Interview with ‘Seduction’ Author M.J. Rose
Seduction is the latest historical suspense novel from international bestselling author M.J. Rose. We were thrilled to have a chance to interview her about this compelling read, a sequel to last year’s The Book of Lost Fragrances.
Shelf Pleasure: What would you like readers who haven’t experienced Seduction yet to know?
M.J. Rose: Readers always ask me what inspired Seduction so let’s start there.
A trip to Paris and a visit to Victor Hugo’s home there inspired me to read Les Miserables.
I became obsessed with Fantine. I kept wondering if someone had inspired Hugo to create her?
I started reading more and more about him. I read his poetry. Sought out his watercolors and drawings…but it was coming across a description of his belief in reincarnation and his experimenting with séances that made me decide to write about him…and the woman who might have inspired him to create Fantine.
SP: We fell in love with Jac L’Etoile in The Book of Lost Fragrances and were thrilled to continue to read about her in Seduction. Did you know you were going to find another adventure for her no matter what, or did you do the research first and decide she was the right character to tell Victor Hugo’s story through?
MJR: I knew years ago that one day I’d write about Hugo’s séances long before I met Jac. But as soon as Jac appeared I knew within weeks that one of her books would be Hugo’s story. In their grief they have so much in common.
SP: One of the things we love most about your writing – and it is so true with Seduction as well – is how commercial and accessible it feels. While it’s clear you must have done an immense amount of research, we never felt bogged down and loved every single fact you doled out. How do you strike such a careful balance?
MJR: Thank you so much. I wish I could tell you. I just write the book I want to read and I hate reading books that have huge info dumps in them.
SP: Can you tell us a little bit about your research process?
MJR: I read endlessly, travel a bit, work with researchers, gather ephemera and photos and drawings and paintings and as much physical evidence of a time or place as I can so that I’m sensually connected to it. (As in the 5 senses – not as in sex. Well maybe the sex too).
I love the research. In fact, I often think research is half the reason I write – so I have an excuse to do the research and learn all this stuff. A reason to immerse myself in history. In things I don’t know about.
My process is to research until the last possible moment and then, when it’s imperative to stop and write – I put all my research awayand start writing the book and don’t look back during the first draft.
In the second draft I sometimes have to do more research – or fill in some blanks.
SP: What can we look forward to next from you?
MJR: Another Jac L’Etoile book. I’m just finishing it now. This time it has to do with Catherine De Medici’s perfumer (who also created poisons for her to use on some of her enemies). So we are back in France, circa 16th century.
SP: What books are currently sitting on your nightstand?
MJR: Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale, Lynn Cullen’s Mrs. Poe, Stephanie Lehaman’s Astor Place Vintage, and Steve Berry’s The King’s Deception.
SP: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
MJR: I sold Seduction before it was written and when it was time to write – I panicked. Sure I had made a huge huge mistake. How dare I take on Victor Hugo?! And not only take him on – but write a journal in his voice? He was a genius. How could I even begin to conjure him?
I wanted to buy my contract back but my wonderful agent convinced me to read Hugo’s letters first. Dan (Dan Conaway, Writers House) thought the letters might show a man who was easier to relate to than the brilliant novelist who wrote Les Miserables.
Dan was right. Hugo was more accessible as a man writing to his son or friend or mistress. It was through those letters, he came to life for me in a way that made me think I could take on the book.
So I sat down at my computer. And froze again. There I was. Trying to write what a 19th century novelist and poet would be writing to a woman he’d had an intimate relationship with. And doing it on a 21st century lap top.
After many false tries, something clicked. I picked up a pen, a bottle of ink and a notebook and started writing the way Hugo would have written. Longhand. And 120,000 words later…I finally put down the pen.
It was an astonishing experience and the only way I think I could have written this book.
Learn more and order your own copy of Seduction:
If you’d like to be featured as an author on Shelf Pleasure, email us here.
Sometimes you lose track of yourself during the hustle and ..
Care for a Nightcap? By Meg of write meg! When it comes to ..
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..