Thursday, April 6, 2017

C.S. Harris Author Interview

Photo Content from C.S. Harris

Candice Proctor, aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Grahamis the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than two dozen novels including the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series written under the name C.S. Harris, the C.S. Graham thriller series co-written with Steven Harris, and seven historical romances. She is also the author of a nonfiction historical study of women in the French Revolution. Her books are available worldwide and have been translated into over twenty languages.

A former academic with a PhD in European history, Candice also worked as an archaeologist on a variety of sites including a Hudson's Bay Company Fort in San Juan Island, a Cherokee village in Tennessee, a prehistoric kill site in Victoria, Australia, and a Roman cemetery and medieval manor house in Winchester, England. She loves to travel and has spent much of her life abroad, living in Spain, Greece, England, France, Jordan, and Australia. She now makes her home in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, retired Army officer Steve Harris, and an ever-expanding number of cats.


Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way
I suspect most writers are influenced more than anything by the books we read as children and teenagers—or at least that’s true for me. My imagination was set on fire by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Rafael Sabartini, and Mark Twain. They all reinforced my fascination with history and travel, and they introduced me to a world of adventure that can be experienced anytime, anywhere through the magical gift of storytelling. Along the way they also helped mold my ideas of what makes a person heroic. So in a very real sense they not only influenced my writing but also contributed to the person I became.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate. Curious. Persistent.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I was in school a long time (I have a PhD in history), but the most important thing I learned was simply how to think: how to analyze, to question evidence and information, to be curious and open to discovering new things, and to always look for the other side of the story. I wish the tools of logic and analysis were taught to our children in our public schools, for a truly educated populace is less susceptible to the dangerous lures of demagoguery and hate-mongering.

Did you learn anything from writing WHERE THE DEAD LIE and what was it?
An important part of writing this series has been getting to know the London that existed from 1811-1820. London hasn’t changed as much since that period as has, say, Paris (Napoleon III radically redesigned Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century). But the passage of two hundred years and the bombings of World War II wrought many, many changes. I lived in England and have visited London many times over the years (I have an English stepdaughter), but I hadn’t been back since I started the series. So I took some time in the middle of writing Where the Dead Lie to revisit and explore the city with Sebastian in mind. It was enormous fun, seeing old familiar places from an entirely new perspective.

What was your inspiration for the series?
As a historian, my main period of expertise is Europe from 1750-1850, with a particular focus on France during the Revolution and Napoleonic period. But I decided to set my mystery series in Regency England rather than France mainly because those years were really, really bleak for the French, and I frankly didn’t want to spend a decade or more of my life immersed in a world I knew from experience is really depressing (I wrote a scholarly study of the effects of the French upheavals on attitudes toward women, and the research was pretty grim). So I opted for Regency England, beloved of American readers of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. That said, I had no intention of portraying a light, sanitized world. My books explore the Regency in its entirety, which means we see ballgowns and carriages, but we also get to know the other side of London, the London of wretched street children and starving war veterans, of smugglers and pickpockets and thieves. I wanted a wealthy nobleman and former cavalry officer like Sebastian for my protagonist because I needed someone who could go everywhere—who had the entrĂ©e to Mayfair’s drawing rooms and gentlemen’s clubs, but who also had the strength, courage, and experience to go into the grittiest, most dangerous parts of the city and come out alive.

What part of Sebastian did you enjoy writing the most?

Over the course of the series, Sebastian discovers some uncomfortable truths about his parentage, and it’s been fascinating to follow that personal journey—to explore the hurt and anger he experiences when he learns that his mother is not actually dead, and then his dislocation and confusion when he realizes that so much of what he thought he knew about his life and himself was wrong. We see the slow stages by which he comes to terms with this new reality and his shifting relationship with the man he grew up thinking of as his father. And at the same time he embarks on a long, painful quest to discover the identity of his real father. It’s one of the wonderful aspects of writing a series—to be able to follow this sort of in-depth character transformation over a number of books.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
What an intriguing thought! I think I’d like to introduce an aged Paul Gibson (Sebastian’s one-legged, opium-eating, Irish surgeon friend) to Amrie St. Pierre, the young girl from my new standalone historical, Good Time Coming. Amrie is a young girl who lives through the trauma of the Civil War in Louisiana, and I think someone like Gibson—who would be an old man by that time—would have much wisdom and understanding to share with her. And I think he’d also enjoy meeting Amrie, because she’s an incredible character.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Rather than advice, I think I’d just like to say, Thank you for being a reader!

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know while writing the SEBASTIAN ST. CYR SERIES?
Definitely Sebastian himself. He’s been an intimate part of my life now for some 16 or 17 years, if you count from when I first started thinking about doing this. Before I began this series I’d only written standalones, and it would be hard to exaggerate what a rewarding experience it is for a writer to be able to explore a character over the course of so many books and so many life events.

That said, I’ve enjoyed all the characters in the series, each in their own way. Gibson, for example, has expanded considerably from the role I originally envisioned for him, and at times I think how fun it would have been to write a series about him. I’ve also enjoyed exploring Jarvis and Hero; they are such complex and complicated characters.

Who was your first boyfriend?
The boy across the street! I was 14, we’d just met, and we really clicked. We broke up and got back together again several times over the next 3-4 years. He was always a wild one who liked to skate near the edge. Last I heard he’d been investigated for some financial shenanigans and had to flee the country. Ah, well.

Tell me about your first kiss.
It obviously wasn’t memorable because I honestly don’t recall. (It wasn’t the Boy Across the Street.)

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
When I lived overseas, I wrote my mother several times a week for decades. That ended when I moved back to the States to take care of her. After that I sent out a Christmas letter for a while, but gave that up around Katrina. I now live apart from both my daughters and we don’t even exchange emails unless we’re sending a link to something. FaceTime is a wonderful thing for families who are separated. Yet at the same time, I used to enjoy writing those letters to my mother. They were from all over the world. I wish she’d kept them!

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?

The first flight I clearly remember was as a child, from Madrid, Spain, to New Jersey. This was in the early 1960’s and we had to stop to refuel and spend the night in the Azores. (I now feel officially old.)

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I was a teenager in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! The music, the protests, the throbbing energy, the incense and weird psychedelic art, the vibrant sense of possibility and impending change, the intoxicating (and unfortunately overconfident) belief in the power of people to remake the world into a better place. It was magical.

What is your greatest adventure?
When I was in my early 20’s, I traveled from Australia up through Asia, over to Sri Lanka and Kenya, then down around South Africa and up the east coast of the continent to England. I spent six months working as a rescue archaeologist in Winchester (I lived across the street from the cathedral), then spent the next four months traveling around Europe. I’ve had many adventures since then, but nothing beat that.

London, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is no stranger to the dark side of the city, but he's never seen anything like this: the brutalized body of a 15-year-old boy dumped into a makeshift grave on the grounds of an abandoned factory. One of London's many homeless children, Benji Thatcher was abducted and tortured before his murder—and his younger sister is still missing. Few in authority care about a street urchin's fate, but Sebastian refuses to let this killer go unpunished. Uncovering a disturbing pattern of missing children, Sebastian is drawn into a shadowy, sadistic world. As he follows a grim trail that leads from the writings of the debauched Marquis de Sade to the city's most notorious brothels, he comes to a horrifying realization: Someone from society's upper echelon is preying upon the city's most vulnerable. And though dark, powerful forces are moving against him, Sebastian will risk his reputation and his life to keep more innocents from harm.


“Sebastian’s intense loathing for the crime and its perpetrator…starkly contrasts with his delight in his wife and son, deepening his character. This, combined with the compelling, grim account of child predators and the novel’s relentless pacing, create a gripping read.” —Booklist

“Harris is better than most in investing even minor characters with sometimes heartbreaking humanity.” —Publishers Weekly

“As always with author C.S. Harris…this is one that offers the perfect blend of history and suspense.” —Suspense Magazine

You can purchase Where the Dead Lie (Sebastian St. Cyr #12) at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you C.S. HARRIS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Where the Dead Lie (Sebastian St. Cyr #12) by C.S. Harris

1 comment:

  1. This looks so eerie. I'd love to curl up at night and escape with this one!