Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Interview with M.J. Rose

I was very excited when M.J. Rose, author of THE REINCARNATIONIST, agreed to answer a few of my questions. I thoroughly enjoyed THE REINCARNATIONIST, especially with all of the interesting historical references -- see my review here. Given the subject matter of the book is reincarnation, I just knew she'd be an interesting interview!

Booking Mama: In THE REINCARNATIONIST, you made the concept of reincarnation very believable to me. How did you become interested in the concept of reincarnation? What prompted you to write this story?

M.J. Rose: 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 book 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 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.

Josh Ryder, the main character has my mom's initials, her spirit and her curiosity and like her, he's a photographer. But there the similarities end.

When Josh starts having flashbacks that simply can't be explained any other way except as possible reincarnation memories he goes to New York to study with Dr. Malachai Samuels -- a scientist and Reincarnationist who works with children helping them deal with past life memories. In the process Josh gets caught up in the search for ancient memory tools that may or may not physically enable people to reach back and discover who they were and who they are.

Rather than me tell you anymore about it, let me pass on what a wonderful author, New York Times Bestseller Douglas Preston, says about it: "The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose has got to be one of the most original and exciting novels I've read in a long time, with a premise so delicious I'm sick with envy I didn't think of it myself. The novel's exhilarating story sweeps the reader across the centuries, from ancient Rome to the present day, with stops in between. It will open your mind to some of the incredible mysteries of the past and the greatest secrets of existence. The Reincarnationist is more than a page-turner-it's a page-burner. Don't miss it

The book garnered stars from both Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal and is was BookSense pick highlight for 2007. I think of all my books, this is the one my mom would be the most proud of which is fitting since it's really the one she inspired.

Booking Mama: There was a lot of wonderful information in this novel about ancient Rome, archaeology, and reincarnation. How much research did you have to conduct to write this book?

M.J. Rose: I researched the book for years without realizing it. I've always been interested in and reading about reincarnation. I've read well over 50 books in the subject and tangential subjects. But when it came to writing it finally I did an additional 8 months of reasearch.

Booking Mama: I read somewhere that you spent more than 9 years, thinking about writing this book, taking notes for it, writing other books in the meantime because you weren't ready yet. I can tell it must have been a labor of love! When you spend that much time thinking about and creating characters, is it difficult to finish the book and move on to new characters or were you glad to be done?

M.J. Rose: Yes when I finished the novel I went into a very real period of mourning. But since it's about reincarnation I was hopeful that they'd all come back in other lives/other books.

Booking Mama: Can you share with us a little about your writing/editing process?

M.J. Rose: I write five or six days a week from four to eight hours depending where in the book I am.

Research stage: easily six hours a day - since I'm reading and taking notes.
First draft stage: An hour or so of planning early in the day. Then about four hours in the afternoon writing. Minimum 1000 words a day.

Editing stage: I get nuts and can have 12 hour editing days. Editing a book takes me about three times as long as it does to do a first draft.

Booking Mama: What types of books do you enjoy reading? Who are some of your favorite authors?

M.J. Rose: I have a really eclectic list of favorites from Ayn Rand to F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Brontes, Daphne Du Maurier and John O'Hara -- and then from writers living I tend to lean toward writers who write deep characters and have a theme as well as make you turn the pages. But since I have so many friends who are writers and so many clients who are writers (I also run a marketing service for authors and publishers - AuthorBuzz.com) I either should name everyone or no one! But here are some anyway: Michael Didbin, Michael Connally, Lisa Tucker, Douglas Clegg, Lee Child, Daniel Silva, Doug Preston and Lincoln Child, Jeff Deaver, Javier Sierra, Patrick Suskind, A.S.Byatt, P.D. James, Steve Berry, Katherine Neville, Carol O' Connell, Dick Francis, and David Hewson. ( I think I'm in trouble now - I know I've left out about twenty.)

Booking Mama: What are you working on now?

M.J. Rose: I just finished The Memorist - the second book in the reincarnation series which will be out in November and I've just begun the third in the series which will be out late 2009.

Booking Mama: What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

M.J. Rose: Entertainment first, hope second. At its core I think that reincarnation gives us hope.

I'd like that thank Ms. Rose for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. Anytime I have the opportunity to "talk" with an author, I always feel that my enjoyment of the book reaches a whole new level. Plus, I found out that there will be another book in The Reincarnation series that I can look forward to reading!

Tonight, my book club will be chatting with Ms. Rose via telephone about THE REINCARNATIONIST. I can't wait to learn even more about her and her book!


Cheryl said...

Great interview. Enjoy your phone chat tonight

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview. It so fun to hear from the author. I think it adds so much to the reading experience.