Caroline Todd: There’s never been a why for me. The desire to write has been a part of me since I was seven. That desire strengthened with the years, always present, always important. I was constantly scribbling something down, watching people, playing with ideas, collecting a desk full of “what ifs”—some good, some awful, but each one a learning experience.
I’ve always loved books, and my childhood home was full of them: history, science, novels, biographies, poetry, Christie, Sayers, Hemingway, Faulkner, Poe, Conrad, Shakespeare. I sampled all of them, and they taught me what I liked and didn’t like. I learned what style was, and the rhythm, meaning, and power of words. After grad school, I set out to be a journalist, working briefly for the Associated Press. But I’d already been seduced by a second love: history and travel. Even though the need to write was still fierce, I now had another driving desire—to see the world. Yet it wasn’t Mongolia and Zanzibar that haunted me over the years, it was a WWI British Cemetery in France—rows upon rows of white crosses. I kept promising myself I’d sit down and write about it one day. And then another trip would tempt me away again. Until a visit to King’s Mountain Battlefield in North Carolina launched something I hadn’t expected: a sudden realization that writing was more important than anything else I wanted to do. And fortunately, it coincided with Charles’s own epiphany…
Charles Todd: Unlike Caroline, I never felt any desire to write. I loved sports and history and doing things. I liked exploring places. What I didn’t realize was that the seed had been planted in the stories my parents read to me and the books that littered our house, as well as those of my grandparents, and a writer lay buried deep inside me. After college, the only writing I did had a business focus, and I wrote every kind of report imaginable. Pleasing superiors taught me discipline, but also something about creating a little fiction in the process.
History has always been my passion, and war is history in action. I expect that’s why I was interested when Caroline first suggested writing a battlefield mystery together. The strange thing was, my love of movies and TV shows had shown me something about what makes a story work. I knew what was “good theater” and what was a flop. I still see every scene I put together as if it were a movie in my head. My first thought was to write about the American Civil War, but I began to realize that WWI hadn’t been used as a setting for a long time. New territory, but, more importantly, a period I actually liked—one I had been interested in since I first visited England when I was 14. I was happy when Caroline agreed. And we’ve worked very well together, probably because we love the books too much to argue, and it’s more challenging to work around any problem.