Author Interview with Rick Blechta

Author Interview with Rick Blechta

Posted on September 3 by admin
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Starting off our mystery week is an interview with Rick Blechta and his hot of the presses book The Fallen One. Rick tells us how he came up with the idea of this book, his new project and his most memorable response from a reader.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Rick: I’ve wanted to write a crime fiction novel set in the opera world for quite awhile now. What is more dramatic and lends itself to this sort of book than opera? Many opera plots are like crime fiction in the first place, filled with murder and mayhem as many are.

Characters are generally not hard for me to come up with once I have that little nugget of an idea that sets the plot in motion. La Traviata by Verdi is one of my favourite operas, so that became the musical centre-point of the story. But there has to be a human factor, too, or readers won’t be swept away by what you’ve written, which is the ultimate goal of any novelist, isn’t it? So in The Fallen One, protagonist Marta Hendriks, an operatic soprano, is searching for the truth about her husband and his accidental death – all while singing beautiful music in some of the world’s great opera houses.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the title?

Rick: That’s simple. The Fallen One is simply a poetic translation into English of the Italian “La Traviata”. I decided to use it since it fits what I’ve written on many different levels – although I’ve rather turned the plot of the opera on its head in my novel.

Caitlyn: How did you research your book?

Rick: For the musical aspects, I used a lot of my own knowledge of opera, singing and just making music. Where I needed specific knowledge about singing opera, opera houses, and that sort of thing, I relied on a musical acquaintance, tenor Robert Kuenzli, whom many Canadian opera lovers will remember as Mime in Wagner’s Ring Cycle that opened Toronto’s new opera house in 2006.

But I also did something a bit out of the ordinary for me: I wrote almost the entire novel before doing any location research other than online inquiries. Since a large part of the story takes place in Paris, I knew there would be a lot of errors. What I did to solve this problem was visit the City of Light for nine days, during which time I visited every location I’d written about. Some were wildly wrong, so it was a simple matter to go out and find one that worked, adjusting the manuscript as I went along. It was nerve-wracking at times, but very enjoyable and often resulted in some fantastic new directions for my story.

Caitlyn: Describe the most memorable response you’ve received from a reader.

Rick: About a year after my Arthur Ellis Award-nominated book, Cemetery of the Nameless, was released, I got an email from a reader asking questions about the locations I used in the story. It turned out that she and her husband had loved the book so much they were planning a trip to Vienna (where the story is set) and wanted to visit every place I’d described. To say the least, I was very chuffed and honoured, so I sent them an extensively annotated map of the city to help with their explorations. The actual cemetery (Friedhof der Namenlosen) was their favourite part of the trip – as it had been mine. Pretty cool, eh?

Caitlyn: What is your new project?

Rick: Something really different for me: a sequel. I knew all along that I wouldn’t be able to leave the opera world behind after only one story, so Marta is getting a second outing. The novel is tentatively titled Roses for a Diva and I’ve really put poor Marta into mortal danger in this one. Where is the story set? Well, we’re back in Paris for a bit, and Toronto, of course (she lives there), but we’re also going to Italy, primarily Venice, and this is turning into one heart-pounding story. I can’t wait for people to read it!

Rick Blechta brings a musician’s viewpoint to the thriller genre in novels that have been praised for an insider’s knowledge of the music world. Besides writing and musical pursuits, he has been very active in Crime Writers of Canada, serving in virtually every executive position. In 2000, he was presented with the Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to the organization. In 2006, his novel Cemetery of the Nameless was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award as Best Novel. He lives in Toronto.