Tag Archives: The Memorist

MJ Rose – Interview

I recently read and reviewed The Memorist by MJ Rose. I have since been in contact with the author and she very agreeably answered a few of my questions about her novel and her career in the publishing industry.

1. The Memorist is an intricate story of past and present lives interweaving through forgotten memories, a love of music, and history. As a sequal to The Reincarnationist, what was the inspiration for taking the novel in this direction?

A. 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 18th century history bit 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 everyone 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 attempeted to unravel.


2. This book is full of historical and contemporary facts about Vienna, and Beethoven. Can you tell us about the research you did for this novel? Did you visit Vienna?


I think that I answered that in #1:)


3. One of my favorite scenes is when Meer is having a memory of Marguex having a memory of Ohana. Was that scene difficult to create?


Ha. You picked the hardest scene in the whole book. I tried to cut it four times but wound up leaving it in and hoping it worked because I couldn’t figure out another way to do it:)


4. While browsing through your website, I see that you are very active as an author, a mentor and a blogger. How do you manage to juggle all of these responsibilities?


I have no earthly idea. I don’t sleep much and I work too much!

5. www.authorbuzz.com is a fantastic resource for new writers to market their works. Can you tell the readers a little bit about the website, its purpose and why you decided to start such a great service?


I stared it because as an author I needed a marketing service to help me. And since my background was in marketing I figured I’d better start it. AuthorBuzz is a marketing service that puts authors directly in touch with readers, reading groups, booksellers and librarians allowing them to offer excerpts, phone chats or visits with reading groups, material for newsletters, info about contests and freebies, mentions of new reviews — anything and everything authors want to buzz directly to the people who buy, read and sell their books.


6. Your numerous websites and blogs,
Buzz, Balls & Hype as one, seem to be designed to help beginning authors really market their novels and make a name for themselves in the publishing industry. I’ve only recently started dabbing with writing, and I think your websites are great resources and answer many of the small questions that you just can’t find online. Why the strong interest in helping other writers succeed?


I think because I had such a hard time getting started and no one helped me. I think this is my karmic path 🙂

The Memorist – Review

The Memorist: M.J. Rose

Publication Date: November 1st, 2008

First Line:

Beneath a dome nature had carved out of limestone, David Yalom circumnavigated the rim of the underground canyon without once glancing into its black crevasse

Review:

The Memorist When Meer Logan was a little girl, she was always haunted by images of a life that wasn’t hers. Her father always believed that Meer was reliving past-life memories that were triggered by a mysterious Beethoven melody that only Meer could hear. During these dark days, Meer’s drawn illustrations were always of a small treasure chest, but Meer could offer no explaination as to why this treasure chest was the only element she ever drew, and no one could figure out where Meer had even seen such a box.

Years later, when Meer is an adult, her sixty-five year old father, refered to as the “Jewish Indiana Jones”, works in an antique auction house in Vienna, and finds the gaming box, matching all of Meer’s drawn pictures, listed on in the catalog. Inside the box is a letter that implies that the gaming box was a present from Beethoven to his beloved. Inside the letter are clues to an ancient flute that is said to possess mystical powers to control memories. Upon this revelation, Meer flies to Vienna, Austria and soon she and her father are on the trail towards finding the powerful flute. But, an ancient artifact like this is not found easily. Meer and her father, Jeremy, are soon swept away in an adventure story filled with murder, music, and vengence.

The story is told through the course of nine days, and is told through many different perspectives. Although Meer is at the heart of the novel, other characters include Malachi Samuels, the elusive reincarnationsist that thwarts the FBI at every move and the man who helped Meer control her visions as a child. Sebastion Otto, David Yalom, and ISTA make up the colorful set of characters that round out the story.

What I found the most refreshing about this novel, is that it is part historical novel, (Beethoven/Vienna buffs will be pleased), it is a murder mystery, an adventure story. For the first time in a long time, a book actually took me out of my element and put me in a brand new world. People always tell me that they read because they want an escape from their life. I read because I like stories, not so much to escape. This book felt like an escape to me, and I can see the appeal of reading for that reason. I feel like the past few books I’ve been reading have been such duds, and this book is a welcome breath of fresh air. The writing is descriptive, yet terse. The characters are fully developed, full of their own history and stories. The 9 day timeframe is the perfect box to contain all the events that take place. I can’t say enough about this book. Meer is a fantastic heroine, vulnerable, but still instinctively smart and clever.

At 531 pages, this book is not a quick read, nor should it be. It helped that as I was reading this book I watched an episode of Passport to Europe, where the host Samantha Brown flew to Vienna. That helped me visualize the setting and the locations and make the story that much more real.

FINAL GRADE: A+

The Memorist
by MJ Rose
Mira Books, 2008
ISBN 0778325849
531 pages

*******************************

Find this book at your local library

Buy this book from Better World Books

Buy this book from Amazon