.Opinion: Seat of Your Pants Writing

Acclaimed author Cara Black on writing


New York Times bestselling author Cara Black—dubbed the “doyenne of the Parisian crime novel”—is internationally known for her acclaimed Aimée Leduc series. The 20 acclaimed novels featuring the aforementioned beloved protagonist, a Paris-based private investigator, are tightly-wound mysteries with plot twists as potent and vivid as the Parisian setting that Black so meticulously showcases as if it’s one of the main characters.

The Bay Area writer’s latest series, which begins with Three Hours in Paris, keeps the Parisian setting but merges mystery with historical fiction. An American markswoman, Kate Rees, navigates Occupation-era France during World War II with one goal: to take Hitler down. 

For this week’s cover storySteve Kettmann spoke to Black at length about her craft and how she employs the “seat-of-your-pants” method of writing to churn out entertaining literature at a prolific rate. One of the keys to Black’s success is propelled by her perpetual curiosity, which she uses to sculpt her novels and provide rich details that pop off the pages with tangible accuracy—her forthcoming book is set somewhere very different: Cairo, Egypt.

Kettmann texted me this morning to tell me that he began reading Three Hours in Paris last night at 8pm.

“I couldn’t stop until I finished after 3am,” he says. “Great book!”

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If you want to learn more from Cara Black about her writing process, there will be an Author’s Talk, moderated by Kettmann on Saturday, April 8, at 2pm, at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, 858 Amigo Road, Soquel. Free with RSVP at in**@we***************.org. Soho Press Publisher Bronwen Hruska, who has an upcoming novel “partially set in Santa Cruz,” will also be on hand.

Adam Joseph | Interim Editor


Neighborhood flowers during a stroll in Live Oak after the recent storm. Photograph by Jennifer Thorn.

Submit to ph****@go*******.sc. Include information (location, etc.) and your name. Photos may be cropped. Preferably, photos should be 4 inches by 4 inches and minimum 250dpi.


Residents in high-risk wildfire areas can use a free chipping program provided by the Resource Conservation District (RCD). The 2023 storms have caused downed branches and trees throughout the county, and new vegetation has begun growing. The storm debris and greenery could become wildfire fuel if not appropriately handled. RCD will clear flammable material at no cost and strategically lay out the chips in your yard. rcdsantacruz.org


Thanks to the “One Ride at a Time” campaign, everyone in Santa Cruz County who takes a METRO bus helps the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Bay of Life Fund. Just create an account at scmtd.com/gosantacruz, collect points each time you ride and donate to a nonprofit. METRO will also unveil buses wrapped with renowned photographer Frans Lanting’s images. By the end of 2024, there will be 30 buses with images of whales, mountain lions, redwoods and more.


“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

—Stephen King


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