Friday, May 30, 2008

Opening of the book

The way the book opens owes a strong debt to the way John LeCarre opened his book, A Small Town in Germany. The early versions of my book were much closer to the LeCarre, but I changed it a lot in revision and I wanted to keep the same feel of mysteriousness. I don't pretend that I rose to the level he did in his fiction, but I think reading him made mine better.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Agatha Christie

By now, mystery readers, unless they've been hibernating or had there heads buried in the hollow of a tree somewhere, know at least the name Agatha Christie. While I was working on this book, I read Murder on the Orient Express and watched the movie with Albert Finney playing Hercule Poirot. Anyway, I really liked it, though I couldn't figure out the ending. I built some of that into this book, though I tried to give it a twist. I also saw the old Neil Simon comedy, Murder by Death, which was kind of inane except for the bit about Alec Guiness as the blind butler and Nancy Walker as the deaf maid. He was always telling her to do things, which she couldn't hear, and she was always writing him notes he couldn't read. That was very funny. Also the bit where it had the address of the mansion where the group gathered as 22-twain, an obvious reference to the Christie book.

Here's an excerpt of the Wikipedia entry on her: Agatha Mary Clarissa, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), commonly known as Agatha Christie, was an English crime writer of novels, short stories and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but is best remembered for her 80 detective novels and her successful West End theatre plays. Her works, particularly featuring detectives Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple, have given her the title the 'Queen of Crime' and made her one of the most important and innovative writers in the development of the genre.

Christie has been called — by the Guinness Book of World Records, among others — the best-selling writer of books of all time and the best-selling writer of any kind, along with William Shakespeare. Only the Bible is known to have outsold her collected sales of roughly four billion copies of novels.[1] UNESCO states that she is currently the most translated individual author in the world with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her.[2]

Her stage play, The Mousetrap, holds the record for the longest initial run in the world, opening at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952, and as of 2008 is still running after more than 23,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honor, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year, Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA, for Best Play. Most of her books and short stories have been filmed, some many times over (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and 4.50 From Paddington for instance), and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.

In 1998, the control of the rights to most of the literary works of Agatha Christie passed to the company Chorion, when it purchased a majority 64% share in Agatha Christie Limited.

Back when I was still trying to get a regular agent, one of them rejected the manuscript because it was "too Agatha." Isn't that a stitch? As far as I know her books are still in print and they just remade Murder on the Orient Express.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Henry Harrier and Sherlock Holmes

Another source of inspiration for Henry Harrier was Sherlock Holmes. I have been a fan of his since I read the "The Speckled Band" in high school. I've reread all the stories several times since them. They still entertain and entrall me from the characterizations, the portrait of the times in which they lived, and the plots. I liked the camaraderie the two displayed and the ever present sense of wonder at Holmes many gifts and peculiarities on the part of the good doctor. I really enjoyed the BBC series with Jeremy Brett playing Holmes, though it took me an episode or two to appreciate what he brought to the character beyond the old Basil Rathbone classics. I also appreciated the smarter Watsons played by several different actors. It was much more of a partnership than in the older versions.

Here's an excerpt of what Wikipedia says about Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Holmes is a famous fictional detective of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who first appeared in publication in 1887. He is the creation of Scottish-born author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based detective, Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of "deductive reasoning" while using abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation) and astute observation to solve difficult cases.

Conan Doyle wrote four novels and fifty-six short stories that featured Holmes. All but four stories are narrated by Holmes's friend and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson; two are narrated by Sherlock Holmes himself, and two others are written in the third person. The first two stories, short novels, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887 and Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. The character grew tremendously in popularity with the beginning of the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine in 1891; further series of short stories and two serialised novels appeared almost right up to Conan Doyle's death in 1930. The stories cover a period from around 1878 up to 1903, with a final case in 1914.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

George Smiley and Henry Harrier

Henry's character draws from the famous John Le Carre character. Wikipedia describes him this way: George Smiley is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is an intelligence officer working for MI6 (often referred to as "the Circus" in the novels and films), the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels Call for the Dead; A Murder of Quality; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honourable Schoolboy; and Smiley's People, and a minor character in a number of others.His address is 9 Bywater Street in Chelsea, London. Check Wikipedia for more info. He was immortalized for me by Alec Guinness in the BBC productions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley's People. I wish I could find them on DVD as I'd probably watch them over and over.

Monday, May 26, 2008

About the Curtis Institute

The model for the Kearney School was the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Wikipedia describes it as: "a conservatory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that offers courses of study leading to a performance Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, and Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. It is considered to be one of the leading musical institutions in the world.

"It was originally established in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, and was named in honor of Cyrus Curtis. It has served as a training ground for orchestral players to fill the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, much like the Vienna Hochschule fur Musik (University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna) and the Vienna Philharmonic or the New England Conservatory and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, although pianists, singers, organists and composers are offered courses of study as well.

"All pupils attend on full scholarship, but admission is extremely competitive. Besides singers, pianists, organists, conductors and composers, only enough students are admitted to fill a single orchestra. Accordingly, enrollment is in the range of 150 to 170 students.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wickipedia Entry for Orlando Cole, one source of the character, Henry Harrier

I went to Wikipedia to find information on my father-in-law, Orlando Cole. Here it is:

Orlando Cole
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Background information
Born August 16, 1908 (1908-08-16) (age 99)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Genre(s) Classical Occupation(s) Musical performer Instrument(s) Cello Years active 1927 –
Orlando Cole (born August 16, 1908) is a cello teacher who has taught a generation of soloists and first cellists in a dozen leading orchestras. Among them are Lynn Harrell, David Cole, Ronald Leonard, Owen Carman, Daniel Lee, Lorne Munroe, and Marcie Rosen.[1] In 1986 he received an honorary "Doctor of Music" from the Curtis Institute of Music of Philadelphia, and in 1990 was honored by the American String Teachers Association as "Teacher of the Year". Mr. Cole has also been honored by the Philadelphia Art Alliance and the venerable Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. In 1999 he was given the first award by the Curtis alumni.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, he entered the first class of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1924 as a pupil of Felix Salmond and graduated in 1934. Along with Jascha Brodsky, Charles Jaffe, and Max Aronoff, he was a founding member of what was then known as the Swastika Quartet, in 1927. When Hitler came to power and adopted this symbol of Apollo (albeit rotated), the fledgling quartet needed a new name and, with the permission of the school's founder, Mary Louise Curtis, they were granted the name of their alma mater. The Curtis Quartet was a pioneer in its time, being the premier group in America during the prewar years and the first American quartet to tour Europe, including a command performance before Mary of Teck, Queen Consort of George V of the United Kingdom. Before disbanding in 1981, the founding nucleus of Brodsky, Aronoff, and Cole remained intact; after Jaffe, the second violin position was held by Louis Berman, Enrique Serratos, Mehli Mehta, Geoffrey Michaels, and Yumi Ninomiya Scott.

During all this time, Cole was as well close with his classmate and friend, Samuel Barber, who first wrote for him the sonata, op. 6. They in fact collaborated on it as students, with Barber writing a page at a time which the two would read through together, until they gave the work its premier in Town Hall in 1934. Barber wrote as well his quartet, op. 11, with its famous adagio, for the Curtis Quartet. Incidentally, the ensemble played this work from manuscript for several years, and it was only when the time of publication arrived that Barber chose to make major changes: the first movement was cut down significantly, with its finale ultimately becoming the finale of what we have now as the third movement; and the original contrapuntal third movement was abandoned entirely for a reprise of the first movement material. In addition, the work Dover Beach, for baritone and quartet, was written for them. This work was originally conceived for mezzo soprano, but after hearing the premiere in Curtis Hall, Barber was dissatisfied and chose to sing it himself for the subsequent recording made with the Curtis Quartet.

Cole has taught at the Curtis Institute of Music for seventy-five years, first as Salmond's assistant while still a student and then succeeding his teacher. There was a brief gap in his tenure at the school, however, during the years just following World War II. The members of the quartet had grown dissatisfied with certain of the objectives and policies of the school and decided to found their own institution for the training of chamber and orchestral musicians, called the New School of Music. This institution, initially located just a few blocks from Curtis, was for over thirty years an important training center. After returning to their duties at Curtis in the mid-1950s, Cole and the members of the quartet taught concurrently at both schools. Not long after the ensemble's violist, Max Aronoff, who was also director of the New School, died in 1981, the school was absorbed into Temple University where Cole and Brodsky continued to teach. Cole also helped to found the Encore School for Strings in Hudson, Ohio, along with David Cerone who had left his position as violin teacher at Curtis to assume the directorship of the Cleveland Institute of Music. During nearly all this time, he has worked with his former pupil and assistant, Metta Watts. .

Cole has held master-classes all over the world. As of 2008 he was retired from the Curtis Institute, but continued to teach at the Temple University in the preparatory division with his assistant Metta Watts. Cole presently resides in Philadelphia.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The idea for the book

The Case of the Kearney Music School Murders came from a real event. My brother-in-law, David Cole, saw a body lying on the street under a balcony. At least that's the memory I extrapolated from it. That was one part that went into it. I don't think all the other stuff really happened but, who knows.


Ian Kearney, the director of the Kearney Music School, an elite musical training school in Philadelphia, dies after a fall from a balcony during a recital. World-famous cellist, Henry Harrier, recently forced from the faculty, returns to investigate Ian's death when his prized former student is arrested. Henry shows through his brilliant and single-minded pursuit of the truth that, as usual, they have it all wrong. This Sherlock Holmes-type mystery leads the reader through the world of classical music and lays bare the conflicts which dominate the lives of talented adolescents when placed under the pressure of studying for a demanding, stressful, and often elusive career as a classical music performer. Henry Harrier is part John Le Carre's George Smiley, part Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes, and part Orlando Cole the beloved teacher, renowned chamber musician, and until his own retirement, the premier cellist of the Curtis Institute.

Author Profile:

Tim was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1946. In 1951 he moved with his family to Schenectady, New York, where he lived through high school. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, from 1964 to 1968. He graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in history and philosophy. He received his Ph. D. in history in U.S. history in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after spending 2.5 years in the U. S. Army. Most of his army service was completed in Wuerzburg, Germany, from 1969-1971. In 1972 he returned to Madison to complete his doctoral study. His dissertation, Those Who Moved; Internal Migrants in American 1607-1840, combined the statistical analysis of genealogical and biographical data with the study of traditional literary diaries, letters, and journals.

Tim was a market and survey research consultant from 1983 to 2000 and a smoking cessation researcher from 2000 to 2003. His consulting practice focused primarily on conducting community health needs assessment. He authored hundreds of market research reports and published a number of his assessments in Community Health Needs Assessment published by McGraw Hill in 1996 and in a revised volume published in 1999. In 2000 he joined the staff of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he conducted smoking cessation research. He published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoke at national smoking cessation conferences.

In 2003 he moved to Philadelphia and earned his real estate license. He now practices real estate, works on publishing his novels, and studies and teaches entrepreneurship.Tim has written a dozen novel-length stories, a volume of short stories, and about a 3-foot stack of pages poetry. He is currently working on earning his 4th million in real estate sales, publishing his novels, and working on an entrepreneurish handbook as a support for his students.

Tim is a trained violist and an experienced string quartet player. He is an avid listener to classical music and regularly attends classical music concerts. He has two grown children by his first wife and a stepdaughter with his second wife. He likes to cook, read, write, entertain, develop relationships, and help other people. Formerly Tim used to travel frequently. He doesn't so much anymore. Now he regards the combination of real estate practice, writing and publishing, and the teaching and studying of entrepreneurship as enough of a trip.