Behind the scenes with “Devil’s Trill”

I hope you’ll enjoy this sample of music & reading from Devil’s Trill: Audio Teaser
Very exciting news! Devil’s Trill, a Mystery in Sonata-Allegro form—with music performed by the author–is now available for pre-order! You can buy it for yourself, give it as a gift, and even get it for FREE* through this link: 
Devil’s Trill is the ­first-ever audiobook to integrate musical passages that provide clues to solving the mysteries. Author­ Gerald Elias, a renowned concert violinist, performs the music himself.
World renowned violinist, Cho Liang Lin, says: ‘Reading Devil’s Trill was a nonstop page-turning pleasure. Now that the words are imbued with the author’s beautiful violin playing, this audio version will surely mesmerize.
*with a one-month trial subscription to Audible – at no cost! “
It all started so innocently. One soggy evening last August I gave a book reading for my recently released mystery, Playing With Fire, during which–as usual–I played some of the music that’s part of the story on my violin. After the reading I was schmoozing with the 30-odd folks who attended when I was approached by a very enthusiastic young lady. “Do you have the audio rights to your book?” she asked. My answer was yes, but only because my former publisher had recently been kind enough to return them to me. “Why do you ask?” I asked. “Because,” she said, “your novels should be in audio and if you included the music in them (as you just did at the reading) it would be incredible.” I responded by telling her–her name was Alison Larkin–that my agent and I had been trying for years to do just that, but the big audio companies seemed reluctant to want to adjust their tried-and-true template for audio book production. I wasn’t optimistic. Turns out, Alison informed me, she had recently started her own audio book company in neighboring Stockbridge, Alison Larkin Presents, which so far had been highly successful producing Dickens and Austen. (Alison, it turns out, is also an acclaimed author, comedienne, and audio book reader.) “Would you,” I asked, “be interested in producing Devil’s Trill?
One month later we had a deal. Then came my learning curve. First, Alison sent me samples of four of the best audio book readers in the business. (It seems audio aficionados follow their favorite readers, like movie stars. Who knew?) I easily chose one whom I thought would make the best Daniel Jacobus: Jim Frangione. And guess what? Jim lives in Housatonic, a mile from my house in West Stockbridge! To help Jim, because there are so many musical terms and weird names in my books, I wrote a pronunciation guide. Within a couple weeks, he had laid down the entire book on tape, pronouncing almost everything as if he were a professional musician, and the inflections of the characters’ voices were right on the money. I received a copy of the tape, made some suggestions for minor revisions and after a patch session with the recording engineer, Voila! We had an audio book.
But not quite! There was still the music component. I had to figure out which music, and how much of it would compliment the story without being a distraction. So while Jim was reading the book in the Berkshires, I practiced my butt off for a few weeks, and recorded the music in Utah: excerpts from Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” Sonata of course, plus some Paganini, Mendelssohn, Massenet, Paradis, Sarasate, and Bach.  And Elias! You see, there’s a fictional violinist/composer in Devil’s Trill by the name of Matteo Cherubino, aka Il Piccolino, because he was a little person. In the story, the sad Piccolino improvises a sarabanda for his lover. So I had to compose something which not only sounded early Italian Baroque, but was also seductive, sad, and improvised-sounding–and something I could play!
Now, here’s the great part. After I recorded the music, I went to the Berkshires, music audio files in hand, and sat down with Jason Brown, our recording engineer, and Alison. For the next four hours, utilizing the wonders of modern technology, we cut and pasted the music into Jim’s narrative with split-second (literally) accuracy, all the way debating the length of the musical cues, how long they should go on before returning to the reading, and how long they should continue underneath the text. What a thrill to work with an expert team! The result was–in my uninitiated mind–nothing short of miraculous. The music fits seamlessly into the story, as if it had always been that way. I don’t often get very excited by things, but I have to say this project has been something very, very special. I hope you’ll agree!

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