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Cara Black in conversation with Juliet Grames
Saturday, April 11, 2020
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Cara Black is a bestselling American mystery writer. She is best known for her Aimée Leduc mystery novels featuring a female Paris-based private investigator. Black is included in the Great Women Mystery Writers by Elizabeth Lindsay 2nd edition. Her first novel Murder in the Marais was nominated for an Anthony Award for best first novel and the third novel in the series, Murder in the Sentier, was Anthony-nominated for Best Novel.
“The past informs the present. Memory makes the map we carry, no matter how hard we try to erase it.”
– Murder in the Bastille
Cara was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 14, 1951. She was educated at Canada College in California, Sophia University in Yotsuya, Tokyo in Japan, and finished her schooling at San Francisco State University where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.
She did not base her popular detective Aimée Leduc on a real person. “I knew I couldn’t write as a French woman, I can’t even tie my scarf the right way,” she says, “but I grew up in a Francophile family; my father loved good food and wine, I attended a Catholic school with French nuns and I lived in Europe when I was younger. I interviewed three female detectives in Paris who ran their own detective agency and took qualities from each. It was important to me that Aimée be a young, contemporary woman like the Parisian women I know, have a strong fashion sense and be fierce in her pursuit of justice. The justice that eludes people sometimes in daily life. And that she know much more about computers than I do.”
Nor did she intend to write a series. “I’d like to say I had a master plan but the series with Aimée Leduc has just evolved. “In Murder in the Marais, my first book, I just wanted to tell the story of my friend’s mother, a young Jewish girl who hid in the Marais during the German Occupation of Paris in WWII. My friend’s mother was 14 years old and came home from school one day to find her family gone. She stayed in the apartment, went to school, hoping they would return. A year later, in 1944 at Liberation, she searched for them at the train stations, at the Hotel Lutetia on the Left Bank where the Red Cross had a terminus center for returning deportees and she found they’d gone to Auschwitz. My friend told me this story one day in the Marais and it touched me. Years later when I returned to Paris in the mid 1990’s the story came back to me and I wanted to explore these issues of the past, lingering anti-Semitism and how war still touched every generation.
She has worked as a preschool teacher and as director of a preschool. Black lives in San Francisco with her husband, Jun Ishimuro, a bookseller. They have a son, Tate.
Visit the Book Passage website to have any of Cara’s books delivered right to your door.
You’re sure to enjoy these Book Passage favorites:
Three Hours in Paris
Murder in Bel-Air
Murder on the Left Bank
Murder in the Marais
A personal note from Cara Black.
Sent April 13th, following her Conversations with Authors session.
What an honor having you join my editor Juliet and me at our ExtendedSession. Maybe it showed that we’ve worked together for ten years. It was amazing that you came to share and experience how our author/editor relationship works. I made Juliet promise to keep it clean 🙂
Book Passage is my second home, my community where those readers and writers who I call my tribe congregate. I can’t want to get back ‘home.’ In the meantime I’ll see you at ExtendedSession.
Here are some of the books we talked about:
- Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
- The Burglar by Thomas Perry
- The Godmother: A Crime Novel by Hannelore Cayre
- The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel by Juliet Grames
- Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel by Elizabeth George
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Juliet and I thank you so much!