May q & a

Q from Wimindance: Here’e2’80’99s a question, in the second Martinelli you refer to the Morningstar murders but don’t give many details, are we going to hear more about this case? It seems Kate did a lot of growing through that case; is there a short story out there somewhere I’ve not seen?

A: No short story, no hidden and pseudonymous novel. The Morningstar case clearly did not go well, and unless I make it a part of a larger story, tying it in to a later case, I can’e2’80’99t see much appeal in the case by itself. Which doesn’e2’80’99t automatically negate it, just that I haven’e2’80’99t figured out how, if at all, to use it. Not everything one mentions in a novel has to be fully explained. Cf. Conan Doyle’e2’80’99s references to such cases as that of the giant rat of Sumatra’e2’80’a6.

Q: Myninki asks, What do you think about books piracy over the Internet?

A: I’e2’80’99m not sure if this question refers to the internet sale of unauthorized books, or a possibility of printing off whole books based on the Google reference site? In either case, as a person with a wholehearted appreciation for the precarious nature of a writer’e2’80’99s finances, I think it hardly fair to rob the writer of a percentage of his or her royalties in order to save a few dollars. Theft seems harmless when the only victim is a large corporation, but from my perspective, my pocket gets picked as well.

Q: Whitmangirl asks, Do you have any advice about where a confused American can go to learn about the English university system? I read lots of books set in England and always feel a bit out of my depth when they start talking about the various colleges and being sent down and all that.

A: Surely there must be web sites out there on just this topic? Anyone have any to suggest? If so, I can add this topic to the Mary Russell page next time I’e2’80’99m doing renovations.

Q: Elisa wants to know, Did you foresee the plot for Locked Rooms when you created Russell’s history in Beekeeper? Or did you just have to hammer it into shape?

A: Both. I knew the vague outlines, or rather, I knew some specific elements of the events, but not the full picture, and certainly not the (how to say this without a spoiler?) the outcome of her investigation into her past. It would have made life simpler if I had clearly drawn out what happened, since with LOCKED ROOMS I had to sit down and try to fit the bits and pieces I’e2’80’99d already given into the narrative I had in mind, which wasn’e2’80’99t always easy. A similar thing happened with writing O JERUSALEM after BEEKEEPER, since I had only the most general ideas of what went on during those weeks. And then later when I tried to fit Ali and Mahmoud into JUSTICE HALL’e2’80’a6. Oy.

(I’e2’80’99m just waiting for the corrections to pour in when people find problems with THE ART OF DETECTION and its predecessors.)

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  1. L. Crampton, LAc on May 3, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    I’m reading my delighted way through your work, Laurie, and am pretty sure I spotted Lord Peter Wimsey in A Letter of Mary?? Was that him? I love your interweaving of time and place and contemporary (to the characters) personalities, whether in fact or fiction. Delicious.

  2. Anonymous on May 3, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    As a reference librarian, I can’t pass up a reference question ….

    Re: info on UK Universities: I went to and got the Oxford home page. Clicked on FAQ, History and Structure, and went to question on Relationship between colleges and the university. I learned a lot — hadn’t realized what I didn’t know. It doesn’t answer the part of the question re: going down/being sent down though. One could also go to Cambridge’s site: I got into Oxford’s originally by googling Oxford University, so one could also google ( Cambridge University.

  3. Ruth on May 3, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    As an English university student I’m not aware of anywhere which explains the university system here in the UK.

    Not all universities in the UK have colleges within them (my own, Bangor, is introducing them at the start of the 2006/07 academic year in Sept, and even then, they’re just bringing departments together to form the colleges), some just operate as one uni with the departments within them.

    The majority of students start uni in the UK at 18, after sitting A levels (or highers in Scotland) in year 13 of secondary school (also known as Upper 6th form) with the majority of courses being three years in length, although courses in Scotland are four years long.

    If you’re interested in histories or anything like that, try, which provides a list of all the universities in the UK with links to their websites.

  4. Anonymous on May 4, 2006 at 4:37 am

    Does anyone have any information about when the next Mary Russell book is coming out? Thanks.

  5. myninki on May 4, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    sorry, I must work on my english

  6. Marsh on May 9, 2006 at 6:55 am

    Question for Laurie…sorry to pick nits, but in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, as the most fascinating duo in recent reading are leaving the shadowy Mahmoud and Ali behind, Holmes says “Marhaba” and Russell “echoes his thanks.” Is there some extra level going on here? “Shukran” would be what most people would say for thanks, since Marhaba means hello..and they are obviously going, not coming. Unless it is a subtle and prescient allusion to Groucho Marx’s “Hello, I must be going.”

    Every time I re-read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (which I’ve done more often that I’d like to admit), I stop short at that linguist non sequitur. This is the first time I’ve written to an author and feel ungrateful raising such a minor point. What I mean to say is that I thoroughly enjoy every novel you’ve written and hope you write many more.

    Can’t wait to purchase The Art of Detection. Saw the preview and thought:

    Clever, clever LRK,
    Fans want a new book every day.
    Will it be Martinelli or Russell?
    Combine the two, avoid the tussle!

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