And good luck!
I was asked to write a short piece for the Random House Library blog, so I used it as an opportunity to confess the sins I committed during the writing and researching of Dreaming Spies. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Read my confession here.
The short story “Mary’s Christmas”–
–is now available in a print version! My local shrine to print wisdom, Bookshop Santa Cruz, can sell you this nice little booklet (with my signature and an inscription, if you like) here.
It begins one winter’s evening in late 1921 or 1922 when the two are seated by their fire, sharing stories about the unexplored portions of their past. Naturally, a person might expect the older Holmes to have a large collection of these—but tonight it is Russell who astonishes her husband with news of a previously unknown, even unsuspected, relation.
17 November 1914
How do I write about this? My tumbling thoughts were just beginning to settle down, my mind was starting to feel as if it were moving in a forward direction again for the first time since the accident, when….
How can I go on, knowing the deceit of my own parents? Why would Mother have led me astray? Why would Father not have raised an objection?
It began when the November Strand arrived at the end of last week. When Dr Ginsberg brought the post, the journal was included, and as my headaches have lessened considerably, I did not need her to read aloud to me this third instalment of The Valley of Fear.
So I thanked her, and picked up the magazine—at which point she reached into her shopping bag and pulled out half a dozen of the Sunday Magazines from my father’s New York newspaper. “Do you want to read the rest of it?” she asked me.
“The rest of what?” I naturally enquired.
That was when she revealed that the story so teasingly stretched out by the English Strand monthly magazine has been heaped in generous weekly dollops upon Mr. Conan Doyle’s American audience! Worse, my father knew, and not once but twice over—both his papers from September 20 and that of September 27th would have contained the Sunday Magazine with portions of the story. The first of them came immediately on the heels of the lesser portion doled out in the September issue of Mother’s Strand.
So what happened? Why keep the American version from me? Father knew I relished tales of Sherlock Holmes, so why not give this new one to his daughter?
The only thing I can imagine is that Mother wished me to participate in the same hardship as her English compatriots, and Father chose not to go against her.
I was just beginning to stand on my feet, and now they have been swept out from under me. My mother deceived me, and my father sided with her. Perhaps even Levi knew. And now my Uncle Jack has decided to keep his distance from me.
I am alone in the world. Time to grow up, I think.
* * *
The earlier episodes of Russell’s War are collected here.