Interview with Author Brin Friesen

After reading Sic, the debut novel by Brin Friesen, I had a couple of questions for the author, which he kindly (and promptly!) answered. Below you will find my interview with him. You can also find a review of his book here and more of his writing here.

First, I’m curious about the name of the book. How did you come up with it and what does it mean?

The name of the book referred to the idea of Jasper Finch telling his story, an admittedly disturbing one, and knowing most adults don’t have any clue what their kids are doing (despite their own childhoods) and most likely would blame anybody who told/exposed the truth about it. Galileo and Rosa Parks weren’t thanked for their efforts in revealing the truth about an ugly situation: they were thrown in jail. With the subject matter of school shootings looming over this story, the aftermath nearly always leads to the knee jerk reaction of blame and attribution of fault. However, the profile of a school shooter is that there is no profile for a school shooter. There’s poetry in that fact. My protagonist is willing to tell his story but he doesn’t want to be blamed for the telling the truth.

And yet, not too many people know what “sic” even refers to, so it was probably a lousy choice. They assume I’m talking about calling for a dog to attack someone. Sic is about fault. Blame. If you talk about troubled kids you blame long before anyone attempts understanding. All the killings at schools and universities are called “senseless” at one point or another. Any rudimentary examination of the facts and invariably they immediately start making a whole lot of sense. They only way they don’t is through cognitive dissonance and negligence.

You mentioned in one of your TNB posts that the first part of the book is based on a similar experience you had in elementary school. Did you stay friends with your Norman Apple afterward? And, how did the fight effect your later school years?

I was lured out to watch a fight and swarmed once I was out there by everyone in attendance to one degree or another. I did patch things up with the real Norman Apple. I think the fight served me the way any traumatic event serves an artist: they’re unable to cope with their given reality and find the necessity to create for themselves a new one. Fiction has to make sense where real life doesn’t. So you’re obliged to make the details in the story something which for yourself and the reader can have more traction than real life. The impetuous for this is of course an attempt to rewrite your own history. I gave myself a fictional first kiss on the same day as the worst day of my real life. The details of the story have in many ways overtaken the real details of my life. Which is good, because that was an ugly space to occupy. People often forget that the three most popular kids authors for kids are Roald Dahl, Lewis Carrol, and JD Salinger. The three most banned books FOR kids are by Roald Dahl, Lewis Carrol, and JD Salinger. Innocence isn’t Disney. It’s complicated.

How much of the book is autobiographical? Please tell me there was no real-life Fresa.

There was indeed a Fresa; though I took from another incident that actually happened and combined the person with the event that killed him. The curbing happened while I was in 8th grade and the perpetrators were never found while 100’s of kids knew exactly who they were. It was a scary time. The real life Fresa went on to become a paramedic, which seems entirely appropriate. A great deal of the book is autobiographical, however I used an extensive amount of composites. Once I had my finger on the pulse of the story much of it wrote itself.

What inspired you to write a book like this? Did you set out to write a book that focused so much on the state of mind of a bullied teenager?

High school is very attractive to me as subject matter since most people who leave it spend a tremendous amount of energy either clinging to or running from who they felt they were perceived to be during that time in their lives. I’m interested in a time where the events that mark people mark them for life. First kiss, first beating, heartbreak, etc.

That’s where I started with this story: give a kid his worst day and best day on the *same* day.

Bullying was obviously a major theme also, but also examining bullying not just from the main bullies but those complicit and rooting it on. The German’s were fairly recently allowed to join in on the VE Day celebration which was very interesting when they expressed the argument that they were “liberated too” from Hitler. Finally the legacy of what happened during WWII will be Hitler bullied everyone into it. The real lesson, in my view, is how regular, decent, law abiding, family loving people were persuaded of the legitimacy of genocide. In schools suicide is one the major leading causes of mortality, especially among boys. And naturally it’s an under reported statistic also. Newspapers print murder stories but not suicides.

In a society that holds the “pureness” and “innocence” of children above all else, I don’t have a sense that society even *likes* kids. They can be tried as an adult for a crime but can’t vote. They can be legally assaulted.

Growing up the kid of a child protection lawyer a lot of this stuff has been discussed at length.

How did things end up with your Marie? Or are they still in the happenings?

Ten years later she contacted me about whether or not I became a writer and asked if I’d written anything. I said yes. She asked what it was about. I said, YOU. She read it in a night and flew from Scotland to move with me the week after that. I’m not going to spoil the ending. I
think without ever having a meaningful conversation with the real girl I didn’t come up with such a misguided stand-in. But I never wrote the book to find her. It just ended up that I did.

Lastly, can you tell me a little more about And/Or Press?

And/Or Press was started by my friend Dan Starling. D.R Haney’s book Banned For Life is the latest book with the And/Or stamp of approval. We’re both crazy about D.R Haney.

(I’m crazy about D.R. Haney too!)

Again, to read more by Brin Friesen (or D.R. Haney), you can visit www.thenervousbreakdown.com. And, no, I don’t get paid to promote the website (nor to write for it), I just love the authors and their stories there.

Best to you all,

Becca

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Interview with author Brin Friesen

After reading Sic, the debut novel by Brin Friesen, I had a couple of questions for the author, which he kindly (and promptly!) answered. Below you will find my interview with him. You can also find a review of his book here and more of his writing here.

First, I’m curious about the name of the book. How did you come up with it and what does it mean?

The name of the book referred to the idea of Jasper Finch telling his story, an admittedly disturbing one, and knowing most adults don’t have any clue what their kids are doing (despite their own childhoods) and most likely would blame anybody who told/exposed the truth about it. Galileo and Rosa Parks weren’t thanked for their efforts in revealing the truth about an ugly situation: they were thrown in jail. With the subject matter of school shootings looming over this story, the aftermath nearly always leads to the knee jerk reaction of blame and attribution of fault. However, the profile of a school shooter is that there is no profile for a school shooter. There’s poetry in that fact. My protagonist is willing to tell his story but he doesn’t want to be blamed for the telling the truth.

And yet, not too many people know what “sic” even refers to, so it was probably a lousy choice. They assume I’m talking about calling for a dog to attack someone. Sic is about fault. Blame. If you talk about troubled kids you blame long before anyone attempts understanding. All the killings at schools and universities are called “senseless” at one point or another. Any rudimentary examination of the facts and invariably they immediately start making a whole lot of sense. They only way they don’t is through cognitive dissonance and negligence.

You mentioned in one of your TNB posts that the first part of the book is based on a similar experience you had in elementary school. Did you stay friends with your Norman Apple afterward? And, how did the fight effect your later school years?

I was lured out to watch a fight and swarmed once I was out there by everyone in attendance to one degree or another. I did patch things up with the real Norman Apple. I think the fight served me the way any traumatic event serves an artist: they’re unable to cope with their given reality and find the necessity to create for themselves a new one. Fiction has to make sense where real life doesn’t. So you’re obliged to make the details in the story something which for yourself and the reader can have more traction than real life. The impetuous for this is of course an attempt to rewrite your own history. I gave myself a fictional first kiss on the same day as the worst day of my real life. The details of the story have in many ways overtaken the real details of my life. Which is good, because that was an ugly space to occupy. People often forget that the three most popular kids authors for kids are Roald Dahl, Lewis Carrol, and JD Salinger. The three most banned books FOR kids are by Roald Dahl, Lewis Carrol, and JD Salinger. Innocence isn’t Disney. It’s complicated.

How much of the book is autobiographical? Please tell me there was no real-life Fresa.

There was indeed a Fresa; though I took from another incident that actually happened and combined the person with the event that killed him. The curbing happened while I was in 8th grade and the perpetrators were never found while 100’s of kids knew exactly who they were. It was a scary time. The real life Fresa went on to become a paramedic, which seems entirely appropriate. A great deal of the book is autobiographical, however I used an extensive amount of composites. Once I had my finger on the pulse of the story much of it wrote itself.

What inspired you to write a book like this? Did you set out to write a book that focused so much on the state of mind of a bullied teenager?

High school is very attractive to me as subject matter since most people who leave it spend a tremendous amount of energy either clinging to or running from who they felt they were perceived to be during that time in their lives. I’m interested in a time where the events that mark people mark them for life. First kiss, first beating, heartbreak, etc.

That’s where I started with this story: give a kid his worst day and best day on the *same* day.

Bullying was obviously a major theme also, but also examining bullying not just from the main bullies but those complicit and rooting it on. The German’s were fairly recently allowed to join in on the VE Day celebration which was very interesting when they expressed the argument that they were “liberated too” from Hitler. Finally the legacy of what happened during WWII will be Hitler bullied everyone into it. The real lesson, in my view, is how regular, decent, law abiding, family loving people were persuaded of the legitimacy of genocide. In schools suicide is one the major leading causes of mortality, especially among boys. And naturally it’s an under reported statistic also. Newspapers print murder stories but not suicides.

In a society that holds the “pureness” and “innocence” of children above all else, I don’t have a sense that society even *likes* kids. They can be tried as an adult for a crime but can’t vote. They can be legally assaulted.

Growing up the kid of a child protection lawyer a lot of this stuff has been discussed at length.

How did things end up with your Marie? Or are they still in the happenings?

Ten years later she contacted me about whether or not I became a writer and asked if I’d written anything. I said yes. She asked what it was about. I said, YOU. She read it in a night and flew from Scotland to move with me the week after that. I’m not going to spoil the ending. I
think without ever having a meaningful conversation with the real girl I didn’t come up with such a misguided stand-in. But I never wrote the book to find her. It just ended up that I did.

Lastly, can you tell me a little more about And/Or Press?

And/Or Press was started by my friend Dan Starling. D.R Haney’s book Banned For Life is the latest book with the And/Or stamp of approval. We’re both crazy about D.R Haney.

(I’m crazy about D.R. Haney too!)

Again, to read more by Brin Friesen (or D.R. Haney), you can visit www.thenervousbreakdown.com. And, no, I don’t get paid to promote the website (nor to write for it), I just love the authors and their stories there.

Best to you all,

Becca

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview with D.R. Haney on The Nervous Breakdown

So, I was planning on doing an interview with D.R. Haney, author of Banned for Life, which I reviewed here, but I’ve been super busy with packing for Istanbul and moving out of my apartment so I haven’t had time. THEN, today I looked on The Nervous Breakdown and there’s a fab interview with him and one of the other TNB authors, so I thought I’d just post a link here for any of you who are interested. I think the interview will give you more insight about the book. And, really, who doesn’t love reading interviews with authors?

ALSO, D.R. Haney will be doing a reading in L.A. this weekend. If you’re in town, you should check it out. Here’s the details:

Date: July 25, 2009, 8:00PM
Venue: Stories
Location: 1716 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Description:D. R. Haney will read from his recently-published novel about punk rock, “Banned for Life,” along with other guests, including singer-songwriter Tif Sigfrids, who’ll charm and disarm with dainty song.

Interview with D.R. Haney on The Nervous Breakdown

So, I was planning on doing an interview with D.R. Haney, author of Banned for Life, which I reviewed here, but I’ve been super busy with packing for Istanbul and moving out of my apartment so I haven’t had time. THEN, today I looked on The Nervous Breakdown and there’s a fab interview with him and one of the other TNB authors, so I thought I’d just post a link here for any of you who are interested. I think the interview will give you more insight about the book. And, really, who doesn’t love reading interviews with authors?

ALSO, D.R. Haney will be doing a reading in L.A. this weekend. If you’re in town, you should check it out. Here’s the details:

Date: July 25, 2009, 8:00PM
Venue: Stories
Location: 1716 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Description:D. R. Haney will read from his recently-published novel about punk rock, “Banned for Life,” along with other guests, including singer-songwriter Tif Sigfrids, who’ll charm and disarm with dainty song.
Published in: on July 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Interview with M.J. Rose and a Giveaway!

Today, as part of her TLC Blog Tour, M.J. Rose is here with some more insight to her newest novel, The Memorist, which I reviewed on Tuesday. In this interview we learn more about where Rose came up with the ideas for her novel, some of her own experiences in Vienna and how she came to be so interested in reincarnation. But first, a little about the author:

You may have heard about M.J. Rose through her first adventures in the publishing industry. Rose self-published her first novel, Lip Service, late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Today, she is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly. And now she’s here today:

You noted at the end of The Memorist that you have spent time in Vienna and that the underground ruins really do exist – Did you get a chance to explore some of the abandoned city below the surface?

Yes I did, it’s an amazing thing to see.

What first interested you in reincarnation and binaural beats?

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 first book in this series 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 a 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.

That’s when I sat down and started in earnest to write The Reincarnationist – which was published in September ’07 and is out now in paperback and is the first book in the series. But they don’t have to be read in order.

As for binaural beats- I came across them in my research I did in 2005 when I was searching out information for the first novel in this series.

Throughout the book there are quotes from famous people like Carl Jung, Tolstoy, and Goethe regarding reincarnation. Were you surprised to find that so many influential people throughout history believed in reincarnation?

Yes and it was one of the things that really helped make me decide to tackle these books on this complicated and amazing subject.

Are you a fan of Beethoven, or was he just used because of the location and his interest in this type of research?

Here’s a short essay I wrote about the inspiration for this book that explains all that…

Once upon a time, my husband and I went to Vienna on a vacation and fell in love. Not with each other – we’d already done that – but with the city.

Growing up in Manhattan you don’t bump in to history on every street corner – mostly you’re bumping into other people or great shopping or eating experiences. In New York you have to go out of your way to find eighteenth century history but it’s still alive on every block in Vienna. There’s so much of it you are literally breathing it in. Arts and sciences have flourished here for centuries and whatever your passion you can visit museums, monuments and memorials to art, music, architecture, literature philosophy and psychology.

And visit them we did including making visits to homes of many famous people who’d once lived there and since my husband is a musician the trip turned out to be what I now jokingly call our Beethoven pilgrimage.

There are several of the great composer’s residences in the city proper and its environs and we visited every one of them as well as churches, cafes and music halls he frequented. We walked the streets he walked following the routes he took and spent one day wandering the woods he wandered during the summers he spent in Baden, a spa town an hour out of the city.

But it was in the Heligenstadt house that the idea for my novel, The Memorist was born.

The house at Probusgasse 6 is in a neighborhood called Heligenstadt at the bottom of the Kahlemberg, which in Beethoven’s time was outside the city and filled with vineyards that are still growing there. And it was here at the end of the summer of 1802 that the 31-year-old Beethoven wrote the heart-wrenching Testament to his two brothers documenting his anguish at the onset of his terrible deafness.

The upstairs of this small apartment is open to the public and we walked through the ordinary rooms where he lived. Wandering over to the window I looked down at a simple courtyard where there was a single tree growing.

I stared at the gnarled, twisted trunk and the rich healthy verdant green leaves and realized that Beethoven must have once stood there and looked down at that same tree. Suddenly the composer’s ghost was standing there with me looking out the window.

Later I told my husband what I had been thinking and he said: “You’re going to write about that aren’t you?” Until that moment I hadn’t thought about it but after he said it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

At home I read several biographies about Beethoven and in one discovered the great composer had been fascinated with Eastern philosophy, which includes a strong belief in reincarnation. His own notebooks contain quotes a number of passages from Bhagavad-Gita. As well as a quote from William Jones that was included in his Hymn to Narayena, We know this only, that we nothing know.

And with that piece of information the idea at the heart of my tenth novel revealed itself.

The Memorist is not about Ludwig Van Beethoven although he does play a small part in it. Rather it’s a suspense novel about a woman on a search for her own ghosts but it was Beethoven’s spirit that inspired the book and his everlasting gifts to us are at the heart of the mystery I attempted to unravel.

Is there going to be a third book in this series?

There is and I’m writing it now.

(Looks like Rose is going to leave us in suspense, but rumor has it the third book will have more details about FBI Agent Lucien Glass, who was one of my favorite characters in this book. Yay!)

Was it difficult to keep all of the timelines straight in this book? How did you manage them and the characters from each time period?

It’s a bit tricky to keep it all straight but I write a first draft and then go back and do a timeline outline and then do a second draft fixing all the dates and making it all consistent.

How long did you spend researching the Indus Valley and Viennese history before writing this book?

I have been researching the whole subject of reincarnation for many years and have read over 50 books – I did an additional 3 months of research before I started this book and then while I was writing the first draft kept doing more research.

I’m also curious about the references to Judaism and Kabbalah. Did you have to research this or is it something you have studied throughout your life?

I’m Jewish but knew nothing about the Kabbalah until I stared doing the research for this book.

One of my readers was also wondering about online marketing for books. She asks: What are some of the biggest mistakes inexperienced writers can make on the web while they’re promoting their work? Is it possible to rectify them, or do mistakes follow us forever and ever?

I teach an online marketing class once a year that is of great help to writers starting out or those already out. It will be taught in Jan 2009 – more at this link.

And the biggest mistake is to spend your entire marketing budget on a website. The second biggest is to think you don’t need to do anything – that your publisher will do it all. At Authorbuzz.com we help authors do affordable marketing – and since we work with all the major publishers – authors can feel confident about working with us.

Also, do you have any easy tips for authors starting out who have decided to self-publish?

I’m sorry, I don’t. And unless it’s very niche marketed non-fiction I don’t recommend self-publishing at all. I think it’s a big mistake to self-publish fiction. I’ve written a lot about that online and you can read about why here.

On your Website you mention that The Secret Garden was the first book to get you thinking about writing. Are there other books that have influenced you along the way? And what are you currently into reading? Some favorites?

I hate to do these lists because I always leave too many books out. Here are some of my favorite authors: Paul Auster, Anne Rice, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, Arthur Phillips, Lisa Tucker, Douglas Clegg, Ruth Rendell, Sophie Kinsella, Alice Hoffman, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver… and I’ve been influenced by: John O’Hara, Ayn Rand, Daphne DuMaurier, and John Gardner.

I’m reading Buddha by Deepak Chopra right now.

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

And now for the giveaway! MIRA Books has been kind enough to send me extra copies to give away to FIVE lucky readers! Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist. Two winners will receive The Memorist. And the Grand Prize winner will receive both books in the series.* So here’s how to enter:

1. For one entry you can leave a comment below answering the question: If you were a historian/archaeologist/anthropologist, what place and time would you most like to learn more about?

2. For an extra entry you can post about this giveaway on your blog OR if you don’t have a blog you can send an e-mail about the giveaway to five friends. Leave a comment here letting me know you did this.

Also, feel free to leave comments about the interview and the book itself. I’d love to hear what you all think about the themes in this book.

Thanks so much for reading! And be sure to leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. on November 23. I’ll be drawing winners on November 24.

*Sorry to do this to you international readers, but I’m super poor right now so this giveaway is only open to the U.S. and Canada.

Also, check out some of the other upcoming TLC Tours for more chances to win The Memorist:

Monday, November 17th: Booking Mama

Tuesday, November 18th: Books I Done Read

Wednesday, November 19th: Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, November 20th: MommyPie

Monday, November 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, November 28th: Frequency of Silence

Check out TLC tours for the entire list.

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 8:01 am  Comments (26)  

Interview with M.J. Rose and a Giveaway!

Today, as part of her TLC Blog Tour, M.J. Rose is here with some more insight to her newest novel, The Memorist, which I reviewed on Tuesday. In this interview we learn more about where Rose came up with the ideas for her novel, some of her own experiences in Vienna and how she came to be so interested in reincarnation. But first, a little about the author:

You may have heard about M.J. Rose through her first adventures in the publishing industry. Rose self-published her first novel, Lip Service, late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Today, she is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly. And now she’s here today:

You noted at the end of The Memorist that you have spent time in Vienna and that the underground ruins really do exist – Did you get a chance to explore some of the abandoned city below the surface?

Yes I did, it’s an amazing thing to see.

What first interested you in reincarnation and binaural beats?

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 first book in this series 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 a 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.

That’s when I sat down and started in earnest to write The Reincarnationist – which was published in September ’07 and is out now in paperback and is the first book in the series. But they don’t have to be read in order.

As for binaural beats- I came across them in my research I did in 2005 when I was searching out information for the first novel in this series.

Throughout the book there are quotes from famous people like Carl Jung, Tolstoy, and Goethe regarding reincarnation. Were you surprised to find that so many influential people throughout history believed in reincarnation?

Yes and it was one of the things that really helped make me decide to tackle these books on this complicated and amazing subject.

Are you a fan of Beethoven, or was he just used because of the location and his interest in this type of research?

Here’s a short essay I wrote about the inspiration for this book that explains all that…

Once upon a time, my husband and I went to Vienna on a vacation and fell in love. Not with each other – we’d already done that – but with the city.

Growing up in Manhattan you don’t bump in to history on every street corner – mostly you’re bumping into other people or great shopping or eating experiences. In New York you have to go out of your way to find eighteenth century history but it’s still alive on every block in Vienna. There’s so much of it you are literally breathing it in. Arts and sciences have flourished here for centuries and whatever your passion you can visit museums, monuments and memorials to art, music, architecture, literature philosophy and psychology.

And visit them we did including making visits to homes of many famous people who’d once lived there and since my husband is a musician the trip turned out to be what I now jokingly call our Beethoven pilgrimage.

There are several of the great composer’s residences in the city proper and its environs and we visited every one of them as well as churches, cafes and music halls he frequented. We walked the streets he walked following the routes he took and spent one day wandering the woods he wandered during the summers he spent in Baden, a spa town an hour out of the city.

But it was in the Heligenstadt house that the idea for my novel, The Memorist was born.

The house at Probusgasse 6 is in a neighborhood called Heligenstadt at the bottom of the Kahlemberg, which in Beethoven’s time was outside the city and filled with vineyards that are still growing there. And it was here at the end of the summer of 1802 that the 31-year-old Beethoven wrote the heart-wrenching Testament to his two brothers documenting his anguish at the onset of his terrible deafness.

The upstairs of this small apartment is open to the public and we walked through the ordinary rooms where he lived. Wandering over to the window I looked down at a simple courtyard where there was a single tree growing.

I stared at the gnarled, twisted trunk and the rich healthy verdant green leaves and realized that Beethoven must have once stood there and looked down at that same tree. Suddenly the composer’s ghost was standing there with me looking out the window.

Later I told my husband what I had been thinking and he said: “You’re going to write about that aren’t you?” Until that moment I hadn’t thought about it but after he said it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

At home I read several biographies about Beethoven and in one discovered the great composer had been fascinated with Eastern philosophy, which includes a strong belief in reincarnation. His own notebooks contain quotes a number of passages from Bhagavad-Gita. As well as a quote from William Jones that was included in his Hymn to Narayena, We know this only, that we nothing know.

And with that piece of information the idea at the heart of my tenth novel revealed itself.

The Memorist is not about Ludwig Van Beethoven although he does play a small part in it. Rather it’s a suspense novel about a woman on a search for her own ghosts but it was Beethoven’s spirit that inspired the book and his everlasting gifts to us are at the heart of the mystery I attempted to unravel.

Is there going to be a third book in this series?

There is and I’m writing it now.

(Looks like Rose is going to leave us in suspense, but rumor has it the third book will have more details about FBI Agent Lucien Glass, who was one of my favorite characters in this book. Yay!)

Was it difficult to keep all of the timelines straight in this book? How did you manage them and the characters from each time period?

It’s a bit tricky to keep it all straight but I write a first draft and then go back and do a timeline outline and then do a second draft fixing all the dates and making it all consistent.

How long did you spend researching the Indus Valley and Viennese history before writing this book?

I have been researching the whole subject of reincarnation for many years and have read over 50 books – I did an additional 3 months of research before I started this book and then while I was writing the first draft kept doing more research.

I’m also curious about the references to Judaism and Kabbalah. Did you have to research this or is it something you have studied throughout your life?

I’m Jewish but knew nothing about the Kabbalah until I stared doing the research for this book.

One of my readers was also wondering about online marketing for books. She asks: What are some of the biggest mistakes inexperienced writers can make on the web while they’re promoting their work? Is it possible to rectify them, or do mistakes follow us forever and ever?

I teach an online marketing class once a year that is of great help to writers starting out or those already out. It will be taught in Jan 2009 – more at this link.

And the biggest mistake is to spend your entire marketing budget on a website. The second biggest is to think you don’t need to do anything – that your publisher will do it all. At Authorbuzz.com we help authors do affordable marketing – and since we work with all the major publishers – authors can feel confident about working with us.

Also, do you have any easy tips for authors starting out who have decided to self-publish?

I’m sorry, I don’t. And unless it’s very niche marketed non-fiction I don’t recommend self-publishing at all. I think it’s a big mistake to self-publish fiction. I’ve written a lot about that online and you can read about why here.

On your Website you mention that The Secret Garden was the first book to get you thinking about writing. Are there other books that have influenced you along the way? And what are you currently into reading? Some favorites?

I hate to do these lists because I always leave too many books out. Here are some of my favorite authors: Paul Auster, Anne Rice, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, Arthur Phillips, Lisa Tucker, Douglas Clegg, Ruth Rendell, Sophie Kinsella, Alice Hoffman, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver… and I’ve been influenced by: John O’Hara, Ayn Rand, Daphne DuMaurier, and John Gardner.

I’m reading Buddha by Deepak Chopra right now.

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

And now for the giveaway! MIRA Books has been kind enough to send me extra copies to give away to FIVE lucky readers! Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist. Two winners will receive The Memorist. And the Grand Prize winner will receive both books in the series.* So here’s how to enter:

1. For one entry you can leave a comment below answering the question: If you were a historian/archaeologist/anthropologist, what place and time would you most like to learn more about?

2. For an extra entry you can post about this giveaway on your blog OR if you don’t have a blog you can send an e-mail about the giveaway to five friends. Leave a comment here letting me know you did this.

Also, feel free to leave comments about the interview and the book itself. I’d love to hear what you all think about the themes in this book.

Thanks so much for reading! And be sure to leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. on November 23. I’ll be drawing winners on November 24.

*Sorry to do this to you international readers, but I’m super poor right now so this giveaway is only open to the U.S. and Canada.

Also, check out some of the other upcoming TLC Tours for more chances to win The Memorist:

Monday, November 17th: Booking Mama

Tuesday, November 18th: Books I Done Read

Wednesday, November 19th: Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, November 20th: MommyPie

Monday, November 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, November 28th: Frequency of Silence

Check out TLC tours for the entire list.

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 8:01 am  Comments (52)  

Questions for M.J. Rose?

In my post about the upcoming interview with M.J. Rose, I received a comment from Lauri Shaw who had a question for the author, and I thought it might be fun to see if any of the rest of you had questions. SO if you have any questions about the book, the writer, or the writing process, feel free to leave your questions below (by Sunday evening) and I’ll include them in the interview questions I send over to her.

Thanks so much!

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm  Comments (4)  

Giveaway Coming!

Yesterday afternoon I received a box full of books to giveaway to you lovely readers. Super exciting, yes? I’ll have three copies each of The Memorist and The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose available for a giveaway that will begin on Nov. 13 when M.J. Rose stops by my blog for a little chit-chat. I’ll be posting my reviews of the books the day prior to give you all a little reminder, but I’m super excited to be a part of Rose’s blog tour and I can’t wait to get started on these books. Oh, and to get you excited too, here’s a little preview of what The Memorist is about:

International bestseller M.J. Rose has written a gripping and unforgettable novel about a woman paralyzed by the past, a man robbed of his future, and a centuries old secret. The dreads are back. As a child, Meer Logan was haunted by memories of another time and place, always accompanied by the faint strains of elusive music.

Now the past has reached out again in the form of a strange letter that sets her on a journey to Vienna to unlock the mystery of who she once was. With each step, she comes closer to remembering connections between a clandestine reincarnationist society, a lost flute linked to Ludwig van Beethoven, and David Yalom, a journalist who understands all too well how the past affects the future. David knows loss first hand–terrorism is a reality that cost him his family. He’s seen every solution promised by security experts around the world–and he’s seen every solution fail. Now, in a concert hall in Vienna, he plans to force the world to understand the cost of those failures in a single, violent act. Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it…

Published in: on November 5, 2008 at 5:03 pm  Comments (12)  

Interview with Karen Harrington and a giveaway

I’d like to introduce you all to Karen Harrington, author of Janeology, which I reviewed earlier this week. Harrington is a Texas native who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. Her writing has received honors from the Hemingway Short Story Festival, the Texas Film Institute Screenplay Contest and the Writers’ Digest National Script Contest. A graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, she has worked as a speechwriter and editor for major corporations and non-profit organizations.

She authored and published There’s a Dog in the Doorway, a children’s book created expressly for the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation’s “My Stuff Bags.” My Stuff bags go to children in need who must leave their home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.

She lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband and two children.

Harrington has kindly taken the time to answer some questions for this post:

How did you keep track of all of the branches of Jane’s family tree?

I used my genealogy software to create a realistic pedigree chart for Jane’s family. I referred back to it several times to ensure I was keeping my dates and places correct along the way. The chart can be found on my website, too, and my publisher is considering including it in the paperback version.

Why did you decide to tell this story from the husband’s point of view?

I chose Tom’s point of view because he could ask all the questions about his spouse that I would have if I were in his shoes. He was/is the person most interested in finding out the answers to all the “why” questions. So it seemed logical to follow his journey. Plus, I was initially undecided if the spouses of women who kill are responsible in some way for the death of their children. So I wanted to follow that path to its end until I was satisfied I had at least uncovered a few answers. I think I did.

Why add a clairvoyant to the mix?

That’s an interesting question. The short answer is that this character was the vehicle to time-travel into the past. Antiques have long provided intrigue for me. I look at them and think “What if this piece could talk? What if it could tell me what scenes it had witnessed?” So, I developed the idea of a person with retrocognition to give those family heirlooms and photos a voice. I wanted you, the reader, to have the experience of looking at a photo and leaping right into the moment the camera took the picture. Enter, Mariah the clairvoyant.

What inspired you to write this story?

Initially, I wanted to write a story about a woman from the perspective of her genealogy and explore all the dark traits she may or may not have inherited. My father and I share a passion for our own family genealogy. Growing up, I was surrounded by his research and a lot of family photos of relatives I never knew. I developed an early curiosity about who they were and the possibilities of genetic inheritance. Then, there were far too many Texas news headlines about mothers who kill. When I had my first daughter, those stories really kept me up at night. And when a question keeps you up at night, that’s when you know you are going to write about it. So, the two ideas of genealogy and a troubled mother merged. Voila – Janeology!

I really liked the idea that objects are what keep us connected to our past. How did that part of the story evolve?

As I mentioned before, so many family pictures of my grandparents and great-grandparents surrounded me during my childhood. We also had a lot of well-preserved antiques passed down through the generations. So I was always curious about the origins of these heirlooms. For instance, the trunk and the necklace featured in the book (both shown on my website) are both family heirlooms passed down from my great-grandfather to my father and now to me.

What’s been the biggest challenge to you as a writer?

Managing the whole landscape of a story as it expands. It gets a bit unwieldy as it enlarges and you must constantly stay on top of it, making sure your facts are correct and that you are consistent. For me, working on the same piece every single day, even if it’s just to tweak one paragraph, over several months is the only way to stay in the story.

I’m also curious about the publishing house you chose. How did you find Kunati? And what was it like working with an independent publishing house?

I have to smile here when you say “the publishing house you chose.” It’s fortunate to be published at all when you consider the number of writers out there. So if your dog had his own publishing house and offered me a contract, I would have jumped at it. That said, my relationship with Kunati began by way of the typical submission process. I sent out my manuscript to dozens of agents and publishers and was thrilled that Kunati selected me; particularly, after I saw the types of bold stories they embrace. Plus, I think my experience with an independent publisher like Kunati has been great because of the level of communication exchanged from the editors and publishers directly to the authors. I’m not sure if the lines of communication are that open to the authors of larger houses. The best thing about my Kunati experience has been learning from the other talented authors on its roster.

Are there any other Karen Harrington books in the works?

Why, yes! I just got my next manuscript back from my freelance editor and I’m working on revisions now. I’m hopeful it’ll be at my publisher in January. (Unless, of course, your dog would like to have a look.)

Lastly, I’d like to know what you like to read. What are the three books you think everyone needs to read at least once in their life?

I think everyone should take on Homer’s Odyssey at least once. There are so many offshoots of this story in modern literature that reading Homer will make one’s reading experience richer.

The same is true for Shakespeare. If I had to pick a couple, I’d say take on Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

And third, I think every writer should get a healthy dose of Hemingway to learn lean prose and Elmore Leonard to learn dialogue. Any books from these authors are terrific.

And what are you currently reading?

Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm and The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

And now for the giveaway. One lucky reader will receive my copy of Janeology by doing the following:

1. Leave a comment here saying why you’d like to read this book.

2. You can earn a second entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog.

The deadline for entering is October 30th.

For more information about the author or the book, you can visit Karen Harrington’s website, which includes a pedigree chart for the characters in her book. Also, below is back-of-the-book description of Janeology.

Tom Nelson is struggling after the death of his son at the hands of his wife Jane. While Jane sits in a Texas mental hospital for her part in the crime, prosecutors turn their focus to Tom. They believe Tom should have known Jane was on the cusp of a breakdown and protected his children from her illness. As a result, he is charged with “failure to protect.” Enter attorney, Dave Frontella, who employs a radical defense strategy – one that lays the blame at the feet of Jane’s nature and nurture. To gather evidence about Jane’s forbears, Frontella hires a woman with the power of retrocognition – the ability to use a person’s belongings to re-create their past. An unforgettable journey through the troubled minds and souls of Jane’s ancestors, spanning decades and continents, this debut novel deftly illustrates the ways nature and nurture weave the fabric of one woman’s life, and renders a portrait of one man left in its tragic wake.

Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 6:07 am  Comments (20)  

Interview with Karen Harrington and a giveaway

I’d like to introduce you all to Karen Harrington, author of Janeology, which I reviewed earlier this week. Harrington is a Texas native who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. Her writing has received honors from the Hemingway Short Story Festival, the Texas Film Institute Screenplay Contest and the Writers’ Digest National Script Contest. A graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, she has worked as a speechwriter and editor for major corporations and non-profit organizations.

She authored and published There’s a Dog in the Doorway, a children’s book created expressly for the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation’s “My Stuff Bags.” My Stuff bags go to children in need who must leave their home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.

She lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband and two children.

Harrington has kindly taken the time to answer some questions for this post:

How did you keep track of all of the branches of Jane’s family tree?

I used my genealogy software to create a realistic pedigree chart for Jane’s family. I referred back to it several times to ensure I was keeping my dates and places correct along the way. The chart can be found on my website, too, and my publisher is considering including it in the paperback version.

Why did you decide to tell this story from the husband’s point of view?

I chose Tom’s point of view because he could ask all the questions about his spouse that I would have if I were in his shoes. He was/is the person most interested in finding out the answers to all the “why” questions. So it seemed logical to follow his journey. Plus, I was initially undecided if the spouses of women who kill are responsible in some way for the death of their children. So I wanted to follow that path to its end until I was satisfied I had at least uncovered a few answers. I think I did.

Why add a clairvoyant to the mix?

That’s an interesting question. The short answer is that this character was the vehicle to time-travel into the past. Antiques have long provided intrigue for me. I look at them and think “What if this piece could talk? What if it could tell me what scenes it had witnessed?” So, I developed the idea of a person with retrocognition to give those family heirlooms and photos a voice. I wanted you, the reader, to have the experience of looking at a photo and leaping right into the moment the camera took the picture. Enter, Mariah the clairvoyant.

What inspired you to write this story?

Initially, I wanted to write a story about a woman from the perspective of her genealogy and explore all the dark traits she may or may not have inherited. My father and I share a passion for our own family genealogy. Growing up, I was surrounded by his research and a lot of family photos of relatives I never knew. I developed an early curiosity about who they were and the possibilities of genetic inheritance. Then, there were far too many Texas news headlines about mothers who kill. When I had my first daughter, those stories really kept me up at night. And when a question keeps you up at night, that’s when you know you are going to write about it. So, the two ideas of genealogy and a troubled mother merged. Voila – Janeology!

I really liked the idea that objects are what keep us connected to our past. How did that part of the story evolve?

As I mentioned before, so many family pictures of my grandparents and great-grandparents surrounded me during my childhood. We also had a lot of well-preserved antiques passed down through the generations. So I was always curious about the origins of these heirlooms. For instance, the trunk and the necklace featured in the book (both shown on my website) are both family heirlooms passed down from my great-grandfather to my father and now to me.

What’s been the biggest challenge to you as a writer?

Managing the whole landscape of a story as it expands. It gets a bit unwieldy as it enlarges and you must constantly stay on top of it, making sure your facts are correct and that you are consistent. For me, working on the same piece every single day, even if it’s just to tweak one paragraph, over several months is the only way to stay in the story.

I’m also curious about the publishing house you chose. How did you find Kunati? And what was it like working with an independent publishing house?

I have to smile here when you say “the publishing house you chose.” It’s fortunate to be published at all when you consider the number of writers out there. So if your dog had his own publishing house and offered me a contract, I would have jumped at it. That said, my relationship with Kunati began by way of the typical submission process. I sent out my manuscript to dozens of agents and publishers and was thrilled that Kunati selected me; particularly, after I saw the types of bold stories they embrace. Plus, I think my experience with an independent publisher like Kunati has been great because of the level of communication exchanged from the editors and publishers directly to the authors. I’m not sure if the lines of communication are that open to the authors of larger houses. The best thing about my Kunati experience has been learning from the other talented authors on its roster.

Are there any other Karen Harrington books in the works?

Why, yes! I just got my next manuscript back from my freelance editor and I’m working on revisions now. I’m hopeful it’ll be at my publisher in January. (Unless, of course, your dog would like to have a look.)

Lastly, I’d like to know what you like to read. What are the three books you think everyone needs to read at least once in their life?

I think everyone should take on Homer’s Odyssey at least once. There are so many offshoots of this story in modern literature that reading Homer will make one’s reading experience richer.

The same is true for Shakespeare. If I had to pick a couple, I’d say take on Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

And third, I think every writer should get a healthy dose of Hemingway to learn lean prose and Elmore Leonard to learn dialogue. Any books from these authors are terrific.

And what are you currently reading?

Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm and The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

And now for the giveaway. One lucky reader will receive my copy of Janeology by doing the following:

1. Leave a comment here saying why you’d like to read this book.

2. You can earn a second entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog.

The deadline for entering is October 30th.

For more information about the author or the book, you can visit Karen Harrington’s website, which includes a pedigree chart for the characters in her book. Also, below is back-of-the-book description of Janeology.

Tom Nelson is struggling after the death of his son at the hands of his wife Jane. While Jane sits in a Texas mental hospital for her part in the crime, prosecutors turn their focus to Tom. They believe Tom should have known Jane was on the cusp of a breakdown and protected his children from her illness. As a result, he is charged with “failure to protect.” Enter attorney, Dave Frontella, who employs a radical defense strategy – one that lays the blame at the feet of Jane’s nature and nurture. To gather evidence about Jane’s forbears, Frontella hires a woman with the power of retrocognition – the ability to use a person’s belongings to re-create their past. An unforgettable journey through the troubled minds and souls of Jane’s ancestors, spanning decades and continents, this debut novel deftly illustrates the ways nature and nurture weave the fabric of one woman’s life, and renders a portrait of one man left in its tragic wake.

Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 6:07 am  Comments (60)