Thursday, November 13, 2008

Interview with M.J. Rose and a Giveaway!

Today, as part of her TLC Blog Tour, M.J. Rose is here with some more insight to her newest novel, The Memorist, which I reviewed on Tuesday. In this interview we learn more about where Rose came up with the ideas for her novel, some of her own experiences in Vienna and how she came to be so interested in reincarnation. But first, a little about the author:

You may have heard about M.J. Rose through her first adventures in the publishing industry. Rose self-published her first novel, Lip Service, late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn't know how to position it or market it since it didn't fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Today, she is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L'Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly. And now she's here today:

You noted at the end of The Memorist that you have spent time in Vienna and that the underground ruins really do exist – Did you get a chance to explore some of the abandoned city below the surface?

Yes I did, it’s an amazing thing to see.

What first interested you in reincarnation and binaural beats?

When I was three years old, I told my great grandfather things about his childhood in Russia that there was simply no way I could have known. He became convinced I was a reincarnation of someone in his past. And over time, after more incidents, my mother – a very sane and logical woman -- also came to believe it.

Reincarnation was an idea I grew up with that my mom and I talked about and researched together.

For years, I wanted to write a novel about someone like my mother – who was sane and logical – who started out skeptical but came to believe in reincarnation. But I was afraid if I did people would think I was a “woo woo weirdo”.

I tried to start the first book in this series ten years ago after my mother died but I was too close to the subject and missed her too much to be able to explore it objectively. Every once in a while the idea would start to pester me again but I still stayed away from it.

Then a few years ago on the exact anniversary of my mom’s death my niece, who was a toddler at the time, said some very curious things to me about my mother and I – things she really couldn’t have known -- and the pestering became an obsession.

That’s when I sat down and started in earnest to write The Reincarnationist – which was published in September '07 and is out now in paperback and is the first book in the series. But they don’t have to be read in order.

As for binaural beats- I came across them in my research I did in 2005 when I was searching out information for the first novel in this series.

Throughout the book there are quotes from famous people like Carl Jung, Tolstoy, and Goethe regarding reincarnation. Were you surprised to find that so many influential people throughout history believed in reincarnation?

Yes and it was one of the things that really helped make me decide to tackle these books on this complicated and amazing subject.

Are you a fan of Beethoven, or was he just used because of the location and his interest in this type of research?

Here’s a short essay I wrote about the inspiration for this book that explains all that…

Once upon a time, my husband and I went to Vienna on a vacation and fell in love. Not with each other - we'd already done that - but with the city.

Growing up in Manhattan you don't bump in to history on every street corner - mostly you're bumping into other people or great shopping or eating experiences. In New York you have to go out of your way to find eighteenth century history but it’s still alive on every block in Vienna. There’s so much of it you are literally breathing it in. Arts and sciences have flourished here for centuries and whatever your passion you can visit museums, monuments and memorials to art, music, architecture, literature philosophy and psychology.

And visit them we did including making visits to homes of many famous people who’d once lived there and since my husband is a musician the trip turned out to be what I now jokingly call our Beethoven pilgrimage.

There are several of the great composer's residences in the city proper and its environs and we visited every one of them as well as churches, cafes and music halls he frequented. We walked the streets he walked following the routes he took and spent one day wandering the woods he wandered during the summers he spent in Baden, a spa town an hour out of the city.

But it was in the Heligenstadt house that the idea for my novel, The Memorist was born.

The house at Probusgasse 6 is in a neighborhood called Heligenstadt at the bottom of the Kahlemberg, which in Beethoven’s time was outside the city and filled with vineyards that are still growing there. And it was here at the end of the summer of 1802 that the 31-year-old Beethoven wrote the heart-wrenching Testament to his two brothers documenting his anguish at the onset of his terrible deafness.

The upstairs of this small apartment is open to the public and we walked through the ordinary rooms where he lived. Wandering over to the window I looked down at a simple courtyard where there was a single tree growing.

I stared at the gnarled, twisted trunk and the rich healthy verdant green leaves and realized that Beethoven must have once stood there and looked down at that same tree. Suddenly the composer’s ghost was standing there with me looking out the window.

Later I told my husband what I had been thinking and he said: “You’re going to write about that aren’t you?” Until that moment I hadn’t thought about it but after he said it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

At home I read several biographies about Beethoven and in one discovered the great composer had been fascinated with Eastern philosophy, which includes a strong belief in reincarnation. His own notebooks contain quotes a number of passages from Bhagavad-Gita. As well as a quote from William Jones that was included in his Hymn to Narayena, We know this only, that we nothing know.

And with that piece of information the idea at the heart of my tenth novel revealed itself.

The Memorist is not about Ludwig Van Beethoven although he does play a small part in it. Rather it’s a suspense novel about a woman on a search for her own ghosts but it was Beethoven’s spirit that inspired the book and his everlasting gifts to us are at the heart of the mystery I attempted to unravel.

Is there going to be a third book in this series?

There is and I’m writing it now.

(Looks like Rose is going to leave us in suspense, but rumor has it the third book will have more details about FBI Agent Lucien Glass, who was one of my favorite characters in this book. Yay!)

Was it difficult to keep all of the timelines straight in this book? How did you manage them and the characters from each time period?

It’s a bit tricky to keep it all straight but I write a first draft and then go back and do a timeline outline and then do a second draft fixing all the dates and making it all consistent.

How long did you spend researching the Indus Valley and Viennese history before writing this book?

I have been researching the whole subject of reincarnation for many years and have read over 50 books – I did an additional 3 months of research before I started this book and then while I was writing the first draft kept doing more research.

I’m also curious about the references to Judaism and Kabbalah. Did you have to research this or is it something you have studied throughout your life?

I’m Jewish but knew nothing about the Kabbalah until I stared doing the research for this book.

One of my readers was also wondering about online marketing for books. She asks: What are some of the biggest mistakes inexperienced writers can make on the web while they're promoting their work? Is it possible to rectify them, or do mistakes follow us forever and ever?

I teach an online marketing class once a year that is of great help to writers starting out or those already out. It will be taught in Jan 2009 - more at this link.

And the biggest mistake is to spend your entire marketing budget on a website. The second biggest is to think you don’t need to do anything - that your publisher will do it all. At we help authors do affordable marketing - and since we work with all the major publishers - authors can feel confident about working with us.

Also, do you have any easy tips for authors starting out who have decided to self-publish?

I’m sorry, I don’t. And unless it’s very niche marketed non-fiction I don’t recommend self-publishing at all. I think it’s a big mistake to self-publish fiction. I’ve written a lot about that online and you can read about why here.

On your Website you mention that The Secret Garden was the first book to get you thinking about writing. Are there other books that have influenced you along the way? And what are you currently into reading? Some favorites?

I hate to do these lists because I always leave too many books out. Here are some of my favorite authors: Paul Auster, Anne Rice, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, Arthur Phillips, Lisa Tucker, Douglas Clegg, Ruth Rendell, Sophie Kinsella, Alice Hoffman, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver… and I’ve been influenced by: John O’Hara, Ayn Rand, Daphne DuMaurier, and John Gardner.

I’m reading Buddha by Deepak Chopra right now.

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

And now for the giveaway! MIRA Books has been kind enough to send me extra copies to give away to FIVE lucky readers! Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist. Two winners will receive The Memorist. And the Grand Prize winner will receive both books in the series.* So here's how to enter:

1. For one entry you can leave a comment below answering the question: If you were a historian/archaeologist/anthropologist, what place and time would you most like to learn more about?

2. For an extra entry you can post about this giveaway on your blog OR if you don't have a blog you can send an e-mail about the giveaway to five friends. Leave a comment here letting me know you did this.

Also, feel free to leave comments about the interview and the book itself. I'd love to hear what you all think about the themes in this book.

Thanks so much for reading! And be sure to leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. on November 23. I'll be drawing winners on November 24.

*Sorry to do this to you international readers, but I'm super poor right now so this giveaway is only open to the U.S. and Canada.

Also, check out some of the other upcoming TLC Tours for more chances to win The Memorist:

Monday, November 17th: Booking Mama

Tuesday, November 18th: Books I Done Read

Wednesday, November 19th: Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, November 20th: MommyPie

Monday, November 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, November 28th: Frequency of Silence

Check out TLC tours for the entire list.


Crystal Adkins said...

Hello MJ. I know the first poster never wins but, it was exciting to read your interview! If I could, I'd be an archeologist discovering the hidden secrets of the Egyptians. I love the lore!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, guys. I'm just letting you know I've got this posted over at Win a Book. If there's more we can help spread the word about, be sure to let us know!

Becca said...

As always, thanks Susan!

And Crystal, there's no rule that says the first poster can't win, especially with five chances to win! Your name could end up fifth on the list :-) Good luck!

Serena said...

What a great review and interview with MJ Rose. I've read about her books for the longest time and how she is heralded as an online marketing guru!

I would love to enter to win this book or both books.

I think the time period I am most interested in is Victorian England. I just love books from that time period...or the time of the druids would be interesting and raw.

I will post your giveaway on my sidebar.

Anonymous said...

The interview was great. I think ancient Britain would be fascinating. I would love to be entered in the contest and I posted this at my blog.
Carol's Notebook

Amanda said...

I haven't read the books yet but I am dying to. I love the mix of past and present and I didn't know that all those famous people wrote about reincarnation. It's such an interesting idea. I also didn't know M.J. Rose had the first e-book. That's so cool!

Ok. Well I majored in history and I love archaeology. But I would love to learn more about the Middle East. Their past, how it reflects their future and current issues.

Callista said...

As a firm believer in reincarnation I REALLY want to read these books. My niece said things about a long dead family member who was dead before she was born but that's not the only reason why I believe. Anyways please enter me.

If I could learn more about a time it would be in Babylon during the time it was called Babylon LOL

callista83 AT cogeco DOT ca

Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful interview. I am really looking forward to the rest of the blog tour.

I am quite facinated with many places and cultures, but I think I would really like to learn more about ancient Egypt. What I have read of the culture has fascinated me.

I blogged about your giveaway here:


Wrighty - said...

What an interesting subject. People have so many different opinions too. Great interview! I would be an archeologist but there isn't a specific time period for me but specific incidences instead. I would like to know more about some of the amazing accomplishments like the pyramids, or Stone Henge, The Great Wall of China - those are so fascinating to me. Thanks for your contest and I'm adding it to my blog. I really look forward to reading these books. I've heard such good things!

Judi said...

Wonderful review and interview! I've always been fascinated by the idea of reincarnation.

I would study medieval times in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, or the Vikings. Of course, as long as I didn't have to live in those conditions, lol.

Becca said...

Ooooh, the Vikings! I hadn't even thought of that one, but I'd definitely like to learn more about them. Thanks to everyone for entering and posting about this giveaway! I can't wait to see how many entries we get...

Gwendolyn B. said...

I love history, so it's awfully hard to focus on just one time and place. The Mesopotamians and Egyptians have always fascinated me, but they are in competition with Bristish history from Pre-Roman through the Elizabethan Age. Right now, at this minute, I'd like to know more about 1950's Greenwich Village Beatniks! Please enter me -- I'd love to read these books. Thanks for the chance!
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Icedream said...

If I could become an archeologist or anthropolgist I would love to go back in time to learn more about the Babylonian Empire. I have always been fascinated by what I have read about this culture.
I enjoyed this interview and would be thrilled to be entered to win either of Rose's books. Thanks so much!
I blogged about your giveaway at:

ddurance said...

I would love to research medieval England.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Kim L said...

Sounds like a great read! And an interesting subject.

Literary Feline said...

What a great interview! I have read a couple of MJ Rose's books (and enjoyed them) and follow her website even though I am not in the business. I have to say, of all her books, this new series is the most interesting to me. I am looking forward to reading it.

If I were a historian/archaeologist/anthropologist, I would love to travel back in time and explore more about the Maya culture and people. Their history has always fascinated me and yet there is so little known.

Kristi said...

I think that I would like to go back to the time in Israel's history when they separated into a Northern and a Southern Kingdom. There are so many Biblical references to this area during this time period that it would be cool (though dangerous and "gory") to experience this era.


Linda said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview, how fascinating to have experienced incidents from the past. I would love to know more about Stonehenge, not so much the "how" it was created, but "why".

Kaye said...

I just love the covers for these books. If I were an archeologist, I'd be one for ancient Japan. Please enter me in the contest and I am putting a link on my blog Thanks!

florida982002@yahoo dot com

Carol said...

I would love to read both of these books! I've heard so many good things about them.
I think I would like to learn more about Scotland and Ireland.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...

(reposted twice....sorry about that..typos)

I am chomping at the bit to read these books!!!

If I were a Historian I'd like to discover more of the Antebellum Garden District in New Orleans. I fe1l in love with the area in the Mayfair Series by Anne Rice.

I put a link on my blog!!!

tonigomez (at) surewest (dot) net

Lexi said...

I would love to study the Enlightenment era- it just seems like such an explosion of knowledge and such an exciting time to be alive.

Great interview, too!

Thanks for the chance to win!


lexilibrarian at gmail dot com

Lana said...

Oh, add me to the list of people who would love to learn more about the druids. I've always found them fascinating, and so little is known about them. My visits to Stonehenge, in particular have really impressed me, and I'm hoping to participate in one of the few tours where they let you inside the stones!

I recently spent a few months in Vienna, and I just fell in love! (It helps that it's the sweet tooth of Europe in my opinion).

Great interview!

caseykelp said...

If I could learn more about an era it would be the Victorian Era. I would also love to be delving into the truth behind the acient myths.
Thank you for the giveaway and awesome interview.
The books sound great

darbyscloset said...

I would love to learn more about the ancient egyptians...the era of the era of the cat sculptures!!!!
The egyptians with all of their mummification and jewels.
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Carolyn said...

One of my all time dreams was to go to Egypt and my wonderful husband fulfilled that one and took the family to Egypt and Jordan several years ago. I had always been interested in archaeology and it was the trip of a lifetime. Egypt was awesome and Jordan had many ruins also. Petra was gorgeous. Anyway, the history
of Egypt and the Middle East facinates me. I would love to go back and learn and see more.

thanks for sharing

ceashark at aol dot com