Thoughts, ideas, opinions, and the occasional fact about mysteries, ragtime, music boxes, and other stuff.
News and updates on my books.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
That's probably the Number One question writers get asked. The answer is, "Everywhere, all the time." Last night I went to a concert at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle, where the terrific Cornucopia Concert Band played selections in honor of Black History Month. There were rags, blues, popular melodies, show tunes. One of the most prominent names from the list of musicians represented in the concert was James Reese Europe. A century ago, he was composer, bandleader, arranger, promoter, labor organizer, one of the most important New York musical personalities of the time. He was a key figure in getting the dance craze of the 'twenties going, composing tunes for headline dancers Irene and Vernon Castle. He took ragtime and early jazz to France, thereby setting the stage for that country to be a post-war hotbed of jazz and related music. Unfortunately, Europe died far too young. In May, 1919, an argument with his drummer led to the drummer's stabbing the conductor to death. What might have been behind this murder? Was it simply a case of an unstable percussionist being pushed just a little too far by his boss? Or was there more? There's a relatively-new book out, A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe. My daughter and son-in-law gave me a copy for Christmas, and it's now near the top of my TBR pile. I think I'll move it up to Number One. There might be a story there.
I enjoy meeting and talking to readers and writers at mystery conventions and bookstores, so I thought I'd try to expand my circle of friends and acquaintances by going virtual. I'd like to let you know what I think; I hope you'll let me know what you think, and what you think about what I think. Ask whatever you'd like to know about my books, and how I go about writing them. You'll find me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I grew up in Paterson, NJ and New York City, practiced perinatal medicine (high-risk pregnancy care) and wrote general nonfiction books and articles for 25 years, then, in 1994, left medical work to begin a second career, writing mystery novels. The backgrounds and settings of my mysteries reflect many of my interests, including musical antiques, medical-ethical issues, and ragtime music.
My current book, A PERILOUS CONCEPTION, is my first mystery set in the Pacific Northwest, and tells the story of a brilliant young doctor whose ambition overwhelms his common sense as he pushes to become the first physician in the world to produce a baby through in vitro fertilization. I drew on my own experience in the field for background.
I live with my wife Myra in Seattle; we have two grown children.
My other mysteries include The Ragtime Kid, The King of Ragtime, and The Ragtime Fool (an historical-mystery trilogy), First Do No Harm, The Midnight Special, Scamming the Birdman, and The Music Box Murders. My nonfiction books include Genetic Engineering-Threat or Promise, The Enchanted Ear and The View From The Vue.