Brendan Slocumb discusses his novel The Violin Conspiracy

By Coll Rowe | March 15 2022 | English Language ArtsThe Arts

Fresh off his appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America as the February Book Club selection, Brendan Slocumb recently returned to his childhood home of rural North Carolina to discuss his debut novel The Violin Conspiracy, which tells the story of Ray McMillian, who is determined to become a world-class professional violinist. When his great-great-grandfather’s priceless Stradivarius is stolen, Ray must piece together the clues to recover his treasured violin. The event, arranged by The Country Bookshop of Southern Pines, was held at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in celebration of the center’s 100th anniversary.

As reported by The Pilot, “Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, and was the concertmaster for the University Symphony Orchestra at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and served as the principal violinist. He has performed numerous small chamber ensembles and in the BESK string quartet. He has been a music educator for over two decades at both public and private institutions, and also serves as an education consultant for the Kennedy Center and as the concertmaster for the NOVA- Annandale Symphony Orchestra.” Heather Lewis, media specialist at Southern Pines Elementary, has known Slocumb since he was a child and encouraged everyone to attend: “Brendan is one of those effortlessly dynamic, magnetic people. He is smart, funny, charming, and is adored by his friends and his former students. He was always the ‘cool’ teacher who made music feel fun and relevant to kids.”

Students in the orchestra programs at the local Moore County’s three public high schools were able to access the recording of the event with Slocumb. AIMS (Authors in Moore Schools)—whose mission is to develop a love of reading by bringing authors, students, parents, schools and communities together through great books—and PAMS (Performing Arts in Moore Schools) coordinated with each school’s media center to provide copies of the book.

Students in orchestra classes were given the option to purchase a book at a discounted price or write a 150-word paragraph on the theme: “How music changed my life” to receive a free copy of The Violin Conspiracy. The essay theme is drawn from the podcast Brendan hosts, How Music Can Save Your Life.


Watch Brendan Slocumb speak at the event here:



Praise for The Violin Conspiracy:

“Such a page-turner . . . a musical bildungsroman cleverly contained within a literary thriller. . . . Slocumb isn’t too different from his protagonist: a natural. He easily conjures the thrill of mastering a tough musical passage and the tinnitus-like torture of everyday racism.” —The New York Times

“Utterly original and downright gripping, The Violin Conspiracy is more than a mystery—it’s an unflinching peek into the heart and soul of a gifted Black violinist striving to pursue his passion in the face of adversity. Brendan Slocumb’s debut is an essential lesson in artistry, prejudice, and persistence.” —Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl

“[A] galvanizing blend of thriller, coming-of-age drama, and probing portrait of racism. . . . As Slocumb, himself a Black violinist, describes Ray’s apprenticeship, always working ‘twice as hard as his non-Black counterparts,’ we are drawn completely into this moving story of an unfettered love of music and a passionate commitment to performing it. Skillfully juggling his two timelines, Slocumb builds tension exquisitely while writing about music with both technical precision and richly evocative metaphors. This flawless debut will do for classical music what The Queen’s Gambit did for chess.” —Booklist, starred review


More about Brendan Slocumb

Click here for the full book description

Watch Brendan Slocumb on ABC Good Morning America

Listen to an interview on NPR All Things Considered

The Violin Conspiracy
A Novel
Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. If he’s lucky, he’ll get a job at the hospital cafeteria. If he’s extra lucky, he’ll earn more than minimum wage. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music. 
$28.00 US
Feb 01, 2022
352 Pages