posted on April 13, 2015 by Naomi Hirahara

Never Making First Chair

By Naomi Hirahara –

GraveonGrandAvenueI’ve a big believer of doing things that you’re not good at. I’ve completed a few half-marathons (I’ve since retired), and been left in the dust by women twenty years older than me. A rusty set of golf clubs sit in my garage, a reminder of the many divots I’ve left in local golf courses. And a bowling bowl with my name, “NAOMI,” engraved on the surface is a memento from the days that I proudly held a 113 average in a company league.

Another thing that I never excelled in was music. There was the piano, followed by the guitar and the cello. I took up the cello in junior high school. To me, the violin seemed too common; the viola, too obscure. I was less than five feet tall (still am), so the upright bass was out of the question. But the cello – that rich, honey-hued instrument – I was immediately attracted to it.

A small girl carrying around a cello around school was a ripe target for comments: “What, you got a machine in there?” “That thing is bigger than you are.” But I didn’t care. I loved the cello, and I wasn’t alone. There was a whole row of us, including one of my good friends, Denise Blanco, who had also adopted the instrument in our orchestra.

I enjoyed the process of preparing the instrument. Of lengthening the metal endpin to suit my height. The tightening of the strings and the rubbing rosin on the strings of the bow. But when I actually played, the sound that I encountered wasn’t what I heard from my fellow cellists. My cello, a rental, moaned and mooed like a cow. The poor thing wasn’t happy with the things that I was doing to it.

Naomi Hirahara head shotIn my second Officer Ellie Rush mystery, GRAVE ON GRAND AVENUE, I’ve revisited my beloved instrument. But the cello in the novel is in the hands of a superstar Chinese musician, Xu. It sounds a lot better when Xu is playing, which is one of the powers and benefits of being a writer. Another advantage is to give props to your real friends, and in this book I have in the acknowledgments: “To Denise Blanco, who always was at least a chair ahead.”

GRAVE ON GRAND AVENUE can be purchased in mass market paperback or eBook format

Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar® Award-winning author of the Mas Arai Mysteries. Born and raised in Pasadena, Naomi received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and studied at the Inter-University Center for Advanced Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo. She worked as a reporter and editor of The Rafu Shimpo in downtown Los Angeles. She is also the author of 1001 Cranes and has written, edited, and published several nonfiction books, largely about the Japanese American experience. She lives with her husband in Southern California.

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