Carol has just added 3 signed copies to the giveaway and her publicist is providing another copy too!
THAT’S A TOTAL OF 6 COPIES OF
Carol writes the Madam of Espionage Mysteries featuring India Black.
This series has me hooked. The previous book in this series India Black and the Widow of Windsor made by Best Reads of 2011 list.
I am thrilled to Welcome Carol back to Escape With Dollycas!
Thanks for the opportunity to do this guest post, Lori. India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy is the third book in the “India Black, Madam of Espionage” series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. I’ve just submitted the manuscript of the fourth novel to my editor. Publication is planned for February, 2014.
Personally, I love a good series. There’s the delight of discovering the first book and the pleasurable anticipation in waiting for the next one, and (dare I mention this?) the crushing disappointment when the author fails to meet your expectations. So how does a writer keep things fresh for readers? How does she keep things fresh for herself? Because (and do I really dare mention this?) sometimes the author can become bored, too.
The most famous example of a writer growing tired of his creation is no doubt Arthur Conan Doyle, who grew so weary of Sherlock Holmes that he sent him over the Reichenbach Falls. Even dense Dr. Watson could have detected that Doyle needed a change when that happened. However, Doyle had to resurrect his hero when the public demanded more Holmes.
You can definitely carry on a series for too long. Somewhere, on a site that shall remain nameless, I stumbled across a page called “Authors Who Should Have Quit By Now.” Yep, it’s about series which have continued past their sell-by dates. (By the way, when I was trying to find that page, I typed in “writers who” and up popped “smoke weed.” People are weird.) Anyway, back to the question at hand – how to avoid becoming an AWSHQBN. Four books into my series and I’m giving that issue some serious thought. As always, I turn to the experts: writers I enjoy who have written successful series over a period of years. Here are some of the methods they use, some of which I’m considering for use in my series.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: I know, that seems obvious. Who wants to read about a character that remains static over twenty years, no change in marital status, drinking habits, or hairstyles? But hang on a minute. The familiarity of a character is quite frequently what attracts a reader to a series. They don’t want their hero to change. They’d be disappointed if Stephanie Plum became a nun or Kay Scarpetta picked up a golf club, unless she’s going to wield it against a serial killer. The trick is to introduce just enough change in the character’s life to keep things interesting for the reader. And it goes without saying that that change has to be consistent with the character’s, er, character. I don’t think any readers expect India Black to settle down and become a housewife, obsessing over flower arrangements and doing needlepoint. But she does need a few changes in her life from time to time, just to keep her on her toes. Some big changes will be coming her way in the fourth book next year.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Some authors keep boredom away by dropping their heroines into new locales. It doesn’t have to be exotic, although that’s fun. Just depositing your character into a place that is unfamiliar provides an opportunity for your character to stretch a bit, in terms of how she deals with a new environment. Think of Mary Russell in Palestine, or Jack Reacher wandering the backroads of America. I’m going to use this tactic myself, if the publisher wants a fifth India Black. It is time for her to get out of London and head for the Dark Continent, which offers me the chance to write about one of my favorite historical subjects (British colonial history), countries (South Africa) and incidents (the Battle of Rorke’s Drift).
SEX (OR NOT): This one is problematic. Writers use sex for lots of reasons. It moves the relationship along between characters. It can be a mistake the character has to confront. It can be an affirmative, life-changing experience for the character. It may also increase book sales. (Ten points for you if Shades of Grey just popped into your head). But beware if you have included a romantic aspect to your series. You have entered a minefield. Tread carefully. Especially if you’ve made your heroine a prickly, proud and independent woman. My character India Black has a thing for the prim and proper French. They spar and flirt and strike sparks off each other. Will they ever do it? Yes. No. Maybe. I like the tease and the sexual tension. Lots of readers do. But at some point the tease goes on too long, and then you become exasperated with those two dolts who should just get it over with and clear the air. And then what? Where’s the sexual tension? Can you keep it alive? Do you want to? I doff my hat to Elizabeth Peters, who handled this subject perfectly. Even after her heroine Amelia Peabody married Radcliffe Emerson, the two continued to generate heat. It’s a rare accomplishment. Not being Ms. Peters, I shudder every time I think about how to handle this issue in my series.
These are just a few of the things I’ve been mulling over as I try to deliver a series that retains its essential characters and characteristics, yet remains lively and creative. If any of you have any ideas about how to do this, I’d appreciate your comments. Thanks again, Lori, for the opportunity to speak to your readers.
India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy
(A Madam of Espionage Mystery)
3rd in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Company (February 5, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Alan Ayers
Cover Design by Rita Frangie
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
E-Book File Size: 679 KB
In Victorian London, India Black has all the attributes a high-class madam needs to run a successful brothel–wit, beauty, and an ability to lie with a smile. Luckily for Her Majesty’s Government, all these talents also make her a first-rate spy…
Revolt has spread across Europe and has now reached England. Anarchists have begun assassinating lords and earls. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (Dizzy) has sent for India Black. He believes she is ready to handle an assignment on her own. He wants her to infiltrate the underground group he believes is responsible for the attacks. To stop their deadly plot she will travel from the poorest regions of London to the highest levels of society. All in attempt to uncover the secrets that threaten her very existence.
Carol K. Carr is an amazing storyteller, just Amazing! She takes us back to the Victorian Era and immerses us in the political and social cultures and wraps it with mystery, intrigue, and humor in her own unique writing style.
India Black is a strong, savvy, cheeky protagonist. French appears later in this story and some of the secrets of his life are starting to be revealed as are the secrets to India’s past. Their romantic tension is slowly building with hopes of a real romance. Vincent is a very colorful character. The anarchists are quite an unconventional group. One is just downright strange.
The main mystery is carefully plotted and full of surprises. India places herself in some very dangerous situations and more than once I thought she might be meeting her maker.
Carr keeps us on the edge of seats one minute to laughing out loud the next. I feel like I am watching a movie rather than reading a book. In my review of India Black and the Widow of Windsor I said “her words are like a thousand pictures” and that is even more true with these story. You can hear the door creaks, the rats running through the alleys, the thump as India hits the ground and the splash of the water. Pictures are painted in your mind vividly. You see the squalor of Seven Dials, the bints favorite yellow dress and all of India’s finery. You can smell the stench being emitted from Vincent and almost taste what Mrs. Drinkwater tries to pass off as edible food.
The author also leaves us a bit of a cliffhanger to tempt us as we wait for the next India Black adventure. I can’t wait foe the next Madam of Espionage Mystery.
Find out all about Carol K. Carr and her books here.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”