“PLAYING WITH FIRE” Book Club questions

Things to think about as you read PLAYING WITH FIRE:

–The pediatric neurologist believes that Lily may be suffering from “Complex Partial Seizures.” What are the symptoms? What does the patient experience?(for more information, visit: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures/complex-partial-seizures)

— What seems to be the trigger for Lily’s apparently violent acts?

–Listen to the music “Incendio.” Can you hear the “Devil’s chords”?

For more information on this dissonant interval, also known as a tritone, visit: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2011/07/the-devils-interval/

To hear the music, performed by concert violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, you can find it here:

US readers: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016DVN3JO?ie=UTF8&keywords=incendio%20hou&qid=1445346407&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=8-1

UK readers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Incendio-Theme-Music-Playing-Fire/dp/B016ECNCMA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1469798174&sr=8-2&keywords=incendio+playing+with+fire


— Imagine yourself living as a Catholic in Nazi-occupied Italy. If a Jewish friend or neighbor turned to you for help, would you shelter them, knowing that you might be executed for your actions?

— Why did so many Jews remain in Italy until it was too late to flee? What kept them from leaving, despite the ever more onerous laws against them?

— In the Todescos’ place, knowing no more than they knew, would your family have uprooted itself and fled the country? Or would you have tried to “ride out” the war?

— Why did such a large percentage of Jews survive in Italy, unlike other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe? What made Italy different?





— When did you realize that Julia’s narration might be unreliable?

— Early in the story, did you spot the neurological clues pointing to the final revelation about Julia?

— Do you think this story has supernatural elements or is everything explained by science?


My interview on BBC Radio

Just got home from the UK.  Thought readers might like to hear my short interview on BBC Radio:


“Incendio” as I first dreamed it

I was going through my iPhone today, discarding old photo and voice memo files, and I came across a voice memo that I recorded almost two years ago.  It is, as far as I know, the very first recording of the “Incendio” melody, which I made while sitting at the piano.  I had dreamed of the melody, and when I woke up, the first thing I did that morning was sit down at my piano to play what I could remember.  I recorded it on my phone so I wouldn’t lose it.  It’s only the initial motif of the piece, which becomes far more complex in the following measures, but this is the fragment that started it all.  Weird to think how powerful dreams can be.  I’d been working on PLAYING WITH FIRE, and the descriptions of the music in the story must have inspired my brain to compose “Incendio” while I was sleeping.

Have a listen: