July Q&A 1

L. Crampton reminds us all: May I ask my electronic friends to be careful of revealing plot spoilers? I’ve not yet read TAOD or the last of either series, yet, and so much appreciate going into them with no foreknowledge of what is to happen.

Thanks, L, for the gentle reminder, but I have to say, you folk are pretty good about this. The plot elements you refer to in your posts are generally either early on in the books or else nice and generalized. Thanks for that.

(And L., I will look into the Deviant Art problem’e2’80’94as you say, links degrade over time, and I depend on people telling me when they’e2’80’99re no longer available.)

Q: “…the girl with the strawberry curls” asks, Will you ever fill in the missing months, and sometimes years of the Russell novels? The over two years after her marriage to Holmes (Feb. 1921 to Aug. 1923) are tantalizing, along with Summer of 1919 to Dec. 1920

A: Having hunks of time available are handy for those of us who like the option of flashback sections in novels. I have my eyes on that earlier period for a portion of the next Russell (which, anticipating the next question, I will be starting to write this fall, for publication in 2008.) Both of those are transitional times in Russell’e2’80’99s life, aren’e2’80’99t they? The final period of her coming to adulthood, and the beginnings of her life as a married woman. As such, I think it’e2’80’99s often more interesting to leave some things unexplored, as backstory is less exciting than action.

Q: From wolfangel, Where can I find a book like ‘Cults Among Us’?

A: Anne Waverley’e2’80’99s book seems to have gone out of print, and is nowhere to be found. Alas, the field is open for someone else to do one. I’e2’80’99m sure there are many.

Q: “When will we see the first Russell movie?”

A: When a company options it, writes a screenplay that makes everyone happy, hired actors and directors, films it, and puts it out. As of yet, that first step hasn’e2’80’99t happened, so don’e2’80’99t hold your breath.

Q: How do royalties on bookclub sales (i.e., mystery guild, etc.) work? Is the per-book price the same as one purchased in a store? Just wondering — I buy yours in stores so I don’t have to wait

A: The structuring of royalties is enormously complicated and, as you might imagine, a potential source of conflict between agent and editor. Most publishers have a standard structure: for example, ten percent of the book’e2’80’99s cover price goes to the author for each hardback sold, then maybe 12 1/2 percent from 5,000 to 10,000 copies, then 15 percent for everything over 15,000’e2’80’94you get the idea. Mass market paperbacks are a different percentage, as are trade paperbacks.

Then because the publisher needs to make concessions to the really big orders from WalMart and Barnes & Noble and the like, they have special calculations for them, ‘e2’80’9cdeep discounting’e2’80’9d the books. The author’e2’80’99s royalties suffer, although the theory is that selling ten books at ten percent isn’e2’80’99t as good as selling a hundred books at six percent. Or something, I’e2’80’99d have to drag out my contracts to see, and all contracts differ. (Can you see why all writers need an agent?)

The book club royalties are structured somewhat differently, but book clubs generally also pay a flat sum to the publishers, who divide it with the author, for the rights to publish their own version of a book. Similarly large print publishers and audio books.

The really interesting part of it all is the progress of technology. I can remember when publishers weren’e2’80’99t really sure what to do about e-books, not only how to figure the royalties, but what it meant when it comes to reversion of rights to the author. And the current print-on-demand enters into this as well: I as an author have written into my contract the clause that I can take back the rights to the book if it has been out of print for X number of months. But what if, during that time, two people ordered it through print-on-demand?

Anyway, the answer is, thank you for buying the books in any form. I will merely end by point out that book club editions are not usually the same as the publisher’e2’80’99s hardback, often being smaller and of inferior paper. A factor you might want to consider if you’e2’80’99re saving them for your grandchildren’e2’80’99s library.

Q: Erika says, I’m a bit behind all the others, just got done with “Locked Rooms”. I’d be interested to know if you had the plot for that book figured out since “Beekeeper’s Apprentice”, or did you realize at a later point that there could be a story hidden in Russell’s past?

A: I knew there was a story there, but didn’e2’80’99t know what it would be until I started to write LOCKED ROOMS. And the fact that there was a mystery there, obvious as it might seem now, didn’e2’80’99t come until I was well along in the writing. Duh.

Q: From Jan, You had once mentioned that Folly/ was being considered as a TV movie… Is this going to happen, or are there any other plans for RV and any LRK books?

A: Not sure who RV is, and it wasn’e2’80’99t FOLLY, it was KEEPING WATCH. The project isn’e2’80’99t dead, just slumbering. And all the other books are still wandering the dry hills over Hollywood, gazing down at the city lights with varying degrees of envy.

Q: Rebecca’e2’80’99s question is, If you’ve mentioned this before and I missed it I’m sorry (haven’t been online much lately), but I want to know what Russell was doing while Holmes was seeing the seamier side of San Francisco and investigating Raynor’s death. Holmes made a reference to his empty bed, as I recall, so where the heck was she?

A: This question seems to give away plot elements, but it doesn’t really, since it’e2’80’99s in the first line of the Holmes portion of THE ART OF DETECTION. She’e2’80’99s off on family business in Los Angeles. Wasn’e2’80’99t there something in LOCKED ROOMS about oil? And again, as mentioned earlier in this Q&A session, it’e2’80’99s a thing I could use in the future, Russell’e2’80’99s visit to Hollywood.

Q: From Sara, I was just reading “A Passage to India,” and there is a character named “Mahmoud Ali”– any relation to the names in both “Oh Jerusalem” & “Justice Hall”? Or random coincidence?

A: They’e2’80’99re two of the most common names in the Muslim world, certainly in the Arab world, so no meaning in them other than that.

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  1. L. Crampton, LAc on July 3, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you, Laurie, for taking questions and giving answers! Thanks also for the Russell and Martinelli business cards you tucked into snail mail response–great fun!

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