Laurie R. King: Mystery Writer Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:12:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A box of Russells goes to… Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:12:08 +0000 The first drawing for one library’s Book Club in a Box will be Friday.  Have you nominated your favorite library for this book club’s worth of Russells?   Send their name to with the subject line Library, and–good luck, this or the next six giveaways!

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Lives change @ your library. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:42:20 +0000 And a very Happy National Library Week to you!

The theme of this year’s American Library Association celebration is Lives change @ your library.  So that’s what Team LRK is celebrating as well.  As you must know by now, I love libraries.

Laurie's first library, in Santa Cruz, CA.

Laurie’s first library, in Santa Cruz, CA.

I use libraries by the cubic meter, by the hundredweight, by the hour.  Using any measure, libraries shaped me and continue to shape my writing.research001-100x300


So this spring, where I am also celebrating my own great good fortune in twenty years of Mary Russell, I’m giving away some of her books.

Two ways:

1. To libraries.  If you know a library that sponsors book clubs, and can make use of fifteen copies of the same Russell title, send us the library’s name.  We’ll do a drawing every week between now and the publication date for the Twentieth Anniversary Edition of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, May 27.  Show your library you love them, and let me send them some books.

Send your library nomination, to:  with the subject line: Libraries.Jean_Lukens_book_cover_233X350px

2. To Russell’s readers. Do you agree, that “Lives change @ your library”?  Let’s make that our theme.  I have a complete set of Russell & Holmes hardbacks PLUS the new hardback 20th Anniversary Beekeeper’s Apprentice for the winning essay, poem, video, painting or what-have-you, on the topic:

“How The Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”

Although if that’s a bit too dramatic, you can make it:

“When I first met Mary Russell, she…”

Send your essay/poem/video/needlework/skywriting project etc. to:  with the subject line: Beekeeper.

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Odd housemates Sat, 05 Apr 2014 02:33:06 +0000 I love odd plants.

DSC01134I’ve posted about my various odd housemates, of the vegetable variety, from time to time.tree orchidsNow another long-time inhabitant of a sunny window has sprouted some peculiar and quite unexpected blossoms.

Who’d have guessed that something like this—DSC00822

would sprout into this—DSC01314

Life is full of such delightful surprises.

(And in case you’re wondering, no, I have no idea what this fellow’s name is.  Anyone?)

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Russell bundles, again! Mon, 24 Mar 2014 16:04:43 +0000 My beloved Random House has an offer you…well, you can refuse if you like, they’re not that pushy.  But it’s a really nice offer, for eight Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes novels, in celebration of Russell’s 20th anniversary.  The titles run from O Jerusalem to Garment of Shadows, covering ground from 1919 Palestine to 1924 Morocco, with everything from India and San Francisco to the Orkney islands in between.  If you read one a month, all twelve books will take you up to Dreaming Spies in February!

Just a thought.

The Kindles are here, and Nook is here. Pass the word on to friends.9780804180481_p0_v1_s260x420-1

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Russell, bundled Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:40:44 +0000 To celebrate the 2oth anniversary of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Picador is selling a merry bundle–9781466866034_p0_v3_s260x420

–of the first four Mary Russell e-books. That’s right, a special package deal with a sweetheart of a cover, with Beekeeper, Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, and The Moor. Fill up your e-reader library, so you’re never again stuck in a boring airport without something to take your mind off things.  (The other eight Russell titles: coming soon!)

It’s for your Kindle, or for your Nook.  Enjoy!

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A Russell Companion! Thu, 13 Mar 2014 17:12:59 +0000 Due May 1: The Mary Russell (e-)Companion: all manner of information and tidbits concerning Miss Russell’s Memoirs, from What does their house look like? to What’s a copper beech?  Yes, there’s even a chapter on her sex life.MR Companion cover


The book page is here.

And I will over to you my humble and immediate apologies that this is exclusively an ebook.  I shall merely point out that if a bajillion people buy the thing, a hard version will surely follow.  So it’s all up to you.

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Kate books giveaway! Sun, 23 Feb 2014 15:29:15 +0000 The fabulous Picador has set up a giveaway for their re-issued paperbacks of the first three Kate Martinelli books, A Grave Talent, To Play the Fool, and With Child.  Their sweepstakes is here.

A Grave Talent

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LRK talks Tue, 11 Feb 2014 14:31:51 +0000 The excellent and estimable Dan Stashower and I will sit on opposite sides of the country on Thursday (noon Eastern time) and have a conversation with Kojo Nnamdi about “The Enduring Popularity of Sherlock Holmes.”  And Mary Russell, one hopes. It will be streamed, and you can ask questions, and–well, I hope you join us.  Info is here.

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Deep Breath Mon, 03 Feb 2014 22:04:28 +0000 When is the end not the end?  When it’s a book, and its author knows that a first draft is crap.

I sent a very rough first draft of Dreaming Spies off to my editor today.  This proto-novel is an exceedingly thin 270 pages, missing one of its two endings, with sporadic character development, a peculiar way of jumping locations, long bits where nothing much happens and the author is clearly muddling her way through the undergrowth, and settings that bear only a passing resemblance to the countrysides of Japan and Oxfordshire.

But those 270 pages are there, where they weren’t before.  And now I can take a deep breath, and talk to my editor about where the story is going, and dig in to make a mess into a book.

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Storyteller’s whispers Tue, 21 Jan 2014 17:46:37 +0000 Storyteller is a tease. Storyteller whispers in the writer’s ear, makes promises, leads the writer on… and then goes silent.

There are basically two ways to approach a book.  For some, Storyteller speaks in advance, clearly laying out the book’s logical sequence, opening hook to ending coda.

For others, like myself, a book is an ongoing conversation with Storyteller: if this, then that; if her, then him.  Take the book I’m writing at the moment.  I’m at about the three-quarter mark of the first draft—the stage at which the writer really ought to know what her story is all about.  The stage at which the non-outlining writer like me begins to get nervous, in case Storyteller goes silent.Valley view

From the beginning, certain elements of this story have been given.  First, it takes place in Japan and in Oxford.  Second, it’s about—well, no, I don’t think I’ll drop a spoiler on you, but there’s a young woman involved.  And as I was writing, certain elements crept in—the sorts of things that I allow free rein since I can always hand them their pink slip in the rewrite.

Basho poetry, sure—this is Japan.  However, why is Shakespeare elbowing his way into a book about Japan?  What do Henry IVa, IVb, and V have to do with spies?  Not much, on the face of things—but there they are, attractive bits of prose by themselves but with little reason, and a puzzling lack of relationship to the rest of the story.  I keep coming back to them, thinking about them, walking around to look at them from various perspectives.  Wondering why Storyteller has decided to put them in.

Because unlike my Crime & Thriller Writing co-author Michelle Spring, what I write is based on the whispers from the back of my mind.  I could say that after a score of books, I have learned to trust the voice, but this is the way I worked from the beginning.

That doesn’t make it any easier when I’m at the three quarter mark with many weeks of work behind me and a deadline pressing in—and only a vague idea of an ending that isn’t one I’ve used three times before.

Fortunately for this book, a day of enforced distance from writing intervened.  Then a second.  Said deadline was getting ever closer, while my 1500-a-day stint was lapsing once, then twice…

But sometimes, Storyteller needs a reboot to be heard.  Late on that first day, as I am turning from one thing to another, a chunk of Eureka! drops down on me, rending my conversation a bit distracted while my brain scrambles after the realizations:  So that’s why the Shakespeare—and this event, which means that’s where they’re all headed.

Inevitably, by the second morning, my mind having had a night to chew on it, the complaints begin: But why this?  And really, that’s not terribly interesting…

So Storyteller whispers again, delivering a lightning bolt straight to my brain.  I drop my toothbrush to stare in the mirror: if I just flip this to that

And there it is: an ending that is both logical and emotionally satisfying.  The kind of ending that leaves a smile on the face.  What is more, as I begin to pick it over, I see for the first time how all these oddments have in fact been sitting and waiting for Storyteller’s unifying revelation.  Shakespeare because of that; Oxford rather than Sussex or London because of this; the young woman’s father and her time in America and even her moment of inexplicable clumsiness because—yes.  One minute I’m sitting at my workbench staring at an untidy heap of gears and springs and levers; the next, there’s a magnificent timepiece, ticking quietly away.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that one year, Storyteller will have the sulks.  That I won’t have listened to the still, small voice in the back of my mind, but instead just shoveled in a variety of shiny and ultimately mismatched parts.

And of course, having the paradigm for Dreaming Spies doesn’t mean I don’t have a ton of work in front of me.  I not only have to actually shape the words and acts of the last section of the book, I will then have to go back and nudge every preceding scene from what I thought was happening to what is in fact happening.

So you will excuse me if I go and get started on it.

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