Back by popular demand, Julie Eberhart Painter shares thoughts about her new book, Morning After Midnight. In this story, unsettled times and dysfunctional families force young lovers to rethink their values and find love between the States.
What’s in a name?
Sometimes the title for a WIP comes trippingly off the tongue/inherently out of the imagination. Other times, the title changes daily.
My new, southern tale is one of the latter. I knew what I wanted inside the covers, I just could not figure out a good way to encapsulate the story in a zippy title—a hook, a poem—help! Southern stories conjure up magnolias and humidity, conflict and soft speech, and in the case of my story, a difficult family dynamic and an emerging race relationship from the 1960s on to 1996. Not that everything is okay, but it gets better.
The dysfunction in my families is reversed. Skillet, named after St. Pancras, martyred in 301 AD, is from a proper black family: hard-working father and mother, only child, and a pretty good student, whose friend is our hero, Aaron. Aaron is from a messed up, convoluted and confusing set of circumstances. The boys’ proximity, as so many were in the South, was shaken asunder once they went on to school—separately. Their friendship remained, but had to be covert.
As their history advances, desegregation eases the stigma, especially in the South where it was always about social standing, and rarely about hate except in extreme cases. So, what to call the saga? I kept thinking of the song, “Walking After Midnight”. The two young men’s world was dangerous for both to walk in the dark, and the music had a poky kind of rhythm, a soft subtlety. But a new age was dawning. “There’s Got to be a Morning After” came to mind. By combining the two images, the book became Morning After Midnight.
About the book:
Two boys, Aaron who is white and Skillet who is black, are bonded in a friendship forged in secret in the deep South. Yet it is the white boy who must adjust and readjust as his family splinters in the changing climate of integration during the fifties and sixties.
Aaron is hard on himself, but with Skillet’s vision he finds a place to rest his weary cautions and return to the happier seven year-old boy he starts out to be when the book opens. Both boys learn what it is to be responsible family men. For Aaron, it’s a struggle. Unlike his friend, he has few examples of the man he wants to be. It falls upon Skillet to frame Aaron’s story after returning to the new South in 1996 as a well-educated, well-traveled Episcopal priest.
Excerpt: Skillet and Aaron, ages eleven, meet at the depot.
Aaron slipped around to the old depot entranceway and sat down, making himself as small as possible. Skillet circled the building until he found him.
“Wondered how you were doin’ since you got back, Aaron?”
“I couldn’t get away any sooner, Gram watches me.”
“What happened this time, another crisis?”
“Skillet, I’ve got grandparents—”
“Ah know…what about ‘em?”
“Remember the ones that were dead?”
“No way! They ain’t dead?”
“Dead to us, Mom says.”
Skillet shook his head. “That’s one messed up family you got, Aaron.”
“Tell me about it. I talked to them, the Frasers, on the phone. They’re real, Daddy’s folks. They live in Florida.”
“Guess they’re real old?”
“Daddy’s over forty, he’s old, too.”
“What’s gonna happen?”
“Nuthin’ I guess. You know Mom and Gram, nothing happens in their world they don’t want to happen.”
Skillet nodded. “Then that’s the way of it. Sometimes I’m glad I’m black.”
“Yeah, I wish I was you. Your life is so…so simple.”
“Don’t ever say that, man. My family is simple, but my life is very different. You’s lucky you white. You just gotta figure out how to take advantage of that.”
“Sorry they messed with your head again.”
“Thanks. I’ll call you, and let you know if anything comes of it. Mama was awful mad; I thought she was gonna stroke out. And Gram…she was speechless.”
Skillet chuckled. “That’ll be the day.”
They got to their feet and left separately.
Read a new review of Morning After Midnight on Amazon.
Julie Eberhart Painter, raised in Bucks Count, Pennsylvania, boyhood home of James A Michener, is the author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, and sequel, Medium Rare from www.champagnebooks.com. Daughters of the Sea, e-book and print, Julie’s first paranormal romance, and Morning After Midnight are available from MuseItUp Publishing. http://bit.ly/1gpaO4R and other online ebook venues: http://amzn.to/1cQ128L and http://bit.ly/19D8027 ,
Julie is a regular blogger on http://thewritersvineyard.com/ , and feature writer for http://cocktailsmagazine.wix.com/fictionandgossip#!issue-14 an online slick. Her flash fiction appears under http://bewilderingstories.com/bios/painter_bio.htm