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A Parliament of Crows by Alan M. Clark - Book Tour + Giveaway

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Parliament of Crows

by Alan M. Clark

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?

What inspired you to write this book?

A Parliament of Crows is based on the crimes of the Wardlaw sisters of 19th century America. For the story, I changed their name to Mortlow. I was fascinated with the idea of three sisters, prominent female educators in the field of social graces becoming criminals and murderers. I knew that for such prim and proper women of the 19th Century, powerful emotional issues had to be involved in their decisions to commit the crimes. The emotional motivations of characters being at the heart of any good tale, I knew that if I could find an answer to the question,”How did they find their deeds reasonable,” then I’d have a good tale to tell.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS?

The story is about the three Mortlow sister, Vertiline, Mary, and Carolee. Vertiline is two years older than the twins, Mary and Carolee. The twins are emotionally volatile. The sisters’ father, Supreme Court Justice of Georgia, Horace Mortlow, just before his death during the American Civil War, gave Vertiline the duty of protecting the unstable twins in his absence. Trying to protect them, often from themselves, Vertiline, also commits crimes. The three form a dangerous triangle.

How did you come up with the names in the story?

I changed the names so that what I did with the characters would not offend any of the Wardlaw descendants. I make it clear that A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS is a work of fiction. That said, it follows much of the Wardlaw sisters’ history. I used the name Mortlow instead of Wardlaw, because the “Mort” as a word or syllable is often associated with death, and the “Low” suggests that to which the sisters sink in order to survive.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing different chapters from the tree main characters’ POVs; developing the triangle formed by the sisters and their competing interests. The story covers most of their lives. While they are bound together as family and increasingly dependent on one another in committing their crimes and keeping their secrets, they are at odds over many things. Distrust between the siblings threatens to drive them apart and expose them.

Tell us about your main characters—what makes them tick?

Vertiline feels bound by duty to see her “difficult” sisters through life. The twins, Mary and Carolee enjoy as well as suffer an emotional connection. They cannot read each other’s thoughts, but each can know what is happening emotionally with her twin. Mary is very religious. Assuming a sense that she is one of God’s chosen, she feels exempt from the rules of society, though she puts up a good front. Carolee, basically an atheist, views herself as simply an animal who should take from the world what she wants, as long as she doesn’t have to suffer any consequences. She, too, puts up a good front most of the time. Vertiline tries to keep her sisters in line, and ends up compromising her own sense of right and wrong in the process of protecting them.

How did you come up with the title A Parliament of Crows?

Apparently crows do a weird thing in which they gather in large numbers, say in an open field, and an argument ensues between one or more of the birds. The others seem to watch. When the argument is done, the crows turn on one of the participants, presumably the loser, sometimes maiming, killing, or even cannibalizing the creature. Some who have viewed this phenomenon have likened it to a trial in which the defendant is convicted and punished. The term for that type of gathering is a parliament of crows. With the way the sisters go after each other, with the fact that they nearly always wore black mourning clothes, I thought the title appropriate.

Who designed your book cover?

I did the cover art and layout. I have been a freelance illustrator for 35 years, doing mostly book covers and interior illustrations for books.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Joan Allen would be a great Vertiline and then Catherine Keener, doubling for the twins, would do well for Mary and Carolee.

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. 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

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