Monday, August 9, 2010

Author Spotlight: Interview With M. J. Rose

I recently interviewed M. J. Rose after reading her book, The Hypnotist (read review here).  Here is the Q & A.

DB:  Describe M. J. Rose in five words.
MJR:  Unfraid of not fitting in.

DB:  When did you decide to become a writer?
MJR:  When I was in third grade and won the middle school poetry contest.

DB:  Who are some authors that have had the most influence on your writing?
MJR:  Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and about 1000 more.

DB:  I understand that you self published your first novel, Lip Service, how did you accomplish that?
MJR:  I knew about self publishing from reading biographies of Anais Nin and D.H. Lawrence in college.

When my agent hit a wall in selling my novel Lip Service, I started to think about those authors I'd read about - Virginia Woolfe and Mark Twain included and more - who'd also struggled to get published and stuck out on their own.

In my case, despite editors loving my work, the publisher's didn't know how to market it.

I write books that don't fit a category. A little too erotic, a little too commercial to be literary, a little too literary to be commercial. And on and on. So I started to think that maybe I'd try an experiment.

It was 1998 and no one was talking ebooks or POD or marketing books on line. But I had an idea to put up an electronic version of the book, market it online, and see if I could sell it. The plan being, to prove to the publishers that there was a way to market my fiction. At some point I also printed up about 3000 books because far more people wanted a printed copy than an electronic download. We didn't even know the phrase ebooks back then. And there were no POD companies - I used a traditional printer, hired a real art director, had the book professionally designed, etc.

After six months of working at marketing the book on line, six days a week, six hours a day, the book picked up buzz and was discovered by an editor at the Doubleday Book Club and Literary Guild.  She bought it for the clubs - two first - the first time they'd bought a self published novel as well as the first time they'd bought - or anyone had bought - an ebook to take to print traditionally. My agent then took the book out again and three weeks later Pocket Books bought it.

DB:  Do you have any suggestions or advice for writers that are trying to get their own work published?
MJR:  Just write because you love it - not to make money - not to find fame - but only because you want to explore this story with these people - because you love the process. Write for the time you are writing not for having written.

DB:  When you are not writing, what is your favorite genre to read and why?
MJR:  I don’t go by genre – I just love reading good books.

DB:  What inspired you to start writing The Reincarnationist Series ?
MJR:  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, aftemore 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 the series thirteen 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 several 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 in the first Reincarnationist book had my mom’s initials, her spirit and her curiosity and like her, he’s a photographer. But there the similarities end.

When Josh started 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. 

The series continues with other characters looking for, finding and loosing memory tools and in the process finding parts of their own past which helps them individuate and become more whole in the present.

Each of the three book in the series have garnered stars from Publisher’s Weekly, stars or raves from Library Journal and have all been Indie Next picks. I think of all my books, this series is the one my mom would be the most proud of which is fitting since it’s really the one she inspired.

DB:  What can we expect next from you?
MJR:  Hopefully lots more books.

M. J. Rose is an international best selling author.  She is also the founder of  International Thriller Writers and, the first marketing company for authors.  To learn more about M. J. Rose and her books, you can visit her website.

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