Towards the publication of the first Helen Mirkin novel, The Rosebush Murders, my dream was to enclose a CD along with the print book, so the reader could actually hear the music alluded to. I even imagined myself singing some of the arias, which at the time, I was preparing for a recital. But given copyright issues it has remained just that – a dream. I had already forked up a considerable sum for merely quoting a few lines from T.S. Eliot’s poems and Leonard Bernstein’s music in my book, and was on a shoestring budget.
I then considered posting Youtube links to my Author Facebook Pages, but, here again, the more I researched it, the more I ran into copyright issues. It seemed as though one needed to be a copyright lawyer to successfully negotiate the “does and don’ts” of linking to Youtube videos of famous artists singing operas referred to in the series, now enriched by the publication of Murder in the Choir. What I managed to do, after sitting up for two frenzied nights, was a Youtube of my own, a trailer for Murder in the Choir. Although not technically-minded and hence, finding it quite a challenge, at times exasperatingly so, in the end I can say that, overall, I enjoyed it. It was more fun than paying for a professionally-made one, and in any case, I wouldn’t have known where to start, when faced with preparing a brief. Trained to think in terms of fight-flight-freeze as a body-mind trauma therapist, I applied it to the story I had written, hence the visceral animal imagery. Luckily, I recently had visited the Natural History Museum in London with my godson on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah, so I had loads of pictures readily available in my photo library. The result: the above trailer, which, I may add, I am curious how you will receive. (Drop me a line via my Facebook Page, where I have just posted it. I need your feedback before ever embarking on such an enterprise again!)
Thus, dear reader, I can only urge you to look up what I hereby refer to as “Helen’s music” on your own – you can find it on Youtube directly. I believe that immersing yourself in Helen’s music may bring alive more vividly some of the passages in my books, for example, the Leonard Bernstein song at the beginning of The Rosebush Murders (p. 35), that starts with the words, “My mother says that babies come in bottles …” or even the cave scene with the sorceress and witches (Scene 2) from Dido and Aeneas, to which Helen associates at a specific point during the investigation (p. 227), an association followed by one to Macbeth. Parenthetically, I recommend the recording with Janet Baker as Dido, conducted by Anthony Lewis (English Chamber Orchestra & The St. Anthony Singers). The sorceress is sung by Monica Sinclair.
Music adds a whole other dimension to our experience, and I usually choose the pieces I cite with care. I like to think that music (and poetry) plays an important role in my books, although I would be hard-pressed to formulate precisely what it is, “to spit out all the butt ends of my days and ways” (Eliot). Be it as it may, I trust Helen’s musical associations when they come up from her unconscious (as in the latter scene), and enjoy her forays into the music world, as both singer, detective, and increasingly, as we shall see, in her personal life. I am being deliberately vague here, to leave the reader with an untarnished reading experience.