Love of Art in Historical Fiction Series featuring M.J. Rose & The Witch of Painted Sorrows

WOPSSpellbinding. Entrancing. All-encompassing. The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J Rose was an impossible to put down Gothic mystery. Have you ever had a desire, a passion so great that it literally over took you…consumed you? This is what it’s like reading this novel of an artistic love affair like no other, set during the Belle Epoque era in Paris, France. When Sandrine Salome flees New York to her grandmother’s Paris home trying to escape her dangerous husband, unbeknownst to her she is reentering into an ancient long cast spell. And what she discovers at her grandmothers renowned lavish mansion, home to an extensive art collection and tantalizing salons will far surpass her wildest imaginings and fears. Her grandmother insists she can’t stay in Paris, and heaven forbid not in her now closed up for “renovations” mansion. Sandrine defies her grandmother’s warnings, coming into contact with the intriguing residence renovator architect Julien Duplessi. Together Sandrine and Julien explore the haunts of the house and discover its hidden secrets and uncover intoxicating pieces of the past, and a witch legend of sixteenth-century courtesan, La Lune, in which Sandrine becomes possessed. La Lune opens Sandrine up to life’s dark and erotic side as she and Julien delve into the world of artist and muse, the Paris night world, and forbidden occult underground culture as Sandrine careens into her deepest desires and the gifts of the dark or are they curses of the night?

Throughout this novel are stunning sound related metaphors and similes like nothing I’ve ever encountered.The prose is beautiful and evocative with captivating Art Nouveau historical details and exposes one to nineteenth-century French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau and his magical works.The love story is intense, allowing the reader a rare experience of what it’s like to be consumed by the desire to create and allows you to feel the explosive and dangerous potential of obsessive passion. You will be left speechless at how the story unfolds and what it explores, truly a masterpiece of storytelling!

Unlock the door, turn the canvases around, let the love spell come over you…lose yourself to La Lune

SRDS:  What compelled you to include art and artist in your historical novel?

MJR:  I was six when I took my first art class. It was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And I’ve never stopped studying or wanting to be painter. When I visit a city the first place I go to is the museum. I am more at home looking at paintings and sculpture than doing anything including reading. Of every subject I am always drawn first to art and artists.

SRDS:  What drew you to your specific visual art medium, artwork, and/or artist?

MJRoseInsidea MoreauPaining

“Insidea” painting by Moreau with author reflection

MJR:  I was in Paris and visited an exhibition of a late sixteen century female painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. She was a rarity and anomaly, a woman artist who succeeded despite enduring so much. While there was no suggestion she dabbled in the occult, her resilience and determination inspired me to create a woman named, La Lune, a sixteenth century courtesan, the muse of a great artist who becomes a great artist herself.

While she isn’t the main character in the book, she is at its heart. It’s her descendant, Sandrine, who three hundred years later, who comes to Paris and has to overcome society’s rules and mores in order to live out her passions — as a woman and an artist.

SRDS:  What unique historical objects and/or documents inspired the story?

a Moreau

Moreau painting

MJR:   It was the period itself. Belle Epoch Paris was a melange of many different styles of art and poetry and philosophies. The old guard still ran the salons. Impressionism battled for wall space with symbolism. Cults sprang up around occultism, spiritism and inspired artists and writers. All that diversity fascinated me. I spent a long time at the Gustave Moreau museum, looking not just at his masterpieces, but examining the hundreds of sketches hidden away. I searched out Art Novueau buildings and visited museums to look at the work of the Nabis whose name itself which came from the Hebrew word for “prophet,” evoked both their mysticism and determination to develop a new artistic language.

SRDS:  Is there an art history message you’ve tried to highlight within the novel?

A typical art class

A typical 19th century art class

MJR:  As hard as it is for me to believe, today, in 2015 women still don’t have full equality, not in our society, not in the art world.

I wanted to use another era to illustrate the struggles and the efforts that women have made to succeed the arts. To show that  sometimes to get what we want, we have to tap into our inner witch.  Nice girls often do finish last or they waste away bored to death. To me living a life without reaching outward and inward for ours dreams, no matter how impossible is seems, is a waste of our souls.

SRDS:  What do you think readers can gain by reading stories with art tie-ins?

MJR:  I think being able to look at the art that inspires the book it ads a dimension to the story.

MJRose_MarioMorgado20143About the author:  New York Times Bestseller, 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 believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.



For more about M.J’s work visit blog “Museum of Mysteries”:  Facebook

 To buy:  The Witch of Painted Sorrows

Join us here April 25th for an interview with Lisa Brukitt, author of The Memory of Scent!

Interview posting schedule:  

2014: August 30th Susan Vreeland, Lisette’s List (new release), September 27th Anne Girard, Madame Picasso (new release),October 25th Yves Fey, Floats the Dark Shadow, November 29th Mary F. Burns, The Spoils of Avalon (new release), December 27th Kelly Jones, The Woman Who Heard Color 

2015: January 31st Heather Webb, Rodin’s Lover (new release), February 28th Alyson Richman, The Mask Carver’s Son, March 28th Maureen Gibbon, Paris Red (new release), April 11th M.J Rose, The Witch of Painted Sorrows (new release), April 25th Lisa Brukitt, The Memory of Scent, May 30th Lisa Barr, Fugitive Colors, June 27th Lynn Cullen, The Creation of Eve, July 25th Andromeda Romano-Lax, The Detour, August 29th Frederick Andresen,The Lady with an Ostrich Feather Fan, September 26 Nancy Bilyeau, The Tapestry (new release), October 31st Laura Morelli The Gondola Maker 

Join Facebook group “Love of Arts in Fiction”!


Interview with International Bestselling author M.J. Rose

300 MJRBWSome writers’ stories take us by surprise, by storm, author M.J. Rose’sTHE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES, was such a story for me.  I love the things the time-slip mystery thriller brought together:  art, scent, mythology, reincarnation, spirit. I read the novel in two sittings.  And I was so charged up by the story line and psychological characterizations I rushed to posted on M.J. Rose’s Facebook page, letting her know how much I enjoyed the read.  Then I went to her website to investigate more about this author and her works, to find this prolific writer had yet another tantalizing novel within days from being released:  SEDUCTION. Wheels charging in my head, I decided to pursue an interview with this trailblazing novelist: a founding member of International Thriller writers; the first writer to start a marketing company for authors, and to have her eBook go from being self-published to picked up by a New York mainstream publishing house.

Q: Will you please tell us about the inspiration for the novel THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES.

Several years ago, I went to a brocante – a flea market  – in Cannes, France. It was a perfect morning to peruse antiques; warm with a little breeze to mingle the scent of fresh flowers with seaside town’s fresh salty air. One table that caught my attention offered an intriguing mix of items laid out as if they were resting on an elegant woman’s vanity.Next to a shagreen jewelry box – opened to reveal strings of pearls, was a pair of fine creamy white kid gloves.  Sunshine glinted off the silver trim of a turquoise cloisonné hair brush set and illuminated the gold lettering on a group of leather-bound books all about mythology.There were also a dozen perfume decanters scattered around. Some were cut crystal with fancy repousee silver caps. Others were intricately sculpted pieces of glass-work  – the kind created by Lalique and Baccarat in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Sadly all the bottles were empty except for one with an inch or so of thick, dark perfume coating the bottom.  It was the least ornate flacon.  A residue of glue was visible to show where a label had once been pasted. It was capped with a green ceramic stopper shaped into a lotus – a flower that I recognized from Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings.

3000 The Book of Lost Fragrances

An engaging suspenseful read! Recommended!

As I daydreamed about the woman who’d owned all these treasures, I picked up the bottle, uncapped it and sniffed. In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust wrote about how the taste and smell of a Madeline returned him to his youth with an immediacy that nothing else ever had. For me it was the scent in that bottle that returned me to a day years before.Suddenly I wasn’t in the square in front of the Hotel De Ville in that French town but was sixteen years old, standing on the hill overlooking Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, talking to a boy who I’d just met. He was telling me about Plato’s theory of soul mates.

And I was falling in love.

The scent in the bottle in the flea market was his scent. He’d worn a cologne – discontinued before he was even born – that he’d found in a house his parents had rented one summer. It had been so long since I’d even smelled it – or even thought of it. But suddenly everything about that meeting – and learning about soul mates- and being sure I’d found one – and the tall boy with sly smile who had sadly long since died– came rushing back in that one inhalation. The Book of Lost Fragrances is a very much a suspense novel weaving history into a tense hunt for an important treasure but the theme for book – an ancient scent that would help people identify their soul mates – came to life that lazy day in the South of France. I bought the bottle from the antique dealer and it sits on a shelf with the rest of my perfume collection. I’ve never opened it again… I don’t want the scent to evaporate any more quickly than nature will insist upon.It’s enough to know that memories lay captured inside and they were strong enough to inspire a novel.

2. The physiological understanding/depiction of your characters is of the highest caliber. How did you achieve this authenticity?

Thank you. I wish I knew – if I did I’d stress less over it. I agonize while writing to make my characters come alive and never  quite feel I’ve done a good enough job. Whatever works comes from truly being inside the story, caring about the characters passionately and seeing them as real.

3. On your website you have this stamp “Indie Next List” can you tell us more about this seal? What it means to be selected by Indie Booksellers?

Thousands of independent booksellers nominate the books that they think are worthy to be chosen. Twenty books are chosen monthly – a #1 book and then 19 others that are all equal. I’ve been so lucky to have my last five books chosen and consider it one of the most important achievements in my career. I grew up in bookstores and these booksellers hand picking my books is just an amazing honor.

4. Will you share with us about your writing process?

I spend months, sometimes years, reading and researching. Then more months making a journal for my main character – filling it with bits of the things that make him or her real to me: Imagine a scrap-book for an imaginary person.  Then I write a first draft straight through – without re-reading, working 3 -4 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Then the hard part is done and I get to do the joyous part . I love re-writing. So I rewrite the book form 2-5 times.

5. Please tells us about your latest release: SEDUCTION. What inspired you to write this story?

300 Seduction

M.J. Rose’s Latest Release!

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo suffered a devastating loss when his beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, in a desperate effort to contact her, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances on the Isle of Jersey where he was exiled. In the process, he claimed to have connected with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Jesus, and most frighteningly, the Devil, known to Hugo as the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published—or so it was believed.  And that’s where the novel starts.

Jac L’Etoile is a present day mythologist who’s escaped to the Isle of Jersey in the wake of devastating losses of her own hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. Invited by an old friend, Theo Gaspard, Jac figures the trip will be a welcome distraction from her private life. But Theo, a troubled soul himself, has secret motives and hopes she will help him discover something much different from the Druid ruins that lured her there—Hugo’s lost conversations with the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

My first ghost story.

As for inspiration. A trip Paris and Victor Hugo’s home there inspired me to read Les Miserables. I became obsessed with Fantine. I kept wondering if someone had inspired Hugo to create her? I started reading more and more about him. I read his poetry. Sought out his watercolors and drawings… But it was coming across a description of his belief in reincarnation and his experimenting with séances that made me decide to write about him… and the woman who might have inspired him to create Fantine.

6. I love your novels book jackets: THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES and SEDUCTION. Who is the jacket designer? They have done a fabulous job by the way!

My publisher’s art department does the cover with a wonderful and talented artist named Alan Dingman – .

Thank you M.J. Rose for the interview!

To Buy M.J. Rose’s latest in print release: SEDUCTION!