Thursday, October 6, 2011

Off the Shelf By M.J. Rose

LinkM.J. Rose is something of a Renaissance woman. She writes bestselling thrillers. She heads up Authorbuzz, a top-notch marketing firm, and its sister company, Booktrib. She writes historical fiction. She runs one of the publishing industry's go-to blogs: Buzz, Balls & Hype. She writes a mystery series. She's a founder and board member of International Thriller Writers. She writes erotic literary novels. She manages Backstory, where authors share their inspiration. She teaches classes in online promotion. She--well, you get the idea.

And now she gets Jack Reacher, John Rain and Cotton Malone on the couch. Some women have
all the luck.

You don’t write a continuing character who’s a sex therapist without being fascinated by a certain subject. So yeah, I admit it. Who we are sexually and why we’re that way is something I spend a lot of time reading about and pondering.

I meet people and wonder what they are really like under the covers. And not just real life flesh and blood people under Egyptian cotton sheets but paper and ink people under cardboard. (Or these days electronic pixel people.)

I’ve never read a Lee Child thriller without wanting to get Jack Reacher to tell me his secrets. Each time I finish one of Barry Eisler’s John Rain books I try, yet again, to understand how an assassin can be so appealing. And in every one of Steve Berry’s novels I’ve questioned why Cotton Malone can only show us so much before he closes the door, shutting us out of his love life.

And so one day I started to fantasize what would happen if my character from The Butterfield Institute series, Dr. Morgan Snow, got these tough guys on her couch. What twisted pasts, what traumas, what mysteries would she discover?

How much fun would it be to try it, was my first thought.

What a crazy creative challenge, was my second.

But could I ever get up the nerve to ask Lee, Steve or Barry to let me borrow their bestselling characters? No less put them in compromising positions. Writing about their characters sexuality seemed oddly too intimate. Perhaps a bit too revealing for me.

And even if I could pull it off and write in their voices, what possible reason would any of then have for saying yes?

The most important thing my mother taught me was not to be afraid of trying something out of my comfort zone. “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” she’d ask when something made me nervous. Together we’d go through all the possible results. Talking them out one by one- they never seemed as bad as they did in my imagination.

So I took a really deep breath and asked Lee Child first. He said he couldn’t imagine Reacher ever going to see a sex therapist but if I could pull it off, it sounded like fun. Steve Berry was next. He said pretty much the same thing. Eisler was no different.

The stakes got higher when Phil Gigante - who along with Natalie Ross –said they’d narrate the stories if the project came to fruition came up with a marvelous idea. What about asking Dick Hill - Reacher’s Voice, Scott Brick – Malone’s voice, and Eisler - who does Rain – to do their own dialog in the audio version?

I spent a good part of the summer writing the stories. Alternating enjoying the hell out the challenge, agonizing and cursing my hubris. Why had I thought I could do this? These are well established heroes. They have their unique ways of talking, thinking and acting. Not to mention that intimate part –I was taking these guys on sexually – and opening myself up for really awful rejection.

(Yes, I know how this sounds –but when you’re immersed in a sex therapist’s head – the double entendres come fast and furious.)

When it was time to send them off, have the authors read my efforts, do some editing if they wanted and hopefully give their blessing, I totally froze.

I’d written 11 novels. Had my share of nice accolades and reviews. Felt fairly good about my career. But suddenly I was as nervous as a the proverbial (and virginal) bride on her wedding night.

Why was I actively courting rejection and embarrassment? Why was I putting three writers who I respect and admire in the uncomfortable position of having to tell me I’d failed?

For an entire week I thought about scrapping the whole idea and not showing any of them the stories.

Finally I got to the core question. Really, what was the worse thing that could happen?

Amazingly, I never found out. And boy, did I have fun!

In honor of these amazingly generous authors who shared their heroes with me a share of the ebook proceeds and all the audio proceeds of In Session will be donated to David Baldacci's Wish You Well Foundation, supporting family literacy.

The ebook and audio book will go on sale Oct 17 but the ebook is available to pre-order at Amazon now. No Kindle? No problem - Amazon has free reading apps for your computer, iPad and smartphone.

You can find out more about M.J. at her website and her Facebook page. Want to try her sample her bestselling Reincarnationist series? Amazon has a penny download with excerpts of all three books.


  1. What a bit of genius -- I can't wait to snag a copy of this.

    Congratulations, M.J. I'm sure this book will be a huge success.


  2. Because I can't figure out how to do picture captions or hovertext in Blogger, here are the gentlemen featured:

    Thomas Jane as Jack Reacher

    Kippei Shiina, who played John Rain in the 2009 movie RAIN FALL

    Daniel Craig as Cotton Malone.

  3. This was a great concept, M. J. Looking forward to the read.

    Julia, I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't tamed Blogger yet. Great choices for the representations. (Better than Tom Cruise for Reacher!)

  4. My comment about almost anything in your life has been "why didn't I think of that?" I love those who truly think outside the box.
    And the words Jack Reacher on the counch are now imprinted in my brain. I won't get that image out of my mind all day!

    I'm sure the book will be a huge success. Good luck with it.

  5. Thanks guys, I really appreciate all the kind words. This has truly been one of the best writing experiences I've ever had - the generosity of these authors knows no bounds!

  6. Linda, don't even get me STARTED on Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.

  7. Brilliant brilliant brilliant!

    Rushing..back soon..

    Cruise as Reacher? Okay..iffy. But still...couldn't it--maybe--through the magic of the movies--somehow work??

  8. Tom Cruise as Reacher? NO WAY!! Reacher is a BIG guy; that eliminates Cruise.
    Would LOVE to read about Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke) on the couch.

  9. Speaking of going out of your comfort zone! I confess, I try NOT to think of how people are "under the covers," as it were.

    Writing sex has always been a queasy-making undertaking for me. Drink a glass of wine and close the door time. Generally I write food instead.

    So interesting, reading your thoughts on this.

  10. Tom Cruise would need to grow at least a foot to be Reacher then he'd have to develop a hard edged mean streak that he simply doesn't have. A young Harrison Ford could have done it.