I was intrigued by the originality of Erica's award-winning mysteries, with murder and mayhem in the setting of a great opera house---the first being set in the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the second in the Santa Fe Opera. Her experience as a gifted violinist highlights the tremendous effort put into a production, emphasizing all that might go wrong, even without a murder! One charming feature is that each chapter in each of her mysteries begins with a quote from an opera in the original language followed by the English translation.
Meet Erica! Another writer who didn't set out to write...at least not right away!
As I remember it, I didn’t choose writing. It seems to have chosen me.
When I was in grade school in my native Detroit (something like 100 years ago!), there was an excellent public school system, part of which included a number of outstanding after-school programs. I remember being about 7 or 8 years old when I was placed in an after-school program for Creative Writing. I’m not sure why—perhaps one of my teachers saw a spark of that in me—and I don’t recall much of what I wrote (it was, after all, 100 years ago). But I do remember loving the process of creating characters and plot lines and weaving them all together to tell stories. I discovered I loved telling stories. I still do. Then and there, my lifelong passion for writing commenced.
Soon after that, I began to study the violin. As most people who have tried to play that fiendishly difficult instrument know, as a kid starting out you have to be totally committed and devoted in your practice. Thus, the violin took precedence over my other interests, writing included.
It turned out I was so good at playing the violin that I won a scholarship to study in Boston with the concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Joseph Silverstein. Subsequently, I moved to New York and won an audition to play in the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera. I stayed there for 21 years, performing with some of the world’s most high-powered opera superstars, Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo included.
Nonetheless, I never lost my passion for writing. While at the Met, I took writing classes, in fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting, whenever I could fit them into my schedule. And when injuries from a car accident spelled the end of my professional musical career, my choice of a new creative outlet seemed clear. I went back to my enduring love for writing and have been writing ever since.
But while I was at the Met, I witnessed some extraordinary events, many of which were nefarious in nature: onstage, backstage, and elsewhere in the opera house. It occurred to me that an opera theatre was the perfect setting for murderous mischief and mayhem. Thus, my “Opera Mystery” series was born. Each book in the series takes place in a different opera house. Aria for Murder, published by Level Best Books in 2022, is set at my old stomping grounds, the Met Opera. The recently released sequel, Prelude to Murder, unfolds at Santa Fe Opera. The third book, due out in 2024, takes place at San Francisco Opera.
My years of experience at the Met lend authenticity to the atmosphere, environment, characters and situations found within my stories, which use real-time operas as background for the plot lines. Some of these operas are among the most violent stories ever written. What better way to bring murder and music together?
My life path has taken a direction I never imagined, and I am all the better for it. My readers include opera aficionados who are also mystery lovers and mystery devotees who are keen on learning about opera. What could be better?
My current base in the Seattle area gives me the perfect opportunity to connect with other writers. The writing community here is fantastic. For whatever reason, not least because of the many consecutive months of rain, there are more bookstores here than in any other city in the US. We Seattle writers have a good rationale for sticking together!
As someone once wisely said, “The only thing better than a great story is a great story with music.” I get to prove that every day by using my musical background to create stories that literally sing. I am lucky indeed.
Erica's books can be found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BHJKZ142/
Thanks, Erica, for sharing your story!