The Next Chapter

Kurt Palka on mystery and inspiration in Nova Scotia

Author Kurt Palka on his latest novel and the enigmatic woman at the centre of the story.
Kurt Palka's mysterious latest novel is set in 1930s Nova Scotia. (Penguin Random House Canada)

Kurt Palka grew up in Austria, and spent most of his career as a journalist. His latest book The Piano Maker offers a mix of mystery and history, following a French woman from a family of piano manufacturers in the 1930s. The woman ends up in a small Nova Scotia town carrying a heavy load of emotional baggage, including a mysterious secret that hangs over her life. 

Palka tells The Next Chapter how the story began.


The Piano Maker came to me, as many of my stories have, with one key image that suddenly pops into your head. In this case it was a very dramatic, tragic image. So then you wonder, what happened? What lead up to this, and what came after? And you begin to dig more and more into your reservoir of experiences and knowledge about people. So I combined that image, in this case, with my wonderful first impressions of a master piano tuner, and from there it just took off.

Kurt Palka's comments have been edited and condensed.