Sunday, February 26, 2012

Guest Author: Kate Carlisle - We're All Kids Inside

I'm thrilled to welcome back to Type M for Murder my dear friend and book tour road buddy, Kate Carlisle. Kate is the New York Times bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mystery series which launched in 2009 with HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER. The series follows book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright as she attempts to restore classic texts to their former glory, and to solve the contemporary murders that are linked to each book. The latest Bibliophile Mystery is ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE (Bibliophile Mystery book 5).

At a dinner party in January, the conversation turned to our childhoods. One of our dinner companions, a man in his mid-sixties, got choked up as he described his high school graduation ceremony. “It was the only time I remember my dad being proud of me,” he said, fighting tears.

More than forty years later, the memory of his father’s congratulatory embrace still had the power to choke him up. The moment was fraught with emotion, and I felt my own eyes well up, as well. It was one of the happiest memories he had of his father, but that word, “only,” made it painful, too. For him, and for those of us who were listening.

Even if his perception of his father was wrong, it doesn’t matter. With emotions, perception is reality. This man perceived that his father didn’t like him, and that is the reality that he still lives with today, long after his father passed away.

The man had been drinking just a little too much, but even so, this moment illustrated how much we are all still affected by our childhoods, for good or for ill. Scratch at our surface maturity – the patina we’ve developed over the years, and you’ll uncover all the pain, joy, and embarrassment we felt during our youth. Even if we’ve “overcome” our pasts, or some aspect of them, the fact that we overcame still impacts our daily lives.

I try to reflect that truth in my writing, to create complex backgrounds for each character to give them depth and to make them feel like real people to my readers.

As the Bibliophile Mystery series progresses, we learn more and more about Brooklyn’s upbringing. Although she no longer lives at the commune her parents joined when she and her siblings were young, Brooklyn still sees the world from a slightly off-center point of view. She’s not as into the mystical as her mother is, but she doesn’t entirely reject the possibility that waving incense can get rid of bad vibes. (She needs all the help she can get, what with all those dead bodies she keeps finding!)

I enjoy Brooklyn and the other characters so much, it’s as if they were members of my own family. And when I delve into a character’s past, it’s often as eye-opening to me as it is, hopefully, to my readers. That’s just one reason why I’m so happy to have agreed to write three new Bibliophile Mystery novels after the two 2012 releases. I hope readers are as happy as I am that we’ll have the opportunity to get to know Brooklyn and her friends and family even better.

What is a happy memory from your childhood that still influences you today? Do you remember any school projects that influenced your career choice?

By the way, I’m holding a contest right now on my website. Two lucky members of my mailing list will win this 513-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring the beautiful cover of ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE! Visit and join the mailing list for your chance to win!


Gayle Cochrane said...

This is an interesting subject, and one that I have actually given much thought to. Most people cling to a bittersweet moment, or disappointment that haunts them for a lifetime. Even searching my memory for a happy moment I can't help pass by the bittersweet ones.

I can't remember a specific moment, but I was lucky enough to have creative people in my life who loved to read and that has certainly influenced who I am today.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Kate! First let me say WOOHOOO!!! And congrats on the NYTimes listing at #15 for One BOok in the Grave! And the PWeekly #9 placement. This is outstanding!! Not that we didn't expect it. Grins.

As to your wonderful post, it's very thought-provoking. It's funny, isn't it, what stays with us or with our characters as we create them? We were talking on the Romance Bandits about songs which evoked memories, and in this man's life, and event like that stayed with him.

I guess I had a really happy childhood. I know I was lucky in that, and I remember a lot of laughter in our house. I particularly remember going to my Uncle's restaurant before we would leave to drive back to our house. He'd sneak fried pies to the four of us kids, and soberly wrap up "traveling meals" for all of us and hand that to my Mama. I can't taste apple pie without thinking about that. :>

I love Brooklyn and her family and the more you reveal, the more quirks you unfold, the more I grin. It's shaped her, as our past shapes us all, but it doesn't necessarily define her, which is cool too.

Looking forward to MORE! and so glad you're under contract for more Bibliophiles in the next year. Again, congrats!

Kate Carlisle said...


Those bittersweet memories truly do linger, just as bittersweet flavors linger on the tongue.

How lovely that your family valued and nurtured creativity! Some artists have to fight through resistance, so I'm always very grateful that my family encouraged creativity, as well.

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you so much, Jeanne! I have a bit of a dry mouth this morning after celebrating hitting the bestsellers lists so high... the husband and I killed a bottle of champagne last night.


I love your detail about thinking of your uncle whenever you taste apple pie. Those are the kinds of details that bring people to life, and it's fun to incorporate them into our characters in books.

Hannah Dennison said...

Welcome to Type M Kate! I really enjoyed your post -it really made me think hard about my own dad who passed almost a decade ago. It also made me think about the new characters I am developing at the moment. I'd not considered incorporating a bittersweet moment from a fictional past (s). To my delight, this "memory" pushed my plot in a completely unexpected direction. So a big thank you for that ... and a big Congratulations on your NYT #15!

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you, Hannah! Oh, that's so fun, that my musings helped inspire a new direction for your plot. You never know where you'll find inspiration, do you?

Nancy said...

Hi Kate,
I've kept up with the Brooklyn series right from the first book and just read One Book in the Grave yesterday. I feel as though I'm getting to know the characters better and better which is great. You are always one step ahead of me in the who-done-it department. I thought I had it figured out (no spoilers from me:), but I was wrong.
Congratulations on your NYT placement!

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you so much, Nancy! Interesting that you didn't figure out who the killer or killers were. said...
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