Interview with Cara Black, Author of Three Hours in Paris

Who among us hasn’t had the odd daydream or two about picking up and jetting off to France and just living like a Parisian for a while? We might browse wistfully through flights, but never take the plunge. Meanwhile, Cara Black, author of the Aimee Leduc series, has penned 20 novels that are set in this cultural hotbed including her latest standalone, Three Hours in Paris (releasing April 2020).

We were lucky enough to catch up with Black to chat about her latest listen, audiobook narrators, and what inspires her writing. What can readers gain from listening to the audiobook version of Three Hours in Paris that they might not necessarily get from reading the print version?

Cara Black: Both versions have so much to offer. However, in the audiobook version there’s the immediacy of the spoken word and the reader’s intonation and nuances of feeling that enhance listening to the story. Also you can listen to the story anywhere hands-free. How involved are you in the narrator casting process and what do you look for in an audiobook narrator?

Cara Black: I felt it was important to go with a new voice to distinguish Three Hours in Paris from the Aimée Leduc series. I liked the sample from Elisabeth Rogers—her voice, intonation, expression, and how she puts emphasis on phrases. She’s good! So I decided to go with Elisabeth Rogers, a new reader, and I feel so happy she is Kate’s “voice.” This is your first standalone novel. How did it feel to venture away from your Aimée Leduc Investigation series?

Cara Black: I felt compelled to write Three Hours in Paris. It was a story I had to tell, and it came from a footnote in history. I’d been writing bits while I wrote the Aimée Leduc series, but these pieces didn’t fit in an Aimée story so I saved them. I had only written series novels, which I love to do and will continue, so it was a leap to write a standalone. It was time to flex my writing muscles and this story had high stakes in a time of incredible history. With a new setting and era in history, it gave me freedom and a chance to explore other voices and viewpoints. All of your Aimée Leduc Investigation novels as well as Three Hours in Paris are set in France. After writing 20 books set in France do you find that you’re still learning new things about the country and the culture? Do you ever see yourself writing a novel set outside of France?

Cara Black: Definitely. I’m always learning new things about the French and France. I love the history, the traditions, the slower pace of life, its culture of living well, and the charming, contradictory Parisians I come across. If I ever figure them out, the mystery will be over. Yes, I’ve got a few ideas for a novel outside of France. In your author’s note, you mentioned the idea for Three Hours in Paris grew from anecdotes that you encountered on your research trips to Paris. When you travel, are you always picking up tidbits and saving them for future inspiration?

Cara Black: There’s a saying about writers, “everything is fodder.” So, I’m always jotting down a word overheard, a color that catches my eye, or a saying that encapsulates a feeling. And I always try to use what I find in France on the page.

Over the years researching, I was lucky and honored to meet several female Résistants who were in the underground during WW2. They told me stories and shared their experiences. Also, many of my friend’s parents had been schoolchildren in Paris during the war, and it was incredible to hear firsthand accounts of what they remembered: daily life and privations that didn’t make it in the history books. Can we expect more stories about Kate Rees in the future?

Cara Black: I wrote this as a standalone novel. But we end in 1940 when the war is in the early stages, and I left Kate’s trajectory open-ended, so it’s a possibility. ∎

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