Former Metropolitan Opera violinist Erica Miner is an award-winning author, screenwriter, arts journalist, and lecturer. Her debut novel, Travels with My Lovers, won the Fiction Prize in the Direct from the Author Book Awards, and her screenplays have won awards in the WinFemme, Santa Fe, and Writers Digest competitions.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Erica continues to balance her reviews and interviews of real-world musical artists with her fanciful plot fabrications that reveal the dark side of the fascinating world of opera. Aria for Murder, set at the Metropolitan Opera, published by Level Best Books in October 2022, is the first in her Julia Kogan Opera Mystery series. The sequel, Prelude to Murder, which takes place at the Santa Fe Opera, is due for release in September 2023. The third book in the series, set at San Francisco Opera, will follow in 2024.
PRELUDE TO MURDER follows the further adventures of young violinist Julia Kogan, who leaves her home base, the Metropolitan Opera, for a guest appearance with the Santa Fe Opera. Teaming with a Shakespeare-quoting detective, Julia finds enough ambition, intrigue, and jealous wrangling behind the scenes to ensure plenty of suspects when murder takes center stage.
A Note From the Author: In my 21 years as a violinist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, I witnessed deadly accidents, suicides, onstage fatalities, and other nefarious goings-on behind the scenes that far surpassed what took place onstage. What occurs behind that “Golden Curtain” can be as startlingly dramatic as any opera plot. The potential for murder and mayhem at an opera house is virtually limitless.
I was convinced both opera lovers and mystery novel aficionados would be fascinated by an insider’s view of the egos, rivalries and jealousies that make an opera house tick. With the help of my wicked writer’s imagination, I tossed my unsuspecting violinist protagonist into the fray: my “Opera Mystery” series was born.
I was convinced both opera lovers and mystery novel aficionados would be fascinated by an insider’s view of the egos, rivalries, and astonishing behavior of individuals who made the opera house tick. I discovered that the potential for murder and mayhem at an opera house is virtually limitless: it’s always “dark and stormy” at the Metropolitan Opera. Thus, with the help of my wicked writer’s imagination, I tossed my unsuspecting young violinist protagonist into the fray, and voilà: my Julia Kogan “Opera Mystery” series was born.
What brought you to writing? I actually started writing before I started playing the violin. In grade school, I was placed in an after-school program for Creative Writing. I loved the whole process, creating characters and plots and weaving them together to tell stories. My love of writing began at that time and has kept going throughout my adult life. Even when I was performing at the Met Opera, I took writing classes whenever I could fit them into my schedule. After I left the Met, I went back to my lifelong love of writing as my creative outlet. I still love telling stories!
Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I feel most comfortable and productive writing on my desktop Mac in my office. I have everything I need within reach and within sight. In front of me are shelves holding my favorite screenplays, musical scores, books on writing, copies of my own books, photos of beloved family members, and even stuffies—a minion and a Brünnhilde Teddy bear—to keep me company and inspire me to make up great stories. When I’m stuck or need to contemplate for a moment, I look around at my familiar accoutrements, and I’m motivated to keep going. What I can’t abide in the way of distractions is noise: music, outdoor landscaping, and such. That is the worst distraction for me.
What are you currently working on? The third book in my Opera Mystery series is due for release in September 2024. Meanwhile, I will keep my musical writing muse active by reviewing performances in my local Seattle concert halls and opera houses.
How do you come up with character names? Creating character names is one of my favorite parts of writing a novel. Often I am inspired to use names of close relatives and friends who have made a deep impression on me, some of them since childhood, who have similar traits to those of my characters.
Do you base any of your characters on real people? In my Opera Mystery novels, I’m always tempted to base my characters on people I’ve worked with at the Met Opera, whether in the orchestra, onstage, or backstage. I like to combine the characteristics of different colleagues into one character, though sometimes I have based a character wholly on a real person.
What kind of research do you do? I have had extensive training in musicological research, so I do exhaustive studies to ensure I have a historical basis, both for the operas I include in my plots, the opera houses where they are performed, and the cities in which they are located. The history of opera, its composers, and its performances are absolutely fascinating. I delve into the composers’ lives, how and why they wrote a particular opera, the singers who have performed those works since the beginning, and all kinds of other fascinating facts. Then I weave it all into my stories.
Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? So far, I’ve used real locations. The first in the series took place at my home base, the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After being there for 21 years, I knew the place inside out, and it seemed the logical and perfect place to set my first Opera Mystery. When one reader suggested I set a sequel at Santa Fe Opera, I jumped on it. No other major opera company performs in the middle of the desert of New Mexico. After that, various opera companies asked if I would consider writing mysteries taking place at their opera houses. There are so many amazing opera venues and so many wonderful theatres from which to choose, all of them having their own unique characteristics. So, for the time being, I’m more than happy to place my stories in real locations. It would be fun at some point, however, to fabricate my own opera house in a made-up location, too.
“Erica Miner has created a world few people know or have access to. A mystery with music beyond the words on the page. If all music aspires to the human voice, this author has found hers from the start.” Gabriel Valjan, Agatha & Anthony nominated author of the Shane Cleary Mystery series
“Erica Miner is the Agatha Christie of the opera world.” – Richard Stilwell, international opera star
“Prelude to Murder is a tantalizing peek behind the curtain of the world-renowned Santa Fe Opera. There’s plenty of mayhem on the bill, sumptuous history, and metaphysical frights set against bloody arias and deadly recitativo.”
-James W. Ziskin, Anthony, Barry, and Macavity Award-winning author
[These are for currently available Aria for Murder. Will send links for Prelude to Murder when available]
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Aria-Murder-Julia-Kogan-Mystery/dp/1685121985/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Barnes & Nobel – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/aria-for-murder-erica-miner/1142495216?ean=9781685121983
Third Place Books – https://www.thirdplacebooks.com/book/9781685121983
GROUPS I BELONG TO:
Sisters in Crime
Pacific Northwest Writers Association
International Thriller Writers
EPIC Group Writers