Vinyl is back—in more ways than one.
In September, Variety reported that vinyl sales were up 22% in the first half of the year, which have been rising since 2006. On top of that, we are getting a love letter to the world of vinyl and music in Olivia Blacke’s Vinyl Resting Place (12/27/22) in the new Record Store Mystery series.
In the book, Juni Jessup has returned to her hometown, just outside of Austin, Texas, and is opening a record/coffee shop named Sip & Spin Records with her two older sisters. But when a dead body turns up in a supply closet during their big opening and their uncle accused of the murder, Juni decides to investigate to clear her uncle’s name.
We are thrilled to have a chance to talk with the amazing Olivia Blacke!
Note: The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Vinyl Resting Place
Where did you get the idea for the new series?
I call myself a recovering ex-Texan. Like anywhere, there's gonna be pros and cons. I can't see myself moving back and living in Texas permanently ever again, if nothing else for just the heat. But yeah, it's still home. I used to collect vinyl; I used to go to all of the record stores, the garage sales, and thrift shops. I had quite a good vinyl collection at one point and my father-in-law was actually huge into vinyl.
I [was] seeing all of these articles coming out about the vinyl revolution and how more music is being sold on vinyl than any other format, except for MP3 right now. [Vinyl] is catching up to MP3. So it kind of brought back for me the nostalgia of going to vinyl shops and going to used music stores just to see what you could find. There were a lot of them in New York City. I used to live in the Village and they have dark basement music shops you’d go into. It was a little scary though.
Whenever I floated the idea [for the book], everybody's like, “Nashville is like a big music scene and New Orleans… I'm like, 'Austin.'” Austin is the live music capital of the world; that’s what they call themselves. The music scene out in Austin is amazing. I still got a soft spot for Texas. I really wanted a vinyl music shop near Austin. So that's where it started.
Family is a big part of this series as Juni opens the shop with her sisters. Could you talk a bit more about that?
I think it's a different part of me, obviously. [My first book] Killer Content was me when I was 20 and moved to New York City and knew nobody, knew nothing, and just has just literally got thrown in the mix. Granted, I did not see any murders, but I know that there was one time I accidentally walked through a chalk outline on the street, which is so on brand for me to just walk through a chalk outline and not notice it. But I didn't actually see a murderer, so I'm okay.
But I'm really big on the whole found family. I was able to work that into [sequel to Killer Content] No Memes of Escape. But one of the things that I really love about Vinyl Resting Place, is that Juni is the baby of the family. She left and she made a life for herself, and then she's coming back. She's trying to figure out where she fits in the family now. Her sisters and mom have lived in Texas their whole life. So she's trying to go back home, which everybody says you can't do, and trying to figure out where her place is in the world now. It was just kind of fun to try to figure out.
So where did the idea for the coffee bar come in with the fantastically named coffee drinks?
My original thought was just to have the record store. I was trying to figure out a way to make sense that people hung out there that weren't just dropping by once a month to see what's new. I was thinking it would be nice if [they’d] serve some coffee. Then the coffee ideas kinda went a little bit off the rails. I had so much fun coming up with the coffee drinks. The names of the coffee drinks are maybe my favorite things to write because it is nothing but music puns all day long.
No Memes of Escape
Could you talk about the difference between usage of technology between the new series? Your Brooklyn Murder Mysteries have a lot of social media, influencers, etc.
They're running a record shop. But they do take online orders. So they are checking the website and making sure that you know that the e-store is running as well. They're not just entirely just the physical shop and relying on that. There's a couple of times that somebody needs to get around town, they're going to call an Uber, or they've got their own version of Uber Eats, it's just called Road Runners. There's definitely still modern technology on it.
But I don't think anybody goes on social media, and maybe I had somebody look somebody up on Facebook. But I tried to fit it more into the physical space, which is hard because I'm writing during a pandemic. One of the best reviews I've had was from a reader who said something about “Man, Juni is running all over town talking to people,” and I'm like, “that's the whole point.” I wanted Juni to run around town and talk to people
Do you think the pandemic played a role?
I think that's gotta be part of it. Also the fact that they're selling vinyl, which was such a physical medium. You even touch a vinyl record and it brings back memories. They have a smell and a certain sound. I went down a rabbit hole the other day about the science of why records sound better than MP3. It's because our body can process analog sounds but our body has to translate digital sounds. [Vinyl is] such an analog medium, and I wanted to set it in a more analog world.
Thank you so much to Olivia Blacke for speaking with us! Book 2 A Fatal Groove is set to come out in 2023.