Charles Todd: a mysterious collaboration
Excerpts from the interview by Lynn Kaczmarek in the December/January 2002 issue of Mystery News
I first heard of Charles Todd in 1996 when Harriet Stay sent me a galley of his first book, A Test of Wills. Having recently come to the reviewing business, I felt an obligation to read the darn thing although I made a mental note to tell Harriet that I really disliked historical mysteries. Twenty pages in, however, I crumpled the note and tossed it. A Test of Wills, set in 1919 England, changed my entire view of this sub-genre and historical novels as a whole. Characters and setting were carefully portrayed, the plot was challenging enough to keep me interested, and the time period was interesting imagine my surprise!
Fast forward to early 1998 Chris and I now own Mystery News and Charles Todd has written his second book, Wings of Fire. A fine opportunity to discover more about the author who prompted my interest in history. And, following on the tail end of odd rumors hypothesizing the pseudonymed author of working for the CIA, an interesting interview was likely. I learned a lot that day on the phone, but not the entire story.
Moving ahead to November 2001, Arlington, Virginia. As usual, Chris and I have a table in the Bouchercon book room, but this year, weve invited some authors to come and chat with fans and sign books, of course. Its Saturday afternoon and a young fan hands his book over for signature. An attractive, soft-spoken grey-haired grandmother of a woman smiles sweetly and signs Charles Todd at the bottom of the title page. Then she hands the open book to a good-looking younger man seated next to her. Somewhere around the middle of the title page he signs Charles Todd. Thats how Charles Todd handles book signings these days by getting his mom in the act.
Back in 2000, upon the publication of the fourth book, Bantam let the cat out of the bag every one of the acclaimed Inspector Ian Rutledge books was written in a collaboration between Charles Todd and his mother, Caroline. As Caroline told me in our recent conference call with Charles, Charles and Caroline have the same Latin root. And after ninety minutes of listening to the two authors talk of shared experiences, complete each others thoughts, and gently chide each other, I realized that they had far more in common than a name. I have yet to discover whether Todd is their real surname, or whether Charles and Caroline belong to them either. What I do know, and what really matters, in my mind, is that together they write some of todays best historical mysteries
Read the complete interview in the December/January 2002 issue of Mystery News