That’s right, I have TWO books out today, books that are about as far apart as a reader can get. In addition to Anatomy of Innocence (below) today’s the publication of the trade paperback of The Murder of Mary Russell!
Anatomy of Innocence is the brainchild of Laura Caldwell and Leslie S.Klinger, both lawyers, both friends of mine. Laura is the director and founder of the Life After Innocence clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, which works with wrongfully convicted individuals or other innocent persons to help them re-enter society and reclaim their lives. Life After Innocence was inspired by one of her clients, a 19-year-old man, who sat in a Cook County holding cell for nearly six years without a trial before Laura and a renowned criminal defense attorney won his release.
Anatomy of Innocence has fifteen top writers, each of whom tells one portion of the story that every one of these falsely convicted people went through.
But the real beauty of the book is how the stubborn belief of individuals—attorneys, family, and the convicted persons themselves—can win out despite the massive authority of the judicial system.
Something to keep in mind, as we look at ways to take back our Tuesdays.
I will be part of an event in San Francisco in June, talking about the project with Les and Laura. There are also events in New York, Madison, Chicago, LA, and Denver, with more to come—see the events page, here.
In the meantime, you can read about the writers and exonerees of Anatomy of Innocence, and see the stellar reviews and articles from the Bar Association to Newsweek’s Six Best Books of the Week and the NYT article excerpting the book’s Arthur Miller essay. Laura and Les have a podcast going live tomorrow, here. And finally, yes, you can order a copy from Audible, Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or IndieBound.
Left Coast Crime is an annual conference that moves around the left coast, generally of the US. This year LCC was in Honolulu. Like the other moveable crime conferences, location is a prime consideration, since fans and readers use this as a holiday as well as a chance to meet their favorite writers. So, the attraction of a place like this.
However, I was also this year’s Toastmaster, which meant it wasn’t all lolling on the beach with a Mai Tai in hand. Instead, this was what my conference looked like—Thursday on the bottom, Friday next line up, then Saturday, and Sunday on the chair off the edge of the table.
Plus that, I received the proof pages of Lockdown just before I left, with a deadline of the day I returned home. Sigh. But all in all, it was a blast. I got to exhort the assembled conference to let down their hair
on Saturday. All in all, Left Coast Crime in Hawaii was pretty cool. Reno, you have a lot to live up to.
Despite being theoretically on holiday on the island of Hawaii, I’ve spent most of the past three days working on the proof pages of Lockdown,
I finished today, although my voice is a bit raw since the proofs are the stage I read the book aloud–and not at a whisper, but full voiced. (Fortunately there’s a lot of background noise from waves and wind, so I didn’t drive my housemates too mad with my droning on…)
And I’m glad I did, not only because I caught many misplaced pronouns, dropped prepositions, and wonky time references. In reading through it, I had an experience I’ve never had with my own writing: I got all choked up. I mean, I’ve liked the ending of the book since I first wrote it, but I’d never thought it powerful until this read.
Sure, maybe I’m just so tired I’m shell-shocked and emotional, but I’m going to assume it’s because the ending works so superbly. And since I don’t plan on reading the book ever again, I don’t have to worry about being wrong.
Hope you agree, once you read it.
I’ve been in Honolulu this past week with crime writers, and it’s been interesting how often politics has been the unspoken presence on a panel. Some of us are outright in our opinions, while others feel that they need to keep their opinions to themselves.
Whichever way you feel, there’s no doubt that books carry in their pages a lot of hidden truth–more so when the stories feel real. Strong characters let a reader walk in the shoes of people they wouldn’t have imagined they had anything in common with. The Guardian had an article about this recently, looking at how fictional characters become real to the reader.
Nineteen per cent of those respondents said the voices of fictional characters stayed with them even when they weren’t reading, influencing the style and tone of their thoughts – or even speaking to them directly. For some participants it was as if a character “had started to narrate my world”, while others heard characters talking, or imagined them reacting to things going on in everyday life.
So I’m wondering, just how influential fiction can be. Have you ever experienced a fictional character so real, he or she spilled over into your daily life? And if so, did something they did in the story change your mind, about a situation or a person?
Let us know, in the comments.
Okay, today’s Takeback Tuesday isn’t about donating to a Good Cause. This one is fun and communal.
Tomorrow is the Ides of March, a day Julius Caesar would have cause to remember. To celebrate a day that changed Roman history, tomorrow has been declared #TheIdesofTrump.
I’d like all of us to dig out a postcard–or stationery, if you want to get all formal–and send #45 a note telling him exactly how you feel. As the planners of this event say:
Wednesday, March 15th, each of us will mail the president a postcard that publicly expresses our opposition to him. And we, in vast numbers, from all corners of the world, will overwhelm him with his unpopularity and failure. We will show the media and the politicians what standing with him — and against us — means. And most importantly, we will bury the White House post office in pink slips, all informing DT that his time in office in limited and that we will reject any attempts he and his allies make to reduce our freedom to speak, pray, travel, educate our kids, obtain affordable health care, breathe clean air, and leave our grandchildren a habitable planet.
Hank Aaron currently holds the record for fan mail, having received 900,000 pieces in a year. We’re setting a new record: over a million pieces in a day, with not a single nice thing to say.
They can’t build a wall high enough to stop the mail.
On March 15th, mail your postcards to:
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Let us know what you’ve posted, and check out their web site here.
Got your trumpets polished?
Champagne on ice? Confetti on hand?
Good—because it’s time to announce that….
coming to a screen near you…
will be (all fingers crossed)…
Well, no, it’s not real yet. Don’t get our your popcorn quite this early. But I’m headed off for Left Coast Crime tomorrow morning and we just just JUST signed the papers and so I wanted to tell you before I go that we’ve sold the rights to an English production company, one that is just bursting with excitement and ideas and that seems to get the whole idea of Russell & Holmes!!
Here’s the official take on it:
New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King’s “Mary Russell Series” is now under option to be developed as a television series with King as an active consultant. This beloved series is now comprised of 16 books and counting—King will begin writing a new novel in the series later this summer. More information about the production company optioning the series and their plans will be announced in an updated release later this spring.
More (YES!) to come.
But, do I have your permission to have a glass of champagne at LCC? Or maybe (it being in Honolulu) a MaiTai?
Leading up to the publication of Lockdown, in June, I’ve been thinking about the nature of my other writing, that not set in the rather whimsical world of Russell & Holmes. Such as Touchstone, which began the Stuyvesant & Grey series.
This week’s proposed women’s strike wasn’t quite as much of a Thing as England’s 1926 General Strike, when Parliament feared that the Communists were about to take over the country. But when I wrote Touchstone,
I was fascinated by the idea that in the minds of the voting public and the ruling classes (which yes, we still have) were in terror that Britain was about to become a satellite of Moscow. Really?
I also had been thinking of writing another book with a male protagonist, which I’d done in Keeping Watch. Harris Stuyvesant is what used to be called a man’s man, a big, brusque muscular American Bureau of Investigation agent more than happy to use his fists to settle an argument. Naturally, he does have a soft and reflective side, but he tries not to get too distracted by it. Instead, the book’s reflective side comes from Captain Bennett Grey and his sister, Sarah. Bennett is a damaged English soldier with some unusual talents. His sister is involved with a political movement.
With Harris as the protagonist, the voice of these two books becomes drastically different from that of the Russell series. For one thing, the English is American rather than British, but more than that, they’re boy-books, infused with the swagger and aggressive reactions of Harris himself.
It’s eight years after the Great War shattered Bennett Grey’s life, leaving him with an excruciating sensitivity to the potential of human violence, and making social contact all but impossible. Once studied by British intelligence for his unique abilities, Grey has withdrawn from a rapidly changing world—until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to investigate for himself Grey’s potential as a weapon in a vicious new kind of warfare. Agent Harris Stuyvesant desperately needs Grey’s help entering a world where the rich and the radical exist side by side—a heady mix of the powerful and the celebrated, among whom lurks an enemy ready to strike a deadly blow at democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.
I’ve called Touchstone my 9/11 book, since it burrows into the impulses of terrorist acts. Why does a person become a terrorist? What in their background makes them imagine that an act of violence is the only way to get out a message? And beyond that, why believe that this does the cause the least bit of good?
This is not a theme that fits into the world of Russell & Holmes.
My Touchstone page, with excerpts and order info, is here.
There’s an entire series of videos on YouTube (thanks, BoingBoing) about the Bush Mechanics of the Australian outback, Aboriginal gents who work miracles on heaps of junk and rust and turn them into… well, I’m not sure I’d agree that they’re cars, but they are mobile. More or less.
America is now a nation of political and social bush mechanics. You and I are tasked with taking a maliciously junked machine and McGyvering it back to health, or at least something with turning parts. This video shows us how: using what we have, in concert with our fellow mechanics, with good cheer as we set about the impossible.
So today is local efforts day. I’ll make a donation to my local library, a place to go when you’re looking for an auto repair manual or a class in becoming a citizen.
But I want to hear what you’re doing in your neighborhood or town to get this heap moving again. Tell your fellow Friends of Laurie, and remind us all that we’re in this effort together!
As I’ve said before here, under the current regime we’re having to outsource many of those basic services that until recently we could trust our government to perform for us. Things like protecting the weak, and welcoming the assaulted, and healing the sick.
One of the friends of the “Resistance” is a group called Emily’s List.
Our vision is a government that reflects the people it serves, and decision makers who genuinely and enthusiastically fight for greater opportunity and better lives for the Americans they represent.
I don’t think the government taking shape in DC is one that reflects or serves us, the people. I think it’s made up of people out to strip the country’s resources for their own benefit. And I think that one way to resist them is to support their opponents.
That is, Democratic women.
Yes, this is simplistic. Many Republicans are responsible people who work hard for the greater good. Many, many Republicans are appalled at what is happening today. There are some Republican goals I would agree with.
But in this era when every matter is reduced to stark black and white, if we have to choose, I suggest we choose Democratic women. I suggest we support them, we encourage them to run for office, and yes, send them some dollars—because Early Money Is Like Yeast.
REJECT APATHY AND THE STATUS QUO. REPEAT DAILY.
Emily’s List is committed to driving progressive change throughout our country by winning elections that put pro-choice Democratic women into office.
I look forward to a time when Democrats and Republicans can work together again. A time when the government I pay for actually does its job. But one of the ways I see to achieve that is to push more Democrats into public office.
If any of you are running for office, I’d like to know. Surely we can get the Russell (and Martinelli) community behind one of our own?
In the meantime, monthly donations to Emily’s List are one way to begin to take back Tuesdays: here.