Interview with author M.J. Rose SEDUCTION

300 MJRBWIt is my pleasure to introduce and welcome author M.J. Rose and her Gothic time-slip mystery Seduction. The story takes place on the windswept British Island of Jersey. Rose’s prose is filled with descriptive ambiance, art, mythology, psychology, and scent. The book explores the implications of reincarnation, and delves into nineteenth-century French novelist Victor Hugo’s life while on self-imposed exiled to the island. Hugo led hundreds of séances at his coastal home there, trying to make contact with his departed daughter Leopoldine. While the modern day protagonist mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, becomes entwined with Hugo’s past secrets and with a disturbed soul’s quest, which leads her deep inside the island’s mysterious Celtic heritage. I loved this novel. It was rich in poignant atmospheric detail and intrigue. It is a sensual and captivating read.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines from the book:

“To be a decent writer you must have both empathy and imagination. While these attributes aid your art, they can plague your soul.”

Now let’s venture into the story behind the story of M.J Rose’s engrossing novel Seduction

Q: Where did your inspiration for Seduction come from?

SeductionA trip to 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.

Q: Will you tell us a little about protagonist Jac L’Etoile? 

Founded before the French Revolution, The House of L’Etoile is an exclusive perfumery in Paris.  The firm has over the centuries, developed some of the world’s most famous and beloved scents.

Jac L’Etoile has the most highly developed “nose” in the family, but at the age of 21 rejected the perfume industry in favor of becoming a mythologist. She studies and researches the origins of myths and presents her discovering on Mythfinders, an Amercian cable TV show. She’s also written a book of the same name.

Starting when she was a young teenager she began suffering psychotic episode and was teasted and treated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. But it was when Jac was finally send to a Jungian psychiatric facilty called Blitzer Rath. Where she meets Dr. Malachai Samuels, who believes that Jac is not suffering any kind of illness but is instead having past life memories.

Q: In addition, will you please share with us some information about French writer Victor Hugo, who plays a major part in the novel, and his exploration of séances while on self-imposed exile on the British Island of Jersey.

So much about Victor Hugo’s life is as it appears in the book. His beloved daughter drowned while he was on vacation with his mistress for which he felt guilty for the rest of his life. Several years later he  exiled himself and his family to the Isle of Jersey because of political reasons. While he lived in a house overlooking the sea at Marine Terrace he and his family engaged in over one hundred séances that  he himself transcribed. The séances began because he desperately wanted to know his daughter was at peace. They continued because, as he said, he became obsessed with the spirit world.

oujie boardVictor Hugo claimed to have “spoken” with all the entities I mention in the book – including Jesus, Napoleon, Dante, Shakespeare, and especially the spirit he called The Shadow of the Sepulcher. Hugo maintained that the Shadow asked him to write a poem to restore his reputation as a creature of enlightenment. And indeed in 1859, Hugo wrote La Fin de Satan (The End of Satan).

And that’s where the facts end and my fiction picks up. The particular bargain that my Shadow offered Hugo is not recorded anywhere.

Q: Please tell us a little about the Celtic roots on the Island of Jersey, as they are important in Jac’s story.

220px-Dolmen_La_Sergenté,_JerseyThe Celts inhabited Jersey centuries ago; Visual proof of it is everywhere you look. The dolmens and menhirs and passage graves I describe are for the most part the ones that actually exist. These Neolithic monuments have been dated as far back as 4800 BCE. Sadly human sacrifice was practiced by these spiritual people in a time very different from ours.  Jac’s begins to have what she calls Meomory Lurches which take pace during these tempestous times.

Q: In the novel’s “Afterward” you share about how you were finally able to write this novel. You wrote it differently than all your others you’ve written up to this point. Please share with us this fascinating story.

We sold the book before it was written and when it was time to write -  I panicked. Sure I had made a huge huge mistake. How dare I take on Hugo?! And not only take him on – but write a journal in his voice? He was a genius. How could I even begin to conjure him? I wanted to buy my contract back but my wonderful agent convinced me to read Hugo’s letters first. Dan (Dan Conaway, Writers House) thought the letters  might show a man who was easier to relate to than the brilliant novelist who wrote Les Miserables. Dan was right. Hugo was more accessible as a man writing to his son or friend or mistress.  It was through those letters,  he came to life for me in a way that made me think I could take on the book.

So I’d read Hugo’s letters and decided to at least attempt the book, I  sat down at my computer. And froze again. There I was. Trying to write what a 19th century novelist and poet would be writing to a woman he’d had an intimate relationship with. And doing it on a 21st century lap top.  After many false tries, something clicked.  I picked up a pen ,a bottle of ink and a notebook and started writing the way Hugo would have written. Longhand. And 120,000 words later…. I finally put down the pen. It was an astonishing experience. Not sure I want to do it too soon again – but it was the only way I think I could have written this book.

Q: What type of research did you do to write this Gothic time-slip novel?

I am doing research all the time  – I love it. In  fact I often think research  half the reason I write. So I have an excuse to do the research and learn all this stuff. Immerse myself in history. In things I don’t now about. As for when its time to stop and write – it’s different with every book – but it always sort of organically happens. I read everything I could about Jersey, Celtic lore, Hugo, France at the time and séances .

Q: Will you share us a bit about your next upcoming release?

I’d be happy to.  We spend so much time writing the flap copy I think I should put it to good use:

Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.

Collector of Dying BreathsParis, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula.

Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means.

This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.

 Thank you M.J. Rose for sharing about Seduction and your upcoming release!

For more about Seduction: http://www.mjrose.com/books/seduction.asp  and Pinerest

To Buy Seduction

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 AuthorBuzz.com, 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 – alandingman.com .

Thank you M.J. Rose for the interview!

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