Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I’m currently working on a novel for Orca Book Publishers’ “Rapid Reads” imprint. I believe Barbara spoke about it already, so I won’t bore you by repeating the details of what the idea is behind this. Her blog posting was recent, so just go back and look it up if you’d like. I’ll wait here...

Good. So I’m writing one of these novellas and enjoying it as much as Barbara did. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

The plot involves the murder of an orchestra’s conductor. Now I know my way around one of these unwieldy organizations pretty well, but not having done more than get hired on as an extra for the odd gig here and there, I haven’t been in one day in, day out. When you are, you understand the dynamics of inter-musician relationships much better, probably better than you want. Suffice it to say that they’re pretty much incredibly large dysfunctional families. Bad blood abounds, relationships are made and broken (as are marriages between orchestra members), and factions can’t help but form. The biggest upheaval always comes when a new conductor takes the helm. They naturally become the father (or mother) figure since they’re in the position of power, and the musicians respond accordingly.

So here I am toodling along through the novel and I start having all these questions and doubts about what I’m writing. Even though readers probably won’t detect when I make up things out of whole cloth, but even so, it’s important to me to get things right and have everything be as accurate as possible.

Yesterday, I was wondering on whom I might impose myself for a spot of research and reassurance. Like magic, I hear from an old friend who plays in an orchestra (which shall remain nameless). Seizing the opportunity, I pepper him with my questions. Do things really happen the way I’ve been describing them? I don’t want to be too over the top here, after all.

“Why do you want to know all this?” he asked.

I explained about the novel I’m writing.

“So who’s the person who gets murdered?”

“The conductor. All the musicians confess.”

Silence on the line for a moment, then he answers with a bit of a laugh, “I play in that orchestra.”

Life imitating art – or art imitating life?


hannah Dennison said...

I love that! I've also found that when I need to talk to "experts" for research, someone always knows someone!

Rick Blechta said...

It's more a matter of self-doubt with me in this case. I've sat in enough green rooms in my time, to pick up on what's going on. Friends who are in orchestras are also always ready to dish out the dirt. There's also always the possibility of getting that one terrific comment or quote that really sets off a section of the story.

In any event, you're right.