Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Books’

Interview with Author & Violinist Corinne Demas

Corinne Demas has written many books in a variety of genres. A violinist herself, music has influenced her work. She is a Professor of English at Holyoke College and Fiction Editor of The Massachussets Review.  


Welcome to Violin and Books, Corinne. Let's start by talking a little about your violin-related children's book, Nina's Waltz. What is it about and what was your inspiration for this story?

School Library Journal—in a wonderfully insightful review, called Nina’s Waltz “A hymn to the transforming power of music,” and it’s a perfect description of what I hoped to do in the book.


Nina’s dad, Nick, writes her a fiddle tune as a birthday gift “a tune that would get inside you without you realizing it—the kind of tune you’d find yourself humming when you walked along a country road on a star-filled night.” They head off to a fiddle contest together, where Nick plans to play the waltz and win the prize money, which the family desperately needs. But he gets stung by wasps and can’t play. Nina is terrified of performing in front of an audience, but she gets up on stage to play the tune in his place.

I wanted to write about a father who couldn’t afford to buy his daughter an expensive present for her birthday, but gives her something of far greater value. What better gift that music? Nina’s gift to her father is that she overcomes stage fright so “Nina’s Waltz” can be heard.

When did you start playing the violin? Do you still play?

I started playing the violin when I was in elementary school, and have been playing—on and off–ever since. I started taking lessons again when I began teaching at Mount Holyoke College and heard Professor Linda Laderach play Bach in a recital. She kindly took me on as a pupil. (All my bad techniques had years to solidify.) When my daughter started Suzuki violin at age four I went through the course of music with her. She’s now a far better violinist than I could ever hope to be.

What is it about the violin that is so alluring and mysterious when you compare it to other instruments?
I had started taking piano lessons when I was child, and began the violin later. In my memoir, Eleven Stories High: Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948—1968, I describe the difference between the two : the violin was “an instrument,” the piano “seemed more like a piece of furniture.” With a violin “you had to create the notes. At the piano you simply pushed down the keys. I loved the violin, the way the wood curved and the grain rippled in the light, the S holes that let me peer into the secret depths.”

Have you written any other violin/music related books?

That’s an interesting question. As I look over the books I’ve written I see that music plays a part more often than I’d realized.

Two Christmas Mice is a picture book about two lonely mice who discover they are neighbors on Christmas Eve when Annamouse plays “Silent Night” on her violin, and Willamouse, hears her playing through the wall (“Only a mouse could play that well.”) Both mice claim “Mouzart” as their favorite composer, and Santamouse brings Annamouse a silver violin charm. Stephanie Roth illustrated this story and her violin-playing mouse is adorable.


In my memoir, Eleven Stories High: Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948—1968, there’s a whole chapter called “Music,” and music is a theme in a number of my short stories in both my collections. “Lifelines” in Daffodils or the Death of Love is about a woman who takes up the violin as an adult. “Ears” in What We Save for Last, is about a woman who is a page-turner, and travels with her violinist lover, turning pages for his accompanist when they are on stage. “Memorial Day,” in the same collection, is about a divorced couple who are together when their daughter plays her trumpet with her school band.
In my picture book The Boy Who Was Generous With Salt the characters sing sea shanties (The music for “Cape Cod Girls” is in the back of the book.) The Title of my YA novel If Ever I Return Again comes from the refrain of a sea shanty that is sung during the story. In Hurricane! the Daddy in the story plays his harmonica to comfort the little girl during the storm.

Do you listen music while writing? If yes, what is your favorite 'writing' music? Any composers or pieces that you find particularly inspirational?

I don’t listen while I’m working at my desk, but I do listen while I swim laps at the pool and work on ideas in my head. My son gave me an amazing little player that works under water. I’m currently doing the crawl and the backstroke to Beethoven symphonies.

I understand Nina's Waltz includes violin music which was played by your daughter. How did this come about? Was it your idea or your publisher's?

The tune was composed for the book by my cousin, Alex Demas, a fiddler, and the editor decided to include the music is in the front of the book, so anyone can play it. I wanted everyone who read the book to be able to hear the tune, even if they couldn’t read music, so I had the idea of making it available on my website. My daughter, who was around the same age as Nina in the story at the time, plays the waltz.

Where is the book available?

Unfortunately the publisher let it go out of print, so people have to find it on the internet. I’ve bought some copies there myself!

Do you enjoy reading violin-related fiction? Any title you'd recommend?

Tolstoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata

Do you have a website where readers may learn more about you and your work?


Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Wishes for a music-filled holiday season!


Win a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate on Christmas Day!

Dear Book and Violin Lovers,

To promote the release of my Christmas picture book, The Magic Violin, I’m going on a virtual book tour during the month of December. The tour will begin on December the 1st and end on December 25th, when I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon certificate to one lucky winner!

To be eligible, all you need to do is leave a comment under this post or on one of my tour stops–that’s all there is to it! You don’t need to leave a comment on all the tour stops, but the more comments you leave, the higher your chances of winning.

The winner will be announced here on this blog on Christmas Day.

This will be my virtual book tour schedule:

December 1 – Interview at Shari Soffe’s blog, Out of My Mind
December 2 – Review of The Magic Violin at YABooksCentral
December 4 – Interview at American Chronicle
December 5 – review of The Magic Violin at Reviews and Other Stuff
December 6 – Short essay on the author/illustrator relationship at Cachibachis
December 8 – Review of The Magic Violin at Muse Book Reviews
December 10 – Interview at Sue Eves’ blog
December 11 – Interview at Cynthia’s Attic
December 12 – Review of The Magic Violin at Armchair Interviews
December 13 – Interview and review at Beverly McClure’s blog
December 15 – Short essay on violin and inspiration at Blogcritics Magazine
December 17 – Interview at Kim Baccellia’s blog
December 22 – Review of The Magic Violin by Kim Baccellia

*I’ll be updating daily in case of changes.

Violin/Music Shops Selling my Book

Hi all,

I was pleasantly suprised this morning when I opened The Violin Case Newsletter and discovered that Julie is selling my children’s book, The Magic Violin, in her online shop.

I want to thank all the violin shop owners who have ordered copies of my book for the Christmas season. It was time consuming to contact close to 200 shops across the US, but it was worth it. I hope they’ll sell the copies quickly so they may order more 🙂


Press Release: New Christmas Picture Book Focuses on Violin Playing


Contact Person: Lynda S. Burch, Publisher
Company Name: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Telephone Number: 314 276 8482
Email Address:

New Christmas Children’s Book Focuses on Violin Playing


SAINT LOUIS, MO, November 5th, 2007 – Mayra Calvani’s first children’s picture book, THE MAGIC VIOLIN, has just been released in ebook and paperback by Guardian Angel Publishing, becoming one of the few picture books in the market today focusing on violin playing.

Book’s Blurb:

More than anything, 8-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious, old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman’s hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the plaza, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea?

The message of The Magic Violin is that real magic lies in believing in oneself, and that if we trust ourselves, we can accomplish anything. The story, written for 4 to 8 year olds, shows how being compassionate and generous can have its rewards. It also introduces children to the violin and other countries–Belgium, in this case.

“The story combines violin music, magic, Christmas, and the charm of 19th Century Europe,” says Calvani, whose passion for the violin has led to several stories and novels since she began playing four years ago. “This is a book that little girls who are learning to play the violin will be able to identify with. The violin is an extremely difficult instrument to learn—probably the most difficult instrument there is, and sometimes learning a new piece can be quite disheartening. Hopefully my book will motivate young players to persevere and have self trust. Above all, I want my love for the violin to come through the pages and inspire children to try this incredible instrument.”

Author’s Bio:

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author whose short fiction, articles, and reviews have appeared on many print and online publications in the States, England, and Puerto Rico. She hails from San Juan, P.R., but now resides in Brussels, Belgium. Visit her children’s book website at

THE MAGIC VIOLIN is distributed by Follett, the largest distributor of ebooks to schools and libraries. The paperback version is available from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Gardners and Bertrams in the UK, most online retailers, and on order from any brick and mortar bookstore.

Learn more about The Magic Violin at
For review copies and/or interview requests, please contact the publisher, Lynda Burch, at

Title: The Magic Violin
Author: Mayra Calvani
Format: Paperback
Reading Level: 5-8 years old
ISBN-13: 978-1-933090-49-8
Publication Date: November 2007
Pages: 32
Price: Ebook $5.00, Paperback $10.95
To Order: 314 276 8482, or