Sunday, October 17, 2010

Big Read Mystery Panel, part 4: Caroline Todd

More from the Big Read...

Caroline Todd and her son, Charles Todd, are the coauthors of numerous mysteries, including the Ian Rutledge series about a Scotland Yard detective set in circa–World War I England. They work together on each book, striving to make the storytelling seamless despite having two authors.

  • Todd's main writing inspiration is history. She has wanted to write ever since second grade, when she came home from school so enchanted by a book that she decided to write her own--which she did on the back of a large map her father had intended to frame.
  • For Caroline Todd, the setting of a novel comes first. She and Charles enjoy traveling to different villages in England, and finds each one to have its own unique way of thinking. Once, a villager told her that those in a nearby village were not nice. When asked why, he complained that they had cheated the people from his village ... during the Black Plague!
  • For Todd, the plot grows out of the setting, and characters grow out of the plot.
  • Todd says she is not an outliner. (Even when she was required to do outlines in school it did not come easily. She used to write the essay first, and then put it in outline form.) Instead of outlining, they prefer to follow their characters.
  • In Wings of Fire, Caroline and Charles Todd wrote about a poet called O. A. Manning, and created poetry attributed to this fictional poet. They were so convincing, they continue to receive requests for biographical information about O. A. Manning, and questions about where to find her complete works.
  • She admires: Colin Dexter, Tony Hillerman, Stuart Kaminsky, Geoffrey Household
  • The best-plotted book she knows of is Frederick Forsyth's Day of the Jackal
  • Best psychological suspense book: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Best author of vampire books: Chelsea Yarbro
  • Caroline jokes that Charles crashes her computer, and she crashes his parties.
  • Her advice to would-be writers: "If you don't read, I don't think you can write well."

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