Sunday, April 30

Interview With Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Justine Johnston Hemmestad
Justine Johnston Hemmestad
Justine Johnston Hemmestad tells us that "Alexander the Great’s efforts toward world unity reflected his spiritual journey, in which [she (Justine)] drew from ancient religions and world views to paint a uniquely vivid picture," and that "Alexander’s relationships with his fellow man knew no restrictions, nor did his love of the sublime."  Justine is, apparently, the author of Vistions of a Dream, a book about Alexander the Great, which she made available this month, on Amazon, at:

La Libertad:  Where were you born?

Justine:  I was born in San Diego, California – at the same hospital that I was taken to when I nearly died in a car accident nineteen years later.

La Libertad:  Where do you currently reside?

Justine:  I live in central Iowa with my husband and our four kids who are still in school.  We have three older kids too, who have graduated and moved on (but, thankfully, not too far away), as well as one grandson.

La Libertad:  What would you like to tell our readers about your new book?

Justine:  Visions of a Dream focuses on Alexander the Great’s spiritual journey set against the backdrop of his military conquests, which serves to reveal the origins of his motives. In order to conquer the world, he [had to] first explore and conquer his own mind. He [had to] also overcome his overbearing mother and his competitive father, and the impact they left on his life. He seeks answers to life’s greatest questions amidst a world of
war, with his two most intense relationships. He believed all Gods were one, and he lived that belief, and he continually evolved. Regardless of the distance he traveled, physically, spiritually, and mentally, his army [ended] up mutinying because he adapted the ways and religions of each culture he came into contact with and his men wanted him to spread Greek ways.

La Libertad:  What do you love most about writing?

Justine:  I love the degree to which writing has healed me. In 1990, my car was hit by a city bus and I sustained a severe brain injury, was in a coma, paralyzed, and the doctors said I would never recover. Within a few months I was walking again, and my husband and I moved to the Midwest; we had been married for three
months at the time of my accident. I began writing to cope with my severe P.T.S.D. [post-traumatic stress disorder]; then I began [writing] Visions of a Dream a few years after we moved. I studied Arrian’s history which had some of Alexander’s actual speeches as reported by some of his officers that were with him, and his character, as I wrote him, radiated out from those words. Through his words, I studied him rather than his contemporaries’ and later historians’ opinions of him.

After my T.B.I. [traumatic brain injury], I was devoid of a personality, I had essentially lost all of myself, and so I adhered to the personality of those whom I admired, Alexander being the main one. I admired his perseverance and his persistence, which I felt I needed to recover, and I loved his sincere interest in all cultures and wisdom. I loved his inclusiveness, even to the point that he adopted the family of his arch enemy when they were left behind. My injury has given me the blessing of learning about Alexander, and in the twenty years that I’ve written about him, I felt that I’ve been able to honor the spiritual side of him. Since I’ve been writing so ardently, I returned to college in the mid-2000’s, part time through distance learning, and I’m currently working on my Master’s Degree in English Literature through Northern Arizona University. I truly don’t believe I would have had the inner drive to do that if I had not written about Alexander and been so in tune with his spirit, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if not for my severe brain injury and near death.

La Libertad:  What other talents and hobbies do you have?

Justine:  Learning about the historical world and it’s people is my life-long hobby. I also write [about] Alexander as learning through his dreams (the Seer Aristander traveled with his army), which is also something that has helped me to expand my mind in my own life as well, and I continue it. I also love to continually learn about world religions and experiences.

La Libertad:  What inspires you?

Justine:  My seven children inspire me in everything I do and in each breath I take, as does my new grandson. The ability to overcome such a huge struggle as was set before me is also inspiring to me because I’m so grateful and so in awe of my higher power.

La Libertad:  What was the hardest part of completing your book?

Justine:  Writing my book was such an essential part of recovery for me that there was nothing hard about completing it. Afterward, though, it was incredibly hard for me to proof-read and edit it (which was part of the reason it took so long to write). After my brain injury, I had to learn to read again, but I was never able to easily until recently. To read and to be organized in my thoughts are the biggest things that returning to college has helped me with.

La Libertad:  What foreign languages, if any, do you read, write, and/or speak?

Justine:  I know beginner-moderate German. I took four semesters of it through The University of Iowa; however, I haven’t had the opportunity to use it. The very reason I learned it, though, was because I knew it would be a great challenge since I still struggled with reading my native language.

La Libertad:  Where have you traveled?

Justine:  I’ve lived all over the Southern United States as well as California as a kid, and I’ve traveled to Mexico, as well as New York and New Jersey in high school. I hope to visit Arizona again soon; I also lived there for a short time as a kid. I would love to visit archaeological ruins in Central America as well as
the Middle East some day.

La Libertad:  What are your career goals?

Justine:  I would love to be a well-read author, and I would love for Visions of a Dream to some day be made into a movie, and for it’s message to help people in the world see that we must be sincerely fascinated with each others’ way of life to progress as people.

La Libertad:  What projects are you working on?

Justine:  I’m currently studying for my Master’s degree in Literature, wherein I’m specifically working on a scholarly paper about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in relation to Disability Studies. I would also like to teach creative writing and literature, and I have a few more books started.

La Libertad:  What upcoming events, if any, do you intend to participate in?

Justine:  I’m involved in my Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, but my time is mostly devoted to my kids, writing, and my studies. I also love to be involved with projects for charity, if the opportunity arises.

La Libertad:  What links would you like to share?

My author site:

My amazon site:

The Visions of a Dream book trailer is on my son’s webpage at:

and it’s also on YouTube:

La Libertad:  What else, if anything, would you like to tell our readers?

Justine:  My amazingly talented son Bradley Hemmestad is the graphic designer who creates my book covers and my book trailers...

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