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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Karen Hawkins will also be on the page.)
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M.J. Rose – Magic In Books & In Life
I grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading my mother’s favorite books before I was allowed.
The two books of hers that had the biggest impression on me were The Search for Bridey Murphy — a nonfiction story about a woman in therapy who regresses and discovers a previous life, and A Portrait of Jenny, a time travel romance written by Robert Nathan which was also made into a movie starring Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones.
Both the novel and the book on reincarnation informed my life and influenced what I love to read and write. I fully and completely believe that mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice. Books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it. That’s why they are so important to me as an author and reader.
Bobbi here. Want to read more about M.J. Rose and magic? Check out the interview I did with her for Kirkus, La Vie & La Magie, here.
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I’ve read every book Karen has written – and love them all. But since we’re talking magic, her Tradd Street Ghost Series is just perfect for readers who love gently occult stories. I literally pant for each one.
Another author whose books I’ve read every one of. Her Seven Sisters Series is laced with subtle magic. Each sister has slightly different talents and abilities and the love stories are breathtaking.
Alice Hoffman – can you talk about magic in fiction without featuring Alice Hoffman? I don’t think so. Each beautiful story touches your heart and soul.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
The first novel I wrote that had a magical element in it – The Renicarnationist – was inspired by a mystical event that still doesn’t seem real when I think about it.
I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art walking through the small Tomb of Perneb that the museum imported from Egypt. I was standing inside the first small chamber when I had an otherworldly experience – I was alone one minute and the next a little girl was standing there with me looking at the inscriptions on the wall. She turned to me, smiled and then disappeared. I walked out the other end of the tomb, shaking. I sat down on a bench, pulled out my notebook and sketched out the idea for the whole series in less than 30 minutes.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
The Secret Garden was a magical read for me. I was eight and became totally immersed in Mary’s world. It was also the first time I realized that writing books – making up stories – was something that you could do. That make-believe was an occupation. And that was a magical moment for me. And set me on the course I am still on today.
The most recent example of a book just as absorbing and magical to read is The Clock Maker’s Daughter by Kate Morton which stunned me with its story and imagery. I can’t stop thinking about it and I read an advanced copy over a year ago.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
I was writing The Secret Language of Stones – a story that takes place at the end of World War I, about a young jeweler with psychic abilities who falls in love with a ghost. I went to Paris to research the novel and walk each of the major scenes in the novel. One takes place at the very evocative cemetery, Père Lachaise. I thought I was going to have a scene at the oh so romantic tomb of Eloise and Abelard and wound my way there. As I was taking photos, a crow landed on the tomb and cawed at me. Over and over. Twice he flew off and then came back. As if to get me. The third time I gave in and followed the crow who led me through a twisting path over rocks and tree roots and broken tombstones to an out of the way grave that wound up being so much more romantic and perfect for the novel. The grave of Colonel P. Legay d’Arcy became the very symbol of the love story in the book. I finished taking photos while the crow waited. He never left my side and followed me back to the cemetery’s exit.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I truly believe that when I am writing I am channeling a story that someone needs me to tell and that one of my readers need to hear. There’s not just magic in the book in some way but the whole book is, in effect, magical. Magic gives us hope. It gives us courage. I wear talismans and think books are very similar. They protect our souls, they enlarge our imaginations and they help us to dream — and in our cruel world those efforts are so very needed and their importance can’t be overestimated.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
When I lose focus I search out beauty. As pure and undiluted as possible. I go to the museum. Or walk in a forest. Or listen to a Beethoven symphony. Or buy a single rose to smell its perfume and touch its velvety petals. Or I re-read Ithaka by Cavafy — my favorite poem.
I am in awe of everything that is beautiful in the world, be it man made or created by nature, and find the most inspiration there.
M.J. is generously giving two lucky readers a talisman necklace like one she wears like from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
U.S only – apologies to our international friends.
Must enter by 8/4/19 11:59pm Eastern to be entered to win the first one.
Must enter by 8/10/19 11:59pm Eastern to be entered to win the second one.
All commenters will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 1 participating authors. Must comment by 8/14/19 11:59pm Eastern.
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M.J. Rose is the NYT bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and several books on marketing. In 1998, her first novel Lip Service was the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.
Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek, and New York Magazine.
She 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.
Rose was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. She is the founder of AuthorBuzz.com, the first marketing firm for authors and the co-founder (with Liz Berry) of 1001DarkNights.com
Discover all of M.J.’s books:
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