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History Buff is a site
for history lovers everywhere. It is also a site very interested in women
of the past. Although I (sadly) no longer have time to continue these interviews, here is an archive of Q&As about women's lives
in history. And please feel free to stop by History Buff's
sister site for archaeological discoveries making news today. Enjoy!
historical fiction writer I am fascinated by news stories featuring the
past as it's unearthed and reimagined and brought to life. I spend a
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Blog designed by Mia Pearlman Design
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Q&A With Historical Thriller Author M.J. Rose
* In your REINCARNATIONIST series, you alternate between the past and the present as your characters discover the possibility of reincarnation. What prompted you to write a series on the subject of reincarnation?
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 book and the 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 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.
* Your sequel THE MEMORIST take readers back to the time of Ludwig van Beethoven. How did you research 18th century Austria?
I spent almost two months in Vienna - a city whose past is still very much alive- and then I read about a half dozen books about Vienna in the 18th century. I also looked at a lot of art created during the years the book takes place.
*How much of the novel is based on fact and how much is fiction?
As with the first novel in this series, THE REINCARNATIONIST, there is a lot of fact mixed in with this fictional tale. The funeral ceremony, musical instruments, culture, customs and flora I describe in the ancient Indus Valley were carefully research and I've tried to keep true to what is known.
In almost all cases dates and descriptions of historical events such as the Congress of Vienna are accurate as are most of the locales in that beautiful city As far as I know the Memorist Society I wrote about in the book doesn't exist but there were many secret societies in Austria that broke off from Freemasons - some of which might still be functional.
Tell us something surprising about Ludwig van Beethoven's time.
The Austrian Orientalist, Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall who along with Sir William Jones in England and Silvestre de Sacy in France, were responsible for the great dissemination of Eastern knowledge in late 18th century Europe. In those early days of the age of Enlightenment the study of Eastern philosophy -- including reincarnation -- became very popular. Ludwig Van Beethoven was, in fact among those interested in these doctrines. 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.
*What are you working on next?
The third book in the series, The Hypnotist.
Thank you M.J.! And feel free to visit M.J. Rose online for more information about her latest novel The Memorist.