LRK, Sherlockian?

When I first started writing the Russell books, I took great care to assert that these were not Sherlock Holmes stories, that they were about Mary Russell, with Holmes a supporting actor. Which they are, clearly.

The original proposed cover for Beekeeper's Apprentice.

The original proposed (and rejected) cover for The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.


As I’ve mellowed, I have become more interested in the character of Holmes, curious about how this man with the brilliant mind and cold heart would be changed by his apprentice-turned-partner. I went so far as to write an actual Holmes pastiche, inserting it into the midst of a Martinelli novel (The Art of Detection.) And over the years, I’ve written a number of academic essays on The Gent With the Pipe, including “Watson’s War Wound,” “A Holmes Chronology,” and an introduction to The Hound of the Baskervilles (collected in Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes—not to be mistaken for anyone else’s Holmes.)

Still, it’s always a bit of a thrill to be taken (or, mistaken?) for a Holmes expert. Two such thrills came up recently. First, I shall speak to the assembled masses, or however many of them manage to crawl from their beds for a Sunday morning panel, at Bay Area Sherlock:


No, I don’t think Benedict Cumberbatch is coming, although there will be cosplay lookalikes.


And two, “I” am being taught in the course on Sherlock Holmes at Politics and Prose in DC this fall, when Beekeeper’s Apprentice joins Michael Chabon’s Final Solution and Anthony Horowitz’s House of Silk in what promises to be a fascinating discussion of, Interpretations of Sherlock Holmes II, beginning September 8.holmes

If anyone joins in at either of these, do let me know how it went!

The author’s bedside reading

No, really, it’s the author’s…bedside reading.  These two books were tucked at the bottom of the bedside table of the motel in Corte Madera where I’m staying during the Book Passage crime writing conference:photo I have stayed in upscale hotels where the management appears at your door with flowers and a copy of your book to sign for the hotel library, however, this place, while clean and tidy and blessed with remarkably efficient air conditioning, has never struck me as upscale.

All authors dream of spotting some stranger reading their book on a plane or bus, and although I have gone 21 years without that fantasy fulfillment, surely this counts?

Short story theologian

We’ve put up two new things into the LRK electrical world, both having to do with a weeklong Writer in Residence I did some years ago at Hanover College, Indiana.

The first is a lengthy meditation on how the concept of “vocation” appears in my novels, written by Hanover professor Michael Duffy. It carries the somewhat grandiose title of “Guidance for Authentic Living in the Mystery Novels of Laurie R. King.” (It’s free on the site, although if you like it, you might send Hanover a donation.)Vocation cover

The second is a new e-short story based on the talk I gave while at Hanover, a Midrash (or, retelling) based on Judges 11.  Mila's Tale cover5-2_arm_right

“Jephtha’s Daughter” is one of those problematic Biblical passages that just beg to be wrestled with, and I chose to do so in the manner of the rabbis, reshaping the given text into a story that both is and is not the same.  And because I believe that the tools of understanding should be wielded by all, I include both remarks on the theological questions raised by the story, and suggestions for further reading.

LRK, Talmudist

LRK, Talmudist?

“Mila’s Tale” is not a crime story, although there is a criminal act at its core. Neither is it a mystery, although perhaps of the higher sort. It is the first of what I propose to form into a collection called Ladies of Spirit, stories and their commentaries based on a variety of sources from the world’s religions.

“Mila’s Tale” is available on Kindle, Nook, and all the other formats, here.

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.


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.