Ask Rhys Bowen, Deborah Crombie, and Charles Todd! discussion

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Featured Author Chat - 2014 > For Charles Todd

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message 1: by Terry (new)

Terry Lee | 3 comments I am very much impressed with your character Inspector Rutledge. Having a husband who suffered from PTSD, I sympathize with him when he is "bothered" by Hamish. I'm on your second book now and I'm starting to think that while Rutledge is trying to solve his mysteries, Hamish may be his conscious. I believe his memories of the war guide him to what is right and wrong.

I am so glad I found you.

Terry Mitchell


message 2: by Penny (new)

Penny What sort of research do you have to do for the historical/military/political situations in your books? Why did you choose the era that you have?


message 3: by Mina (new)

Mina De Caro (Mina's Bookshelf) (minadecaro) | 2 comments Inspector Ian Rutledge has been around for 20 years now. What kind of challenges, if any, have you encountered in writing the last installments that you didn't encounter 20 years ago? How do you manage to keep this ´longevous' character always engaging and his stories unflinchingly captivating?


message 4: by Petunia (new)

Petunia | 2 comments I am writing a novel set in an English country house in 1902--but it is nothing like Downton Abbey. Any advice about how to avoid comparisons when trying to find an agent? Your characters are unique.


message 5: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 3 comments What does the future hold for Rutledge? Will Hamish continue to bedevil him or do you foresee a point where his conscience will let him rest?

I've only just started #8, A Long Shadow.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Love your Inspector Rutledge series.I have several e-books published - fiction,mystery - Lair of the Jade and Threads of the Jade but am disillusioned with the marketing and I feel like I'm 'badgering' my friends for reviews etc. What do you suggest for e-pub writers to keep their morale up - feel like I've exhausted all my FB friends as most of the sales have been from FB. Have tried all the marketing suggestions but when you're an unknown, it's hard.


message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments I really liked the last Bess Crawford book, partly because some of it was set in British Colonial India. Do you have any suggestions for further reading- I'm interested in learning more and thought maybe you came across a book you thought was accessible and interesting during your research for the book. Thank you!


message 8: by Deb (new)

Deb (goodreadscomdeborah_budd) | 1 comments I find many historical mystery series pay more attention to history than the mystery, but your Inspector Rutledge series excels at both. Many thanks for a great series. What in particular drew you to setting the series in post-WWI Great Britain? Also, I've noticed in the past few books (I'm about to read The Confession) that Hamish is not as "loud" as he was in the early books. Do you plan for Rutledge to find some peace of mind eventually from his survivor's guilt and PTSD?


message 9: by Terry (new)

Terry Lee | 3 comments I think by mentioning your books here, you've open a whole new audience to you're e-books. I'm going to look them up now.


message 10: by Gr8fulgrama (new)

Gr8fulgrama (kwitt129) | 1 comments I have become a Charles Todd .......possibly "groupie" is the correct word! At any rate, a huge fan. I have read almost all of the inspector Rutledge series and all of the Bess Crawford books and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I am interested in how you came about writing in the WWI era, and Great Britain in particular? My grandfather was in WWI, and while he did not speak greatly about his time in the military, he did serve until he caught the flu and became gravely ill. Just as my father in WWII, these men did not talk about the fighting Just like Inspector Rutledge, if the war wasn't spoken about, possibly the personal horror might be "forgotten".

I find your "early British voice" fascinating, having to "look up" the meaning of something.........and wanting to, so as not to miss the wonderful picture you are creating for your readers.

And, finally, the fact that you are a mother and son team writing this wonderful historical fiction, how did you begin writing together?

Thank you for your time. Please keep writing!!

Kathryn Witt


message 11: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Terry wrote: "I am very much impressed with your character Inspector Rutledge. Having a husband who suffered from PTSD, I sympathize with him when he is "bothered" by Hamish. I'm on your second book now and I'm ..."


message 12: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Charles wrote: Hi! Caroline here--We were racing this morning to finish the copyedits for this summer's Bess, so I'm just catching up. Thanks, Terry. We like Rutledge because he's his own man, we don't tell him what to say or do, and because of that, I think he's very human. You can feel his moods. PTSD is a wound like any other, and just as honorable. But in Rutledge's day it was treated like cowardice. Sad, isn't it?


"Terry wrote: "I am very much impressed with your character Inspector Rutledge. Having a husband who suffered from PTSD, I sympathize with him when he is "bothered" by Hamish. I'm on your second boo..."



message 13: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Penny wrote: "What sort of research do you have to do for the historical/military/political situations in your books? Why did you choose the era that you have?"

LOTS! We prefer first hand accounts because they are what people at the time knew. If we use current info from current books, however good they might be, we have to be careful that it isn't modern thinking rather than 1920 thinking. Museums, battlefields, all sorts of places, can often offer tremendous insights. We chose this period because no one was writing about it at the time, it was fresh, and a detective had to do his own thinking and solving. We liked that. And it's modern enough that it doesn't turn off people who aren't as in to historicals.


message 14: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Mina wrote: "Inspector Ian Rutledge has been around for 20 years now. What kind of challenges, if any, have you encountered in writing the last installments that you didn't encounter 20 years ago? How do you ma..."

Charles: We tend to think of each book as standing by itself, yet part of the series. That keeps us from leaning on what we did earlier--we have to "think" new. What are we learning about Rutledge? Each book shows us something different. How he handles victims or even villains. It's always interesting to see what pops us. He was very tolerant of one man in this current book--war makes a strong bond.


message 15: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Petunia wrote: "I am writing a novel set in an English country house in 1902--but it is nothing like Downton Abbey. Any advice about how to avoid comparisons when trying to find an agent? Your characters are unique."

Caroline: It may be impossible to avoid comparisons with Downton. That said, if you are careful that your characters and story line AREN'T much like Downton, then the comparisons can be helpful. That's the trick. If your butler is like Carson, or your character like Lady Mary, consider doing some changes before sending it to an agent. There are hundreds of country house stories, and you want to aim in that direction.


message 16: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Jan C wrote: "What does the future hold for Rutledge? Will Hamish continue to bedevil him or do you foresee a point where his conscience will let him rest?

I've only just started #8, A Long Shadow."


Charles: We don't know what the future holds. Sounds strange but the characters tell us when they are ready. PTSD isn't something you get over in a night. So Rutledge is going to have to come to terms with it his own way before he can find happiness. We are only in 1920, so there will come a time when he has to face Hamish again as he did in TEST OF WILLS. We think. :-)


message 17: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Dalia wrote: "Love your Inspector Rutledge series.I have several e-books published - fiction,mystery - Lair of the Jade and Threads of the Jade but am disillusioned with the marketing and I feel like I'm 'badger..."

Caroline: Yes, it is hard. I sympathize. If you can afford to go to conventions, that helps. Particularly small ones where you are more likely to be noticed. Join MWA or Sister in Crime. A chapter will bring you into contact with others who are doing marketing and you'll make new contacts. It's a start. The more people you know, the less you'll have to "badger" Facebook friends.


message 18: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Lisa wrote: "I really liked the last Bess Crawford book, partly because some of it was set in British Colonial India. Do you have any suggestions for further reading- I'm interested in learning more and thought..."

Caroline: I think Bess may go back to India at some time in the future. And we're doing a short story for June where she's a young girl in India--a mystery, of course! Look up M M Kaye. She wrote two glorious novels about Colonial India, FAR PAVILLIONS & SHADOW OF THE MOON. You'll be hooked. Not mysteries, but fabulous.


message 19: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Deb wrote: "I find many historical mystery series pay more attention to history than the mystery, but your Inspector Rutledge series excels at both. Many thanks for a great series. What in particular drew you ..."

Caroline: The secret is to absorb the setting to the point that you are living in it, rather than trying to write a travelogue. If you know the setting by heart, you tend to use the bits that fit the story. Just as the Kincaid and James live in a London that is real because it's so much a part of writing that you don't realize how much you're absorbing as a reader. We love this period. It offered so much to the writer, and the centennial of the war is coming up this summer!


message 20: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Terry wrote: "I think by mentioning your books here, you've open a whole new audience to you're e-books. I'm going to look them up now."

Charles: Yes, that's why Goodreads and blogs and reviews are so helpful--you learn about books you might miss otherwise. I benefit from them myself, and make discoveries I might have missed otherwise. And Dahlia, you might try writing a blog about yourself and your books and your characters--interesting enough to attract all kinds of new fans.


message 21: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Gr8fulgrama wrote: "I have become a Charles Todd .......possibly "groupie" is the correct word! At any rate, a huge fan. I have read almost all of the inspector Rutledge series and all of the Bess Crawford books and..."

Charles: We started by accident--just talking about writing a book, then suddenly deciding to write it. I'd been away from home long enough that we could start as equals. And that made it work. If one of us was bossy, it wouldn't. We share everything, and that keeps the writing seamless. Caroline and I didn't want readers playing the guessing game of which one of us wrote which chapter. It's been fun and interesting and a challenge. But then we both seem to enjoy challenges. Glad to hear you're a fan!


message 22: by Kathy (last edited Feb 19, 2014 09:17AM) (new)

Kathy | 1 comments I discovered your Ian Rutledge series last year at a bookstore where I volunteer and immediately read all of them, as well as the Bess Creawford series (which I also enjoy). Rutledge seems like a real person to me, and the torments that he endures are wrenching. I would love to see him find some true peace and happiness, but I suppose that that would mean the end of the series... I had never read anything about how "shell-shocked" soldiers were treated after the war, and it has made me realize both how far we've come and how far we have yet to go.


message 23: by Dana (new)

Dana (danabasket) | 2 comments I so love your Bess Crawford series. I haven't started the Ian Rutledge series yet. What/who was your inspiration for the character?

When will the next book be published?


message 24: by Virginia (new)

Virginia | 1 comments My father was in WWI (served with Sgt. York). I have a book that is the history of that unit. Haven't read it yet.
I do love Rutledge and Bess Crawford and your non-series books. I look forward to the next one.


message 25: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Kathy wrote: "I discovered your Ian Rutledge series last year at a bookstore where I volunteer and immediately read all of them, as well as the Bess Creawford series (which I also enjoy). Rutledge seems like a ..."

Caroline: You are so right--we've come far, but still have far to go. But the brain is so complicated! Just look at Alzheimer's. We know what it is, but are no where near treating or preventing it. We've talked to a lot of people who had someone come home from a war--or even a traumatic event like 9/11--with PTSD, and close up, unable to talk about it or heal it. It's far more prevalent that we realize. And it isn't always a soldier, it can be a civilian, a firefighter, a doctor, a bus driver, a teacher, who endured more than the mind wants to look at. And so the mind, to protect itself, shuts off the pain somehow. People ask, Will Rutledge ever be happy? I think he can find a way to cope, and that's what so many of us learn to do after a loss or a tragedy or terrible event.


message 26: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Dana wrote: "I so love your Bess Crawford series. I haven't started the Ian Rutledge series yet. What/who was your inspiration for the character?

When will the next book be published?"


The next Bess will come out this summer. In fact we just turned in the copy edits, one of the main steps toward publication. So she's right on time! Where did she come from? Our reading often mentioned the young women who came from good families and sheltered lives, yet learned to cope with the most dreadful wounds as a battlefield or hospital nurse. We thought it was time to show their story. Even in the Great War, women served as omnibus drivers, worked in munitions plants, worked on the land to produce enough food for the country--countless jobs that left men free to fight. They were amazing women, and we wanted Bess to be one of them. But since we write mysteries, she's a sleuth too. But you'll notice she never goes looking for a case. They come to her in various ways, just as they might have in real life. And I think that's why she's so popular. And she leads an interesting life as well, which makes her interesting as a person to read about--her father's connection with the Army, her experiences in India and elsewhere, not just the traditional Victorian upbringing.


message 27: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Virginia wrote: "My father was in WWI (served with Sgt. York). I have a book that is the history of that unit. Haven't read it yet.
I do love Rutledge and Bess Crawford and your non-series books. I look forwar..."


Caroline: Interesting that your father served with Sgt. York! That's something to be proud of. You should read about his experiences. It will bring you closer to him. I had an uncle who fought in that war, and he never ever talked about it. Whatever memories he brought home with him, he kept to himself. Not even his wife knew. Americans served bravely in that war, and we mention one of them in next summer's Bess--a marine with the 5th Marines who served at Belleau Wood. Like Sergeant York, they did their share and more.


message 28: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Caroline: I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed today. It isn't over yet, of course, but Charles and I love meeting fans and new readers alike. And sharing Goodreads with Rhys and Deb Crombie is wonderful. I love their books, and I admire both of them as writers. It's nice to know, when you pick up one of their nysteries, that you're going to enjoy every minute of it. It's a guarantee. And they are such fun in person. Rhys and I shared a library talk in Phoenix just last month, then had a delicious lunch afterward with Barbara Peters--mind you, while the East was snowbound, we were sitting out on the restaurant patio! It was hard to get on that plane and come home! Deb and Charles and I have had many a fun time when our tours crossed. I never knew anyone who enjoyed raw oysters more than Deb and Charles. Or knew more about them, where they came from and which were the tastiest. I think we'll all be at Left Coast Crime in Monterrey, so if you're signed up, come and say hello. It will be neat to put a face with a name.


message 29: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Charles: I just realized we hadn't answered the question about Meredith Channing! What will happen between Meredith and Rutledge? We don't know. Stay tuned. I don't think he intended to fall in love with her--we certainly didn't expect it when we first introduced her in A LONELY SHADOW. But somehow they clicked. I think he admires what she has done, going to Belgium to nurse the man she believes is her husband. And yet it has added more stress for a man who already carries a heavy burden. Something interesting is going to happen in the next Rutledge. We'll just have to see what comes of it. I don't think he's quite ready to settle down. He still has some healing to do. When the moment comes...


message 30: by Priscilla (new)

Priscilla (keokagal) | 2 comments This has been a great chat. I signed up when I saw Deborah Crombie on the list, and while I was waiting I started some Inspector Rutledge books. 2 down and into the third. A new addiction! Looking forward to Deborah's new one in Sept. And next up is checking out Rhys' series! Thanks for your time, you busy authors.


message 31: by wonderwomand (new)

wonderwomand | 17 comments Me too ~ I signed up when I saw Rhys Bowen on the list. while I was waiting, I started reading Deborah Crombie's Gemma/Duncan mystery about the murder of an antiques dealer's wife and Charles Todd's Bess Crawford mystery set in India and England.

Priscilla wrote: "This has been a great chat. I signed up when I saw Deborah Crombie on the list, and while I was waiting I started some Inspector Rutledge books. 2 down and into the third. A new addiction! Looking ..."


message 32: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Charles: In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to find new authors to read. I've done much the same thing, and I'm seldom disappointed. Goodreads does a great job of bringing writers and readers together.


message 33: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments If anyone is interested in the history of PTSD in war, there's a great documentary by James Gandolfini that my military psychiatry residency at Walter Reed was involved in. :)


message 34: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Charles: Lisa, that's very interesting. Tell me more!


message 35: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments Here's a link to a review of War Torn, which covers PTSD from the Civil War through the current time. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles...

One of the contributors, Dr. Bradley, was the chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed when I was a military psychiatry resident there. It's a great documentary.


message 36: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Charles: Lisa, thanks! I'll get it tonight and send it along to Caroline as well. I know she'll find it as interesting as I do. Happy to have met you here!


message 37: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 4 comments Thanks for your books and the opportunity for all of us to ask you questions!


message 38: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 12 comments Charles and Caroline, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you what a pleasure it was meeting both of you at Bouchercon last September. I wasn't aware that the author Charles Todd was two people. You were both so gracious and calm at the event. Do you enjoy events like that as much as it seemed? I admit that I need to start reading you, but it is something that I plan on doing this year, and I'm so looking forward to it.


message 39: by Charles (new)

Charles Todd | 55 comments Thanks, Kathy. We enjoy going to convention for this very reason. You write a book sitting in a room by yourself. You have to go to conventions to meet the people who read that book. Albany was a lot of fun, we met a lot of great people, you included, and we learned a lot. You can't beat that for a great experience. See you in Long Beach? All the best, Charles and Caroline


message 40: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 12 comments Charles wrote: "Thanks, Kathy. We enjoy going to convention for this very reason. You write a book sitting in a room by yourself. You have to go to conventions to meet the people who read that book. Albany was a l..."

I'm not sure I'm going to make Long Beach, but I will definitely be at the 2015 in Raleigh. By that time, I can assure you that I will be up to speed on your books and have many for you both to sign.


message 41: by Reine (new)

Reine (reinec) | 1 comments I just love you all. Really and truly. Your books take me away to places and introduce me to people... with excellent absorbing stories. What else could a person want. Honestly. xoxoxo


message 42: by Petunia (new)

Petunia | 2 comments Many thanks for you many and gracious response to our questions! Please come back again.


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