Thursday, September 29, 2011

Interview with author Carol Carr

Today, I have a short interview with Carol Carr, author of India Black and the Widow of Windsor (which I reviewed just the other day), and India Black.   Ms. Carr was gracious enough to let me ask her a few questions when I reviewed the first book, and she very nicely agreed to let me ask a few more! 

* What made you focus on Queen Victoria and the Scots?  
Queen Victoria was such a deliciously eccentric character that I knew I wanted to feature her in one of India's adventures.  The queen survived several attempts on her life by Fenians and the occasional deranged person, and I took that as the starting point for "The Widow of Windsor."  This story takes place in 1877, however, which is a few years before the Irish assassins got busy.  In thinking about other groups which were less than enamored with Victoria, I thought of the Scots.  Many Scots were furious when the country became part of Great Britain in 1707.  Obviously, there are still some Scots who dislike the Union, as evidenced by the Scottish National Party and the calls for a referendum on independence.  There was also the rather bizarre relationship that the queen and her husband, Prince Albert, developed with Scotland, in essence treating it like their own private DisneyWorld, with the queen affecting a slight Scottish accent when she visited Balmoral and insisting on dropping in at local cottages for tea.  Since the queen was half German and Prince Albert a German aristocrat, I thought the Scots might take exception to being treated like characters in a theme park and worked that aspect into the story.

* What sources did you turn to for your research?   I'm always impressed by how many historical details you work into your stories.
A lifelong love of the history of Victorian England usually supplies the original idea for a story, but for this book I needed (or wanted) information on Scottish weapons, fencing, the topography around Balmoral, a floor plan of the castle, pictures of the rooms of the castle, names of the servants who worked at Balmoral, the nationalist movement in Scotland during the Victorian era, lists of Scottish songs and types of Scottish dances, etc.  I rely on my local library (at least this time I wasn't requesting books about whores in London in the 1870's) and the internet to provide most of the details.  How did anyone write an historical novel before the internet?  I found YouTube useful, for videos of the dances and the songs.  And with respect to one aspect of the story, I went directly to a source for information.  It turns out that we have a well-known fencing maestro here in the area.  I visited him and his students to watch the fencing and to discuss some details of the fencing scenes.  I wanted to hear the sounds and see the movement up close and have all the moves explained to me.  That was fun.  I've always wanted to learn about fencing.

* I can tell you enjoy writing India --- is her character inspired by any woman or women in particular?
She is inspired by a type of woman-the kind of woman I enjoy reading about: daring, plucky, resourceful, opinionated, and perhaps too ready to jump in before testing the depth of the water.  I like her vanity and her self-belief, which often gets her into trouble. I also wanted to write about someone who is outside the bounds of "normal" society and thus could behave with a freedom that most Victorian women would not have had.

* As someone with Scottish heritage (of which I am extremely proud), I enjoyed some of the details in the story (the singing of Scots Wha Hae really struck me), I was wondering if you also have some Scottish lineage.   Did that influence how you wrote the story?
Oh, yes.  I'm an amateur genealogist and a proud Scot, although I must confess to having several English ancestors.  I've got a family tree loaded with Scotts, Campbells, McClellans, and McCurdys.  I married a Carr, descended from one of the famous Border families (the Kerrs) who were lifelong enemies with my own Scott ancestors.  Scottish history is romantic and stirring, though I wouldn't have enjoyed living in a hovel and cooking over a peat fire.  Having Scottish blood certainly fires the imagination.  You can't read about the Border Reivers (nice name for thieves), the Highland Clearances, or the gathering of the clans, or hear the Great Highland War Pipe or watch the sword dance without getting a little chill.  At least I can't.  People who aren't of Scottish ancestry will probably not feel the same way.

* Of course, I need to ask ---- does India have another adventure in store for us?
Yes, I'm at work on Book #3.  This time French, India and Vincent are infiltrating a gang of anarchists.  There will be lots of explosions in this one (cue internet search on bomb-making in the 1870's), and we'll learn a bit more about India's background.  It's due to the publisher on February 1st, so I'd it expect to appear a few months after that.
Thanks for having me on, Jo.  I hope your readers will enjoy the book.
********* ******** ******** ****** **********
You may find more information about the India Black books, and about Carol Carr, on Carol's website and she may also be found on GoodReads.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Please note that I am officially designating this blog an award-free zone. Thank you!!

Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs using images from the Before the First Snow kit by Lorie Davison