A Parliament of Crows
by Alan M. Clark
Genre: Southern Gothic Crime, Horror
In A Parliament of Crows, the three Mortlow sisters are prominent American educators of the nineteenth century, considered authorities in teaching social graces to young women. They also pursue a career of fraud and murder. Their loyalty to one another and their need to keep their secrets is a bond that tightens with each crime, forcing them closer together and isolating them from the outside world. Their ever tightening triangle suffers from madness, religious zealotry and a sense of duty warped by trauma they experienced as teenagers in Georgia during Sherman's March to the Sea. As their crimes come back to haunt them and a long history of resentments toward each other boils to the surface, their bond of loyalty begins to fray. Will duty to family hold or will they turn on each other like ravening crows?
Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. As a writer and illustrator, he is the author of sixteen published books, including 11 novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. His illustrations have appeared in books of fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction and children's books. Awards for his work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. Mr. Clark's company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audio books, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I don’t really do favorites, but I particularly enjoyed Carolee’s flight from the sisters’ lodgings in Brooklyn to escape Mary’s grief over the loss of an infant. Carolee’s trek is something of an odyssey through dangerous 19th century New York streets at night. She knows she should be frightened, but then realizes that, based on her crimes, she, herself, is more dangerous than most of those she sees in the night. She is much more concerned with severing her connection to her sister’s grief so that she doesn’t have to “feel” it anymore.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
The answer is that both are true. When writing fiction based on history, we know the highlights of what happened with a character, as often their most interesting deeds are recorded. We frequently don’t know what emotionally motivated the person. That’s part of the mystery that gets me interested in writing a tale from history. I have to give the character experiences that help form their motivations, and demonstrate their decisions and choices through scenes involving their actions and dialoque.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Most of my characters’ emotional development comes while I’m in the process of writing.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Mostly, I start a project, putting words on the page, then research what I need to along the way.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
One story at a time, generally.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Computer word processing
Advice you would give new authors?
Same advice I give artists and illustrators—be tenacious in pursuing your dream.
What makes a good story?
Well developed characters facing conflict that test them and brings out emotional qualities not forseen.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!