Sunday, February 10, 2013

Interview with author Rena Fruchter

The Orchestra Murders banner

Today, I'd like to welcome Rena Fruchter, author of the new crime fiction novel The Orchestra Murders.

Q. Thank you for stopping by! Can you tell me who or what inspired you to become an author?

A. I was born writing.  I was writing stories as a small child. Music and literature have always been important parts of my life and career. As a child pianist and child writer, it was a natural progression for me to begin writing about music.  I began interviewing musicians when I was in my teens, and was the youngest music critic at the Boston Herald. I spent many years as a music critic and music columnist, writing for several newspapers in New Jersey, including the Home News. For twelve years, I wrote a music column for the New York Times.


Can you tell me a little about The Orchestra Murders?

A. The Orchestra Masters--A Cynthia Masters Mystery is a 'murder mystery' surrounding the exciting, high-profile, and cut-throat world of classical music.  Of course, cut-throat is not always meant as literally as it is in my book. The musical world includes many extreme characters.  Some of them inspired the characters in my book.  It's a story that was rolling around and developing in my mind for years before I began writing.  The story is set both in Philadelphia and London, two cities I know very well.  I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and lived and studied in London.

In this book, Sir Gregory Langhorne, a famous British conductor,  conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, and his celebrity violinist son Jonathan Langhorne were close--until a series of murders in the Philadelphia Symphony raised questions about how the brilliant Langhornes might have been involved in these crimes.

Q. That sounds very interesting! How did you come up with the idea for this book?

A. In developing the theme of this book, I drew upon my background as a professional musician, and my connections to both London and Philadelphia. The book was 'brewing' for a long time before the story was ready to tell. I liked the idea of a brilliant female detective, and Cynthia Masters was born. I knew from midway through the book that Cynthia Masters would have to come back for another couple of books. She has a lot more to do.

What are you working on now?

A. I am thinking about the next book in the Cynthia Masters series. I have several themes I'm considering, but haven't made a decision yet. I should mention that writing books is only part of what I'm doing.  I'm also a pianist, and artistic director of Music For All Seasons, an organization that provides the healing power of live music for those confined in all types of institutions. Through Music For All Seasons, we run the Voices of Valor program, in which veterans are assisted with the process of reintegration to civilian life through songwriting.  

That sounds like a great program! When it comes to writing, what are your strategies for making characters seem real so the reader connects with them?

A. For me, it's important that not only the major characters, but the minor ones as well, jump off the page as real people whom we care about.  It has always been important to me that my readers identify with my characters.

Part of it has to do with giving the characters enough detail so that they are believable as people. We need to feel and experience their thoughts and their struggles. We need to understand their flaws, as well as their good qualities. They need to breathe and share their emotions with us.

Q. What sorts of relationships and experiences do you most like to explore in your writing?

A. I like to look at difficult and challenging people and relationships.  Who needs one-dimensional characters?  People are complex.  Unfortunately, people who are ‘nice’ and straightforward don’t make the most interesting characters in a book! There's a lot going on inside most people, and only a small portion of it is evident on the outside.  The beauty of creating a work of fiction is that it can enable us to see inside the minds and actions of complex characters. I love exploring extreme personalities, looking at what makes people do the things they do.

Q. What genres and authors do you most enjoy reading?

A. I have a wide range of authors and styles I enjoy reading, from books like Patricia Hester’s Whispers from the Ashes to Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants to some of the traditional crime fiction and popular authors including James Paterson, as well as Michael Crichton and John Grisham.

Q. What do you enjoy doing when you're not reading?

A. I enjoy playing the piano and preparing for concerts. I enjoy running Music For All Seasons, and attending programs the organization provides.  I enjoy going to concerts and to the theater.  I would say “long walks on the beach,” which sounds like a cliché, but would be somewhat true.  My husband, Brian Dallow, and I own a summer home in Nova Scotia, where we do spend summers on the beach. It’s also a very peaceful place where I can spend a lot of time writing and playing the piano, contrasting with the rest of the year when life tend to be very busy.

That sounds wonderful! Thank you so much for visiting today.

You can connect with Rene Fruchter on her website, Facebook, Twitter.

Read more interviews, guest posts and reviews of The Orchestra Murders on the Pump Up Your Book tour.


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