Monday, January 19, 2015

The Writing Duo of Charles & Caroline Todd

Kerry Hammond is back today to report on a book signing with two of her favorite authors (who write as one), the mother and son team of Charles and Caroline Todd. Scroll down to comment and enter to win a bag signed by Caroline and Charles Todd, Sue Grafton, Carola Dunn, and Donald Bain.

What do you get when you cross two history buffs that live in two different states? The writing duo known as Charles Todd, of course. Charles Todd is the mother and son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd. Caroline lives in Delaware and Charles lives in North Carolina, but the two manage to use computers and telephones to coordinate and write not one, but two critically acclaimed historical mystery series.

I recently attended a book signing at the Tattered Cover in Denver to celebrate the release of A Fine Summer’s Day, the 17th book in the Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd. Charles and Caroline spoke to a crowd of fans about the books, their writing habits, and the origin of Inspector Rutledge. Their story was told in a seamless back and forth that was entertaining and funny. Each good-naturedly teased the other about their writing style, and their passion for their craft was evident. 

I found out a great deal about the motivations and original of the Rutledge series. The Todds talked about the decision to set the books in the period immediately following WWI, based partly on the fact that not much had been written to showcase that time period. They wanted to return to a crime solving time before DNA or forensics. Where fingerprints had been discovered, but the databases to hold the information and cross-reference it were basically non-existent. It’s a time when evidence was hard to come by, but mistakes were costly. The penalty for murder was a trip to the gallows, and Inspector Rutledge was not able to take his responsibility lightly. He knew that an accusation could mean death, and he had to make sure he had the right person before he attempted to see justice done.

The writing team attacks each manuscript scene by scene, using emails and telephone calls, sometimes until the late hours, to determine how the story will be written. Charles jokingly pointed out that Caroline Is not an outliner, and she freely agreed that she just doesn’t have it in her. Charles, although a great outliner, admitted that his prior writing experience only existed in the business realm. He wrote technical reports and proposals. When they wrote the first book, they thought it would be a standalone and that nothing would come of it. Little did they know where they would be today.

Caroline Todd

In addition to the 17 books in the Rutledge series, the duo has written short stories with Ian as the main character. They have even written a mystery short story featuring Hamish, set in Scotland in 1913. I have to get my hands on that!

Although the event was to celebrate the latest Rutledge book, I want to also point out that Charles Todd has written a second series, which contains 7 books (the 7th to be released this year). In this series, Bess Crawford, a WWI British Army nurse, finds herself unwittingly caught up in mysteries of her own. I don’t know how they write so many books in such a short period of time, or how they come up with such great plots and characters. But I plan to enjoy each and every one I can get my hands on and hope that they continue to write and entertain readers for years to come.

Don't forget to comment below to win an autographed bag by Charles and Caroline Todd, Sue Grafton, Donald Bain and Carola Dunn. US Residents only. 

You can see Kerry's review of A Fine Summer's Day, here. 


  1. I have read several titles in both the Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series. Although I am now retired, I worked in a library for many years and often recommended the writing duo of Charles Todd to readers. I appreciate their historical research evident in their story lines, along with their great characters and the wonderful sense of place the reader gets from each novel.

    1. Abusby - Thank you so much for stopping by. We always love info from librarians. Such a great way to get book recommendations.

  2. I am captivated with both series which I have read. They allow me to escape and travel to another era, locale and experience life during that memorable time. The novels are unforgettable, emotional, enthralling and wonderful characters whose lives are changed by events. The bag would be a treasure. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. The Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series has brought me many hours of enjoyment. These novels are set during a period that is fascinating, and fraught with many changes. I become spellbound within the pages and dream of the characters, their lives and the future of their world. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. I am not familiar with the Todds, but I surely do love Sue Grafton's books. Bobbipad at

  5. Wonderful, wonderful writers who have provided hours of bliss for us ravenous readers—long may they write!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  6. Our winner is traveler! Look for an e-mail soon.