All Sherlock Holmes, all the time
Iâ€™ve just been writing the answers to a set of interview questions Picador are putting in the back of their new editions of Beekeeperâ€™s Apprentice and Monstrous Regiment of Women next October, along with their suggested Reading Group discussion topics. The questions were actually fairly demanding, as interview questions go, and I had to work at getting them right.
(Which reminds me, if the nice Swedish lady who sent me a postcard about an interview wants to try again, this time make sure the address isnâ€™t in the bottom half inch of the postcard, where it gets obscured by the Post Officeâ€™s machine.)
Where was I? Oh right. Questions like:
7. Mary Russell not only has progressive politics, she also has a sex life. What inspired you to bring this dimension to her character, how have you managed to allow the frisson without offending traditional fans of Holmes?
To which I could only answer:
Mary Russell has a sex life? With whom? Does her mother know about this?
Oh, you mean those steamy scenes where Holmes fiddles with her fingers or brushes her long hair? Surely you know that, when it comes to describing sex, less is more.
Anyway, in the process of doing these interviews, I realized that it had been a while since I did a Holmes blog.
Then I thought, Have I ever done one? I donâ€™t remember if I didâ€”probably I figured that, having posted pieces on the web site about Holmes, about Arthur Conan Doyle, and about my version of the Holmes chronology, I didnâ€™t need to post a blog about the man. To say nothing of the fact that Russell herself is nowblogging, saving me the trouble of speaking for her. Although she seems to be having some reservations about my role of literary agentâ€¦
One question that often comes up is why Iâ€™m forever separating Russell from Holmes in their investigations, since most of the really fun scenes are when the two of them are together. Iâ€™d have thought it was self-evident, that itâ€™s too hard to write the fun scenes so I space them out with a lot of other stuff. What am I, Dave Barry or something?
There are other reasons, of course. With Holmes always looking over her shoulder, Russell would either not get a chance to do the investigations on her own, or else she would turn around and murder him, which might bring Laurie King a momentâ€™s notoriety but might also displease my editor.
Besides, if they were always together, I wouldnâ€™t have had a chance to write Holmes on his own for The Art of Detection, and that would have been a pity.
And before I forget, if youâ€™d like to read that paper I gave to the Baker Street Irregulars back in January, the BSI Journal will be publishing it in June. Domestic subscriptions are $26.50/yr ($29 for foreign addresses), but single copies are a bargain at $7. Orders in US funds can be sent to–
The Baker Street Journal
PO BOX 465
Hanover, PA 17331
Tell â€˜em Laurie sent you.