For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see one of my Dreaming Spies tour stops, the good folks at Anderson’s Books in Naperville, IL have posted a nice interview about writing the book, the Bodleian library, being inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars, Russell’s Twittering, and writing Sherlockian erotica, all over on your YouTubes:
So, this crime writer walks into a kitchen…
Or maybe a bar—it depends on what story you’re after, and what you’re hungry (or thirsty) for.
Whether it’s drinks to curl your hair or a soup to warm your heart, Kinsey Millhone’s peanut butter & pickle sandwich or Valentine Wilde’s chicken fricassee, or maybe a cup of Jack Reacher’s coffee with one of Mrs Hudson’s coffee-sheet cookies, there’s enough here to keep you fed and watered for weeks to come.
Besides that, the book is really gorgeous–
with pictures of scampi & bullets, spaghetti & pistols, and food porn that makes you want to ring up Nero Wolfe and invite him over for a plate of Alafair Burke’s run-soaked Nutella French toast. Check it out, here.
23 March 1915
This week has taught some interesting lessons, both in practical knowledge and, perhaps more valuable in the long run, in the subtle relationships between the sexes.
Dr X and I (I decided I should probably not use his name, since my presence as his chauffeur is probably against a string of regulations and I would not want the man struck off simply because he is too exhausted to stand up to me) have forged a reasonable working relationship, in which he agrees to permit me to drive him about the countryside on his daily rounds, while I agree not to lay wait for him outside of his door at night. As a temporary solution, it is most workable, although eventually I shall have to take on the skills of night-time driving.
One of our trips this past week took us to Seaford, where he anticipated a longer than usual visit. As I prepared to settle in with my Latin, I noticed just down the road a small garage, so I set aside the text and moved the motor over to the establishment’s forecourt.
I have not reached the age of fifteen years without realising that men prefer not to take women seriously—even less, young women such as myself. There are two ways around this: one can either force matters, asserting one’s needs and abilities until the man reluctantly admits some degree of acknowledgment, or one can manipulate him. The first way is easier on a woman’s self-respect, but I have to admit, the second way is often faster and more productive.
In this case, my request—that the man in the greasy coveralls be hired to introduce me to the mysteries of the internal combustion engine—had the result I had anticipated: he laughed. Had his hands not been so filthy, I think he might have patted me on the head.
But instead of bridling and manoeuvring him into a corner, I did the unnatural (to me) and unexpected: I went soft, blinking my eyes at him (and contriving to seem shorter than I was) and admitting that it was silly, I knew, but until I knew just a couple of things, like changing tyres and what to do if the starter wouldn’t catch, the aged grandmother I lived with far at the end of a country lane would be vulnerable and might even have to move into town…
He relented, patently amused at the idea of a girl changing a tyre, much less cleaning the points of a carburetor, but since the forecourt was empty of other cars—and, perhaps more important, other men—he walked around to the bonnet and opened it to demonstrate the key architecture.
Two hours later, having passed from amusement through bemusement to astonishment, he had taught me all the main parts of the motor and what to do in any event short of a broken axle.
Dr X was most taken aback at my appearance, and my aunt filled with outrage, but I shall purchase my own set of coveralls and keep them in the motor, against my next exploration of the guts of the machine.
Mad as this may seem, you can now pre-order a copy of The Murder of Mary Russell: a book I have yet to finish, a book without cover art, a book more than a year from ending up in your hands. A book with more questions than answers.
It all feels rather Kickstarter-ish, doesn’t it? However, I am assured that the publishing world Takes Pre-Orders Seriously, meaning that a hefty indication of early enthusiasm catches the attention of those who make decisions when it comes to marketing and touring and the like.
True or not, mad or not, I pass on the information to you, as a chance to let the book world know that you’re interested in the story.
(Either because, or in spite, of its title…)
And really, the next thirteen months will pass so very quickly.
A funny thing happened on my way to Dreaming Spies…
Months and months ago, I said to Random House that I didn’t think a tour was really necessary for this novel, since it would be the first Russell & Holmes in 2 ½ years and people might be interested in it even without the author standing in front of them talking. And they agreed, since after all a tour costs them money that could be spent elsewhere. So there we were, all nicely agreed, until Pub Day came on Feb 17th and I looked down at the printout of my duties for the month and said to myself, I said, Holy Granola, Batlady, looks like I’m doing a tour after all.
So off I set for Chicago and Houston and Scottsdale and California South and North (lots of North) and then Portland at the end since, well, I was going to be there anyway for Left Coast Crime, and…
All of which means that a month has disappeared on the road, leaving me now holding my skull and wondering what on earth I intended to do with this book I’m supposed to be writing.
Let me be clear: I enjoy touring. Not only is it a huge inflation to the ego to have rooms of people eager to hear what passes for my wisdom
but I also get to see the sorts of friends I only catch glimpses of when I go on the road.
Also there are a lot of amazingly talented people who come out, some of whom write poems or make sketches about the talk
while others give me presents.
But, maybe next year I’ll keep the travel part down under a month, so I can do less of this
and more of this
If so, will you forgive me?
(Though in the meantime, keep in mind that my events page always has a list of appearances. At the moment, those include Crimefest in May and BoucherCon in the fall, but we’ll be adding events in England this May: more when I know them.)