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Friday, June 22, 2012

Q&A With Dr. Karen Moriarty: Author of the MJ Biography, Defending A King ` His Life & Legacy

Recently, I had the opportunity of doing a Q&A session with Dr. Karen Moriarty, author of the Michael Jackson biography, Defending A King ` His Life And Legacy. I have already read the same and you can read the review here.

So when Karen said she would love to discuss more about the book and how working on something so huge changed her in certain ways, I was only too happy to share the same here. Read on:

Debolina: A book on one of the biggest entertainers in the world - Michael Jackson - so, you must have been a huge fan?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Although I greatly admire Michael Jackson, I became a true 'fan' after his tragic death. I found myself mourning from a depth I had never known before. I describe the process of my mourning in the book: that was the impetus for the book itself. Yes, I am a huge fan!

Debolina: When the world was mourning the loss of MJ, did you feel the void too?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Yes, I was glued to the television for all coverage of MJ, and I started researching him and reading everything that I could about him. It was my way of dealing with the grief. I felt the loss so deeply and so personally that I could not understand or explain it. I mourned for him, his children, family, and the world community that suffered this loss in such a profound way. To this day, I feel a void. The world lost a great man....before he could complete the global humanitarian work that he had planned.

Debolina: What prompted you to write a book on MJ? Was there a definite moment when you decided you HAD to write it?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: I started out as the ghost-writer for for two of MJ's three Las Vegas bodyguards, who protected him on a 24/7 basis for nearly two years (2006-2008). We had a parting of the ways - which I describe fully in my book - but I was so emotionally invested in putting out a positive, caring book about MJ that I HAD to continue on my own. I was sitting at my kitchen table after my return from disappointing meetings with the bodyguards when a voice inside me said, 'You need to do this for MJ and his fans!' (These men have not published a book). I then contacted a number of people who knew MJ intimately and obtained a great deal of never-before published material, which I have been honored to include in Defending A King ` His Life And Legacy.

Debolina: Why the use of the word 'Defending' in the title? Wasn't it a bit too intense? Or did you actually decide that with this book, you would be defending MJ against the allegations he has faced throughout his life?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: 'Defending' was chosen in a very purposeful way. Yes, I intend(ed) to defend MJ in numerous ways - to vindicate him regarding the false charges that he faced a trial in 2005 and numerous allegations of 'bizarre' behaviour. I focus on his normalcy and goodness; therefore, this book is like none other, it is unique. A major theme is 'Bizarre behavior is normal in bizarre circumstances,' and I delve into the bizarre circumstances and herculean challenges MJ faced as the most famous man in the world and a victim of continuous media bullying and lies.

Debolina: When you began working on the book, did you ever feel bogged down by the sheer fact that you were about to write about one of the greatest entertainers in the world and you may not be able to do complete justice to it?
Dr. Karen Moriary: Actually, no. From the start, I believed that the wonderful stories about MJ that I heard from his bodyguards, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, personal artist and father-figure David Nordahl, spiritual adviser and others who really got to know the real man would justify the book and make it special. Because my focus was always on his 'deserved' legacy, I had strong faith in the power of the material and in the specialness of MJ. What I learned about MJ was astounding to me....

Debolina: The media has always portrayed a 'wacko' side of MJ, whether it was true or not. Why did you choose to do something that shows him in a completely different way from what's worked so well for the media?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: As a life-long 'rescuer' - a psychologist and a lover of children and animals - I wrote this book because a book like it should have been published during MJ's lifetime, but it wasn't. It was too lucrative for the media to sensationalize and attack him; those are the stories that sold for millions of dollars across the years. I see this book as bringing justice to MJ....at long last. He deserves it and so do his fans, so many of whom have been longing for positive, truthful disclosure about him, his goodness, and his humanity.

Debolina: Your book clearly shows so much of MJ the human, rather than just MJ the entertainer. Were you afraid it may not go down that well with the readers, that it might not be that interesting to them, especially since it wasn't trying to show Michael in a controversy?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: I never lost sight of my target audience, Michael Jackson's fans and admirers. I knew in my heart that MJ fans would love the content of this book, the new information and the great stories about him from 'knowers.' Two chapters - of nineteen - include psychological analysis of him as a human being; it is truly unique, eye-opening material. He was such an interesting person - 'the paragon of paradox', which means that his personality and life incorporated such contradictory aspects. For example, Michael was black and white (at the same time!), rich and poor (at the same time0; he had masculine and feminine traits; and the list goes on and on. I have been told by many fans that they have enjoyed these parts of the book with a special level of interest.
 Although my target audience is MJ fans, I do believe that the book is of interest to to the general public as well. After all, it thoroughly describes and explains Michael Jackson, his life and loves, and all aspects of his personality - he was a global icon and he is a legend throughout the world.

Debolina: So many facts exposed, so many masks pulled off - did it ever occur to you that there may be people out there who might try to bring down your book, especially as it breaks a lot of myths that were created about MJ?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Yes, in fact there are people who have tried to bring down the book! The truths about MJ are too jarring and too surprising to many people who will not allow themselves to accept them! The book has been described by some as 'too positive.' I say, in response, it is about time! MJ broke a record by contributing $300 million to charity; never said an unkind word in public about his family members, the media who excoriated him, or his ex-wives; was a consummately loving father, brother, son; and a role model to millions of people around the globe. He was never convicted of any crime, and he was deeply loved and admired by the people who were fortunate enough to get to know him well. Their comments about him are exquisitely positive and compelling. I say 'Read this book with an open mind and it will open your eyes to Michael Jackson and his wonderful legacy....of love, hope, peace and unity.' His fans 'get that.'

Debolina: MJ in himself is a huge subject, talking about his entire life, his legacy, his children, the controversies surrounding him - how did you begin working on such a vast subject? How was the process of your research and interviews? Were people willing to talk?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: I started by deciding on the themes that should be included about MJ. Once I determined those, I knew where various stories and information should go in the book. With 19 chapters and themes, the content almost fell into place. I wrote to dozens of people to invite them to contribute their stories about MJ to this caring book about him, and the majority declined or ignored the request - which I had anticipated. However, those who accepted my invitation were the best! The first person to accept was Thomas Mesereau, MJ's defense attorney, who called me on a Sunday. From that day, he was so helpful and supportive; he has officially endorsed the book and we have become friends.

Debolina: When you began working on the details and as you got to know more of the person, did the facts ever shake you emotionally? How was your reaction as the truth began to get exposed?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: As I researched, interviewed, and wrote, I got more and more emotionally involved; I gained greater respect and admiration for MJ; and I often wept as I was typing at the computer. Some of the process was truly painful, and I couldn't turn off my feelings as I went about the rest of my life. Some of it was joyful too, however, and I kept thinking of the day when I would hear positive and heartwarming feedback from Michael's fans. That thought kept me motivated and even inspired. I knew that Michael would have loved this book about him; that awareness made me feel at peace.

Debolina: Did anyone ever try to stop you from carrying on with this book? Did people get hostile when you started digging around for facts?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Yes, a handful of people tried to stop me. There was some cyber-bullying that was upsetting. One individual tried to turn his Facebook followers against me. This was a painful situation, especially because the assault was based on a lie about me. My attorney has been very helpful, and I should say no more. I did receive some other hostile responses, and surprisingly, they were mostly from MJ fans, not the general public. I discovered that most MJ fans are loving, sensitive, good people, but there is a minority that is seemingly driven by anger and suspicion. I choose to focus on the hundreds of positive responses that I have received rather than the negative ones. Bottom line, I wrote this book for Michael Jackson, not to make money, but to advance his legacy and contribute something important.

Debolina: There are so many discoveries that one makes while reading this book, so many moments when you break down as a reader and as a fan of MJ. Any such moments for you?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Yes, there were many such moments for me! Especially when I heard very moving stories about MJ from Tom Mesereau, David Nordahl, and his bodyguards, I felt a series of strong emotions that included anger and sorrow. I felt such deep empathy for MJ, which continues on. I feel a strong, personal connection to him, and he has inspired me greatly.

Debolina: What was the personal reaction of most of the people whom you interviewed about MJ? Were their portrayals of MJ completely different from how you thought of him until now?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Most of the people I interviewed loved Michael and had felt very protective of him because he was such a gentle, sensitive and vulnerable soul. I was surprised at so much of the details that were shared with me and that I have included in the book. I kept thinking to myself, 'Who knew .......?' MJ was mysterious and fascinating. The real man was complex and had learned to cope with his challenging life and his burdens in ways that worked for him but sometimes looked strange to the outside world that got only the teeniest of glimpses into his life.

Debolina: While working on the book, did your own feelings towards MJ change? In what ways?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Yes, my feelings intensified as the weeks passed. I wrote seven days a week, sometimes 65 hours in a week; the book - and MJ - became my life. I have emerged as a different person after writing this book. It has been like a therapy for me. Among other reactions, I have become more sensitive to the suffering of others and very aware of the dichotomy between a person's public self and his/her private self. Many people, like MJ, carry the burden of private pain and suffering, often resulting from childhood trauma.

Debolina: How was the reaction of the media once you were ready with the book? Were people ready to publish the 'true' face of MJ, or did they want you to talk about some scandal, some gossip?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: The media nearly always want to hear the sensational, the negative, the provocative, especially about celebrities. During some of my interviews, the questions were provocative ones - actually predictable - but I tried to stay on course and reaffirmed the positive nature of my findings, my analysis and the book's contents.
I self-published this book so that I could control its direction and content, and this also helped in the marketing and advertising efforts. I had no one to answer but myself! I doubt that this book would have been published because it is a positive portrayal. I made no attempt to find a traditional publisher for the book, a decision that was reinforced when I discovered that a publicist had tried to promote a book about MJ by Tom Mesereau after the most-telecast trial in the world - MJ's criminal trial in 2005 - and was turned down by nine publishers...unless he would include some scandalous material about MJ..Mr Mesereau was appalled and chose not to pursue the possibility of a book any further. Perhaps his enthusiastic and generous support of my book is a happy outcome of that unpleasant, eye-opening experience for him.

Debolina: Was the entire process physically and emotionally draining for you?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Yes, I have still not recovered, and it is now six months from the date of publication. The reason for this continuing sense of exhaustion is due to full-time promotional activities and correspondence with fans and others who wrote to me; I get hundreds of emails every week; I respond to nearly all of them.

Debolina: Do you think this book is only for an MJ fan? Who would you typically say your reader would be?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: The vast majority of people who have read the book to date are MJ fans and admirers. However, some of the most gratifying feedback that I have received is from non-fans, who report that they learned so much and now have a revised viewpoint of MJ, a new admiration for him as a man, and sympathy for what he endured. To me, the skeptics and suspicious who have 'converted' after reading this book represents the most successful and significant outcomes of this unique book. MJ deserves this vindication, this celebration of who he was and what he did for our wold.

Debolina: What were your special moments while working on this book?
Dr. Karen Moriarty: Among my special moments were meeting Tom Mesereau and spending hours with him while he recounted his memories of MJ and shared his unique perceptions of Michael, his client, who became a friend and an inspiration to him. Interviewing David Nordahl, who was MJ's personal artist, mentor, friend and father figure for more than two decades, was thrilling: he 'painted a verbal portrait' of MJ that was so intimate and special. Learning about MJ's very private and mysterious life during his last four years, such as from his 24/7 bodyguards in Las Vegas, was a peak experience of my lifetime. I never expected to be able to learn so much about Michael Jackson, who was a complete mystery to me when I began writing. By the time I finished, I felt like I really knew the man; I have come to feel a spiritual connection with him. There is not a day that goes by that my behaviour does not reflect his influence upon me. I describe the ways that I have been affected in this book. As examples, I do volunteer work, study meditation, perform a charitable act at least daily, seek out people in need, and try to do random acts of kindness. MJ was all about love, as those who really knew him will affirm. The more he was attacked by media and ill-intentioned others, the more he turned to love. What better lesson for us all than that?

How To Get Your Copy of Defending A King` His Life And Legacy by Dr. Karen Moriarty:

The book is available as a paperback and as an e-book (for Kindle, NOOK, Sony Reader and Kobo). It can be ordered from online from

Dr. Karen Moriarty also occasionally hands out autographed copies, though on a limited basis. For complete information, please visit www.defendingaking.com

You can find more information and show your support by liking their FaceBook Page. 

- Debolina Raja Gupta

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