Thursday, January 31, 2013

Charles Todd Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother and son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.

Charles learned the rich history of Britain, including the legends of King Arthur, William Wallace, and other heroes, as a child. Books on Nelson and by Winston Churchill were always at hand. Their many trips to England gave them the opportunity to spend time in villages and the countryside, where there’s a different viewpoint from that of the large cities. Their travels are at the heart of the series they began ten years ago.

Charles’s love of history led him to a study of some of the wars that shape it: the American Civil War, WWI and WWII. He enjoys all things nautical, has an international collection of seashells and has sailed most of his life. Golf is still a hobby that can be both friend and foe. And sports in general are enthusiasms. Charles had a career as a business consultant. This experience gave him an understanding of going to troubled places where no one was glad to see him arrive. This was excellent training for Rutledge’s reception as he tries to find a killer in spite of local resistance.

Caroline has always been a great reader and enjoyed reading aloud, especially poetry that told a story. The Highwayman was one of her early favorites. Her wars are World War 1, the Boer War, and the English Civil War, with a sneaking appreciation of the Wars of the Roses as well. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the world, gardening or painting in oils. Her background in international affairs backs up her interest in world events, and she’s also a sports fan, an enthusiastic follower of her favorite teams in baseball and pro football. She loves the sea but is a poor sailor—Charles inherited his iron stomach from his father. Still, she has never met a beach she didn’t like.

Both Caroline and Charles also share a love of animals, and family pets have always been rescues. There was once a lizard named Schnickelfritz. Don’t ask.

Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline’s computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together? Stay tuned! Their father/husband is holding the bets.

Social Media

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

Caroline: I was about seven years old, and I was sad when our second grade reader ended so I tried to continue the story. 

Charles: I don’t know how old I was, but it was when I realized that some of my favorite movies started out as books.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?

Caroline: That I collect book marks.

Charles: That I collect sea shells.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Caroline: Back to question one. :) I can’t say I “finished” it –I just ran out of paper.

Charles: I wrote my first book with Caroline in 1994, A TEST OF WILLS.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

Caroline: That there was more to learn than anyone could manage in one lifetime.

Charles: That not everything had an answer.

Did you learn anything from writing Proof of Guilt (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series) and what was it?

Caroline: That sometimes—and it’s rare—a person glimpsed in passing can stick in the mind and come back as a fascinating character.

Charles: That you can trust the other person’s imagination and build on it.

What do you feel is the most significant change since book one?

Caroline and Charles: When we wrote A TEST OF WILLS, we really thought of it as a stand alone, but we found we couldn’t really walk away from Rutledge. So we wrote WINGS OF FIRE, which gave us a little more insight into him as a character. Perhaps the most significant change was in us, and our growing fascination not only with Rutledge but with the variety of cases he could be asked to solve. Each book is different from the one before it. And that keeps the writing fresh for us and for the reader.

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since A Test of Wills and in what way have they changed?

Caroline and Charles: We’d both agree that it’s the way Rutledge has grown and how he is learning to deal with his PTSD. This is a real problem for real people, and we understand it a little more with each book. It’s a challenge to us, not a plot device.

For those who are unfamiliar with Ian, how would you introduce him?

Caroline and Charles: Inspector Ian Rutledge had just begun a brilliant career at Scotland Yard when the Great War started. He enlisted, as most men did, and with his police background was trained as an officer. He spent four violent and bloody years in the trenches of France, and while he survived physically and was able to return to the Yard and his career, his wounds were invisible. What no one but his doctor knew was that he was suffering from shell shock, and carries with him every minute of his waking life the voice of a young Scots soldier he was forced to execute for breaking under fire. It’s how his mind copes with the guilt of having coming back when so many of the men he led into battle died. It’s not an uncommon thing, but in 1918 was seen as cowardice, not as the price of courage. And as he is asked to solve crimes, he must also find a way to solve the burden of Hamish, whom he killed once—and cannot bear to kill a second time, even for peace.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing the Inspector Ian Rutledge Series?

Caroline and Charles: Hamish has to be our first answer, because he’s not a ghost or even a figment of Rutledge’s imagination, and so he must be carefully handled, to enable the reader understands him. The second would be Frances, Rutledge’s sister. She’s quietly interesting.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 

Caroline and Charles: People are always asking us whether Rutledge will meet Bess and fall in love with her. That wasn’t our intention when we created Bess. She’s her own person and just as intriguing in her way as he is. But it would be fun to listen to a conversation between Rutledge and Simon Brandon. Two men of action who also have many other qualities that set them apart.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Caroline: Two writers who shaped my view of historical novels were Dorothy Dunnett and Inglis Fletcher. I was fortunate enough to meet both of them, and they showed me that mysteries set in the past can be full of action, interesting characters, and have a relevance for modern readers that make the history a part of the plot and not just the setting.

Charles: Jack HIggin’s PRAYER FOR THE DYING, one of his earliest books taught me to look for more in casting villains than just the bad guy. And Winston Churchill appealed to my love of words and finding the right one for the right place.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?

Caroline :and Charles: Read, read, read. It’s the best training for imagination there is. And open lots of doors. We enjoyed Tony Hillerman as much as Michael Connelly and Julie Hyzy as much as Lee Child. And in the process we’ve found some terrific mysteries we might have missed if we only read one type.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

Caroline and Charles: What the next book is going to be about. It’s not really superstition, but we always feel that to talk about it too soon spoils the spontaneity of the writing.

What is your happiest childhood memory?

Caroline: Being read to as a child

Charles: Being taken to the beach.

What's the worst summer job you've ever had?

Caroline: Working in the accounting department of a woman’s store.

Charles: Being a bus boy

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?

Caroline: My sister.

Charles: My sister

When was the last time you cried?

Caroline and Charles: When we had to put a beloved pet to sleep.

Where can readers stalk you?

Caroline and Charles: On Facebook and at And at a bookstore near you. Well, maybe not in person, but definitely on the shelves. :)

Scotland Yard's Ian Rutledge must contend with two dangerous enemies in this latest complex mystery in the New York Times bestselling series

"Todd once and for all establishes the shell-shocked Rutledge as the genre's most complex and fascinating detective."--Entertainment Weekly

An unidentified body appears to have been run down by a motorcar and Ian Rutledge is leading the investigation to uncover what happened. While signs point to murder, vital questions remain. Who is the victim? And where, exactly, was he killed?

One small clue leads the Inspector to a firm built by two families, famous for producing and selling the world's best Madeira wine. Lewis French, the current head of the English enterprise is missing. But is he the dead man? And do either his fiancée or his jilted former lover have anything to do with his disappearance-or possible death? What about his sister? Or the London office clerk? Is Matthew Traynor, French's cousin and partner who heads the Madeira office, somehow involved?

The experienced Rutledge knows that suspicion and circumstantial evidence are not proof of guilt, and he's going to keep digging for answers. But that perseverance will pit him against his supervisor, the new Acting Chief Superintendent. When Rutledge discovers a link to an incident in the family's past, the superintendent dismisses it, claiming the information isn't vital. He's determined to place blame on one of French's women despite Rutledge's objections. Alone in a no man's land rife with mystery and danger, Rutledge must tread very carefully, for someone has decided that he, too, must die so that cruel justice can take its course.

Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd is the 15th installment to the Inspector Ian Rutledge Series. With another murder for Rutledge to solve, a body that lies in the middle of the street is without identification. However, inside the coat pocket is a gold watch which indicates that its owner is a gentleman. Although it provided him with some clues, they were all dead ends. He’s coming to find out that he’s dealing with a very smart criminal and his options are slim.

This remarkable murder mystery carries the same caliber that the previous fourteen books have. There are plenty of richly descriptive texts to provide readers with a clear view of this wonderful world. The character of Rutledge is simply appealing. Author Charles has a knack for giving so much life into his characters. Although this is the fifteenth book in the series, first-timers in the series will be glad to know that Proof of Guilt is presented as a stand-alone. Fans of the series and newcomers will appreciate that Charles’ writing style is able to hook returning readers and attract neophytes. The twists and turns presented will get the gears going at full speed as readers will feel anxious to help Rutledge to solve this mind-boggling murder mystery. Readers will enjoy that they are able to slowly untie the murder right alongside Rutledge. It is a powerful mystery challenge and it is one of the facets that makes Proof of Guilt such a wonderful story to read.

You can purchase Proof of Guilt at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Charles for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a copy of The Confession by Charles Todd.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you Charles for this wonderful donation to Jean Booknerd and us readers! It was a pleasure to discover what sounds like an intriguing story.

  2. So cool that they are a mother/son writing team! Thanks so much for the contest!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  3. This is to cool! It's a ton of info but so very interesting!!

  4. A NYT worthy post. KUDOS!! Fantastic post, review and interview!!