Friday, February 27, 2015

Cara Black Researches MURDER ON THE CHAMPS DE MARS in Paris




SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I'm thrilled to introduce novelist Cara Black, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, set in Paris. Her latest, MURDER ON THE CHAMPS DE MARS is set in Paris (bien sûr!) in April of 1999: 


Aimée Leduc has her work cut out for her—running her detective agency and fighting off sleep deprivation as she tries to be a good single mother to her new bébé. The last thing she has time for now is to take on a personal investigation for a poor manouche (Gypsy) boy. But he insists his dying mother has an important secret she needs to tell Aimée, something to do with Aimée’s father’s unsolved murder a decade ago. How can she say no?


SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Reds and lovely readers, please welcome Cara Black, one of my very favorite novelists. I feel as though her Aimée and my Maggie Hope are fictional sisters in their love of both red lipstick and solving mysteries.

Cara, Kirkus Reviews gave MURDER ON THE CHAMPS DE MARS a starred review, saying, "Aimée's 15th outing is a killer, with all the suspense, all the surprise and all the Parisian flavor you'd expect from Black.” How does that feel when you’re so far into the series?

CARA BLACK: I choked on my coffee, Susan. Really amazed me and I kept pinching myself while I cleaned up my splattered key board. Who knew after after so long in the game? I never intended to write a series set in Paris, I was thrilled to even get published in 1999. My first book was a story about my friend’s mother, a hidden Jewish girl, that I felt passionate to tell. When my editor asked for another book saying ‘what’s Aimée up to next? you are writing a series, aren’t you?’ I lied and said yes and ran to the keyboard. She launched me into my life of crime. Now on Aimée’s 15th outing she investigates a missing Gypsy in the elite quarter of Paris, the 7th arrondissement. I wanted to get this part of Paris right. I’m honored to keep going and have reviewers appreciate the story I’m trying to tell. There’s so much about Paris that I haven’t plumbed, so many stories and such history that I still want to capture.
SUSAN: So, let's talk research in Paris - cafes, croissants, and shopping right?

CARA: I wish! Well, sometimes a little, no actually a lot in the cafes. I’m an eavesdropper in a cafe, on a bus, in the Metro, in a shop, at the park on the benches. Shopping for me is mostly old books, old photos, trinkets from the 90’s or earlier that I find at old bookstores, in the flea markets, and things from the 90’s which is Aimée’s era. Often it means I’ve got to buy another roller bag to bring my finds home. 


I know some ‘flics’ Parisian cops who I take to lunch/dinner with a lot of wine and ask them about procedure, old cases, what it’s like now as opposed to then (90’s) working a homicide, ask for introductions to other police branches. I’ve hung with our FBI a bit who work at the Paris Embassy and have they got stories!!  I go to to archives, libraries and crawl in the sewers and quarries and climbed into a reservoir and cut my knee.

SUSAN: Aimée’s a single maman with a 5 month old bébé and just going back to work - even though it’s her own detective business and office  - how did it feel to write that? Did you put in your own experiences as a mom?

CARA: I drew on those feelings, a new mother leaving my son for the first time, and it’s what a lot of women feel. Guilty, nervous and yet also wanting to use their skill set and re-join a ‘normal’ world without dirty diapers. Aimée gets spit-up on her vintage Courreges and she’s still nursing and leaks, my own experience, on a silk blouse at a meeting. She’s trying to balance going back to work, the responsibilities of being a single maman and get some sleep. 

SUSAN: Historicals have a new meaning these days, don’t they? If we’re talking time frame how do you handle all the technology and dating the book?

CARA: Good question, Susan. In Maggie Hope’s world there’s documented history, it’s a rich world, and communication was simpler. No FB, Twitter, texting, Instagram, CCTV - how lucky is that? But in the 90’s, the time of Aimée’s stories, no FB, Twitter, Instagram either. I’m so glad. A young reader told me last year ‘you’re writing Historicals, right?’ In a way, I guess since it’s the recent past. Aimée still pays in Francs (the Euro is 2 years away) and uses a cell phone and computer and hacks with the best. It’s the era of pagers and Europe was ahead in their cell phone use.

SUSAN: Rumor is you and Rhys Bowen will get into trouble again - can you address that?

CARA: Yes, Rhys’ new book comes out the same day as mine so we’ll do a launch together in Scottsdale. Then a bad girls redux mini tour in LA. I love traveling with Rhys and we have been known to misbehave.

SUSAN: OK, more on you and Rhys misbehaving in the comments, please! And are you really taking someone to Paris? Can I come too?

CARA: Yes, and you know I want us to meet there and visit Paris, Brittany and Normandy for research for a new Maggie Hope book, right? That thing we talked about? Everyone is welcome to enter the Sweepstakes for a trip avec moi in October - there’s an entry coupon in the new book or go here. Please update your passport and pack a bag… So who will I take to Paris?

SUSAN: Me, me, me! (Oh, wait — was that out loud?) Reds and lovely readers, there's so much I want to talk about with Cara — how Aimée's changed during the course of the series, what it's like when your protagonist becomes a mother (personally, I adore reading about Aimée's trials and triumphs with her bébé), and — um, hello? — when did the 1990s become "historical"?

Please let us know what you think. Cara will choose one lucky commentator to win MURDER ON THE CHAMPS DE MARS!


Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 14 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture.


38 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

I chuckle just a bit about Aimee's adventures in the 1990s being historical because it really seems like that was just yesterday.
Congratulations on the new book and on the starred review . . . I am so anxious to read Aimee's latest adventure!

Christopher Lord said...

I have had the honor of being Cara's "wrangler" during one of her many visits to Portland, where she is beloved by both the writing and the French communities. She is one of the sweetest, most generous writers I've met, and then she turns out these gritty novels as far away from my "cozy" world as a writer can get. If, for some strange reason, you haven't already fallen in love with Aimee, start at the beginning and just keep reading! If any character can get herself in more trouble on every page than Aimee, I haven't met her! And that doesn't even cover Rene, her fabulous dwarf partner in crime...Cara is the real deal.

Deborah Crombie said...

Hi Cara!! Cannot wait to read the new book!!! But I guess I'll wait until I get home from London so I can add the hardcover to my collection of Aimee books.

So interesting that the nineties are now considered "historical." I set part of a recent book in the nineties and found it very hard to research. But pretty soon you'll be bringing Aimee--and her bebe--into the new millennium...

Huge congrats on the book--and don't get in too much trouble with Rhys:-)

Edith Maxwell said...

Oh my gosh, I have been meaning to get to your series for such a long time, Cara. I've lived in France (Grenoble) and visited Paris several times. I might have some shoulder surgery coming up - a perfect time to start at the beginning of your series and read my way through.

A single mom in France - that can't be easy. And I'm with everybody else - the nineties is historical? So funny. All the best with the new book!

(Debs, I can tell you're in London, because you're commenting here with the early bird crew!)

Gram said...

To me the 90's is yesterday. How I remember, well before the 90's leaking on/through my blouses. It was thought that nursing would protect them from allergies later in life. Didn't happen.
Great series. Count me in.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh Cara I do love your books--and the Paris setting is irresistible. Do you remember when you decided you would do a book per arrondissement? How brilliant! And then I suppose you can move to the suburbs, right?
And certainly, the Reds will be happy to join your expedition to Paris! I mean. but of course! (Can you imagine?)

Mary Sutton said...

The 1990s can't be historical. I was in college in the early 90s and I'm not old enough to be historical. =)

The Paris research sounds lovely. Good luck with the book and congrats on the starred review.

Hallie Ephron said...

HI CARA!! So happy to see you here. I'm a huge fan of Aimee and her kohl-rimmed eyes and loved when you gave her a baby (SO out of character! Talk about un poisson out of eau.)

Where is your book tour taking you? I am SO entering that contest...

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Welcome, Cara! I'm also a huge fan of Aymée's. I think I was just getting used to the 80s being considered historical -- now the 90s?

Kait said...

I'm trying to get over the 90s as historical, but thinking back on the then and now, a whole world of change happened. This sounds like a wonderful addition to the Aimee series. Definitely on my TBR pile. Congratulations on the Kirkus review.

James Shaffer said...

A very useful read. You intrigued me and now I want to read this book. Adding it to my must-read list. I'm going to search for this book as soon as I place an order at place4papers.com

Brenda Buchanan said...

I cannot wait for this one.

Libby Dodd said...

With the speed at which things keep changing, yesterday is almost "historical."
Or is that "hysterical"?
No, I guess that's when she and Rhys get together!

Cara Black said...

Bonjour Reds + Redites - Merci Susan for inviting me!
Yes, un poisson out of eau, Hallie :) Aimée's trying to juggle it all with bébe

Cara Black said...

Christopher - nice to see you here! Debs, Rhys has a penchant for 'mischief' on the road and you know the song 'Girls just want to have fun'

Kathy Reel said...

Cara, your books are one of the reasons I need to have a month of isolation where all I do is read, eat, and sleep. Well, maybe I could make that a beach setting and add walks on the beach to my solitary activities. Your Aimee Leduc series has been calling to me for some time, and I do plan on answering that call. I'll at least get some reading done in the series by Bouchercon.

The Paris setting is now fascinating to me, not always so. Before I read Rhys' City of Darkness and Light, Laurie King's The Bones of Paris, and The Bookseller by Mark Pryor, I was rather lukewarm about the setting. I now can't wait to read more novels set there, and what a place to start with your 14 books,

Thank you, Cara, for reminding me that there are fourteen books I need to read, soon. Hahaha! Seriously, I probably didn't need the reminder, as your name is a most prominent one in the author/mysteries world.

Cara Black said...

Kathy, My father loved George Simenon's Inspector Maigret books - he got me hooked. Of course, that era of the 30's, pipe smoking at the Prefecture and drinking - yes - in the office are over. To me that was 'historical' :) A lot of kids today have never seen a rotary phone. Hope you enjoy getting to know Aimée

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Merci, Cara! (Yes, I'm teaching myself French in oder to research the next Maggie Hope book.... OK, I get the the 90s are historic, especially in light of all the changes in technology. Still, it feels like yesterday I was wearing chunky black heels, miniskirts, and MAC Viva Glam.

Cara Black said...

Susan, MAC viva glam is outré? Think of the 80's - that hair, shoulder pads - Sue Grafton must research old mags. Now with some databases digitized I can find what was on sale that day in the 90's really helpful

Cara Black said...

Before I forget, who wants to come to Paris? There's a sweepstakes coupon in Murder on the Champs de Mars besides the lovely two page map + fill it out and enter. I'd love to take you. We'll visit Duluc Detective, the basis of Aimée's detective agency + meet the trés gentille woman who runs it

Anonymous said...

I've read every one of the Aimee books. Love them. The only problem is that when I get the latest book I'm completely unable to drag out my reading longer than 2 days. I finish them too quickly. If only I read more slowly! ;-) I love all the characters, especially the loyal and fascinating Rene and the enigmatic Morbier. Every time I read one of the books it's like an escape to Paris! I can't wait for next book. Merci, Cara! (From a fellow SFer.)

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

No, MAC Viva Glam is CLASSIC — but it came out in the early 90s and proceeds went to fight AIDS (still do). There were a lot of women rocking the Viva Glam matte red lipstick look back then, or at least so I remember.... That was my first matte red! (My gateway lippie...)

Kate Farrell said...

I had the honor of reading MURDER ON THE CHAMPS DE MARS for a review--it is a "killer" and a delight all at the same time. The issues of a working mother in the 90s with an infant are just as real today, so not "historical." I felt the characters deepen in this novel, their conflicts revealed, another layer of understanding. Thank you for this wonderful book, Cara!

Cara Black said...

thank you Anonymous Fellow SFer and Kate! Did you know French women voted for the 1st time in April 1945!

Carole said...

Love Aimee, love the Aimee books. Especially love those brief sentences that evoke the sights, sounds and yes, smells of Paris so well. Maybe they resonate because I'm a bit historical too ....

Cara Black said...

Carole, merci! Love the butter wafting from the boulangerie, click of heels over the cobbles...and it says Paris. Every September there's a weekend when some private and public buildings are opened. And the private gardens too! Amazing spaces hidden in the center of Paris, so I had to write about them. Susan, if you go to Bordeaux for research, find gardens!!

sara hyman said...

I really enjoy Cara's books. and would love to visit Paris with her. I'm also looking forward to seeing her and Rhys together on book tour, even if they are performing mischief when you see them, you can see they are planning it for later in their faces. Lovely delightful ladies.

Pat D said...

The 90's are historical? Ouch. I resent the 60's being considered historical! Cara, do you speak French? Or are your contacts in French law enforcement English speakers. Your series is on my list of TBRs. Trouble is, so is everyone else's!

Cara Black said...

Sara glad you made it here! Pat D my French police contacts mostly parlez Français, so I get by in my archaic argot infused French. Reading French is no problem, but I often tape our talks because they speak so, so fast and with slang!

Claudia said...

Cara, so nice to meet you. I discovered you just a short time ago and I'm reading your books in order. I'm on Number 2 in the series, which I purchased at The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC. I love Aimee and I love your writing.

Thanks so much!

Claudia

Cara Black said...

Nice to meet you too, Claudia. Reading books in their series order is a great way to see the characters grow and change.

Deborah Crombie said...

Kathy Reel, you must read this series! And start from the beginning. Or buy the new book and THEN start from the beginning:-)

Edith, you have my number:-) The only time I ever comment early!

Susan C Shea said...

I realized last week that my recent - I thought - past was historical when I mentioned being taken to lunch as a famous, posh restaurant on the Upper East Side and the person I was telling about the incredible food said, "Oh, my god, that was such a wonderful era." "Era"? Love Aimee's era!

stitchkat said...

Hi Cara! Congratulations on the release of your new book. The first Aimee mystery has been on my TBR list for some time, but is now at the top. I've put a hold on my local library's copy and am looking forward to my next reader's jaunt to Paris.

Memarge said...

I looove all your books! I would like Aimee to realize that despite his height Rene is the one for her. But I imagine that won't happen.

Grandma Cootie said...

If Aimee's life is historical then my life must be ancient history! What a great series and what a wonderful look into Paris. Has made me see it in a different way and want to see it. Congrats on the new book.

Rhys said...

Cara, you know I'm a perfectly innocent and respectable person--the soul of decorum!!
Of course we have stayed at a few doubtful hotels (like the beachfront one last year)
But we certainly have fun and we'll be talking about it when I host JRW in a couple of weeks.
AND I'll see you in Scottsdale for our party at Poisoned Pen on the 5th.
Safe travels, Cherie.

JKW said...

I found your books some time ago. So glad you are friends with Rhys. I can imagine the 'trouble' what fun. Would love to see (live in) Brittany. Take me, take me. . .yes Passport up to date. Blessings. Janet