Writing my First Cozy Mystery: Seven Musical Events that helped me design the festival setting for my cozy

I wanted each book in my series of cozy mysteries to be steeped in music, infused with the sounds and experience of music making. So, what better location for the first murder than a music festival?

In creating the Oak Hill Folk FestivalI borrowed bits and pieces from some musical events I have attended, and some that I have only read about, and I stole the location, a farm in the Catskill Mountains, from the mother of all music festivals.

I took the idea of a festival campground from the Clearwater Festival, held in Croton-On-Hudson, NY, which bills itself as a "Music and Environmental Festival". I've been to Clearwater multiple times - saw Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, two of my all-time favorites, there. The feel of the crowds making their way around the farm in my book comes from my memories of jostling through the throngs at this festival. I've never stayed in the Clearwater campground, but camping was how we spent family vacations for many years, so details like pushing rainwater off the top of the tent with a broom come from my actual lived experience.

I read extensively about the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival , though I've never attended. On-line tales of the legendary late night music scene there provided the inspiration for a festival fling that my singer-songwriter sleuth, Sam Cook, had, six months before my first book begins. 

I've never attended NERFA's yearly event, also legendary, billed as a "music business conference", not a festival. But I have attended a NERFA regional event and some of the workshops at the Oak Hill Festival came from memories of that experience, as did the inclusion of some DJs as festival attendees.

The yoga and other non-musical activities at Oak Hill were born out of reading about the NJ Folk Project's Weekend Acoustic Getaways, which is advertized as "3 days, 3 concerts, 40 workshops, endless jamming". I've never taken part, but always wanted to. I have attended their Open Stage events and house concerts. I drew from those experiences of spontaneous collaborative music making to recreate that vibe in my story.

The idea of the Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast as a place for performers to stay during the music festival came from the Block Island Music Festival - which has always been on my bucket list. I've been to the island many times, but never during the second week of June. I have musical friends who play on the island and stay in accommodations there that morphed into the B&B in my book. 

Lastly, my own performances at the WNTI Stage music festival in Knowlton Township, NJ, with my band "The Friends" informed my descriptions of Sam's set with her trio on the Up and Coming Stage at Oak Hill. 

My sincere hope is that I have knitted all these pieces into a convincing whole, The Oak Hill Folk Festival. Once I find an agent and a publisher, you can pick up a copy of my book and tell me if I have succeeded. 

Meanwhile, check back here each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday for a new blog post. And, as long as you're here, head over to the home page of my website and have a look around, maybe listen to some music or peruse my published children's stories. Please follow me on Twitter (@KarenKamenetsky) and on FB (KarenKamenetskyMusic)

 #cozymystery #writinglife #amquerying 

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