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Special Guest – Nupur Tustin – Author of Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery #Interview / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour

Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
by Nupur Tustin

It is my pleasure to welcome Nupur to Escape With Dollycas today!

Hi Nupur, 

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.

I was reading Susan Wittig Albert’s delightful Beatrix Potter Mysteries and Stephanie Barron’s wonderful Jane Austen Mysteries when I decided I’d work on a biographical mystery as well.

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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#Spotlight / #Excerpt / #Giveaway – Prussian Counterpoint: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nupur Tustin

Prussian Counterpoint:
A Joseph Haydn Mystery
by Nupur Tustin

About the Book 

Prussian Counterpoint: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Publisher: Foiled Plots Press (March 1, 2019
Paperback: 270 pages
ISBN-10: 0998243043
ISBN-13: 978-0998243047
ISBN-13: 9780998243047
Digital BN ID: 2940156243365

When an enemy makes overtures of friendship, is anyone safe?

An unexpected invitation from wily King Frederick causes composer Joseph Haydn to fear he’s walking into a trap. After all, the Prussian King has never had any use for Haydn’s music. His Majesty seems more intrigued at Haydn’s being the son of a market-judge.

Worse still, the invitation appears to stir up suspicion in the highest quarters in Vienna. So much so that a mysterious, cloaked lady visits Haydn’s Music Room and issues a thinly veiled threat.

Now Haydn is convinced there’s mischief afoot. But not even he can foresee that he will stumble upon the corpse of the imperial ambassador a day after his arrival in Frederick’s Prussia, along with evidence that His Lordship may have been a common thief.

Can Haydn salvage the imperial ambassador’s reputation—and find his killer?

Praise for the Joseph Haydn Mysteries

“A standout in the genre of historical mysteries. An encore is requested!”
Midwest Book Review

“Tustin occupies a unique niche in the historical mystery world.”
Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated Author, Quaker Midwife Mysteries

“Wonderful read for fans of historical cozy mysteries. . .The characters are strong and the writing is smooth. . .”
Books a Plenty Book Reviews

“An interesting journey and Haydn is a likable main character.”
Christa Reads and Writes

“Vivid historical descriptions, intricate details, and a fascinating central character kept me turning the pages. Bravo!”
Amanda Carmack, award-winning author of The Elizabethan Mystery Series

The author’s love of classical music and this era comes through clearly in Prussian Counterpoint. The entire book has an authentic feel—from the dialogue to the descriptions to the actions of the characters.
~Mysteries with Character

PRUSSIAN COUNTERPOINT is a fascinating political mystery. Sumptuous period detail and exacting historical research add to the intellectual nature of the novel while rich characterization brings heart.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

Special Post

Introduction: For a man who loved music as much as Frederick the Great did—he played the flute quite well and even composed—his musical tastes were remarkably limited and old-fashioned. The English music historian Charles Burney commented on this when he traveled through the kingdom. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Frederick didn’t think very much of Haydn’s music. And as far as Mozart was concerned, the King remained unimpressed.

Frederick’s fondness for his Italian greyhounds was also quite unusual.


“What think you of our opera, my dear Haydn?” The King, who had insisted the Kapellmeister be seated next to him, tapped him on the knee. The Italian greyhound at his feet shifted, flopping itself onto Haydn’s feet.

The Kapellmeister stiffened. He had nothing against dogs. On the hunting fields, no animal could be more useful. But what kind of man brought a dog into an opera house? God forbid, the creature should do its business on his shoes!

On the stage, Medea complained of having lost the love of Jason. A most unsuitable subject for the occasion, Haydn privately thought. This opera about a woman who forced her unfaithful husband to devour his children. But it was not the sort of remark one made to a King.

“It is a most intriguing subject, Your Majesty,” was all he could think of saying.

“Indeed.” A pair of piercing blue eyes fastened themselves upon Haydn’s features. “And why is that?”

Haydn took a deep breath and took the plunge. “One wonders how a man would react under the circumstances, Your Majesty.”

“A man would simply cut his losses and move on, Haydn. But women rather than accepting their fate try to interfere, thus spoiling everything.”

Haydn’s eyes flickered involuntarily to the Empress. Was that the King’s assessment of Her Majesty, then?

“My remarks appear to have hit the mark.” The King’s softly uttered words pulled Haydn’s gaze back. His Majesty’s well-formed lips were curving into an amused smile. “You have the misfortune of being acquainted with such a woman, I suppose, Haydn.”

The Kapellmeister felt his cheeks burn at the insinuation. His nostrils flared. “Your Majesty is mistaken,” he said as calmly as he could manage. The sound of teeth clicking against metal reached his ears.

The infernal greyhound was chewing on the buckles of his shoes.

“Pepi!” The King called sharply, giving Haydn a start. But it was only the dog that His Majesty was addressing. So, the hound was christened Joseph, too! God be thanked, the King had not seen fit to nickname the creature Sepperl.

A few minutes later, the King leaned closer to the Kapellmeister again. “What would your father, the Marktrichter, think of such a crime, Haydn?”

“Your Majesty!”

“A woman driven to commit a heinous act against her children by her husband’s infidelity. Is such a crime deserving of punishment?”

Haydn gripped the arms of his seat. “My father never had occasion to judge such a crime, Your Majesty. The theft of a man’s goods, the swindling of an honest housewife, these were the petty crimes he examined.”

His Majesty regarded Haydn for a moment. “And such are the crimes you specialize in, I imagine.”

What was the King getting at? “I have looked into one or two matters. But it is music that I specialize in, Your Majesty.”

* * *

About the Author

About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

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#Spotlight / #Giveaway – Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nupur Tustin – Great Escapes Tour

Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
by Nupur Tustin

Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Foiled Plots Press (December 1, 2017)
Paperback: 302 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0998243030
E-Book ASIN: B07641GD25

When Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .

Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?

About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

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