Monday, December 07, 2009


The Polish website Zbrodnia w Bibliotece recently ran a long interview with me. You can see their lovely posting here.

I found their questions both interesting and thought-provoking, so I thought I’d post some of them here for the benefit of those who (like me!) can’t read Polish.

ZwB: Do you think that historians are in some ways like detectives, searching for what happened in the past?
What an interesting question! I’ve never thought of it that way, but I think you may have something there. Much of what drives my interest in history has always been curiosity—I want to know what really happened, why, how, when, or by whom. With history, we can rarely be entirely certain that our reconstructions of the past are correct. But when I write a detective novel, I’m in complete control, so when Sebastian figures out the story of a slice of the past—the murder—he gets to KNOW he’s right.

ZwB: Why do you write historical crime novels?
I’ve loved history for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, we lived in Spain and my holidays were spent climbing around crumbling castles and exploring ancient Roman ruins. My father was a professional historian and a great storyteller, so my bedtime stories were the tales of the Alhambra and Scheherazade. It was virtually fated that I’d grow up to earn a PhD in history and become a professor myself. I no longer teach, but I’ll always love history.

ZwB: Why do you think historical crime fiction is so popular?
Perhaps because many readers like to feel they’re also “learning” something when they read fiction? Because the lives of historical figures seem less complicated and constricted than ours? Because it’s pleasant to escape into both a different land and a different time? I suspect we each have our own reasons for enjoying historicals.

ZwB: Was your decision to do a historical detective novel based on market awareness or was it simply something you wanted to do?
At least in the States, contemporary mysteries and thrillers are actually more commercially successful than historicals. But I personally have always liked old-fashioned detective stories, where the emphasis is on character analysis and deduction rather than on police procedure or high-tech forensics. So putting my detective in an historical setting was a way to embrace what I enjoy and avoid what doesn’t interest me. Plus, of course, I love history.

8 comments:

Steve Malley said...

You could get cars made: Candace Proctor-- Past Detective!

That actually was a pretty cool Q&A... :)

orannia said...

Great questions and responses - thank you Candy! And I know have my greedy little hands on What Remains of Heaven. As soon as I'm through my current book (how restrained am I?) I'm diving right in - I can't wait!

cs harris said...

Steve, it was also a LONG interview; I'll be posting more.

Orannia, hope it lives up to your expectations!

Susan/DC said...

Interesting questions (which isn't always true in interviews) and interesting answers. I differ slightly in one of my reasons for reading historicals, whether mysteries or straight novels: it's precisely because their lives were more constricted in some ways than ours. I want to see how they managed within those constrictions to remain true to themselves and lead full lives (especially the women, who had far more rules to follow and for whom the consequences were more dire if they failed).

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Charles Gramlich said...

Cool. I'll check out the link as well. I'm envious of you hearing such cool bedtime stories. I've always loved history myself and almost became a history major.

Lainey said...

Candy - did you see the news that Editor and Publisher is folding? That Kirkus Reviews will disappear immediately?

cs harris said...

Charles, my dad was an incredible storyteller. He had this wonderful, deep voice and a great sense of dramatic timing.

Lainey, I know; I'm sick. I'm doing a new post on it.