Meeting Mamay

I can’t resist new life forms, particularly when they inhabit fruit and vegetable stands.  The other day I wandered into the one in the Stanford shopping center, and spotted a soft, heavy football with a scratchy skin.  It wore a nametag: Mamay.

Hello, Mamay.Mamay

Mamay is a Cuban native weighing two or three pounds, which is a lot of fruit if you don’t like the flavor.  But I did.  It’s a delightfully weird fruit, not super sweet, with the texture of baked sweet potatoes and an overtone of its relative, the sapote (known in India as the chiku.)  It has a giant and very shiny seed (the one in the photo is nearly the length of my hand) which was sprouting merrily inside.  However, I was relieved to read that the seeds don’t necessarily grow true to type, because I’d have felt obligated to put the thing in my garden, and there I would have been, standing on the street giving away three-pound footballs that taste like sapote crossed with sweet potatoes.




This is Mrs Hudson?!

As you may have noticed (did you?) posts here on Mutterings have been both sparse and brief of late. Here’s why:photo

First draft, 326 pages, with a strong beginning, wobbly middle, and an ending I absolutely adore. This is Mrs Hudson’s story (and yes, before you ask, I do fully intend to let Dr Watson have one, too, some day.)   Much of it speaks to her heretofore unseen life before she lets rooms to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. This is not back-story, mind: this is her story.

She’s a Victorian lady a few years older than Holmes, which means that when the story opens in 1925, she’s nearly 70. She has known Sherlock Holmes for nearly half a century, but she’s never seen him in a state like this, after he comes home to find…

the murder of Mary Russell

More—much more!—to come. But you know what? Older heroines are FUN! Of course, I also get to write Mrs Hudson as a very sleek 20 year old before the mirror, admiring the new lines of her dress, bust to

And strolling beneath her parasol in Regent’s Park. And trying to climb inside a hansom cab in a long skirt, corset, and multiple petticoats. And…

Much work left, many drafts to go, but it’s always such a HUGE relief to hit the SEND button on a first draft—I just wanted to let my friends out there know that a small celebration is in order.

Although I suppose that depends on how you feel about…

The Murder of Mary Russell

(Coming April, 2016, to a bookstore or online retailer near you.)

BBC Beekeeper

Several years ago, BBC Radio 4 did an adaptation of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.  If you don’t know Radio Four, this is the radio station that covers not music, but the word: dramas, comedies, in-depth reports on news and history, it’s a genius source of wit and wisdom the like of which does not really exist in the US.

For a while, the CDs of Beekeeper and similar works could be bought in the BBC shops, but then they went out of stock, and the 2000 recording went back into the dim recesses of the Beeb’s archives.

Until now.p01l9f8l

Adapted by Shaun Prendergast, starring Pendergast, James Fox, Monica Dolan, and Sian Thomas, these four episodes were re-broadcast a couple of weeks ago, and are being streamed for the next two weeks on the Radio 4 site, here.

Let me know what you think of them!

Kepler’s & Crime

The marvelous Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park has an upcoming:

Afternoon of Chaos, Killing, Crime, & Kidnapping @ Kepler’s

Now, that may sound somewhat exhausting, but if you’re a fan of crime fiction, and you’re interested in how we writers do our thing, come and listen to 1) Plotters vs Pantsers, 2) It’s Not Me, Babe (writing a character different from you), and 3) a trivia quiz.

There’s a nominal charge, since this kind of thing costs the bookstore, but Kepler’s is one of the great Indie booksellers, and support like this for the Mystery community is a joy. Come and join Paul Draker, Steve Hockensmith, Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Janet Rudolph, David Corbett, Seth Harwood, Terry Shames, Keith Raffel, and me, for an afternoon of Chaos, Crime and…well, all the rest.mystery day image-SMALL_0Check it out, here.


Cherry is to Japan as hawthorn is to…

In England recently, it was hawthorn season.Hawthorn

In Dreaming Spies, Russell reflects on the resemblance to cherry blossoms:Hawthorn flowers

The …thick white hawthorn blossom overhead made me imagine for an instant that I was kneeling for a hanami, setting out a picnic beneath flowering trees.Sussex hawthorn