inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #51 of 77: Joe Flower (bbear) Mon 16 Apr 01 19:04
Do you have those backwards, Brian? The Model T was the original one, all
angles and knees and elbows, the first truly mass-produced car, while the
Model A was the later, 1920s version, with rounded sheet metal.

Today's eBooks do seem like Model Ts. I see little to pay for in terms of
true functionality. Paperback books have a lot going for them. 

But to get back to In Fidelity - it deals with a lot of issues which you
have clearly thought deeply about. What of it is autobiographical - which
issues have been real issues in your life?
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #52 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Mon 16 Apr 01 19:13
Thank you for the compliment but none of it is autobiographical. None
of my novels are. Well - the places are always places I have been
-either to write about them -or for some other reason. I've seen the
things my characters see and tasted the food they eat but I haven't
lived any part of their lives. 

I write the kind of books I want to read. I write about the kinds of
people and the kind of problems that I find interesting - mostly
becuase they are not my problems. 

I don't think I ever want to write about the things I've personallly
had to deal with - it was bad enough having to live through them - the
last thing I want to do is write about them too.

Certainly emotions transcend that - I have loved and hated and lost
and missed and been angry and sad etc - but not in the ways or for the
reasons my characters have.

But it is a huge compliment that people think the books are
autobiographical - it means they ring true.

When i was a kid I wanted to be three things, a poet,a painter and an
actess. I didn't know that being a novelist would encompass all of them
so well. 
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #53 of 77: Mark Binder (realfun) Tue 17 Apr 01 19:06

Care to give us a teaser about the novel in progress?

If not, and we can certainly understand, how about your thoughts on truth
versus fiction.

I find that today things are supposed to be "true." Anybody who writes the
"True Story of Charles and Diana" is guaranteed a bestseller. Same with
Reality Based TV.

I worry sometimes that the kinds of lies (ahem --  stories) that we make up
are being lost -- or at least diminished in importance.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #54 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Tue 17 Apr 01 19:47
The new novel - is called DRAWN IN. And should be out about a year
from now - maybe a bit sooner. It has an unreliable narrator, takes
place in the art world and involves a murder trial and an obsessive
love affari. I'm loving writing it and it's almost done.

Lies vs truth. hmmm. Let me think about that one a bit more. I'm
fascinated with lies in gereral. The fourth book - which is outlined
already is all about lies.

( I know I'm neurotic - I have to have the next book at least in
outline form before I finsih the current book or else finishing the
current book is too depressing - I used to need to have the new
boyfiend lined up before I broke up with the current one too)

I think there are great truths in fiction - the emotions and morality
or immorality of the characters is true. The ambitions and hubris and
love is all true. The bones are true and the flesh is true just the
faces and the hair coloring and the sound of the peoples voices and the
way they smell are just not neccessarily in the right order.

Is this making any sense? I guess what I mean to say is that it is
fiction but we can only make up what we know in some basic way. And
while the actual plot may be fabricated, and the specific characters do
not exist - it all has been inspired by reality. Even if we leave that
reality and contort it in order to write about it.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #55 of 77: Joe Flower (bbear) Tue 17 Apr 01 20:04
But the line of truth and fiction and lies gets a lot stranger with an
unreliable narrator. Could you explain the concept? Some of our readers
might not be familiar with it.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #56 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Wed 18 Apr 01 04:05
The best example is a slim Henry James novel called  Turn of the
Screw. Another example is a more recent book by Patrick McGrath called
Dr. Haggard's Disease. ( I'm pretty sure that's the one - its been a
while since I read it).

But basically the   concept is that you the reader are just not sure
that the narrator of the story is telling you the truth. So as you are
reading you are wondering.

I think it does make the line between truth and fiction stranger. And
I think one of the things that underlies all of my fiction is a
fascination with truth/lies. In Lip Service - lies play a very
important role - in fact some of the lies are redemtive.

In In Fidelity too, the lies between the husband and the wife are at
the heart of the novel. In Drawn In they are again a major theme. And
in the novel after that.

Is it simplly that as novelists we lie all the time or more personal
than that? I'm not sure. When I was a kid I was a very evil little liar
and sometimes wonder if I becuase a novelist in part becuase it was
one of the few positive things I could do with ability.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #57 of 77: Mark Binder (realfun) Wed 18 Apr 01 18:38

What sort of evil little lies?
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #58 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Wed 18 Apr 01 20:55
Ah but then I would be talking about myself and not my fiction and
you'd go looking and if you caught one thing that was the same in my
book and my life then you'd start to draw the conclusion that much of
the fiction is fact.

But... let's see.... I often made up very dramatic and dangerous 
things that had happened to me on the street or at school that totally
were unture  - and got many many people in trouble - just to get
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #59 of 77: Richard Evans (rje) Thu 19 Apr 01 04:46

I like the progression from childhood tale teller to adult novelist Melisse-
maybe the gap between the two is really just experience and craft, with the
generation of attention shifting from the telling to the sharing, from
making things up to having things published. Or something like that.

And just to bring things back to the publishing side for a moment- do you
think that e-publishing stands a greater chance of short term sucess
in genre markets such as SF which thrives on fan based word of mouth, or
writing modes such as poetry, which do not currently have a large print
market, than with so called mainstream works?
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #60 of 77: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 19 Apr 01 16:58
An interesting interpretation, Richard, and very elegantly put...

Melisse, I really enjoyed reading "In Fidelity" next novel. I'm an avid 
reader of detective/mystery books and was quite enthralled by the plot 
devices you used in IF to keep me in suspense. I look forward to your
next work but would also like to see what happens to the characters in
the previous one!

Many authors have the same character in book after book, and that character
isn't necessarily a detective by trade. Some are waitresses or chefs or
just Little Old Ladies with time on their hands and a propensity to be
at the right) place at right time. Have you considered having a recurring 
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #61 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Thu 19 Apr 01 18:14
Richard - I too love your description and the way you put that. I feel
better about myself as an adult novelist than I used to feel about
myself when I was a teenage liar. 

And yes - I think ebooks when they are shorter than 75 pages and are
anything that can be niche marketed have a better chance of succeeding.
Poetry for dollard, sci fi for dollars, short stories - basically
anything that can be read on screen and enjoyed works great - the books
you want to curl up in bed with - will sell better in print.

Oh Cynthia Thank you - thank you - I love hearing that people enjoy my
fiction. And I have thought about bringing one character back. But she
is someone in novel number four - which is only in rough draft now -
she's someone I can see returning. 

But generally I find I'm fascinated with new stories and new issues
and that requires new characters. 

But we'll see. I never say never. 
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #62 of 77: Richard Evans (rje) Fri 20 Apr 01 05:16

>... I was a teenage liar.

There's a potential autobiography title for you Melisse!

As far as repetition is concerned have you ever been tempted to go the path
of the constant ficitonal setting, with each new story having different main
characters but set in the same locale- a trait of which I am quite fond when
(like most things) is handled well.

And thanks to you and Cynthia for your compliments on my comment, which was
very much an off the cuff remark (albiet one I typed out a few times before
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #63 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Fri 20 Apr 01 07:49
No... I haven't thought of the same setting either... but it has its
intrigues... just now you metioning it - there is a sex therapy
institute in Lip Service - that suddenly in the last three minutes has
just given me a whole new idea for a novel...humm... I might just
consider that.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #64 of 77: jane hirshfield (jh) Fri 20 Apr 01 09:09
I often think that in fiction it's the lies the characters tell themselves,
or, less strongly-put, their self-delusions, which drives the unfolding. And
In Fidelity, while there is an initiating lie in the marriage, it seemed to
me a lot of the working out of the book was in the protagonist's making her
way to a truer understanding of what she actually felt and wanted. (I'm
trying not to offer any spoilers with this generalized remark. Given the
title, I doubt I'm giving anything away.)

As for poetry e-books, I don't think so...  The only kind of poetry that
spreads in large numbers in any case is stuff like "When I Am An Old Woman I
will Wear Purple," and the people who bought that are unlikely to be e-book
owners. For the readers of more serious works, poetry I'd guess would be one
of the last things you'd want an e-book rather than in a bound volume. The
only exception: if it were legally possible and easy to do a kind of
"sampling" creation of your own anthology of favorites, that might be the
kind of thing worth having in e-book form, since it can be carried around
everywhere with you. BUt I think the numbers of people who do this are
pretty miniscule. But reading Rilke on the equivalent of a Palm Pilot? I
don't think so.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #65 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sun 22 Apr 01 08:52
I would prefer buying poetry books in print too Jane, but what about
that   daily poem site that you had a poem on... that works really well
and is exactly like reading Rilke on a Palm Piolot.

I think in the future there will  ebooks of poetry for very little -
say two dollars - that contain a few poems - and whould encourage
readers to discover poets and then buy their full opus. 

And yes, it is the lies characters tell themselves that are so very
important. It is infact my title for novel number six.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #66 of 77: jane hirshfield (jh) Sun 22 Apr 01 14:58
I am on old relic who actually never truly enjoys reading a poem on a
screen. I can do it, but it's a degraded experience for me. I expect it must
be different, or at least might be different, for those who have grown up
reading on screens.

The way I'd see poetry e-book being useful (aside from the "make your own
anthology" I proposed above) would be to have huge swaths of out of
copyright poems available cheaply, indexed by subject, phrases, etc. As a
searchable resource one might then be able to copy/print out from.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #67 of 77: Mark Binder (realfun) Sun 22 Apr 01 15:59

It'll be interesting to see what happens as these devices can begin speaking
the text. There's a Franklin EBookman which looks a lot like those Padds
they have on Star Trek, and it's a lot more appealing to read on. Then
theres' the ultra-expensive TV Guide Ebooks (Rocketbook -- whatever they're
calling it this week.)

I don't think print is going away, but ephemerals -- magazines especially --
may vanish from print. Except for a few giants and then local rags.

On the other hand, as an advertiser, I might be more convinced to pay for a
print ad -- so you're destroying things in both directions. Fewer
publications, less pay for writers....

Awww, this is a lousy rant.

Personally, I'd vote for a system where people pay pennies to read my work
-- as long as they like it and pay me.

M.J. what's your preference? Really.
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #68 of 77: Richard Evans (rje) Sun 22 Apr 01 18:06

The whole publication thing presents more than a few interesting dilemas
Mark, though changes to print technology may mean a decrease in gratuitious
tree destruction- print on demand is something that has the potential to
reduce the fiscal burden aspect of publishing works that may do the unit
shift in best-seller type quantities.

And with genres like poetry I think far too much attention is placed on the
idea of print cost and not enough on the profit margin aspect- I suspect
publisher's reluctance is not so much based on the production cost per se
but the comparatively small profit margins: it is not so much a case of
poetry being too expensive to produce, but of not yeilding *enough* profits.

And while there can often be an all too thin line between small profit and
no profit, the value of such an enterprise also depends on why one is in
publishing (or writing) in the first place: to make money or to express and
share some creative thing. Which is not to propogate some ideal notion of
the artist as a creature above money or anything like that, but rather to
suggest that current mainstream publishing houses are pushed by the
proverbial profit motive to an exent that borders on the ridiculous in
terms of who is published and why and when and what kind of publicity they
are given and so on and so forth.

In this context I think that Melisse is right: e-books (and web-publishing)
can constitute an easy way for computer people to encounter and read for
free or minimal cost all kinds of words that they may not otherwise
encounter with  more than a few such readers converting word interest into a
paperbook purchase in precisely the same way that one may first hear a song
on the radio or at a friend's house or movie theatre or cafe or somewhere
not dissimilar and then go and purchase a CD featuring that song.

And how many novels and other fictoinal word ideas have you currently got in
the percolating planning stage Melisse- and is the writing order liable to
change-with projected novel 6 becoming actual novel number 4- or do you
stick to your mapped out writing future?
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #69 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Tue 24 Apr 01 16:16
As to the money/ebook/digital revolution etc issue... I just don't
know what is going to happen and I don't even feel comforatable makeing
a guess. 

All I know is I'm a writer and want to make a good living being a
writer. Whether or not I can do that remains to be seen. 

And as to the order of the novels... well... three is written. And
about to go into production. Four is in a first draft stage and I want
to get to the second draft more than I want to take five which is just
an outline and work on that. And six... well six is two pieces of paper
right now.

So I think I'll get to these in order.  What happens after four though
is still left to be seen... just like the money issue. (sigh)
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #70 of 77: Mark Binder (realfun) Wed 25 Apr 01 06:26

Isn't that the truth!

One longs for the days when writers could establish themselves and then
coast on the reputation of one book for the rest of their lives. Of course
those days there were fewer writers and fewer published writers.

Do you always see yourself on the self-promotional treadmill?

I've been considering how to get exposure and publicity -- getting arrested
always seems like a good thing, but there's a certain amount of risk
involved in that. Doing something controvertial or pseudo controvertial
(like the Go-Gos dressing up as the Virgin Mary for their new album) is
another route.

What kinds of alternative promotional techniques do you recommend? I know
there's a list of them in your book, but what are your favorites?
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #71 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Thu 26 Apr 01 04:06
To tell you the truth - getting arrested doesn't seem half bad. That's
how tired I am of the promotion thing these days. Its party cause I'm
winding down four months of promotion for In Fidelity  and really
looking foward to taking off the next eight to write. And then write
some more. 

But my favorite technique?  Ah... its the simplest and the hardest -
getting books into the hands of readers. If I could give away a
thousand or two thousand copies of my books to the right readers that
would be my ideal promotional effort becuase no one and nothing sells
books like people who love them. 
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #72 of 77: jane hirshfield (jh) Thu 26 Apr 01 16:32
What a great answer!
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #73 of 77: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Fri 27 Apr 01 04:35
Thanks Jane!
inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #74 of 77: Mark Binder (realfun) Fri 4 May 01 06:51

I'm still chewing on M.J.'s last remark -- that the best way for an author
to get her work into the hands of readers is to pass out books for free and
then trust the word of mouth...  On one level, it makes sense, especially if
your livelihood isn't dependent on book sales. On another level, there's a
real problem.

Look at the Free Internet and Free Newspaper syndrome. I used to work for
the Providence Phoenix, which was a free newspaper because it was a free
newspaper. Now the Village Voice is a free newspaper. And the Internet has
tons of free stuff. Now publishers and magazines and newspapers try to pay
me the same amount they paid me 10 years ago for the same work. Now others
try to get that work for free.

My point is that, on the one hand one influential reader can bring in a
dozen more paying customers. But what if they don't. What if they become
accustomed to getting it for free? Or for cheap?

The digital/online revolution offers the hope that writers will receive a
slice of the pie because we can publish ourselves. The problem is that we're
writers and (M.J. excepted) lousy marketers. The people who can market --
book publishers -- have less of a stake in our work. One publisher I'm
talking with wants ALL rights for a pittance. I may sign the contract
because I need the money. Still, it rankles. I'll be giving them my words.

Yes, this is my particular rant. We're operating under the laws of supply
and demand. 1) There's a huge supply of writers. 2) The demand has been
diminished somewhat by the free nature of much material, and the overload of
other information. 3) People like Stephen King, who fund the publishing
industry, command whatever they like.

I'm going to post this, and leave the discussion open.

I want to thank M.J. for her contribution both as a writer, and as one of
the leaders in the online publishing revolution.

I think the challenge for all of us will be to find the new model that is
beginning to emerge, and ride it to the kind of success that M.J. has begun.

inkwell.vue.108 : Two Sides of M.J. Rose
permalink #75 of 77: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 4 May 01 16:43
I'll chime in with my thanks to MJ, too. Both for agreeing to be a guest in
inkwell.vue and for writing such an entertaining book as "In Fidelity." I
look forward to your next novel, Melisse. Good luck to you!


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