Matters Unspoken? (My blushes!)

In the twenty years since The Beekeeper’s Apprentice introduced Mary Russell to the world, many questions have been raised about the good lady, and about her relationship with Sherlock Holmes, her religious beliefs, her Oxford college, what kind of car she drives—and just where on the Sussex Downs is that house of hers, anyway? 

In a fervent (if tongue in cheek) commitment to the Game, and in celebration of the anniversary, this year I assembled all those questions and more under one electronic roof.  Some of them get answered; others merely discussed.

Such as: Mary Russell’s sex life.

On Matters UnspokenHolmes & basket chair

One element of the Russell & Holmes memoirs that excites considerable interest among her readers is the question of the marital relations between the principals.  Generally speaking, Russell is decorous when it comes to personal revelation, although she does admit (A Letter of Mary) that Holmes is “as energetic and scrupulously attentive to detail in the physical aspects of marriage as ever he was in an investigation or laboratory experiment”, then adds that he was “not otherwise a man demonstrative of his affections.”  In Locked Rooms, Russell says that not only was she “well matched mentally” to Holmes, she was also “well suited physically, to a man who interested my intellect, challenged my spirit and roused my passions.”

He brushes her hair.  He sits beside her and fiddles with her fingers.  And that is as steamy as the Memoirs get. 

**

If you’d like to read more about the Russell Memoirs’ “Game”, 

The Mary Russell Companion is available here.

mr-companion-cover

One Writer’s Home

In my early writing days, I produced scenes, chapters, whole books with my legal pad propped on the wheel of a (stationary) car, while one child or another was involved in soccer practice or a piano lesson.  Later, when the kids were in school longer hours and this odd hobby of mine began (to the astonishment of everyone, not in the least me) producing an income, I first claimed a room, then built one: not for me the tumult of social interactions, active families, and loud music assaulting my concentrating brain.

Then two years ago I moved house, and since the new place had a number of…issues, structurally speaking, a study for Laurie was pretty far down the list of urgent tasks. So this is where I wrote The Bones of Paris: Writing cornerA large, comfortable, perfectly round chair (loveseat?) in one corner of the bedroom, where I could hear the hammers, saws, and conversations (my beloved contractor and his guys, bless them, don’t inflict their clients with on-the-job radio) but not be too distracted by them. Meanwhile, my future study was the garage, a mountain of boxes, bits of furniture, unclaimed household odds and ends, and junk too valuable to throw out quite yet:Still a garage

But eventually, the roof was patched, the underpinnings of the house were secured, and we could turn our attentions to my place of work. The guys, working around the boxes, fitted in shelves, and bit by bit, the books migrated from boxes to shelves:

Laden shelves

I ended up with a proper study (the carpet is dark purple!):

studyAnd that’s where I wrote Dreaming Spies.

 

 

 

Crime writing, anyone?

Coming up in Corte Madera, beginning July 24, a gathering of truly fabulous writers and editors are coming together to talk crime. For 21 years, this has been one of the best crime writing conferences out there—and yes, this year I’m joining in the fun.conference_banner_copy

If you’re serious about starting a crime writing career, or if you’ve started and would like to schmooze with other writers and find out how others do it, the Book Passage conference is designed for you.

This is nothing like BoucherCon. That big, sprawling conference is primarily for readers, where people can meet and listen to their favorite writers. The Corte Madera Mystery Writers Conference is about craft.

And if you’re interested, these are the panels I’m in:

The Tension Mounts: Maintaining Suspense—Ace Atkins, Laurie King, Anne Perry, Tom Rob Smith & Sheldon Siegel (Moderator)

Making the Past Immediate—Rhys Bowen, Laurie King, Priscilla Royal & Jacqueline Winspear (Moderator)

The Writing Life—Laurie King in conversation with Anne Perry,
Moderated by Jacqueline Winspear

Polishing Your Prose: The Heartbreak of Editing and Revision—Laurie King, Kirk Russell & David Corbett (Moderator)

Writing Intensive: Creating the Backdrop – Time and Place—Cara Black & Laurie King

A Case in Companionship (4)

In a discussion of how Laurie King came to publish Miss Russell’s Memoirs, “A Case in Correspondence” came to light. This series of postcards, letters, and newspaper clippings culminates with a postcard written by Miss Russell to her new literary agent, Laurie R. King, in 1992: a card that led to the eventual publication of the Memoirs, albeit as fiction.

 

CinC 20

And the card’s transcription:

19 May 1992

Dear Ms King,

I enclose the attached with the trunk of my memoirs, that you might understand something of its history. The Goodman case shook the Intelligence community 68 years ago. As these varied correspondences show, its effects still reverberate through the corridors of power. Thus, I would strongly urge upon you the solution offered by the Oxford friend referred to in the communications: that this volume be published as fiction. Personally (although our current Prime Minister would disagree) I suspect any readers of my memoirs will be too intelligent to fall for the ruse.

It rankles, to imagine my autobiography being published as mere entertainment, however I agree that in this one case, the world may not be ready for the truth about Mycroft’s organisation.  And if I may make a further suggestion? A whimsical title might be only appropriate. Something along the lines of, The Green Man, perhaps?

Yours,

MRH

**

For the complete “Case in Correspondence”, 

The Mary Russell Companion is available here.

mr-companion-cover

A Case in Companionship (3)

“A Case in Correspondence” is a series of twenty postcards, letters, and newspaper clippings dating to 1992.  The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first Russell Memoir, was published two years later.  This collection of correspondence, along with the previously published “My Story”, explain how Laurie R. King came to have Miss Russell’s multi-volume autobiography–although neither story explains adequately why the Memoirs appeared as fiction..

 

CinC 16

Transcription:

MARY RUSSELL

CARE OF ST HILDAS COLLEGE OXFORD

RUSSELL I AM AT THE OXFORD DIGS OF THE GREAT NEPHEW OF OUR MONACLED [sic] FRIEND STOP SEEMS I HAVE HAD TO PULL OUT VARIOUS STOPS TO CONVINCE HER MAJESTYS WATCHDOGS NOT TO PUT MY WIFE IN THE TOWER FOR CRIMES AGAINST THE EMPIRE STOP YOU ARE EXPECTED FOR TEA STOP UNFORTUNATELY THE SAME COOK REIGNS THUS BRING SCONES FROM COVERED MARKET OR RISK ANOTHER BROKEN TOOTH STOP HOLMES

**

For the rest of “A Case in Correspondence”, as well as discussions about the Memoirs being categorized as fiction, The Mary Russell Companion is available here.

mr-companion-cover