Friday, August 29, 2014

Charles Todd--An Unwilling Accomplice

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Most of you know I am a huge fan of Charles Todd (mother-and-son writing team Caroline and Charles) and not much makes me happier than a new book in their Bess Crawford series. While their series featuring Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge has moved into the 1920s, WWI nurse Bess Crawford is still in the thick of the conflict in 1918. But in the just-released Bess novel, AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE, Bess has a break from the battlefields. That certainly doesn't mean, however, that Bess stays out of trouble!
 

World War I Battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s career is in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch, in this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd.

Home on leave, Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated by the King. The next morning when Bess goes to collect Wilkins, he has vanished. Both the Army and the nursing service hold Bess negligent for losing the war hero, and there will be an inquiry.

Then comes disturbing word from the Shropshire police, complicating the already difficult situation: Wilkins has been spotted, and he’s killed a man. If Bess is to save her own reputation, she must find Wilkins and uncover the truth. But the elusive soldier has disappeared again and even the Shropshire police have lost him. Suddenly, the moral implications of what has happened—that a patient in her charge has committed murder—become more important to Bess than her own future. She’s going to solve this mysterious puzzle, but righting an injustice and saving her honor may just cost Bess her life.

Like all the Bess books, AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE is chock full of fascinating historical details and a wonderful sense of place--not to mention a plot that kept me reading straight through until I finished it. And as a bonus, I got to quiz Caroline and Charles about the book!



DEBS:  Caroline and Charles, are your books most often inspired by particular places?

CAROLINE:  Absolutely!  For each book we look for just the right setting, and then spend some time there.  Take your own book, THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS.  I can’t think of any other part of London that would have suited Andy’s story as well.  So not only the look and feel of a place matter. You must ask what happened there in the past, because it will affect the lives of the characters in one way or another.  The setting also determines the action, because it’s the limit in time and space for what is going to happen.   Driving off a cliff may sound like a dramatic finale for a mystery—but you have to make sure to start with that you’re in a countryside that has cliffs.      

CHARLES:  Sometimes we drive to a village we think is going to be ideal.  Bur when we get there, we discover it has no "character" after all, nothing that would make a mystery interesting.   So we have to move on. One of the reasons Rutledge works in the countryside so often is that English villages have so much to offer in the way of opportunity and variety.  And the same is true of Bess.  Of course occasionally we change the name of the village, if we think it would be best for the people still living there.  This is particularly true in next year's Bess, which we're working on right now. But if you know England, you can usually figure it out from the geography.

DEBS: I was so fascinated by your depiction of Ironbridge (both the town and the bridge) that I had
to look it up. Did you visit it?

C&C:  We really enjoyed our time there.  It’s in Shropshire, not far from Shrewsbury.   That iron bridge is very dramatic.  Just right for the first murder.   And there’s a lovely little town that climbs the hill that rises on this side of the bridge.  We discovered a bookshop there, and found books on Shropshire and the Great War. (The story of our lives—we’re always hunting for a way to get books back home! ) Believe it or not, that bridge was opened in 1781, the first arched bridge ever built of cast iron.  It’s on the UNESCO Heritage list.  We tend to take bridges for granted, but this one spans the River Severn where it passes through a narrow gorge, and it must have been a godsend locally!  Imagine having to travel for miles to find a place where you could ford or take a ferry.  We liked it so much that Morrow put it on the jacket.

DEBS: Bess finds herself in a very difficult position in this book, appearing to have been remiss in her duty at best, and at worst possibly helping a soldier desert. Was there any particular incident that inspired this story line?

C&C:  We'd seen an audience with the Queen where she gives out honors and medals, and we were intrigued with the idea of taking Bess to one.  It was when we were deciding what sort of person the wounded man would be, the one she was accompanying in order to manage his wheelchair, that the rest of the story fell into place.  And we were in Wales on that same trip to Ironbridge when we happened to see something on TV that triggered a very intriguing possibility.   Can’t tell you more about that—some people haven’t read the book yet.  Oddly enough, though, most of that information is still classified, and we can’t help but wonder why…  
 
DEBS: Bess gets to spend almost the entire book with handsome and intriguing Simon Brandon, which was a real treat. They have such an interesting relationship, and we learn more about Simon in this book. And of course readers want to know if they will ever be more than friends. Do you know, or do you let the relationship chart its own course from book to book?

CAROLINE:  Everyone loves Simon, I think!   We just wrote an e-short story,  "The Maharani's Pearls," where we learn a little more about the early relationship between Bess and Simon while the regiment was still in India and she was a young girl.  What’s in their future?  We have no idea, they haven’t told us yet.  Whatever their ultimate relationship, though, there’s definitely a strong bond between them, and that has intriguing possibilities.  Meanwhile, there’s still a war on, and nobody is thinking about the future just yet.  Stay tuned.

DEBS: Are the Dysoes (a unique setting in the book) real, and if not, what inspired them?

C&C:  The Dysoes are quite real.   And such a strange formation of high rounded hills with a single road snaking through them.   Not what you’d ever expect to find in Warwickshire.  A perfect place to set a story.  Just driving through that area was claustrophobic.  And think how cut off those villages must have been for centuries.  Bess and Simon were the strangers there, and not very welcomed.

DEBS: Bess and Simon seem to drive all over England in this book! How do you figure out how long it would have taken them to get from one place to another in 1918?  I would love to have a map!  I think your (our) publisher should commission Laura Hartman Maestro to draw maps for the Bess books. And the Rutledge books!
 
CAROLINE:  We love your maps!  And we have a map for A FINE SUMMER’S DAY, the next Rutledge!  Morrow found a wonderful cartographer who put his travels on the map.  Literally.   Bess actually has only four sites in this book--for the mystery part of the story.  There's London, of course.  Then Shropshire (Shrewsbury --think  Brother Cadfael!—and Ironbridge).  And then traveling to Warwickshire and the Dysoes, which aren’t all that far away from Stratford.   Bess also goes to Bakewell, just a skip and a jump from Chatsworth.   We tried to keep it interesting but manageable.

CHARLES:  It’s often frustrating, figuring out mileage for Rutledge and Bess.  Some of the roads they would have used don't exist any longer, so you sort of have to imagine how they would get from A to B and how long it would take.  We don't know if we are always precisely right, but we’re close enough to feel good about it.   The roads were hopeless.  But the motorcars of the day were marvels. A friend owns Rutledge's motorcar.  We've driven in it many times. Just recently it went from Pennsylvania to New Orleans without a hitch. We think it has even climbed Pike's Peak.   A hundred years old and still one of the most beautiful motorcars you can imagine. A burgundy red with a dark cream top, everything on it spit and polish, and an elegant Flying Lady (The Spirit of Ecstasy) for the bonnet ornament.

DEBS: You got a head start on the Great War, long before current writers decided to go back to that period.  The first Rutledge, A TEST OF WILLS, was published in 1996. Now we’ve come to the centennial of 1914-1918. What are you doing to mark this occasion?  (The photo is the stunning exhibit filling the dry moat of the Tower of London to mark the centennial. The installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies by ceramic artist Paul Cummins is called "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red." Each poppy represents a British military fatality from the war.)

C&C:  We’ve just turned in A FINE SUMMER’S DAY, and we think it’s rather special.  January always means a Rutledge mystery, but this year we go back to June of 1914, when Rutledge had a brilliant career going at the Yard and is falling in love.  He has one last inquiry he must close before he can think about enlisting in the British Army.  What happens in those months between June and late September made him not only the detective he is, but the man he’s to become.  Not a prequel so much as a chance for readers to look deeper in Rutledge’s past, before the Battle of the Somme in 1916 changed him forever.  

CAROLINE:  On a personal note, it was a very emotional book to write, and we had just turned it in, still fresh in our minds, when I went to see WAR HORSE in London, with a friend.  I can’t describe the impact it had on me. It was as if I’d suddenly stepped into war with Rutledge. 

C&C:   Before we move on, we’ve just got to say something about your newest Kincaid and Gemma, TO DWELL IN DARKNESS.   Having the same publisher, we managed to get our hands on an early copy, and it blew us away.   It all takes place in four days, and the plotting is so clever we were unable to put it down.  There was only one problem with it:  we read the whole thing in one weekend, and now we have to wait a year before we find out what happens next!  Get to work! 

DEBS:  Thank you, Caroline and Charles! Caroline and Charles are great motivators (they write TWO fabulous books a year!) and cheerleaders! We're very fortunate that, because we have the same publisher, we often get to do events together, so I'm including a couple of my favorite photos. In the first we are
signing together somewhere in the wilds of central Florida (I think.) In the second, we had an event together in Charleston, SC. We got to eat oysters (Charles and I share the passion) and do a little sightseeing. This is Caroline shooting me shooting
Caroline!

I'm very excited about the map in the new Rutledge, A FINE SUMMER'S DAY, in January (and what a great title!) and I wondered, REDS and readers, if everyone else loved maps in books as much as Caroline and Charles and I do? 

Charles and Caroline will be dropping in to chat today, so do tell us in the comments! 

P.S. I want to see a photo of Rutledge's motorcar!

P.S.S. Isn't that a terrific cover???


60 comments:

Mark Baker said...

I must admit, I don't pay much attention to maps in books. I'll glance at them, but never really study them and go ahead and create a picture in my mind. I do know plenty of people who love them, however.

Joan Emerson said...

I love maps in books . . . for me, they are a wonderful visual component that often help414 solidify the place of the story . . . .

I'm really looking forward to reading An Unwilling Accomplice --- waiting for the next book is always hard.

Hallie Ephron said...

I love maps, too. But most of my places are made up, composites of real places, so one of the first things I have to do when I start writing is draw a map of my "imaginary"place, and floor plans for the interiors.

Caroline and Charles, so happy to see you here! You are an amazing pair.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

I love maps too! In fact we had a discussion this week about how sad it is that maps are going the way of the dinosaur...

Wonderful interview Debs, Carolyn, and Charles. It makes me want to read both of these books IMMEDIATELY!

Mary Sutton said...

I look at maps, they're interesting, but I don't miss them when they are there. Like Hallie, most of my stories take place in real locations, so I spend a lot of time on Google Maps, though (permanent bookmark for the current WIP).

And the minute you mentioned the Severn I thought, "Hey, Cafael!"

Nancy Allen said...

Hey there, cool cats of the Jungle Red! HC asked me to do a post for the Bouchercon blog, about my experiences in Albany. I sent it off yesterday; it's primarily a fan letter about the Jungle Reds! Hands down, you won my award for Best Panel of 2013. Can't wait to see you in Long Beach! When the JR's convene, you'll find me in the 1st row!

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Mary, while we were wandering about Shrewsbury, I kept thinking, we're in Cadfael's shoes today. I had to take an hour or so out to enjoy that. It had been awhile since I was in Shrewsbury, and I wanted to go back and read all the books again!
--Caroline

charles@charlestodd.com said...

That panel was hilarious! We just sent off a blog too. Should make for great reading when all these are up!

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Thanks, Lucy / Roberta! :-) It really is great to be here this morning.

Charles@charlestodd.com said...

Mark and Joan, I think both of you are right. I love maps too, but when there isn't one, I make my own in my head. Either way, I'm good!

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Hallie, that's a neat way of creating your own world, and it certainly works beautifully for your books. This brings us (Charles and me) to the concept of settings in a book. They have to be REAL, whether they exist on the map or are your own creation. It's something I know I look for in a book. So much of the plot hinges on whether or not the reader is involved in time and place. We've been on several panels about settings, and I never tire of hearing how other people work with them.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Aw, thank you, Nancy Allen! Cannot wait to read it!

And dear dear Todds--you know how huge a fan I am--your books actually bring tears to my eyes.

I love how you two work together..if you have time, will you tell the Reds? It's fascinating!

And oh yes, maps, I scrawl mine on legal pads--useful, but but very artistic. And I am doing a combination of real Boston and imagined Boston, so that's a strange line. I always say so in the acknowledgements: forgive the geographical tweaks!

The thing I love--when I am at a real place in Boston that figures in a book. It's so unnerving! (This is where the murder took place! Oh, wait, no..I made that up...)

So to think about you two on your research tours is so lovely! It must give you chills. Thank you so much for visiting today!

Margaret Turkevich said...

I sketch maps continuously, the town where my books are set, the location of specific houses on certain streets, floor plans, garden layouts, even perennial gardens at different bloom times. I have a bulletin board full of photos of fabrics, trims, and furniture, and floor plans of certain rooms, plus photos of historic houses and architectural details. It all works.

FChurch said...

Love maps--in books or anywhere else. A nephew collected maps as a young child--I scoured thrift sales and bookstores for maps to give him.

And, Caroline and Charles, finished An Unwilling Accomplice in one sitting yesterday--just pauses to feed the young'uns and critters! Now I have to wait until January for another Todd favorite. Sigh!

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Welcome Todds! Wonderful interview! Adore maps in books....

Kristopher said...

I love the Charles Todd books, particularly the Bess series.

I am excited for a view into Rutledge's past though.

As for maps, I have been known to buy books just because they have maps in them. Beautiful things.

In fact, the new E. Lockhart book We Were Liars has a map of the island in the finished version, which was not in the ARC I read. So, you know I added that finished book to my shelves.

Charles@charlestodd.com said...


Morning, Hank! Your books are another great example of BEING THERE. John grew up in New England, so Boston is a place I love to visit in books. We made a point to get to Boston, England, on our first trip there.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

F.Church--love it! Feeding the young uns and the critters! I know the feeling. I'll be lost in a book, and look up to find several pairs of feline eyes staring intently at me. If they had opposable thumbs, I'd teach them to use the can opener for their favorite fish dish! Buffy once bit into a can, dropped it on the floor and proceeded to lap up the gravy as it spilled out. Close--but not quite there!

Deborah Crombie said...

Morning, Caroline and Charles! Thanks so much for being here, and for answering my questions!

Hank, I have the same experience often in London. "Oh, this is where so-and-so was murdered." Then, "No. I made that up." Very weird, isn't it?

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Margaret, we were part of a panel once when P. J. Parish showed how they collaborated. They use story boards in much the same way you do. For the period of the Great War, we visit Country Houses in England for a look at things like styles of furniture, hangings, wall paper, fabrics--the list goes on. And for more ordinary homes, we make a point to look for them wherever we can find them. There are a lot more places out there to explore than you realize until you start looking! It's an adventure, great fun.

Charles@Charlestodd.com said...

Re Deborah's comments about familiar places--sometimes for various reasons we change the name of a village. The odd thing is, I have a terrible time ever after remembering the REAL name of that place. It's always the town we knew as Osterley or whatever. It's that deeply imprinted from the writing experience. The hilarious thing is, our English friends are now hooked on finding likely places to leave a body. We'll get a call starting with, Ooh, Caroline, we just been to X and there's the loveliest place to hide a body.

Charles@charlestodd.com said...

Kristopher, we're glad to hear you are looking forward to looking back to 1914 with Rutledge. As we were working with the story and the characters, we began to wonder what sort of person would Rutledge have become if there had been no Great War or it had only lasted a few weeks. You start to think of all the lives cut short or changed by those four years, and how many families were left to mourn for a lost son or husband, father or uncle. At one of our signings, someone told us that she had been a little afraid of her uncle as she grew up, then her mother took her aside and explained what had happened to him in the war. She'd added, "He was always my favorite uncle, and such a lovely man. I hardly knew him when he came back." Sometimes when we're writing fiction, we have to stop and remember that these things also happened to real people.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

You asked how we work together. It probably wouldn't have been possible if we were a lot alike and think alike sometimes. Both of us history buffs, both old movie buffs, both reading many of the same books. So when we share the writing, it's like sharing a good book or talking about a movie we've seen. We talk about the next scene, rough it out in conversation, then write a version that we both critique until we're happy with it. Then on to the next scene. With a husband/father who is a chemical engineer and a daughter/sister who is a money manager, Charles and I were used to talking about favorite things, while Linda had more in common with her Dad. Just happened that way, you know how families are.

charles@charlestodd,com said...

Charles here. We'd never even considered writing together until 1994. I'd have shaken my head if anyone had even predicted it. I think what happened was, we both really liked Rutledge, were intrigued by this character we'd come up with, and wanted to know more about him. In many ways you could say that Rutledge brought the team into existence. If we hadn't felt that way about him, A Test of Wills would never have seen print. And we've felt the same about Bess, that she's worth getting along for. :-)

Kathy Reel said...

I so love maps in books! I'm very visually inclined, and it satisfies my OCD need to have the dots connected. I follow your maps closely when reading your books, Debs, and I really appreciate them.

There were so many wonderful moments and meetings at my first Bouchercon in Albany last fall. Meeting the Reds' authors has enriched my reading beyond boundaries that I wasn't even aware of existing. Another favorite meeting was Charles and Caroline, possibly the most gracious people on the planet. They are a testament to civility, thoughtfulness, and good-naturedness. I was fortunate to hear them on a panel, too. I hope to get to know them better at future events.

Now, I admit that I have some catching up to do with Bess and Rutledge, but it is something that I look forward to with alacrity. When I see you two wonderful authors again at the 2015 Bouchercon, I will be up to speed and eagerly awaiting what's next.

Kristopher, I can't tell you how many times I referred to the map in We Were Liars. I was constantly looking at where the characters stood or engaged in activities.

Thank you, Caroline and Charles and Debs, for a most enjoyable post today. Oh, and Debs, I finished The Book of Life last night, and in my reading yesterday came across the reference to Gemma and Duncan. I was fair excited, I was.

Kathy Reel said...

Oh, and, Carolyn and Charles, in reference to your relationship compared to your husband's/father's, my family follows the same dynamic. My son and I share many of the same interests, lean more toward creative arts, and we're also rather quirky. I can see the two of us writing together, and we have even talked about it a bit. My daughter and husband are more alike, both very practical and to the point. I think it often works that way, with mother and son.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Almost noon here on the East Coast. We're going to break for lunch, but all of you in a different time zone, keep writing! We'll be back to talk shortly. It has been a terrific morning talking to everybody. JRW is such a great blog.

Deborah Crombie said...

Having spent a good deal of time with Charles and Caroline, I have begun to get an idea of how their writing together process works. It's fascinating.

And I must say, Caroline is a great brain-storming buddy. I kept telling her she had to finish To Dwell in Darkness so we could talk about the next book!

So excited I'll get to see Caroline and Charles on my book tour. I'm signing at the Chester County Book Company in Westchester, PA, just outside Philly, on October 23rd, and the Todds are going to introduce me.

Pat D said...

If there's a map in a book I'll look it over before I start reading. Then I keep coming back and checking it out in the midst of the story. Oh...there is where that happened. And so forth. Todds, I love both series although I lean towards Ian a bit more. Let's face it. He needs our support! He and Bess have an acquaintance in common; have they ever visited at the same time and met each other? I'm enjoying the ride, waiting to see where the Bess/Simon friendship is going.

Ramona said...

I, too, would love to see Rutledge's motor car!

Caroline and Charles are so generous with their time and support for writers and the writing community here in Delaware. They are our shining stars!

Ramona, waving from Newark

Lisa Alber said...

I love maps in books -- your maps are particularly good, Deb.

And great interview. I'm looking forward to reading the latest Charles Todd!

Anonymous said...

Me too. I love maps in books. And I love the maps in Deb's Kincaid and Duncan books.

Great interview! My Mom introduced me to Charles Todd. I just started reading the books. I want to start with the first book and read them in order.

~Diana

Deborah Crombie said...

Good idea, Diana. The books can be read as standalones, but I think they are even more enjoyable if read in order from the beginning. And a treat for those readers that haven't read both series since they began--you get to binge--or at least until you get caught up:-)

charles@charlestodd.com said...

We're back and enjoying all the comments. Ever had a lamb taco? It was really good. Interesting that Kathy has the same family dynamic. I sometimes say, jokingly, that it's a matter of genetics who you can write with, your sister, husband, child, parent--there has to be a connection. I think I stood over Deb with a whip, urging her on to finish TO DWELL IN DARKNESS. She'd told us a little about the plot, and I couldn't wait for more. I had to pull strings to get my hands on a copy, and it was soooo worth it. You've got such a treat coming, Deb fans.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Pat asked if Rutledge and Bess have ever met. His family friend is her cousin--Melinda--and we are sure they must have met at some point. We actually mention Bess in the next Rutledge. How would they get on? Probably very well indeed. But what would Simon have to say about that??? Or what would Rutledge have to say about Simon??? Hmmmmmm

charles@charlestodd.com said...

My father was a great map reader. My husband is mazing. He looks at a map and says, "See, it goes down hill here, crosses the rail tracks, climbs up again and then turns to the left just there where it meets the river." It was as if it was all there in his head, a picture. I know our friend Brian in England also carries a map in his head. We ask, "How far to X," and he tells us. "Where is that house we want to see?" and he finds it. We never get lost in the biggest city because he always knows where the car is, even hours later when we're wondering if we'll be walking home. I think this is a gift.

Charles@charlestodd.com said...

While everyone is around, we'd love to know if you're keeping up with events in England, as they mark the centennial of WW1. I look at that photo of the poppies in the moat below the Tower of London, and it really is shocking to see. You read the numbers in a book--dead, wounded, missing--and they seem huge. But they are numbers, and as someone just said, for a visual person, it's almost overwhelming to see this depiction of the lost lives.

Sharon said...

I love maps in books, too. Anything that adds to the atmosphere of the story and the physical impression of the book itself is a plus for me.

Kate Morton's US editions are so wonderfully designed that I always end up buying the hard cover even if I've read a library copy.

I got An Unwilling Accomplice earlier this week and really enjoyed it. As already mentioned, the Iron Bridge cover is lovely and sent me to Google to read more about it.

I'm looking forward to the Rutledge prequel. I bet there have been a number of requests for this book. It will be great to meet the man he was before the war.

Charles@charlestodd.com said...

I have been looking in the photo
library here for a picture of Rutledge's car. I think they are still on slides and chips. When I get it on this computer I'll post it on our Facebook page. But if you look up 1914 Rolls touring car--not the silver ghost, just the touring car--and among the Images look at the pale blue one they show (front view then side view) you'll come close.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Sharon is right, many people have said to us, "I wish I could have known Rutledge before the war," but we just weren't ready to write about it. I am not sure what changed about that feeling, but I know with all the talk about the centennial, it began to seem like the right time to go back. And it doesn't matter if you've read the other books or not. If you have, you'll recognize some significant things. If you haven't, you'll recognize them as you move forward. That's why we hesitate to call it a prequel, as if it should come first. Our editor said it was "a gift to fans." We hope they will agree.

Charles@Charlestodd said...

Oh, and we forgot to mention that there is someone to look for in that book. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling she may be in Rutledge's future. Just how or why, we don't know yet. It's just a feeling we have.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Before we get sidetracked ag, just want to say, Waving back at you in Newark, Ramona! I remember one of the first Bouchercons we went to, we turned around, and sitting just behind us was someone from Delaware. Small world. She even knew mutual friends! But then Delaware isn't like Texas, humongous.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

I'd like to ask Deb a question. You have such absolutely wonderful characters, even those who are there on the stage for a very short time. Sandra, Charlotte's mom, for instance. I feel as if I knew her, she's so real. Where did she come from? Imagination, someone you know, a mix of people you've known?

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Deb must be walking the dogs. I'll save Sandra for later. Does anybody have a Kindle or Nook or other reader? How do you like them? I love a real book, it just feels so right. But we travel so much that I can't take enough with me to last til I get home. So my Kindle is really a help. I usually have whatever title is on my Kindle in a book version as well, so it's there on the library shelf when I want it.

Deborah Crombie said...

Caroline, you are such a tease about Rutledge and Simon, and who we might meet in the upcoming Rutledge that we might see in future books! Now I'm dying of curiosity!

And thanks for the direction to the images of the 1914 Rolls touring cars. They were gorgeous, weren't they? And now I have a much better idea when reading both Bess and Rutledge what the cars might have looked like.

As for my characters, I can't tell you because I don't really know. I've only based one character very loosely on someone from my life. That was Penny, who was in some ways like my grandmother, who I adored. I seldom use actors or public people as templates, either. I usually just "see" them in my imagination, although that sounds pretty weird.

How about you and Charles? Where do your characters come from?

Deborah Crombie said...

I should have said Penny from A Share in Death, the first Duncan and Gemma novel.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

I really liked Penny too! And like you, these people just come to you, don't they? It's not weird, but it certainly is quite surprising sometimes. This whole "person" is right there, in front of you, and you know so much about him or her that you would recognize them instantly if you turned a street corner in London and there they were! Magic? Sort of. And lovely to realize what you've just done.

Charles@charlestodd said...

Someone asked us once if we would be surprised if we went back to the Great War and encountered all these people we write about, all there and really living and breathing. I'd never thought about it that way But it was an interesting idea. In your case, they are walking around London right this minute, unless like some you've already killed them off. :-)

Marianne in Maine said...

I also like maps in books. I use Google maps a lot wile I read. Especially with Deb's books.

I love the Bess books! Ironbridge is a beautiful site and it was written into AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE so well. I had it pre-ordered so I read it on release day. Thank you, Caroline and Charles.

I want to see Simon's car, too. :-)

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Charles: I see them too in my imagination. And I'm never quite sure whether Caroline or I initiated the image. It's a very odd thing, because there's not only the way they look, but they have voices and personalities, and most surprising of all, likes and dislikes. I don't decide that this person prefers whisky to gin, for instance, or that Dickens is a favorite author. It's just there.

Deborah Crombie said...

Ooh, Marianne, I want to see Simon's car, too! I want to see Simon, actually:-)

Charles@charlestodd.com said...

There wasn't much choice in cars or models in 1913/14, and like here in the US, production must have come to a standstill when all the factories geared up for war work instead. Colors were limited before the Great War, too. Don't ask me why, but I've always thought Simon must have had one very like Rutledge's but in dark green. What they call British Green. Also in this period you had driver driven cars, and chauffeur driven cars. Remember that sharp blue number that Mathew had after his and Lady Mary's honeymoon? I could picture Bess buying one of those!

charles@charlestodd said...

Sunbeam made some really sharp--and fast--single seat racing models in 1913/14. They were often green or silver. Men were speed mad even in those days. The Blower Bentley didn't come along until much later, and that's another sharp car, British green and well designed. I've ridden in one. Cramped but fun!

Charles@charlestodd.com said...

As for seeing Simon--I was waiting at Stirling Castle in Scotland for my daughter to finish shopping in the gift shop (neat stuff!) and looked up as one of the soldiers crossed the courtyard. Nearly fell over--he walked the way I imagined Simon to walk, that swift military stride, great shoulders, very erect, and very sexy, let me tell you. His hair was dark, trying to curl just a bit in the dampness, even though it was short, and I stood there and stared. I couldn't see his face, but I'd have followed him if he hadn't gone through a door that said CASTLE PERSONNEL ONLY. He didn't come out again before we left.

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Worst luck!

Deborah Crombie said...

Isn't that the truth!

I had something similar (although not nearly as romantic) happen a couple of months ago. I had never seen anyone, in the US or the UK, who looks like Duncan to me--even with lots of indulging in fantasy television casting. But there I was, standing in line for Mexican take out at my local Chipotle, and the guy in front of me in line looked like Duncan! Forty-ish, very good-looking, tall, trim, brown hair just barely starting to show a bit of gray. Of course there are lots and lots of men who would fit that general description, but there was something about this one that was just right. I can't explain it.

I could have studied (ahem, stared at) him for hours. Alas, he got his burrito and left:-) Duncan will have to remain in my imagination...

charles@charlestodd said...

That is the most fantastic story! What is it about some people (men in our case, speaking of Simon and Rutledge and Duncan)that is so--I don't know--just something about them. We don't sit down and write that in. It just comes out of something in the character after it has been created. And yet we recognize it when we see it in the flesh. And not just us, other people. Readers, fans!

charles@charlestodd.com said...

Well, it is Friday night, the start of Labor Day Weekend. We've had such a great time here all day, talking to Jungle Red and our fans. Thanks to you, Deb, and to all the other Jungle Red gals. Just wanted to add, Have a wonderful weekend, this last blast of summer, be safe if you're on the road, and remember to take a good book with you! And don't forget a map! :-) Caroline and Charles PS Don't miss TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, out in about three weeks' time. Take our word for it.

Reine said...

I love maps in books, pronunciation guides, and timelines in historical novels. I'm a glutton for anything that adds to the fun.

Sheila York said...

This comment is unforgivably late. I'm such a fan of Caroline & Charles’ books, and cannot – cannot – imagine how they turn out TWO terrific books a year. I've never forgotten how warm and welcoming they were the first time we met, when my first book had just been released. They set a pretty high standard for writer behavior to newbies, I can tell you.