The Memorist, book two in M.J. Rose’s reincarnation suspense series, is just as gripping (if not more) than the first, The Reincarnationist (which I reviewed here). Once again, a memory tool is at stake, and someone is willing to kill to lay claim to it. Meer Logan, a woman who has been plagued since childhood with memories of haunting music and a gaming box from the 1800s, is the key to locating it.
In The Memorist, the memory tool is an ancient bone flute hidden by Beethoven after he deciphered the carvings on the instrument and discovered the dangers of the memory song. Anyone who hears the song will remember the horrors of their previous life.
Woven in with the story of Meer, her father, and Malachai Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation (a familiar face from The Reincarnationist) looking for the memory flute are several subplots involving a number of intriguing characters: a hard-nosed CEO of a security firm who would bribe terrorists to ensure complete security at a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic; an oboe player in the Vienna Philharmonic and a friend of Meer’s father who is desperate to find out why his young son has withdrawn and spends his days in a psychiatric facility (a hospital where the Nazis conducted horrific experiments during WWII) reciting a prayer for the dead in Hebrew, a language he has never spoken; and a prominent Israeli journalist who lost his entire family to a terrorist bomb and plans to retaliate. Rose also takes readers back to the past, specifically to Vienna in the 1800s when Beethoven was deciphering the memory song and to India in 2120 B.C.E. when the ancient bone flute was made.
Not only does The Memorist keep you reading when you should be doing things like sleeping or cooking your family dinner (I even read this while walking to work from the bus stop, though not when crossing the street!), but it also gets you thinking about the power of memory and what happens to one’s soul when they die. In the book, memories can be painful and debilitating, but they also can be instrumental in preventing disaster or even heal wounds in the present time. You can bet I’m anxiously awaiting the third book in the series!
Read an excerpt of The Memorist here.
M.J. Rose was kind enough to answer my questions about The Memorist and her writing.
What inspired you to write about 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 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 awhile 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 Sept 2007, is out now in paperback, and is the first book in the series. But they don’t have to be read in order.
How long did it take to write The Memorist? How many more books do you have planned that deal with reincarnation?
It took about 18 months and I have one more in the works but there might be more after that. . . I haven’t decided yet.
How do you prepare before sitting down to write the actual novel? How much research do you do beforehand?
I’ve been researching the subject for years and have read over 50 books on reincarnation. . .but before writing each book, I have to do another 3-6 months of research on that particular book.
Do you have a particular writing routine? How much time do you spend writing every day?
The 3 months before I start a new novel, I don’t write a word. While I’m doing all that research I also work on my main character’s scrapbook. The very process of collecting her preferred poems, swatches of her favorite colors, and petals from the flowers she grows gives me time to find her.
I collect the ticket stubs for a performance of the Metropolitan Opera that she went to, a postcard from her mother’s first trip to Europe, a piece of the red and white string on the pastry box from her grandmother’s apartment; it’s all in the scrapbook.
And only when I’ve found all the knickknacks of her life and I’ve done a fair amount of procrastinating do I even think about sitting down to write.
And then I try to write at least five days a week–from four to six hours a day–usually from noon to six with two breaks in there to walk the dog and go get coffee.
What are you reading now?
Deepak Chopra’s Buddha.
Who are your favorite authors?
To many to name but some are: Paul Auster, Anne Rice, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, 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.
Are you working on another novel? Could you give us a hint as to what it’s about?
Yes, I am. It’s another book in this series and takes place in NYC and a bit in ancient Greece and ancient Persia.
Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists like myself?
Two things: Remember–writing may be an art, but selling your writing is a business. So love the process of writing because that is all about it that really matters. Whether you sell one book or 500,000 you have to love what you do everyday. Very few writers make a living writing fiction. We do it out of a passion for storytelling and the written word–if you are in it for the money, do something else.
Thanks, M.J.! I’m looking forward to the next book, and I wish you much success!
I have two sets of M.J. Rose’s books up for grabs, which means TWO lucky winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist AND a hardcover copy of The Memorist!! To enter, just leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think about reincarnation. Make sure you leave an email address or blog URL if you want your entry to count. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents, and the deadline is Nov. 30, 2008. Good luck!
**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Memorist from MIRA for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.
© 2008 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.