Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
by Nupur Tustin
It is my pleasure to welcome Nupur to Escape With Dollycas today!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
It’s funny how one’s identity changes over the years. I’m a former journalist with a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English. Shortly after my daughter was born, I decided to write mysteries. I had no idea whether I would succeed in writing one book, let alone several. But I had the research skills and an intense desire to write books and a passion for mysteries and music. And so were born the Joseph Haydn Mysteries.
As I researched and wrote my first book, I began composing! Then a chance visit to the Getty Museum and Canaletto’s gorgeous paintings reignited a passion for painting. I heard about the unsolved Gardner Museum theft, and decided I needed to solve this mystery! And so the Celine Skye Psychic Mysteries were born.
After all, who better than a psychic to solve a cold case?
Then came COVID and school closures. My three kids hated online school and Zoom meetings, and so I started homeschooling. And that led to the best thing of all—Jesus Christ!
So, I’m a homeschooling mom, a mystery writer, an amateur painter and composer, and a Christian! And, of course, an avid mystery fan!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
When I first decided to write a mystery, I deliberately chose to write a historical mystery mainly because I—erroneously as it turned out—thought I wouldn’t have to bother with the grisly details of actual murder, the forensic aspects of it, blood spatter, blunt force trauma, so and so forth. Then I came to the first dead body scene in Minor Deception, and I realized I’d have to re-think my aversion to true crime and forensic investigation. I’ve taken courses on FutureLearn, through the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime, and read numerous books on the subject of criminal investigation and criminal behavior. All that is necessary to create a plausible murderer.
For the Haydn Mysteries, I’ve also needed to research Haydn’s life and times. That has meant reading about Mozart—a near-contemporary. Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang’s father, was a consummate letter writer and a keen observer of social mores. He writes about the culture of the places they travel to, the food they ate. He talks about music and politics, about hiring maid servants, educating children, and medicine.
Leopold’s informative letters have come in handy on more than one occasion in the Haydn series. And for the latest release, Murder Backstage, Leopold’s letters provided the plot!
For the Celine Skye Psychic Mysteries, I’ve had to investigate psychic investigation, the Gardner theft, the museum itself and the eccentric Isabella Stewart Gardner. And best of all, I’ve been able to read about artists like Vermeer and Rembrandt and the impressionists and indulge in my love of painting!
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
No. Writer’s block is just another name for having to stop and re-think plot or character issues. If you insist on your characters doing something not in keeping with their nature, they won’t allow you to continue the story until you fix the scene. I’ve noticed mine hate it when I have them do something that they never in a million years would do.
If the plot isn’t working or needs re-thinking, your mind is going to force you to stop and ponder the problem and fix it before you continue.
Sometimes you may think a scene needs to be written a certain way, but somewhere deep within your storyteller brain, you recognize it needs to be written in a different—and a better—way. You’re going to be forced to stop until you give in and write the scene the way it should be written.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Commit to your path. Don’t fear. Don’t get discouraged or disheartened. Don’t give in. Stand strong.
Claim the promises God gives His people in the Bible; those promises aren’t just for the specific people they were spoken to. They are for you and me today. Claim them for yourself. Trust in them.
In Genesis 12, God says to Abraham: “I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing.” What does this mean for those of us called to be writers? It means that the Lord will bless you with stories and that those stories will bless your readers.
Have you noticed how rejuvenating and refreshing it is to read a good book? Have you noticed how it draws your mind away from your cares and your troubles? Have you noticed how a good book can inspire you and ignite your own creativity?
This is how you as a storyteller can be a blessing to those who read your books.
Moreover, in Joshua 1:9 and elsewhere God tells His people to be brave and not to fear. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
No matter what obstacle comes your way or how impossible it looks, know the Lord is with you, and He will not fail you.
For as he said to Jeremiah (1:5), so He speaks to us all:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born, I set you apart;
I appointed you. . .”
Before you were formed in the womb and long before you were born, God set you apart, gave you gifts, and appointed you in the role and tasks you are to fulfill during your earthly life. Having set those tasks aside for you, He will not let you fail.
When you are not writing what do you like to do?
There are any number of things I do when I’m not writing. I homeschool my three children. My daughter and I go on long walks together. We often visit the library—our favorite thing to do. I love painting and playing the piano. I haven’t had much time to compose recently, but there was a time when I composed fairly regularly. The kids and I enjoy baking as well. Surprisingly, the boys enjoy it as much or more than their sister—probably because they get to lick the bowl and sample their efforts fresh out of the oven!
I enjoy reading—both fiction and non-fiction. And these days, I especially enjoy listening to Dr. David Jeremiah expound the Bible on Turning Point.
Did the COVID pandemic affect you and your writing?
Paradoxically enough, it made me more productive. I found myself writing better and faster and painting several times a week! I’ve also enjoyed experimenting with healthy desserts and treats. That the kids love things like banana nice cream—no cream, just frozen bananas, peanut butter, and cocoa—and smoothie ice cream bowls are absolutely stunning and extremely gratifying to me. I’ve been experimenting with vegetables like cauliflower and eggplant as well.
All the while that libraries were closed, my mother-in-law and I exchanged books. I think I’ve turned her into a mystery fan, and while I’m not exactly a romance fan, I do enjoy a good romantic suspense novel!
What was meant as a curse turned out to be a blessing.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
I’m torn between two choices. First, to travel to Haydn’s Austria and see him at work. How wonderful that would be! But second—because I write the Celine Skye Psychic Mystery Series based on the unsolved Gardner Museum theft—I’d love to travel back in time to the day of the theft and see who did it, for whom, and why. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to solve that mystery?
What is next on the horizon for you?
Again, I’m torn between two difficult choices: write another Joseph Haydn Mystery or start on the fourth—if you’re counting the prequel—Celine Skye Psychic Mystery. I have the research for both. I suppose I could stay in Haydn’s world for a little while longer. We’ll see.
Thank you, Nupur for visiting today!
Keep reading for details about Nupur’s new book Murder Backstage.
About Murder Backstage
Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – In Vienna’s Burgtheater in the eighteenth century.
Foiled Plots Press (July 6, 2022)
Print length : 348 pages
Digital ASIN : B0B34548N5
When murder propels him backstage, Haydn is forced to confront a deadly killer. . .
When the Burgtheater’s impresario unexpectedly meets his maker, Joseph Haydn is relieved to learn no one expects him to look into the matter. The impresario was murdered—and the Salzburger believed to be the killer is already behind bars.
But the impresario’s untimely death is not without consequences. Haydn’s employer insists he take over the dead man’s duties. Handling the tedious technical details of putting on an opera is bad enough. Confronting the suspicious behavior backstage is even worse.
Is an innocent man being sent to the gallows? Haydn is plagued by the question when his brother Michael confirms his worst fears. The Salzburger arrested for the murder is none other than Leopold Mozart—father of the well-known child prodigy currently in Vienna.
Now, egged on by Michael—a close friend of the Mozarts—Haydn must prove Leopold innocent. Or risk his brother’s ire forever!
Praise for the Joseph Haydn Mysteries:
“Tustin orchestrates a concerto of intrigue and deception . . .”
– Anna Lee Huber, Lady Darby Mysteries
“A standout in the genre of historical mysteries . . .”
– Midwest Book Reviews
More About Nupur Tustin
A former journalist, Nupur Tustin misuses a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate mayhem in Joseph Haydn’s Austria and to paint intrigue in her Celine Skye Psychic Mysteries about a psychic who takes on the outrageous and still unsolved Gardner Museum theft! In addition to being a storyteller and avid mystery fan, Nupur is a wife and homeschooling Mom who’s recently become a Christian.
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