Jan 26, 2009

The Memorist by M.J. Rose

I received the The Memorist by M.J. Rose as part of a TLC Book Tour. Please stay tuned for my interview with M.J. Rose after my review.

The Memorist is the second in a series of books about reincarnation, lost memory tools, and the struggle of Meer Logan to find herself through her past. Her father had struggled to help Meer recall her past-life memories to the surface, but she found her life bearable only when she avoided the triggers that called those memories to the surface. Readers also will find the historical bits about the Nazis and their experiments undertaken in Vienna disturbing.

M.J. Rose's narrative technique easily transports readers to Vienna, the home of Ludwig von Beethoven, and to Vienna in the past when Beethoven lived and taught in the city. She carefully weaves a suspenseful tale to find a lost memory tool once in the possession of Beethoven. Meer not only struggles with the surfacing memories, but with whom she should trust of her father's friends and how deeply she should not only confide in them but lean on them when the memories flood her mind.

"Margaux's lovely home was filled with cleaver and important people, fine food and charming music. It was all a patina. The threads that held the partygoers' polite masks in place were fragile. Everyone in Vienna had an agenda and a plan for how the reapportionment of Europe would work best for them now that Napoleon was in exile. . . . So even here tonight, at what purported to be a totally social gathering, nothing was as it seemed." (Page 226)

This paragraph illustrates the facades built up around her father, her long-time confidant Malachai, and her father's sorrowful, new friend Sebastian. The face they present to one another does not represent reality; her father hides many things from her, just as she prepares speeches she believes he wants to hear. While this story is a thriller reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code, it is much more. It illuminates the relationship between Meer and her father and the secrets that lie beneath.

"'Yes, behind the facades of these elegant buildings are ugly secrets and dirty shadows. . . .'" (Page 297)

Readers will enjoy the shifting perspectives from chapter to chapter and the subplot that lurks beneath the surface, which could change everything for the main characters and Vienna. Music, art, and mystery are the order of the day in The Memorist, and they are woven together beautifully.

"Lifting the plastic cover over the keys she put her fingers on the yellowed ivory and began. The piano had obviously been kept tuned and she was surprised at how differently this two-hundred-year-old instrument played from the ones she was used to. There was more power and feel to its sound, less control, less sustaining power and it seemed she could do more with its loudness and softness." (Page 252)

Meer underestimates her abilities, and readers will love the evolution of her character. The only drawback in the novel for readers may be the repetition of several descriptive lines as Meer enters her past memories--"a metallic taste fills her mouth." Aside from this minor annoyance, which quickly fades into the background after several chapters, this novel is action-packed, thrilling, and absorbing. M.J. Rose has done her research and created a believable world in which reincarnation is a viable theory that can be put into action through the recovery and use of various tools.

Check out The Memorist Reading Guide and an excerpt from the book.

Without further ado, here's my interview with M.J. Rose:

1. When writing
The Memorist did you listen to music? If you had to chose five songs that coordinated with The Memorist what would they be and why?

All of Beethoven's symphonies because he is part of the book and the music of Doug Scofield because he wrote two songs for the book.

Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

I love visiting museums, reading, walking our dog in any and all parks, and the ocean.

Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any "writing" books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).

Definitely not Bird by Bird. :) I might the only writer who couldn't even finish that book. Not knocking it - just not my cup of tea. What helps me is keeping a journal of my character's life, and reading and rereading great books that I've loved over the years, plus I read John Gardner's The Art of Fiction once a year.

This is one area M.J. Rose and I disagree. Check out my review of The Art of Fiction.

A great deal of writing advice suggests that amateur writers focus on what they know or read the genre you plan to write. Does this advice hold true for you? How so (i.e., what authors do you read)?

I read too many to mention - but I love Paul Auster and Steve Berry and Lisa Tucker and Alice Hoffman and Daniel Silva and Daphne Du Maurier and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Laurie King and Louis Bayard and on and on and on ... and from that list you can see I don't agree on reading in the genre you want to write exclusively at all. I don't really believe in genres - I believe in good books - genres are what publishers do to books to figure out what to buy and where to put it in the store.

5. Do you have any favorite food or foods that you find keep you inspired? What are the ways in which you pump yourself up to keep writing and overcome writer's block?

I think writers block comes from not knowing your character and writing too soon in the process. I don't think you should just sit down and write every day. I think you need to get inside your story and the people who inhabit its world however you need to do that - for me it requires swimming a lot and a lot of long walks where I focus on the characters for hours a time.

Foods, no. I drink green tea while I'm working but I don't nibble at the computer:) Just when I'm done.

Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.

I have trained myself to write anywhere so my writing space is my laptop wherever it needs to be. And as long as my dog is nearby, it's ideal.

About the Author (From her Website):

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.


Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Anna was the first to get me really interested in this book, but you've sealed the deal. I've got to get my hands on a copy! Thanks for the review and interview.

Serena said...

Trish: I really liked this book, and I haven't read the first one yet. That's on the list of things to do soon though.

Anonymous said...

I do enjoy your interviews. It's cool that songs were written for the book? very cool.

Serena said...

Care: Thanks for checking out the interview. i like that the songs were written for the book as well.

Gottawrite Girl said...

Great interview... sounds like she is an outliner / planner, like me, which I always take comfort in hearing about!

Thanks, Serena!

Serena said...

gottawritegirl: lol i love when writers say the opposite...gives me some kind of validation.

S. Krishna said...

I've read the book, but the interview was really interesting! Thanks!

Serena said...

S. Krishna: I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

The Bookworm said...

What a beautiful book cover, great review and interview!
Now I want to read this one.

Liviania said...

Great interview! MJ Rose's books look really cool.

Serena said...

Naida: This book was great!

Liviania: Thanks for checking out the review and interview.

Iliana said...

Enjoyed your review & author interview. I've read one of her books but it's been a while ago so I'll have to put this one on the list.

Serena said...

Iliana: I haven't read one of her books in a long time, so it was good to get back to her with this one.

Anna said...

Great review! I'm glad you liked the book. I'm curious to see what you think of The

Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Anna: I really did like the memorist. I just wish I had time to read the reincarnationist first. LOL But I never do things the right way.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I liked The Memorist much more than the first one. I enjoyed the interview - great questions.

Serena said...

Lenore: Thanks for stopping by the tour stop! I plan on reading the first book, so you'll see a review for that eventually.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic review/interview, Serena!

I haven't yet read *The Reincarnationist* either, I just didn't have time before I had my *The Memorist* review on the calendar. I think we'll be able to read it (*The Reincarnationist*) as a stand-alone, even knowing some of the events that happen in *The Memorist*

I love the embossed phoenix on the cover!

Serena said...

dawn: I love the phoenix cover as well. its gorgeous. I also can't wait to read the reincarnationist.

LisaMM said...

Serena, Great review and interview! Isn't that cover stunning? I love it.

Isn't it cool that music was written for the book? I've never heard of that being done before! And I love how MJ keeps a journal of her characters- I wonder if other authors do that. Seems like a fantastic idea.

I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. Thanks so much for participating in the tour!

Serena said...

Lisa: thanks for stopping by the review and interview.

I know Anna has a notebook for her characters...I've tried to do that and failed.

It was my pleasure to participate in the tour...and I love that music was written for the book...too bad they are not marketed together as a package.

Jo-Jo said...

You ask such good interview questions Serena. I haven't read these books yet but the interview definitely intrigues me!

Serena said...

Jo-Jo: The Memorist is fantastic. I haven't read the reincarnationist yet.

Shana said...

So am I understanding correctly that you read the second book in the series before the first? Are they stand-alone books?

This sounds great, Serena!

Serena said...

Shana: I would consider them stand-alone books of a series...lol I don't think I missed much by reading the second one first.

Wendi said...

Your interview has been added to About the Author - An Author Interview Index! ~ Wendi