"Like a Piece of My Soul"

Can an author write a novel about a classical musician and get all the details right? And can he make that world the backdrop for a gripping contemporary thriller? If the author is Brendan Slocumb, then the answer is a resounding yes. In this episode, Brendan joins Eve and Julie to talk about his debut novel, The Violin Conspiracy, about a concert violinist whose Stradivarius is stolen while he's preparing for one of the most important classical music competitions in the world. A concert violinist himself, as well as a novelist, Brendan describes how his instrument feels “like a piece of my soul,” the joy and discipline of lifelong practice, teachers like the J.K. Simmons character in the movie Whiplash, and what it felt like when his own violin was stolen. Brendan also discusses his experience with racism in the classical music world. As he says in his book, “Here's what you do if you're a Black guy, trying to make it work in an unfamiliar world, you just put your head down and you do the work. You do twice as much work as the white guy sitting next to you. And you do it twice as often, and you get half as far, but you do it. … And all of those extra hours of practice, they build themselves into the marrow of your bones. They electrify the nerve endings on the tips of your fingers until they become habit.”


Brendan Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and holds a degree in music education with concentrations in violin and viola from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He's performed with orchestras and chamber groups throughout northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and currently serves as the concertmaster for the Nova Annandale symphony orchestra. Brendan has been a public and private school music educator for more than 20 years, and he serves as an educational consultant for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Violin Conspiracy is Brendan's first novel. It was named a Good Morning America Book Club Pick and one of The Seattle Times “Most Anticipated Books of the Year.”




The Violin Conspiracy


A Good Morning America GMA Book Club Pick!


The Seattle Times’s Most Anticipated Books of the Year • Goodreads: Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers • Medium: The Most Exciting Book Releases of the Year • Pop Sugar: 35 Must-Read Thrillers and Mystery Books to Keep You Chasing Clues • The Millions: Most Anticipated Books of the Year • A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Mystery/Thriller • Book Riot: The 15 Best New Mystery Books


“Such a page-turner . . . a musical bildungsroman cleverly contained within a literary thriller. . . . Slocumb isn’t too different from his protagonist: a natural. He easily conjures the thrill of mastering a tough musical passage and the tinnitus-like torture of everyday racism.” The New York Times


Go Deeper


Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy, by Brendan Slocumb

How Music Can Save Your Life (podcast)

Geppetto's Wüd (band)

The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis

Open: An Autobiography, by J.R. Moehringer

The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer

“The Music That Inspires Me,” playlist by Brendan Slocumb

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast

Podglomerate

Lit Hub Radio