Friday, March 09, 2007

Interview with Cara Black
one of three authors appearing at Maidu Library on April 20

Have you always wanted to write?

Ever since I read Jane Eyre as a young girl I wanted to write.

How did you begin?

I kept journals while I traveled in Europe but was always losing them. In 1994 I was in France again, and the story I heard years before about my friend's mother who was a hidden Jewish girl in the Marais during the German occupation kept going thru my head. I wanted to tell her story.

Who influenced you?

Romain Gary, Baroness PD James

Aimee Leduc is a very interesting character, how did she come about?

I can't write as a French woman, can't even tie my scarf the way French women do. I think it's genetic but I grew up in a francophile household, went to French Catholic school and then when I was in Paris I met and interviewed three Parisian women who owned their own detective agencies and Aimee sort of evolved from details I learned about them.

Paris is palpable in your books, do you spend a great deal of time in France?

As much as I can. I try to go twice a year, I'm very lucky that I can stay on my friend's couch, she lives in Montmartre, and use frequent flyer miles.

Murder in the Marais is very emotionally intense, the plot concerns the Nazi occupation and the removal of the Jews from Paris. Is the occupation talked about and a common topic in Paris today? When I visited Germany, the last thing in the world I would have done is whisper the word Nazi, but I imagine it is different in France. What has your experience been?

In 1994 when I started writing Murder in the Marais, researching was more difficult. Many people didn't want to talk about the war, about the painful past. I had to go to archives, libraries, search out oral histories which weren't so common then....but I finally met a woman who'd been a hidden Jewish girl during the war and she opened her heart to me and shared. Now, as this generation is getting older and leaving us, I've noticed much more openess.
Why is the series set in the early 90s?
France was joining the EU then, immigration laws reminiscent of Vichy were going into effect and it seemed that 50 years after the war, incidents like in Murder in the Marais were happening.
Murder in the Bastille gives us a better picture of Rene, which I enjoyed. Please explain the creation of Aimee's ensemble of associates.
Rene Friant, a dwarf and computer hacker extraordinaire, comes from a woman, a dwarf who applied for a teaching job and didn't get it because of her size. People were looking at her disability not her ability. Morbier, her godfather and a commissaire in the police was Aimee's father's first partner, an old colleague and when I write him I envision the actor Phillipe Noiret, a crusty, gruff man who knows secrets.
Deciding to have Aimee blinded must have been intriguing to write, how did you make that choice?
A woman in my writing group suffered temporary blindness which was very scary, at the same time my friend's father in Paris suffered permanent blindness due to botched cataract surgery at the Hopital Quinze Vingts where Aimee has eye surgery. Another friend worked across from this eye hospital in Paris and I spent a lot of time in the quartier, watching the blind people who lived in the independent living center there. They'd just caught Guy George, a serial killer, who'd terrorized women in this Bastille quartier so it all sort of came together into a story.
Do you write or do you plan to write non-series books?
I'd like to.
What's the next adventure for Aimee?
After Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis she's going to the 10th arrondissement, a quartier with the canal Saint Martin and train stations....that's in March 2008.
Speaking of mystery.....did you know the Roseville Library is starting a Mystery Book Club on April 18 at the Maidu Library? Please stop by on Wed. April 18 at 7 pm to determine the reading list.

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