Thursday, February 23, 2023

Q&A with Rick Bleiweiss




Rick Bleiweiss is the author of the new mystery novel Murder in Haxford, the second in his Pignon Scorbion series. He also has worked as a record company executive, music producer, musician, songwriter, activist, and journalist. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.


Q: This is your second Pignon Scorbion mystery--do you think your character Scorbion has changed at all from one book to the next?


A: The greatest change in Scorbion from the first book, Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives, to Murder in Haxford has been the growth and depth of his interaction with Thelma Smith and his willingness to engage in an intimate relationship with her.


However, other changes Scorbion experiences are the growing friendship he’s having with newspaper reporter Billy Arthurson, and how he is much more comfortable around the men in the barbershop who act as the barbershop detectives when they are assisting him to solve mysteries and crimes.


Q: What inspired the plot of Murder in Haxford?


A: I’m a “pantser” in that I don’t plot out the books or mysteries in advance. Rather everything just shows up in my brain and plays out like a movie, and my job is to type as fast as I can to capture what I’m seeing.


That said, I do refine the characters, plots, mysteries, and historical facts as I go along and do many edits, additions and revisions before the manuscript is done.


Regarding the two main mysteries/plots in Murder in Haxford, the balloonist story/murder probably had some underpinnings from when I was at Fan Fair in Nashville and Arista Records’ country division threw an outdoor party. One of the activities they had was a hot air balloon ride and I went on it along with Brooks & Dunn and other recording artists of theirs. I loved the adventure of that.


The murder of the money lender just appeared in my head and flowed through me as a story. I’ve not dealt with money lenders in my life (other than banks).


Q: Was the process of writing this second book different from that of your first Scorbion mystery?


A: Two main things were different.


First, I had the luxury of taking five years to write the first book, because until it was signed to Blackstone as a publisher, there was no particular timeline in which to complete it. In contrast, I had one year to write Murder in Haxford so it could be published a year after PS&TBD, so the process was much faster – replete with word-count deadlines I imposed on myself and a bit more stress to finish it on time.

The second difference was that while I still had to do a ton of research to ensure that my historical facts were accurate, it was WAY less than the voluminous research I conducted for the first book as that had to set up the town, the characters, the language they used, their names, and so many more things to create a feeling of realism in a fictional story.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: More than readers taking anything away from the story, I hope it entertains them and relieves some of the stresses in their lives. With the books being set in Downton Abbey-era England, the murders not being grisly in any way, and the characters being quirky and often humorous, I hope people “get lost” into the world I’ve created and enjoy themselves while reading the books.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently writing the next Scorbion book, which features a mystery about a young female magician who does an illusion that even Houdini can’t figure out, yet wherever she goes crime occurs - and when she comes to Haxford to perform at the town’s theater the malfeasance accompanies her.


Scorbion and the barbershop detectives must determine how she can be in multiple places simultaneously.


I’m also writing a nonfiction book on sound business leadership based on what I’ve learned and done in my over 50 years as an executive in the music and publishing industries, a novel about a crusty senior and his adventures in a retirement home helping the other residents ward off a group of youths who are harassing them, and my memoir.


I’m also revamping a science fiction book and a magical realism novel I’ve previously written, as well as updating a science fiction rock musical I co-wrote with one of my ex-band members.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I truly enjoy the process of writing and find the experience more fun than work. Getting to meet my characters each day is like having a second “life” and a whole other group of friends. Also, now that Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, I might write Dr. John Watson into one of these next Scorbion novels, as he and Scorbion were friends.


Additonally, I’ve already written a Scorbion prequel and I’m deciding whether to include it in this next book or publish it on its own.


And lastly, I have been “proselytizing” on the many interviews and presentations I’ve been doing for the books, that seniors should never let their age stop them from pursuing their dreams. The first Scorbion book was published when I was 77 and started a whole new career for me as a published author in my eighth decade.


I will never stop chasing the pot of gold at the end of rainbows as long as I am able to – it’s just too enjoyable a thing to do to stop.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Rick Bleiweiss.

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