Monday, April 02, 2012

Scene of the Crime With Authors Charles and Caroline Todd!

Some of you crime fiction readers out there may not know that bestselling author Charles Todd is really the mother/son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd. They write two excellent historical mystery series, and it's been my pleasure to read both. The first series centers on Ian Rutledge, a shell-shocked World War I veteran who's returned to his job at Scotland Yard. The second features Bess Crawford, a British Army nurse during the same war.  I have to admit to a special fondness for Bess, but both series are excellent, and if you haven't given either of them a try, I strongly urge you to do so.

Charles and Caroline Todd

Here are a few links for you so that you can learn even more about these talented writers:

If you've read any of the books written by this dynamic duo, don't be shy: leave a comment and let everyone know which series-- or which books-- are your favorites.  Now, on to the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

Caroline:  Mother Goose of all things.  I could “read” it before I could read, and I loved the pictures and the rhymes.  Later when I learned what the “nursery rhymes” represented, I had to laugh at my early penchant for murder.

Charles:  Luigi and the Long-nosed Soldier.  Typical boy, I liked toy soldiers.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Caroline:  I paint in oils and I love visiting gardens and working in my own. I also love to travel. Anywhere, anytime.

Charles:   The beach. I love everything about it, including fishing and sea shells (which I collect and study) and being on the water. Even Carolina basketball plays second fiddle to that. I’m interested in political history and read a lot of non-fiction about that.

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Spring at Longwood Gardens
Caroline:  Old New Castle, Delaware’s answer to Colonial Williamsburg.  If your taste runs to museums, then there’s the Brandywine River Museum with its Wyeth collection, Longwood Gardens, a former duPont estate,  with its fountains and spectacular conservatory, Hagley Museum with emphasis on the industrial revolution, and Nemours, once a duPont Mansion, with its gardens and bell tower. For fun there’s the Wilmington and Western Steam Trains, which run on weekends. And the water front, with the Kalmar Nyckel, which is a replica of the Swedish ship that first landed here.

Charles:  North Carolina has mountains and beaches.  What more could anybody want? In between, there’s Old Salem in Winston-Salem, an early Moravian community with neat old houses on tree-lined streets. Our answer to Williamsburg and New Castle. 

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Caroline:  That’s hard—Sherlock Holmes and Poirot, or Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple?  I love so many of the great characters of fiction that it’s really hard to choose one.  What about Tony Hillerman’s Navajo policemen?  And the list goes on.

Charles:  Sherlock Holmes.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

Caroline:  The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. I hadn’t started writing, but the way that book is put together stayed in my mind. It’s a perfect example of plot vs. plotting.

Charles: A Prayer for the Dying by Jack Higgins. It’s a great book, but it also showed us that a villain can be human and sympathetic.

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?

Caroline:  I finished cleaning the house, sat down and had a cup of hot chocolate.  And the first time I saw A Test of Wills in a bookstore, I offered to sign it for them. They looked at Charles Todd on the cover, looked at me, and said, “Perhaps another time.”

Charles: I was in the office.  I had to wait until I got home, and that night I had lobster.  The first copy of A Test of Wills I saw I bought, to be able to say I’d actually gone into a bookstore and found it.  Later it dawned on me that I should have left it for a new reader to discover.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

Caroline:  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen his videos, and I never tire of them.  My worst experience was years ago in a large city, when the symphony was playing a very popular card, and all the friends of the library had tickets. There was one person at the book signing and I always wondered if she hadn’t been able to get tickets.

Charles: Years ago, The Mall signing near Myrtle Beach where Charles Todd was on the marquee outside, there had been articles in the newspapers, a lot of folks turned up—and the store couldn’t get the latest book because it was just going back for a second printing. I called the publisher and said, Do you want the good news or the bad?

What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?

Caroline: Okay, here’s my honest opinion. I love books, the feel of them, the ability to go back to them anytime I want to revisit a great story.  But eBooks reach people who don’t read a lot, people who read on the go, people who are accustomed to electronic gadgets and feel comfortable with them.  It’s great to be able to reach these fans.  And eBooks have brought us many many new ones.  I just don’t want to see books vanish, because they are such a repository of entertainment, knowledge, and cultures. Bookstores and libraries are essential to a free people. They bring us the world.

Charles:  I have to second that.  We’re very happy to be on e-Books, we each have one, but when I walk along my bookshelves at home and pick out an old friend, I’m grateful that I have a choice of  ways to read.

On Sale Now!

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Caroline and Charles. We appreciate the opportunity to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


  1. This was fun, Cathy! I really enjoyed hearing them at the PP last month. Still sorry you couldn't have been there. I'll finally get my act together and do a report on all those author events next week. I was on the front row to hear the Todds. LOL

    1. You know I'm going to be in the front row reading your report, Kay!

  2. Fun interview. I'm reading the Bess Crawford series with the read along hosted by Book Club Girl. I really enjoyed A Duty to the Dead and look forward to reading the second book later this month.

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying the series, Mary. The third is the best one yet!

  3. I had not heard about Old New Castle. We drove through Delaware many times when visiting our daughter when she was a student at William & Mary.

    We never tired of Colonial Williamsburg.

    I have read all the books in each series and I am partial to Ian Rutledge. Perhaps because the United States got into World War I so late, it never gets the attention it deserves. Trench warfare was horrific; mustard gas killed more soldiers than bullets did. Growing up, there was a man in the neighborhood who had been in that war. He was shell-shocked and it was terrible to see his reaction if there was a sudden loud noise or even the screeching of brakes.

    Your characters show the effects of their war experiences yet you write them so that they still have dignity. Your books are some of the best I have read.


    1. I didn't pay much attention to WWI either until Masterpiece Theater ran Vera Brittain's "Testmanet of Youth." Then I couldn't get my hands on the books fast enough. The 1890s through 1920 is still one of my favorite periods of history about which to read.

  4. These two have a great mother-son relationship. I suppose the fact that they live in different states might help but maybe not. I loved Caroline's story about offering to sign their book at a bookstore and the clerk obviously didn't know Charles Todd was a team.

  5. woo-hoo! I'm so excited to see these two here!

    I've read all the Bess Crawfords but only two Ian Rutledges - and, as much as I love Bess, I think the other series is better. The Todds treat the issues of mental & physical injuries from WWI with great compassion.

    Thanks for getting this interview, Cathy!

    1. You're welcome, Debbie! I have to agree that the other series is probably better, but I admit to tiring of Hamish and needing a break from time to time.

  6. I just recently read the Bess Crawford books, though I knew about them for a while. I read every one of them in the course of a weekend. I really love Bess and the other characters in the books. In fact, I was really sad when I finished because I knew it would be several months before another.

    I enjoyed this interview, and I'm not usually a fan of author interviews. I love the responses about ebooks because I feel the same way. I've always been a reader, but I know plenty of people who only became readers once they got an ereader. Hey - what works, works. :)

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview because I know that there are those who don't pay much attention to them. And you're right-- whatever works, works... especially when it comes to reading!

  7. I've read two of the Bess Crawford books, and most of the Ian Rutledge ones, which means I still have some to look forward to, lol! Plus what new ones get written. Interesting characters, and an interesting era to write about. Maybe it's just me, but Hamish seems to be mellowing a bit. And one almost hopes Rutledge's superiors at Scotland Yard end up stepping in front of a bus. Preferably all in a bunch, in front of a bus doing seventy on a rain-slick road...

    1. That's good news about Hamish. He wears thin with me and is the major reason why I'm lagging behind in that series. That and the fact that Rutledge's superiors refuse to step out in front of that bus! LOL

  8. I've read every single one of the Bess Crawford books and the Ian Rutledge. I have to admit that Ian is my all time favorite. Bittersweet that I'm totally up to date but have them close at hand and plan on starting all over again. Never tire of them. And agree that the beach is my favorite too - might be because I grew up in Florida but our old place on the NC coast is heaven and can't wait to get back down. Salt water in my veins for certain. Looking forward to the next book by the dynamic mother/son duo! Anne

    1. I'm thrilled that you're such a fan. Thanks for stopping by, Anne!

  9. i have wanted to read a Charles Todd mystery but for some reason never have gotten around to it! Your Scene of the Crime interview is so filled with awesome anecdotes - love this feature!


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