discuss the problem with enough depth.

I feel rather mesmerized by the experience of this book. The journey takes us from happily ever after to first minor issues, bigger shame, drama and conflict to all out facing of the truth where denial is only possible for the addict.
If you wonder what it might be like to live in such a marriage that started so promising and needs so much work this book is for you. Insightful, thought provoking and powerful this is a must read.

Interview with the author:

What made you decide to write about porn addiction?

You might say it haunted me in my dreams, LOL. I had watched an episode of, The Oprah Show, years ago. It was an episode dealing with pornography addiction. Told from the mans point of view, it covered what they were going through and how it affected their lives. I looked at the men and thought that they looked normal, clean cut, not like they would be perverts in any way. That night I had a dream. It was as if I was watching a movie, and a woman was reviewing her life as she viewed pictures on a digital display device.  I kept having different dreams, which revealed different times in this woman’s life. After a while I began to think it must have some meaning. Then again, later on The Oprah Show, I watched as she interviewed Joel Osteen. He commented, in not so many words, that sometimes God sends us messages in strange ways and we should listen to those messages. That he wants us to succeed and not give up. I know it may seem strange and I’m not saying God told me to take this story on, but I felt like I must be having these dreams for a reason.

Do you find people are open or too prudish to discuss/ read about it?   198628_164770633661800_1840551591_n

I received comments and reactions from both, people who are open to read and discuss the story and from those who have called me horrible names and are actually hostile about it.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?

After watching The Oprah Show and continuing to have dreams I began to research online about porn addiction. Back at that time, most everything I found on the internet was from, by, and for men. Very little was from, by, or for women.  I began writing it as a screenplay. At that time my youngest son was an actor and I had been reading scripts for years. So I thought I could write one. I found out it is not that easy. I could not write the story the way I wanted.  So I decided to join a writing group. But then I needed to know how to get personal information about how this addiction affects women. I wanted to capture all the emotions of a couple going through this. Well, one day while shopping I noticed that either on purpose or by accident, people had left their real estate, and carpet cleaning business cards on some of the shelves. Not having money for a research group, I decided to copy their idea but in a bit different manner. I typed up some notes asking if women had any experience with a loved one being addicted to pornography.  I asked if they would share their experience with me as I wanted to write a book from a woman’s point of view but needed real information. I left my address and phone number on the notes. I honestly didn’t think I would get any response. But I did. I received about sixteen letters. Out of all the input, eight were very in depth and when I read them I was drawn in and felt like I understood what they had gone through. At that point I felt I had what I needed. Between my dreams, research, and the personal information from 8 women, my story was born. As I wrote, the characters in my story seemed to have a life of their own and I felt like I knew them.

How much of the story was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

Even though I had dreams, it wasn’t a complete story. So no, nothing was fixed, not even the ending. The dreams were fragments and the information shared by the eight women was very personal.  I wanted to make this story as real as possible in honor of them.  Between the research on how men felt, what affect this addiction could have on women and a marriage, I tried to weave a story together that would take the reader through years of a marriage and the progression of this addiction.

How did you research for the book?

I researched for a couple of years online. I went to all kinds of pornography addiction sites. From the professionals who offer help, recovery programs, religious groups who offer counseling, to all kinds of different columns where men wrote into for help. I also watched any show on TV that had any kind of episode dealing with porn addiction. But I would say for the main character, the input from the eight women was the most important and naturally the woman in my dreams.

Which of your characters was most enjoyable to write?

I think Gina was. She is kind of a mouthy character who says what’s on her mind and thinks about it later.

Who would play them in a film?

I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination!

Are you like any of the characters in the book?

In some ways, just a tincy bit. I think all writers put a pinch of themselves in the characters they write.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I used to be very active, love dancing, skiing, hiking, bike and horseback riding, but after a knee replacement and some health issues I have slowed down some.  I enjoy traveling, my family, my cats, pet rescues, reading, cooking, baking, gardening, and writing.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favorite books/ films/ albums?

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk,is one of my favorite books, it was the first book I read that I couldn’t put down. I didn’t want it to end. His characters came alive on the pages. I also, really liked the Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. I have many favorite authors though – Ken Follett, Tom Clancy, Robyn Carr, Jill Shalvis, Debbie Macomber, Lawrence Sanders, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jodi Thomas, Constance O’Banyon, and Bobbi Smith just to name a few. I enjoy all their books 🙂  I love all kinds of music except opera. One of my favorite movies is, Back to The Future, because we get to see the father realize his dream. What can be, what can happen when you don’t give into fear. I enjoy comedies, adventure films, crime drama, and yes, romance.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I think it is awesome. It gives creativity so much more of an opportunity to be shared.  Some say it opens the floodgates to too fast, unedited trash being published, and that may well be true, but people will weed through the trash. Ultimately, it offers all who wish to write a chance to get their story out there and my thoughts are, the more people write and read, the better.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

For the best,  I guess they might say I care, share, and always share what I know. Oddest? Well, it’s not a quality but I do have a lot of cats. I won’t mention how many because it adds new meaning to the phrase “crazy cat lady”! Many of them are cats no one wanted because of odd tics and strange personalities. But they still deserve to know love.

What are your favorite animal/ color/ outdoor activity?

I love cats, dogs, horses, and birds, especially pigeons. I like wolves, elephants, and almost all wild animals. I do not like snakes or spiders though.  I have different favorite colors each day, depending on my mood. I love the outdoors and nature. I used to have a large RV and traveled with the family. I enjoy traveling and researching all the historical sites and hiking in our national parks.

What would you take to a remote island?

Is there a limit? Am I on a remote island paradise with a beautiful home, pool, and bar or am I going to a remote island that I may end up stranded on? If I’m going to be visiting a luxury resort type place, I would pack clothes, books, my laptop, and personal items. But if I’m going to be roughing it, I would take: A knife, an ax, matches, a tent, sleeping bag, blanket, canteen, Australian Tea Tree Oil, iodine tincture, toilet paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, a hat, hair brush, change of clothes, first aid kit, batteries, radio, flashlight, vegetable seeds, a fishing pole with hooks, & protein powder.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

I would love to have dinner with my Mother, because she passed away and I miss her. If there was any way to spend more time with her it would be a dream come true. She was an amazing woman. She was kind, patient, gentle, generous, and thoughtful. Everyone who knew her loved her.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I’m working on two stories right now, The sequel to Portrait of Our Marriage, and a story about pets. I will be self-publishing these and will promote via all the social networks when they are available.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

My name is Barbie Herrera, but I write under the pen name Martha Emms, in honor of my mother and aunt. My mom had dreams of me someday becoming a writer. She wanted me to write from my heart. My aunt on the other hand, hoped that if I became a writer I would write to get people talking, stir the pot. I believe my first book accomplishes both.

I am a strong proponent of Just Label It, and am against genetically modified foods. I’m also a supporter of the No Kill Coalition. I believe the unnecessary, inhumane killing of countless animals in this day and age is horrific and shameful. I was raised an Air Force brat, and as such, I have a strong belief in supporting all our military men and women, and their families. We must never forget that the freedoms we enjoy are not free.

An avid reader I enjoy a variety of genres. I also enjoy nature, love the beach, music, animals, and my family.

I would love people to read my book, a dream all authors share. It really is a journey. There are parts that are fun, sexy, compelling, and shocking. I hope that readers will be drawn into Nicky’s life. I truly want them to feel the experience and for that reason I don’t describe her. Other than brown hair there are no definitive descriptions of her. Almost every book today dealing with women describes them as the perfect sexy woman. And I’m not saying that Nicky isn’t all that but, I want women to identify with her and not be distracted by her looks. I want them to see her as they want her to be. Every one of us, no matter what we look like or what we believe in, can feel pleasure, be hurt, know frustration, feel trapped, experience betrayal, and know pain. I want women to feel like they could be Nicky. That this could be their story. What would they do?

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written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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