|Welcome to New Faces, where we are pleased to introduce some of the newest mystery writers on the shelves. This week we welcome Cara Black, whose debut novel Murder in the Marais now available from Soho Press.
Tell us about yourself.
I live in San Francisco, am married to a bookseller and have a young son. I
have a masters in education and have lived in Europe.
Are you coming to mystery writing from another job?
I substitute from time to time, at a children’s center where I've worked for
several years. However, I feel my real job starts after I go to the keyboard
in the morning and arrive in Paris. No customs or passport control and no
annoying jet-lag. My trip ends at 2:45 when I pick up my son from school.
What led you to write mysteries?
Call me a longtime reader! Ever since reading Nancy Drew under the blanket
with a flashlight! The fact that mysteries and suspense stories have a
resolution in some form; whether nabbing the baddie or foiling the criminal's
scheme feels extremely satisfying to me.
Tell us about your road to publication.
Murder in the Marais took three and a half years to write. The publication
process took longer. I started the book when my son began kindergarten and my
book is now published the summer before he starts fifth grade. Belonging to a
writers group has been very important, for me, to get feedback and critique
along the way. I had no agent and submitted my book to the publisher who
amazingly accepted the manuscript. I'd researched the market before and knew
this publisher published novels set in foreign countries and work that didn't
fall in the 'mainstream' category
What kind of research was involved for your first book?
The core of Murder in the Marais comes from a true story -- some of the
experiences my friend's mother -- a Parisian Jew, experienced during the
Occupation of Paris. Her story haunted me and years later when I began to
write Murder in the Marais I had to go to Paris, hit the cobblestones and
research at the Jewish Center in Paris. I talked and interviewed anyone who
would speak with me. I also found much material at the Holocaust Center of
Northern California. With their help, I connected to the Oral History
Project and met a survivor who opened her heart and shared her similar
experiences with me. I feel this made my book so much richer.
Who are your influences as a writer?
I'm influenced by so many but I'd say the larger influences have been P.D.
James, Ruth Rendell, Phillip Kerr, Leo Malet and definitely the Bronte
What does your family think of having a mystery author in their midst?
So far, they like it. My husband, a bookseller, calls my work literary
suspense and has been my one-person cheerleader from day one. My son has
started writing his own mystery. His fifth grade classmates are enthusiastic
as well. Now they know what 'forensics' means and have volunteered to write
the screenplay should I ever get Murder in the Marais optioned for a film.
Tell us about plans for future books.
I'm at work on the next in the Aimée Leduc investigative series -- tentative
title is Murder in Belleville. The Belleville quartier is a fascinating area
to me -- working class, once the home of Edith Piaf and home to waves of
immigrants over the centuries. High unemployment in France and the strong
cultural identity from Algerian and African immigrants keeps tension high in
this area. If I can keep myself tied to the chair, we're hoping for a 2000
How can readers get in touch with you?
Please go to my website at carablack.com and e-mail me at
Chamaret@aol.com--I'd love to hear from everyone!
Cara, thanks for joining us,and best of luck! Readers, we have a review of Murder in the Marais -- check it out.
August 11, 1999