The Dreaming Spies map

Today Random House have completed their map jigsaw-puzzle (over here) so I told the ladies there that I would post a blog about it.

Japan map

And who better to talk about the process of building a map than the main artist, Jean Lukens? Here she is:

The process begins when I find mail in my inbox from Laurie. I know something interesting is in the air. For this map, I was happy to know that Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes were heading for Japan. Laurie sends along a few photos of items that I can choose to include. I ask about the storyline, to get an idea of what imagery might be important.

I chose to format the map on a banner. The season being Spring~cherry blossoms. Two pilgrims, walking toward a Shinto temple. A weapon for Mary to use~a throwing star. Finally, a few iconic Japanese images~chop sticks, tea pot, bamboo, a koi fish and fan.

I used pen ink to create the map’s scene. I chose pencil for the cherry tree in blossom, for a muted feel.  Then, the magic happened when Robert took my drawing and beautifully designed a map that fit nicely into the banner. Our pilgrims walk us into the map. The island leads us up and into a branch, the bamboo stalk brings the eye down and then across through teapot, star and chop sticks.

Team LRK created a fine map. Me in Wisconsin, the others in CA.
 I sure enjoy creating images for a Mary Russell tale, just as much as I enjoy reading a Mary Russell tale. Can’t wait!

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18 days until Dreaming Spies! Other posts about writing and researching the book can be seen here, or you can read a long excerpt here

You can pre-order a signed copy from Poisoned Pen Books or Bookshop Santa Cruz, and unsigned or e-books from IndiebooksAmazon/Kindle, or Barnes & Noble/Nook.

My upcoming events are here.

The Inland Sea

From Dreaming Spies:

I stretched out on my deck-chair and watched the landscape roll past, studying the scores of small islands and myriad of foreign coastal craft—junks and sampans and barges, fishing boats with high prow and stern, their sails like Hokusai prints.

View from Shikoku

Japan’s inland sea is spectacular, despite being one of the busiest piece of salt water in the world. I was on the island of Shikoku to see gardens and shrines, but not far from the place this picture was taken is a narrow strait between two islands, where the huge outpouring of water tumbles itself into a set of enormous whirlpools.

Fortunately, Russell’s ship gives the Naruto Whirlpools wide berth, on its way to Kobe.

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19 days until Dreaming Spies! Other posts about writing and researching the book can be seen here, or you can read a long excerpt here

You can pre-order a signed copy from Poisoned Pen Books or Bookshop Santa Cruz, and unsigned or e-books from IndiebooksAmazon/Kindle, or Barnes & Noble/Nook.

My upcoming events are here.

A Locked Ship Mystery

From Dreaming Spies:

A quick survey of the Thomas Carlyle gave me its layout: main deck below, promenade deck with our staterooms and First-Class dining, boat deck above us with saloon bar, smoking room, and a few more elaborate staterooms. Above that was the sun deck, from which rose the ship’s bridge, wireless rooms, and the like. I claimed a relatively peaceful deck chair on the shaded promenade. Tropical coastline glided past. The damp pages turned. For two hours, absolutely nothing happened: no shots rang out, no tusked boars rampaged down the decks, no flimsy aeroplanes beckoned.

Normal life can be extraordinarily restful.

Cross section

Cross-section of a cruise ship, engine room to salon.

 

 

Hat

Crime fiction is full of locked rooms, where a limited cast is forced together and picked off, one at a time. Admittedly, Dreaming Spies isn’t one of those, but the sensation of claustrophobia and dangers pressing in is a motif a writer plays on before she moves on to other things. And if this apparently peaceful moment can bring a reminder of the dangers in the adventure they’re coming from, so much the better. Sometimes a peaceful read is just a peaceful read, but other times…

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20 days until Dreaming Spies! Other posts about writing and researching the book can be seen here, or you can read a long excerpt here

You can pre-order a signed copy from Poisoned Pen Books or Bookshop Santa Cruz, and unsigned or e-books from IndiebooksAmazon/Kindle, or Barnes & Noble/Nook.

My upcoming events are here.

The Accidental Traveler

Today’s Dreaming Spies post has migrated over to the blog of some friends.  Murder is Everywhere is a blog where great crime writers talk about their view of the wide world.  They’re hosting me today, as I talk about how unexpected discoveries on the road lead to unexpected directions for the story.  “The Accidental Traveler” is over here.

Mary Russell’s War (twenty-six): The war touches home

Today’s Dreaming Spies Countdown post is another bunch of pictures over on the Pinterest page: peruse the sailing life of Russell & Holmes, over here.

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26 January 1915

It is difficult not to believe that the current state of the world was designed specifically to thwart the intentions of one Mary J. Russell. I fully realise how utterly absurd, and insensitive, and childish that statement is, but since October, when I began to come out of the misery that settled over me, the only thing I wished—the only thing that gave me any glimmer of light in a very dark tunnel—was the thought of listening to a kettle come to boil in my mother’s kitchen in Sussex. And now…

I know that innocent people have died. A small child was killed in her bed. I have no right to raise a voice in complaint at how the Kaiser has inconvenienced me.

But why could he not have waited, just a day?

Hours before I was to board the southbound train with my reluctant aunt in tow, bombs fell on England. At first, the belief was that these had been aeroplanes, although now the reports are of Zeppelins. Whether or not they were intending to hit London (as the Germans have been threatening) and were blown by the strong winds up into Norfolk, or whether they chose a lesser target for a trial run—or even if, as many say, they were attempting to destroy Sandringham, from which the King returned only yesterday—is of course the topic of huge debate. But however it happened, England has now joined with her European sisters in feeling the blow of explosives, and English civilians have now died along with those of France, Belgium, and the rest. In the wee hours of the morning, bombs and incendiary devices rained down on Yarmouth and King’s Lynn.

My aunt is convinced—ridiculously—that the Kaiser’s next goal will be the South Coast, one supposes with Zeppelins working their way across the empty farmland from Dover to Portsmouth, scattering incendiaries as they go. I have told her that in fact, London is sure to receive its share sooner or later, and we shall be much safer buried down in the country. She, no country person, is not convinced. She dithers.

So, I have written at last to Mr Mason, my mother’s farm manager, telling him in no uncertain terms that he may expect me to arrive in Eastbourne as close to midday tomorrow as the erratic schedule of the trains permits. (Whenever there is a particularly harsh battle in northern France, within a few days there will be trains diverted to the coast, to receive the surviving wounded and transport them to hospitals. I am not alone, in being inconvenienced by this War.) My letter to Mr Mason did not say specifically that my aunt should be with me. In truth, she will not. Still, I fear that she will follow on my heels before long. Certainly once the Zeppelins come into view over London town.

And if tomorrow morning Victoria Station receives a direct blow from one of these dropped bombs, well, that at least shall settle matters nicely.