The Memory Painter
A Novel of Love and Reincarnation
by Gwendolyn Womack
Publication Date: July 5th 2016
Publisher: Picador USA
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance
From The Book Junkie Reads . . . The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation. . .
Through the ages we have wondered if there was more to life than birth, death, nothing. What if reincarnation was in deed part of that process but we just lost our past lives? What if you remember each and every life you have lived for 10,000 years? What if the possibilities of future medical research could bring your entire past into a clear focus and you could recoup the lives you have lost? What if you could recover that one love that was everything to you? What if. . .
Bryan may just be the man to open the door to the past. Linz may be that one person that can help with all that he has experienced in his dreams. Or are they dreams or memories of lives that he had live over the centuries. But to answer the questions that are now presented to him. Bryan and Linz must uncover secrets that were never meant to be uncovered. The suspense of what will be found. The thrill of seeking it out. The mystery of why all this had happened. The feeling that this was not suppose to be discovered opens doors that should not have been opened.
Mystery, suspense, romance, and a few thrills. This was a read that took you on a journey back in time, a journey back to love, pure, and then some. Love has never rang truer than following you throughout your life spans throughout the ages.
**This Advanced Copy was provided Picador USA in exchange for an honest review.**
Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.
Two lovers who have traveled across time.
A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.
A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.
At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack's luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler's Wife, Life After Life and Winter's Tale.
Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there's a secret to Bryan's success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan's paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.
Their meeting triggers Bryan's most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer's, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.
The Memory Painter, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception, is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.
“Gwendolyn Womack's tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)
“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review
“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ” ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning... ” ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions
Origenes Adamantius, a priest from ancient Rome, had invaded his consciousness a week ago, and every night since he had been painting memories from the man’s life. He had delivered the first canvas to the gallery before it had even dried. He knew it had to hang in his next show, but he had no idea why.
The opening was tonight. It would be his first show in Boston since he had moved from New York, and all week he had been toying with the idea of going. But then he would dismiss it just as quickly. He could not justify the risk. Being surrounded by so many people, having to stare into their eyes as he shook their hands—his paintings a screaming backdrop—would most likely trigger an episode. And how could he explain that?
When he hadn’t appeared at any of his openings in New York last year, the press had pounced, portraying him as some kind of arrogant recluse who spurned the public, when nothing could be further from the truth. He put his work out there with the hope that someone, someday, would recognize his paintings for what they were, that someone else in the world suffered from the same curse. But maybe that hope was delusional. He had been searching for years and was beginning to feel it was a lost caus. Hundreds of paintings and not one answer.
Bryan rubbed his eyes. He could feel a headache setting in—the need to shut off his thoughts had become too great. Maybe he should take the day off, go outside for a long walk.
But first he wanted to go to the exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. All week, colorful banners had been waving in the wind next to the streetlights downtown, announcing its arrival: “Mysteries of Egypt and The Great Pyramid.” Every time he saw them, it felt as if the last remaining Seventh Wonder of the World had come to Boston just for him. He’d been planning to attend, and today would be the perfect day to go.
He grabbed his keys and left, passing one of his neighbors in the hallway—a young woman he had seen only once or twice before. She lived at the opposite end of the hall wither husband, and she was looking at him with a mixture of embarrassment and allure.
With a faint smile, he murmured a quick “Hello” and turned around to go back inside. He had forgotten to put on a shirt.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing
theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to
receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre,
Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and
son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The
Memory Painter is her first novel.
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
I write romantic thrillers with a lot of history woven into the story, and I focus on keeping my writing fast-paced and accessible. I want to the story to move with a sense of momentum. I’m an impatient reader and I think that carries over into my writing. But within that pace, I try to make the story feel as visual and visceral as possible.
What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)?
I don’t have a routine. I’m chaotically organized. I tend to write every day and try to make my time count—and writing can take many forms, research, daydreaming, scribbling doodles of notes and then sitting down at the keyboard. The key is to not judge the process. I’m also a firm believer in taking time away to let the imagination recharge. Then once a story is set, I’m a heavy rewriter and I bring pages and notes with me wherever I go. I can work on the fly in the car, during my son’s karate class or with a cartoon on. And when I’m under a deadline I turn into a bit of a fanatic. But it all comes in cycles.
Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way though to the page? Do you people watch to help with developement? Or do you build upon your character during story creation?
I people watch all the time but I never do it with an actual character in mind. Usually I don’t start writing a story until the main characters have crystallized in my mind. That can either happen quickly or sometimes take longer. It involves a lot of visualization and random thoughts scribbled on paper. But even with that prep, I don’t think I get to know my characters until I’m writing them. I go through so many drafts on a manuscript, after a certain point the characters begin to take the reigns. That’s a wonderful turning point because the characters are coming to life and I am getting out of the way. But that takes time. A writer once said, “Don’t worry if you don’t know your characters when you start a story, you’ll know them intimately by the time you finish.” And there is so much truth to that.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so which one(s)?
For The Memory Painter, I’d have to say Bryan who is the memory painter in the story. I just loved writing him and all his lifetimes. Everything tied back to him.
Do you have a character that you have been working on that you can't wait to put to paper?
Yes. I’m just about to start writing my third book. My second novel, which is right at the finish line of edits will be announced soon and I’ve been busy with that. I’ve not written a word yet of this new story but I’m so excited to get started. My main character has become so vivid in my mind. It’s almost time to write the first page.
Have you ever felt that there was something inside of you that you couldn't control? If so what? If no what spurs you to reach for the unexprienced?
I think most writers will say they can’t really control their compulsion to write. It’s in your bones. I have no idea why it spurs me, but it has since I was a young girl. It’s my fuel.
Thanks for having me on your blog!
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