Questions, class?

Okay, if we’re finished talking about sex, let’s accept the fact that it’s the first of November (oh, all right, it’s the second) and open this to Q&A. I’ll pick ten or twelve questions so make them good.

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  1. Roxanne on November 2, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Hmmm…you sure got people’s (including my own) attention with the your last post, didn’t you?

    I’ve actually been giving the following issue a lot of thought the past few days–and I hope the question is appropriate for your blog. I’ve recently read your short story, “Paleta Man”, in Irreconcilable Differences. Firstly, I loved the story. Secondly, I can (unfortunately) identify. And I have to admit to a certain sense of satisfaction with the story’s ending. (I will refrain from clarifying for those who have not yet read the story.) Here is my question: what is your view regarding the idea/act of vigilante justice (which lawyers sometimes refer to as “extra-judicial self-help”)?

    For the record, I have not yet decided/resolved this issue for myself. Your story has given me a lot of food for thought.

    Thank you,

  2. Anonymous on November 3, 2006 at 3:33 am

    Hi Laurie,

    Hopefully this question will make the cut (if it hasn’t been answered already)…

    How far in advance do you plan your characters’ lives (especially for the Martinelli and Russell series) versus let them grow organically? To steal someone else’s previous example, did you always intend for Russell and Holmes’ relationship to be romantic? Or was this more of a discovery after writing the first book (or first half of the book)?

  3. Hats on November 3, 2006 at 6:47 am

    I’m curious about character names. Was Mary Russell always Mary Russell? Do you plan the names to contribute something to your character?

    And on a slightly related note (though I’m sure this still counts as two questions), what’s your process in choosing a title? Do they suggest themselves early in the story, or do you keep changing them until one fits?

  4. Pen on November 3, 2006 at 8:53 am

    I wonder if you know that the house in which Conan Doyle wrote “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is in a poor state and is under threat of being developed into housing? I believe it’s in Hindhead, UK.
    Do you think that this sort of place (a writer’s former home) should be maintained and kept as some sort of memorial of that it doesn’treally matter and we have to move on?

  5. Bett Norris on November 3, 2006 at 9:56 am

    zjOkay, I’m the new kid. I just started reading the Mary Russell series. I’ll do Locked Rooms this weekend, and pull even with the class. Was that Lord Peter Wimsey that wandered through A Letter of Mary?

  6. Antigonos on November 3, 2006 at 11:08 am

    I am not familiar with “wadi Estemoa”. Does it have another name, or is it a fictional wadi? If the latter, where was it supposed to be?

    Sarah (Antigonos) in Jerusalem

  7. wendy on November 3, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    While I adore the Mary Russell books, and the Kate Martinelli series, I also really love the character Anne Waverly in “A Darker Place.” Do you have any plans to write another book using that character? Maybe making that stand-alone book into a series? thanks! -Wendy

  8. indylibrarian on November 3, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    My husband listens to audiobooks. I introduced him to Mary Russell in BKA and O Jerusalem and he enjoyed them emmensely. Why are most of the later books on CD (all are on cassette) but not Monstrous Regiment of Women? His car only has a cd player. He can’t go on unless he knows the whole story of their marriage.

  9. Jan on November 3, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Yeah…what Wendy said…and I had forgotten about her…but I liked Anne Waverly also. Would not mind another stand-alone with her as protagonist.

    Oh, Laurie…so many books I want you to write…

  10. Janine on November 3, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    What else is in that trunk?

    Every now and then I read over the objects that haven’t yet shown up in a Russell book, and wonder whether more will appear from the bottom of it. It’s a treat for the imagination.

  11. Elisa on November 3, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    How far off schedule did this summer’s interuption knock you? Has everything returned to a more or less even keel in your household? You and yours are in my thoughts.

  12. Anonymous on November 3, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Regarding books on tape. I bought the MROW and was disappointed to seehow heavily edited it was. Are the other books on tape/cd/mpg player also edited?

  13. Sara on November 3, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    I was wondering how conscious you were when you were writing “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” of the “Pygmalion”-esque quality of the Russell & Holmes pairing?

  14. Anonymous on November 4, 2006 at 2:36 am

    I have read all of your books multiple times but especially the Russell/Holmes series. When will the next in that series (please let there be more on the way!) be written/published?

  15. christine on November 4, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    Maybe you’ve addressed this somewhere earlier in your blog, but when you write, how do you focus your ideas? Do you have a general plot and characters in mind and then fill in here and there until you come up with a shaded and alive story with real people? And what do you do with other ideas that drift in and out of your head that may not be related to what you’re currently working on?

    I too adore your Russell/Holmes books – thank you for giving us these characters!


  16. Anonymous on November 5, 2006 at 3:20 pm


  17. Neighbor in the next valley over on November 5, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Okay if we’re not talking about sex any more; how about religion or politics. I guess my question would be though, how much of Mary’s opinions and insights are yours or are they based upon the comments/thoughs of historical figures of the times.

    For some reason, your description of Touchstone made me think of New York City and what would be more natural than for Mary & Holmes to travel across the continent..hmm.. I’d love to see Mary Russel’s take on early 20th century american race relations from an outsiders perspective be or perhaps a peek at the political machine.

  18. Teresa H.T. on November 6, 2006 at 5:31 am

    Someone else asked about Mary Russell’s name. I recently read Dorothy Sayers’ Nine Tailors for the first time, and wondered if you “borrowed” the name from one of Sayers’ characters. Or is that just a coincidence?

  19. Anonymous on November 7, 2006 at 5:35 am

    oh, goody, Q & A!

    my mind is full of ideas, and they are interesting enough to me, that i can drive 1000 miles without radio, CD, cassette or other entertainment. i think sometimes i would like to become a writer, and sometimes have thoughts of how i would tie a set of ideas together, or an idea of how to start it, and/or characters and situations which might carry the ideas into others’ musings — as i said, plenty of ideas.
    like KM, i am an intensely private person. so much so, that i do not ever keep a journal for long before i dispose of it because of how risky it feels to think someone might read what i wrote, or i might read it later and find it ignorant or stupid, or otherwise unworthy of my high opinion of myself.
    i don’t know if that has anything to do with the fact that when i set about try to write my ideas for a book or article, that i would want someone to read, or speak them into a recorder, it all simply vanishes… more like the time spent in considering what i would write was an experience itself, than something that could actually be crafted into something to share.

    assuming- for the sake of the question- that it is worth sharing, and would be of interest to others, is there anything you can suggest to get beyond this?

    thanks, una

  20. Anonymous on November 7, 2006 at 5:54 pm


    Just wanted to say thanks for Kate! She is absolutely a wonderful character and I hope has opened the minds of many people in regards to sexuality. You may find this article interesting–apparently in reality, she is a rare breed (even for SF):

  21. WDI on November 8, 2006 at 11:47 pm

    Laurie, thank you again for taking the time out of your busy, complicated life to answer our questions. Mine is about how, or if, the narrative style (first person in the Russels, third person elsewhere) of a book affects the writing process. Do you have to go to a different place in your head to write “as” the protagonist than you do when you’re the omniscient narrator? Does that, in turn, change the way the story unfolds for you? Or is it, as Will Shetterly titles his blog, “all one thing”?

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