QandA with Morley Torgov, author of The Mastersinger From Minsk

QandA with Morley Torgov, author of The Mastersinger From Minsk

Posted on June 27 by admin
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This week on our Ask An Author series Morley Torgov popped by and was able to sit down with us for a few mintues and answer some questions about his new book The Mastersinger From Minsk.

CS: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

MT: I was struck by a “what if?” idea: What if the tenor hired by Richard Wagner to sing the lead in his important new opera possessed a hidden agenda the goal of which was to destroy Wagner on the night of the premiere?

CS: Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your work, and why you felt compelled to explore it?

MT: As in my previous Inspector Preiss novel “Murder In A-Major”, I was and I continue to be intrigued by the fact that so many creative musical geniuses have such dark sides to their personalities.  This is especially true of composers in the 19th Century whose contribution to classical music was perhaps richer than at any previous or subsequent time.

CS: How did you research your book?

MT: When it comes to research I am very old fashioned and prefer books to the internet.  In addition to my own extensive library of musical history, I engaged in much research at the Toronto Reference Library.  I also have two volumes given to me as Bar Mitzvah gifts in 1940, one dealing with symphonic music and the other with opera, both of which have proved valuable beyond measure some 70 years later!

CS: In your own work, which character are you most attached to and why?

MT: Since the Inspector Preiss series is written in the first person, obviously I am most attached to the narrator.  In my first novel in the series I went to some length to describe his background and illustrate his personality.  In all of my previous and current work I have often envisioned characters in terms of well-known film stars of the past and present.  In the case of Inspector Hermann Preiss, I have modeled his character after one of my favorite actors of the past, the late George Sanders.

CS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

MT: The best advice I have received comes from my two favorite authors.  The first, Philip Roth,  advised that a writer should never be stunted by reverence for anything.  The second came from Elmore Leonard and his famous reply to the question why his prose is so successful.  His answer was “I leave out the parts people don’t read.”

Morley Torgov is one of Canada’s best-loved authors. His works include A Good Place to Come From, the classic The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, and St. Farb’s Day. Murder in A-Major, his first mystery novel, was published in 2008. Torgov lives in Toronto.