India Black author Carol K Carr visits the Dollhouse… And Giveaway!
After a career as a lawyer and corporate executive, Carol K. Carr turned to writing. India Black was her first book in the Madam of Espionage series, the second installment in the series India Black and The Widow of Windsor is out now. Carol lives in the Missouri Ozarks with her husband and two German Shepherds.
You can visit her website at www.carolkcarr.com
Today it is our pleasure to welcome author Carol K Carr who is responsible for the wonderful heroine – India Black, a brothel owner in Victorian London with a sarcastic sense of humor and a mysterious past. She was kind enough to answer Noa’s questions.
Noa: I fell in love with India Black the second I read the first sentence of the book – so how did you come up with that concept? A heroine who is a Madam and former prostitute?
CKC: I’m drawn to female characters that do not swoon. I like my heroines to be brave, resourceful, adventurous, and a little tarnished by life. I wanted to write about Victorian England, but did not want my character to be a typical Victorian woman, who would have lived a considerably more constrained life than India does. My protagonist needed to be financially independent, street smart, capable of holding her own with men, and able to dart off for a lark when she felt inclined to do so. I don’t think she could have been anything else but a madam.
Noa: Was it a challenge to make her character the kind that readers could empathize with?
CKC: Oh, yes. First, we have to get over the whole prostitute thing. I try to keep things light by focusing on the human resource management issues that India encounters. The comic possibilities are endless.
Then there’s India’s cynicism. I like snarky humor myself, but many people don’t. And of course, a little bit of that kind of thing can go a long way. I hope that readers can see that India’s sarcasm is a shield she uses to disguise or deflect emotions and relationships.
Noa: India Black is set at the height of Victorian England, is there a reason you chose that historical period? Is it your favorite?
CKC: It is a favorite time period of mine. I’m also drawn to the similarities between Victorian England and America today. In both eras, you have a dominant political power which thought its values, culture, and forms of government were superior to the rest of the world’s. There were deep divisions in society, with a very wealthy upper class and an astonishingly poor underclass. Both societies believed in progress through technology and science, but many people were also deeply religious. The similarities provide a great opportunity for satire.
Noa: India Black introduces us to India, Mr. French and several other characters and yet, when the book ends there is very little we know about India, other than the occasional comment throughout the book – will we get to know her history in The Widow of Windsor or will we just continue to get glimpses into her past?
CKC: I plan to slowly divulge more of India’s background, rather than do one big reveal. Something occurs in the Widow of Windsor that spurs India to look into her past. The third book in the series will follow India’s attempts to learn more about her history. I suppose this is a reflection of my own view on reading a series – I don’t want to know everything at once. I prefer being teased, just so long as the tease doesn’t last forever. Then I get tired of the tease.
Noa: *Nods* Teases are fun…for a while ;)
What about the other characters’ back story?
CKC: We will definitely learn more about French. I’ve created quite a detailed history for him that gradually will be disclosed. I hadn’t really thought much about Vincent’s background until recently. I’ve got some ideas percolating in my head about that boy, and I plan to work through them after I finish Book #3.
Noa: Some authors find that writing their second book is even more difficult than the first – would you agree?
CKC: Actually, I’m finding the third book harder to write. In the glow of getting an agent and signing a contract for two books, I raced through the Widow of Windsor in just a few months. In the third book, I’m dealing more with some of the background of the characters, and frankly, I find that it’s a challenge to maintain a light touch in revealing India’s past. Why did I ever decide to write about a madam and think that would be funny? It’s one thing if she’s a retired prostitute and we don’t deal with any of the gory details, but how do you discuss her early years without skating too close to the edge?
Noa: *Tries to wait patiently for third book. Tries.* I think I’ll be failing…
India Black is full of espionage and intrigue – do you have any favorite spies in literature?
CKC: I have two: James Wormold and George Smiley. Wormold is a vacuum cleaner salesman in Cuba who is recruited (mistakenly) into the British Secret Service (with hilarious results) in “Our Man in Havana” by Graham Greene. Smiley, on the other hand, is the tenacious and cold-blooded fellow on the track of a traitor in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
Noa: Widow of Windsor is hot off the presses – any tidbits about what India will get mixed up in next?
I’m at work on the third India adventure. It’s tentatively entitled “India Black and the Dark Legion.” India, French and Vincent infiltrate a cell of anarchists, with explosive results.
Noa: *Thinks about Vincent and anarchists* Yeah, I think I’ll have to steal the third manuscript…
And what about you – can you share anything about your next project?
CKC: I have a contract for the third India. If sales go well, I hope to be writing the 4th book next year. But I’ve also been doing some research for another series featuring a female agent in the OSS during WWII. This would be a darker, more realistic tale of espionage.
Noa: That sounds very intriguing! I for one, can’t wait!
And now a few Paperback Proust questions!
PBD: What are you reading at the moment?
CKC: “The Plague Court Murders” by John Dickson Carr. I love vintage mysteries.
PBD: Most recent splurge?
CKC: Hmm. I seldom splurge. I guess it would have to be paying for a year’s worth of workouts with my personal trainer.
PBD: What you appreciate the most in your friends?
PBD: Who are your favorite heroines in fiction?
CKC: Amelia Peabody Emerson, Miss Marple, Kathy Mallory, Mary Russell.
PBD: What is your motto?
CKC: Accumulate experiences, not things.
PBD: What is your greatest extravagance?
PBD: What is your favorite journey?
CKC: Africa, or London.
PBD: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
CKC: Being satisfied with what I have.
PBD: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
CKC: Being appointed head of human resources at a large company with no experience, and learning how to get the best out of people.
Thank you so much to Ms. Carr for visiting the Dollhouse today!
India Black and The Widow of Windsor is now available!
In honor of the release of India Black and The Widow of Windsor we are offering one lucky follower a copy of the book!