“Nashville may have killed country music, but who will die at the Dakin Family Bluegrass Festival?" How’s that as a tease for a mystery novel set at a bluegrass music event?
The book is Dobro Dreamer by Peter McGinn, published earlier this year and only now being widely promoted. It tells the story of a murder committed at a bluegrass fest and the various people whose lives are affected.
Peter has written previous works of fiction, and we asked how he settled on the theme for Dobro Dreamer.
“With most of what I have written, I might have trouble remembering how I came to write them. With Dobro Dreamer, however, I do remember how it came about. I was thinking about how bluegrass music seemed to be gaining in popularity, with O Brother Where Art Thou, and mainstream country artists doing bluegrass albums, and yet when I looked around I could find no novels with bluegrass themes. So I wanted to base it at a bluegrass festival.
Then I decided it would be a mystery, but I have this quirk when I read mysteries: they all seem the same to me. You have a character solving a crime, gathering clues, asking questions, etc. The detectives have differing jobs and personalities and the settings change, but they all seem similar to me. I feel the structure of the genre take shape as I read and I lose interest. I usually can’t finish them so I didn’t want to write one like that.
I decided not to make it a whodunit, but rather a who was it done to. It is the victim that isn’t revealed until the end rather than the killer. Also, I was reading a history of country music at the time, and I wondered what it would be like to have disturbing dreams based on reading about the deaths of bluegrass performers (though Hank Williams is sort of pre-bluegrass). So one of the characters plays the Dobro and has dreams. Then I threw in a lusty lady evangelist and an estranged husband on a bender and it was off and running. It wasn’t until I was about two-thirds of the way writing it that I decided who would die.”
Dobro Dreamer is available as either a paperback or a PDF ebook, and interested readers can even download a free trial version, with a few chapters omitted, online.