Carole Nelson Douglas, Literary Chameleon

“All of Douglas’s novels use a mainstream matrix to blend elements of mystery or fantasy with contemporary issues and psychological realism. A literary chameleon with an agenda, Douglas has reinvented the roles of women in a variety of fiction forms.”–Fantastic Fiction.com

The author of almost sixty novels, including mainstream, mystery, thriller, high fantasy, science fiction, and romance/women’s fiction, Carole Nelson Douglas has been nominated for or won more than fifty writing awards.

The Midnight Louie series

Carole was an award-winning journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press until moving to Texas to write fiction full time. In fact, she “found” Midnight Louie in the newspaper’s classified ads  and wrote a feature article on the real-life alley cat long before she began writing novels or Louie returned as a feline supersleuth with his own newsletter, Midnight Louie’s Scratching Post-Intelligencer, published since 1995.

The Irene Adler series

Carole the child loved the Sherlock Holmes stories, but the adult found something missing: strong women. That literary lack drives her multi-genre odyssey: “I began Amberleigh, my first published novel, in college because I was fed up with the wimpy heroines of then-popular Gothics,” she says. “Since then, I’ve merrily reformed the fiction genres, reinventing women as realistic protagonists. Of course, creating true women means creating true men as partners and co-protagonists. I like writing popular and genre fiction because it’s so influential; it forms attitudes that shape society.”

Many Douglas novels have received awards and appeared on various bestseller lists; her mystery short fiction appears in numerous anthologies, including eight of The Year’s 25 Best Crime and Mystery Stories.

Carole Nelson was born in 1944 in Everett, Washington. She received a bachelor of arts degrees in Speech and Theater and English Literature from the College of St. Catherine in 1966. The next year, she married Sam Douglas, an artist who worked as the Minnesota Museum of Art as exhibitions director. She was a reporter and feature writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch from 1967 to 1983, then became a page designer and editorial writer for the opinion pages, 1983 to 1984.

First Book Sale

She sold a paperback original novel, Amberleigh (1980), to Jove and a fantasy, Six of Swords (1982) and its sequels, to Del Rey Books. Douglas became a fulltime fiction writer in 1984.

The author told interviewer Ed Gorman she wrote what she described as a post-feminist Gothic, Amerleigh, while still in college, to counter the weak women characters she had found in Gothic fiction. “Since then I’ve merrily reformed the fiction genres, reinventing women as realistic protagonists. Of course, creating true women means creating true men as partners and co-protagonists.”

“My Irene Adler is as intelligent, self-sufficient and serious about her professional and personal integrity as Sherlock Holmes, and far too independent to be anyone’s mistress but her own,” the author said in Contemporary Authors. “She also moonlights as an inquiry agent while building her performing career, so she is a professional rival of Holmes’s rather than a romantic interest.”

In a review of Spider Dance (2004), which Douglas has said is the last in the series, Publishers Weekly noted, “Witty, fast-paced and meticulously researched, this sepia-tinted Victorian confection also reflects a contemporary sensibility as it ponders religious fanaticism and the challenges of a female celebrity living by her own rules.”

The Animal Kingdom

Douglas had incorporated animals since her first novel (there was an Irish wolfhound in Amberleigh, a King Charles spaniel in the next historical, Fair Wind, Fiery Star (1981). So little surprise she began to write about Midnight Louie, the twenty-pound black tomcat with the wit of Damon Runyon. The cat was based on a true-life cat who made his home at a motel, and truly munched on the fish in the reflective pond. The owners had no use for the cat, but a sympathetic woman retrieved and cared for the feline — and Douglas interviewed the woman and cat for a story for the St. Paul newspaper she worked for at the time. Douglas later came to own a number of cats, including one she named Midnight Louie Jr.

Midnight Louie first appeared in romantic suspense novels, Crystal Days and Crystal Nights (1990). “I just moved Louie and his carp pond to the abandoned (fictional) Joshua Tree hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, which was remodeled into the (fictional) Crystal Phoenix, the classiest hotel in Vegas, with Midnight Louie in lace as ‘unofficial hosue dick,’” she explained in a Crescent Blues interview.

Louie lives with Nicky Fontana and Van Von Rhine in these stories. Each paperback contained two stories, Douglas’s manuscripts severely truncated by the publisher. Douglas eventually took back the rights and issued them in restored, slightly revised editions from Five Star as the Cat and a Playing Card series.

Midnight Louie made his hardcover debut in Catnap in1992. This time he had moved on to become companion to Temple Barr, a public relations specialist with a boyfriend, Matt Devine, radio self-help guru, and an ex, a stage magician known as The Mystifying Max Kinsella. A police lieutenant, C.R. Molina, makes frequent appearances for good measure. And this time, the series found its voice and its audience, with annual appearances. The author has said she envisions the series as running 27 books, and thus has woven a few threads through the books that will only reach resolution at the last.

Meanwhile, Midnight Louie’s adventures take some interesting directions. In Cat in a Sapphire Slipper (2008), for instance, takes the action to a Nevada brothel, where a prostitute has been murdered. “Douglas explores the campy, lighter side of ‘chicken ranches’ at the same time she exposes their seamier aspects,” said a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

Carole and her husband Sam Douglas are kept as pets in Texas by several quadrupeds.

Their current four cats include their first feral adoptee, Audrey, a long-haired calico who was trapped at 15 months and has adapted well to indoor life, but remains untouchable by us.

Fortunately, Audrey adores and stalks our  all-black cat, Midnight Louie, Jr., was acquired by virtue of a squeaky meow from an animal shelter concrete floor during Carole’s first Midnight Louie Adopt-a-Cat tour of Texas. Louie began going blind at age eight, but adapted extraordinarily well. There is no place, high or low, he can go that Audrey can’t trail him there, calling and rubbing, not that Louie, fixed and fourteen, much needs groupies. Audrey had two litters outside and shepherded the terminally ill father of her second through his last weeks, days, and hours.

Carole found Xanadu, a species-confused chow-mix dog, dumped as a four-month-old puppy at a four-way stop sign near an elementary school. Carole picked her up because she was afraid the dog would be run over. Months later Sam saw Xanadu’s “twin” lying by the curb across from the school, so if you see and think a stray is in danger, you’re probably right. Please take it to a shelter.

Xanadu loves to play with the cats, but the females are not much interested.

Amberleigh, a tortie with a half-tail, was found on the neighbor’s roof at 6:00 a.m. We had four adopted Persians, but lost them to old age, so Topaz, five, a female shaded-golden like our recently lost lovely Secret, arrived in 2009 and made herself right at home.

Carole and her husband, Sam Douglas, are kept as pets in Texas by several quadrupeds.

Their current four cats include their first feral adoptee, Audrey, a long-haired calico who was trapped at 15 months and has adapted well to indoor life, but remains untouchable.

Audrey adores and stalks our  all-black cat, Midnight Louie, Jr. He was acquired by virtue of a squeaky meow from an animal shelter concrete floor during Carole’s first Midnight Louie Adopt-a-Cat tour of Texas. Louie began going blind at age eight, but adapted extraordinarily well. There is no place, high or low, he can go that Audrey can’t trail him there, calling and rubbing, not that Louie, fixed and fourteen, much needs groupies. Audrey had two litters outside and shepherded the terminally ill father of her second through his last weeks, days, and hours.

Carole found Xanadu, a species-confused chow-mix dog, dumped as a four-month-old puppy at a four-way stop sign near an elementary school. Carole picked her up because she was afraid the dog would be run over. Months later, Sam sspotted Xanadu’s “twin” lying by the curb across from the school, so if you see and think a stray is in danger, you’re probably right. Please take it to a shelter.

Xanadu loves to play with the cats, but the females are not much interested.

Amberleigh, a tortie with a half-tail, was found on the neighbor’s roof at 6:00 a.m. We lost our  four adopted Persians to old age in the past two years, so Topaz, five, a female shaded-golden like our recently lost lovely Secret, arrived in 2009 and made herself right at home.

The author  novels, including mainstream, mystery, thriller, high fantasy, science fiction, and romance/women’s fiction, Carole Nelson Douglas has been nominated for or won more than fifty writing awards. Carole was an award-winning journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press until moving to Texas to write fiction full time. In fact, she “found” Midnight Louie in the newspaper’s classified ads  and wrote a feature article on the real-life alley cat long before she began writing novels or Louie returned as a feline supersleuth with his own newsletter, Midnight Louie’s Scratching Post-Intelligencer, published since 1995.

Carole the child loved the Sherlock Holmes stories, but the adult found something missing: strong women. That literary lack drives her multi-genre odyssey: “I began Amberleigh, my first published novel, in college because I was fed up with the wimpy heroines of then-popular Gothics,” she says. “Since then, I’ve merrily reformed the fiction genres, reinventing women as realistic protagonists. Of course, creating true women means creating true men as partners and co-protagonists. I like writing popular and genre fiction because it’s so influential; it forms attitudes that shape society.”

Many Douglas novels have received awards and appeared on various bestseller lists; her mystery short fiction appears in numerous anthologies, including eight of The Year’s 25 Best Crime and Mystery Stories.

NEW Midnight Louie mystery
NEW Midnight Louie mystery

Now in hardcover and eBook. Coming in mass market paperback, July 1, 2014

Midnight Louie/Delilah Street
Midnight Louie/Delilah Street

Three mystery with a fantasy twist stories, NEW in print and e-Book!