Today, I have a very special author on my site, one of my favorite contemporary historical suspense authors–M.J. Rose. Her Gothic and fantastical undertones involved in many of her latest works is something that seeps into me when I read and creates lasting appeal. I especially enjoyed The Collector of Dying Breaths (click to see my review) last year!
I admire her very much not only for her writing, but for all else she has accomplished as a business woman. Please enjoy this fantastic and interesting interview and watch back on my site for my review of her newest novel, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, to come soon. The Witch of Painted Sorrows will be available for purchase March 17, 2015!
Erin: Hi, M.J.!
Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’ve been looking forward to your newest book, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, and the opportunity to chat with you! First, I”m going to show off this AH-MA-ZING cover, which I think is stunning!
After spending a lot of years in the public relations and advertising business, writing a lot of copy and non-fiction material, I started back in reading fiction and found my heart and soul again. I started with Kate Mosse. After reading her style, I fell in love, and a few years ago had been searching for a similar feel with another fiction author. That’s where you come in with this question, as I feel that you compel readers with the same atmospheric and haunting moods set in historical times much as she does. I fell in love with your books too! How do you create these moods of gothic foreboding with your choice of words or sentences?
M.J: I love Kate’s work and was so flattered when she gave me a blurb a few books ago. So, that’s a huge compliment. As for how I do it … I seep myself in pictures from the period as well as primary source material – diaries, newspaper articles and letters written in the period. When I write I see the story unfolding like a movie in my mind and just write down the scenes as they play out… I guess I see them as gothic and atmospheric and they translate that way to the page.
Erin: You write with an exquisite amount of description and details, almost as if you are actually living the story. How do you get into the zone when you write (do you need a lot of quiet time, for instance)? How does your brain operate in order to structure your research and ideas into such an intricate depth within your novels?
M.J.: Again thank you. So I write my first draft in the mornings before the world wakes up. I start working at 6 AM or 6:30 AM, with a mug of tea and Gregorian chants playing and write for three hours in a state of semi-unconsciousness or so it seems. I can’t do first draft work any other time of day really – too many distractions and I’m too awake and in this world instead of my odd dream state. I don’t know how the rest works but I can tell you that when I read through that first draft – when I’m done – I don’t recognize any of it. I have no memory of having written a word. Make of that what you will.
Erin: Sounds like you channel your books onto the page! Fascinating! Your newest novel, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, is set in Belle Époque Paris. Why did you choose this time and setting? What is it that draws you to it?
M.J.: Several reasons. One of the more interesting ones was my great-grandmother was born in the 1870s in Paris and I feel a great affinity for the time and place. Also it was a time of great contrasts and that appealed to me as well.
Erin: In the last few books I’ve read by you—Seduction, The Collector of Dying Breaths, The Book of Lost Fragrances—passion and the senses have permeated your work. Whether it’s passion for perfume or art or literature, many of your books have these undertones it seems. You can tell that heart and soul were poured onto the page and into characters. How do you formulate your characters? How do you channel various individual emotions into them to make them so vibrantly authentic?
M.J.: I spend about three months making a scrapbook for my main character. Collecting all sorts of mementos of memories the character would have. I find it very hard to create these people out of thin air and need all sorts of help. I spend a lot of time focusing on each person’s passions specifically – what makes him or her feel strongly, what does he or she want desperately. I think we learn about characters from their yearnings and their obsessions and fears.
Erin: That’s amazing!! Your characters are often dealing with strong regrets, emotions, fears, etc. within the novels. It reminds me of the many emotional themes immersed in novels by the gothic authors such as Daphne du Maurier and V.C. Andrews. Do you feel that many readers can relate on some levels to these impactful issues taken on by your characters or are they more drawn to the entertainment value of being spooked, or on some level, do they just like acting as voyeurs?
M.J.: I don’t know actually but all three sound great! 🙂
Erin: ha! Yes, I’m sure there are readers in each category. What was your favorite part of writing The Witch of Painted Sorrows?
M.J.: It’s always the second draft. I love editing and adding details and atmosphere.
Erin: I know many authors get this question a lot, but I like your writing style and so I really do want to know. Who are your favorite classic writers?
M.J.: You mentioned one Daphne Du Maurier – she might be my favorite. Then so many and so varied from F.Scott Fitzgerald to Mary Stewart with a lot of Nancy Drew from when I was a kid and Jacqueline Susann when I was a teenager.
Erin: Some of my favorites too! How do you define gothic literature (a question that is “googled” often and winds people landing on my website!)?
M.J.: It’s a tough question and hard to answer. I think its character driven suspense, heavy with atmosphere, romantically written — meaning the language itself — and a paranormal or esoteric bent.
Erin: I think your books would make great movies, some into a mini-series, or television shows. I’d be thrilled to watch them! Is there any hope that your writing will make it the visual screen?
M.J.: My novel The Reincarnationist was turned into a TV series in 2010 – Past Life. Sadly it bombed but I have hopes for more to come – that hopefully won’t bomb! 🙂
Erin: What is your favorite current fashion trend?
M.J.: I don’t like to follow fashion – I love classics – and I have crazy simple tastes. I wear all black — with an occasional white or turquoise scarf. My closet looks like a nun lives in my apartment though I doubt she’d have my shoes. I’m a bit of a shoe slut – especially black suede.
Erin: Favorite Pantone Color of 2015?
M.J.: Scuba blue
Erin: What are you currently doing, in addition to publicizing The Witch of Painted Sorrows? Do you have another book you are working on?
M.J.: Yes, I think if I didn’t have another book to work on, I might go out of my mind. I’m a real worrier and only writing stops me from obsessively worrying.
Erin: Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat with me today. I look forward to your continued writing and wish you much success, as always!
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Genre: Historical Mystery
Possession. Power. Passion. International bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this erotic, gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.
Sandrine Salome runs away to her grandmother’s Parisian mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insits it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.
Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten – her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.
This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love and witchery.
Praise for the novels of M.J. Rose~
The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Rose’s new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris—a perfect match for the author’s lush descriptions, intricate plot and mesmerizing storytelling. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next volume. Sensual, evocative, mysterious and haunting.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A haunting tale of possession.” (Publishers Weekly)
The Collector of Dying Breaths
“Breathtaking…combines fascinating history, torrid romance and a compelling mystery into a marvelous package that will entice fans of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon.” (Associated Press)
“A page-turning, alluring concoction of fiction infused with fantastical yet actual history. Readers will be charmed by her well-drawn and memorable characters, and they will be mesmerized by her enchanting narrative, which takes them on a mystical and magical journey.” (Library Journal (starred))
“A terrific piece of entertainment.” (CT Post)
“Wondrously original… elegantly written. Rose manages to utterly suspend our disbelief in a book that leaves us, appropriately enough, breathless.” (Providence Journal)
“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” (Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants)
“Atmospherically romantic and perfectly toned. Classy and elegant literary seduction of the highest measure. As wondrously crafted as it is original.” (Providence Journal)
“Readers will be enchanted by M.J. Rose’s supernaturally charged novel Seduction, inspired by Victor Hugo’s self-imposed exile on the British island of Jersey in the 1850s.” (USA Today)
“Has just about everything a thriller fan could wish for.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Full of well-researched history, the paranormal, and modern intrigue, this atmospheric tale of suspense is fully engrossing to those willing to suspend their disbelief.” (Library Journal (starred review))
The Book of Lost Fragrances
“A compelling page turner…Once you catch a whiff, you will be enchanted.” (Associated Press)
“M.J. Rose is a bold, unflinching writer and her resolute honesty puts her in a class by herself.” (Laura Lippman)
“The Book of Lost Fragrances resonates with spirit, blending myth with reality, tragedy with triumph, pain with joy. You’ll find yourself questioning everything you believe–and wanting more.” (Steve Berry)
“Provocative…a sweeping sense of romance [and] history.” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
Buy the Book~
Author M.J. Rose, Biography~
M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park, and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.
She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.
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