SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I'm thrilled to introduce novelist Cara Black, and 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 . The last thing she has time for now is to take on a personal investigation for a poor (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.
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.
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.