Tuesday, June 14 is release date for Cara Black’s new Aimee Leduc mystery, Murder on the Quai. She’ll be here at The Poisoned Pen on Saturday, June 18 at 2 PM, so this is the perfect time to interview her. Cara’s In the Hot Seat today.
Cara, thank you for sitting In the Hot Seat. Would you introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m a former preschool teacher, my husband owned a bookstore and we live in San Francisco. I drink espresso and get to Paris whenever I can.
I’ve heard a couple wonderful stories about your youth and love of Paris and your first trip. Would you tell our readers?
In high school for a book report, I discovered a book on the library shelf and fell in love. The book was Promise at Dawn by Romain Gary. In love with his writing, the story, his way with words, the way he evoked images and time. So I wrote the author a fan letter. In those days, we used pen and paper, we addressed the envelope to the writer in care of the publishing house in New York and hoped. I doubted my gushing fan letter would ever get a response, especially since Romain Gary, the writer, lived in France but something felt right about trying to tell him he’d touched me and the book changed the way I looked at writing and words.
I jumped out of my skin when later a letter addressed to Mademoiselle Black with a French stamp arrived.
Monsieur Romain Gary, who’d won the Prix Goncourt literary prize for Promise at Dawn, the book I’d read, had written thanking me for my letter. And he wrote to me as an adult, as if my letter mattered to him. It rocked my world.
I had saved my babysitting money and after high school, backpacked around Europe. In those days we slept under the Pont Neuf in Paris, munched baguettes and shared wine with other travelers down on the Seine, as one did. I had Monsieur Gary’s address. 108 rue du Bac opened to a treelined courtyard, an imposing white stone building. I followed the red carpeted staircase winding upwards past a stained glass window and bold as brass knocked on the tall carved wood door. A man answered. Wild black hair sticking up, thick mustache, blue-turquoise eyes with a severe stare who took one look at me and said.
“Do I know you?”
“Uhm..I wrote you a letter…” I fumbled, staring at the carpet wishing it would swallow me up “from California and you wrote me back..and..”
“Just a moment.” He slammed the door.
I waited, feeling stupid and awkward at my terrible faux pas. One doesn’t just appear at the door of a famous and busy Prix Goncourt winning author and expect them to…
The door opened. “Shall we go for a coffee?” I nodded dumbstruck. We walked to the corner cafe, his local and the cafe man had a cigar and expresso waiting on the counter for Monsieur Gary. The cafe man looked at me, in jeans, flannel shirt etc and then at Monsieur Gary.
“What about her?” he asked.
“She’ll have the same,” Monsieur Gary said.
I don’t remember everything we talked about because I was trying to puff on the cigar and not cough, drink this acid tasting coffee – my first ever expresso – and not choke and make some kind of intelligent conversation. I do remember Monsieur Gary, to his credit, showing amazing generosity.
I’m going off-topic. Hypothetically, you have the money to live anyplace you want. You can’t pick France or your present home. Where would you live, and why?
I’ve kind of fallen in love with a friend’s farmhouse in Umbria, somewhere between Rome and Florence. Rolling hills, cypress trees, breathtaking views, the way the light falls and the quiet of the countryside. There’s great hiking, old ruins, very off the beaten track except for an old Roman road. The only thing is the local cafe is too far away…I’d move it closer.
Cara, in five words or phrases, how would Aimee Leduc describe you?
Works best on a deadline.
Bucket list. We all have one. What’s next on your list? What do you hope to do soon?
I’d love to visit Prague, Talinn in Estonia and snorkel in the Maldives.
College students just graduated. Look back at your own twenties. What advice would you give new college graduates?
I think it’s great to take a year off and discover a part of the world and things about yourself before hitting the textbooks. I’m all for a gap year as they say in the UK.
What’s on top of your TBR (To Be Read) pile right now?
The new Alan Furst that comes out soon!
Thank you, Cara! As I said, Cara Black will be here Saturday, June 18 at 2 PM. If you can’t make it, you can purchase a signed copy of Murder on the Quai. https://bit.ly/1TH6qks