An end, and a beginning

I received my first copy of Touchstone yesterday, and I have to say, it’s going to be a sad day when book go electronic. I won’t mind academia being crammed into the brains of an e-reader, thus saving the spines of generations of schoolkids, but the tactile pleasure of a new book is a joy no i-device can duplicate. The sleek black cover, inviting a caress—two caresses, the second to wipe away the fingerprints the first touch left. The heft of the thing, heavy with promise where an e-book of a thousand pages has the same solidity as one with a hundred. The flirtation with its contents, opening its covers and seeing the words skip past, back and forth, tantalizing. Closing it and laying it down with a sense of its authority, its reality.

When my author copies come, in a shipping box that holds sixteen or twenty, the book is transformed into a commodity, but for the moment, it’s a treasure.

It came with a note from my editor saying, :Congratulations, it’s a book.

And it came on the day I turned on my laptop and wrote the first 2,493 words of the ninth Mary Russell book, a book with the working title of The Language of Bees.

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  1. Roxanne on December 6, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Congratulations! What a wonderful synopsis of Touchstone.

    And I absolutely *love* the title of the new Mary Russell book. You can’t see, but I am doing a little dance. 2,493 words! Yippeee!

  2. nkk1969 on December 6, 2007 at 9:59 am

    [I turned on my laptop and wrote the first 2,493 words of the ninth Mary Russell book]

    Caitlin will be so glad to hear this. She wants the new Russell for a graduation present. The list will no doubt get longer in the coming year and a half, but so far that’s all she wants. No, wait. She also wants to go to B’Con next year. B’Con and an LRK book–the kid has simple, but excellent taste. 🙂

    BTW, I’m loving TOUCHSTONE. I found the Ah! Moment (the passage you read in any book where a little light come on in your head and you begin to see all the possibilities the story has and start wondering what direction the author will take you this time) earlier on and now I’m reading at a much faster pace.

    Thanks again,


  3. Strawberry Curls on December 6, 2007 at 10:21 am

    “The Language of Bees” perfection!! I’m joining Roxanne in the happy dance and I so agree about the wonder of holding a book, solid and real, in your hand. There is magic in that.

  4. Kay on December 6, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I agree with SC on the perfection of the new title! I’m almost sure I can become fluent in bee language :). There is nothing like holding a book in one’s hands. I admit to being an avid audio book reader, though only because it allows me to read when I couldn’t otherwise. I can’t imagine the same kind of satisfaction with a e-book. How could you read one in the tub???

    Can’t wait until Boxing Day and I, too, am doing a happy dance.

    Thankyou, Laurie.


  5. kitmarlowescot2 on December 6, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Cool, I can’t wait to see Holmes chasing all over the countryside to try and find his bees that have all swarmed. And what, if he named each individual hive.
    Have you had a chance yet to get into someone’s hives ?

  6. vicki on December 6, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Oooh, oooh–I need my real copy of Touchstone! *Jumps up and down* Love my ARC, of course, but it just ain’t the Real Thing. And the first 2500 words of Russell IX? Wheee! Cool working title, btw.

    Nikki, I’d looove to see you and Caitlin at B’con 2008! It is *so* much fun!

  7. Becca Shmeka on December 7, 2007 at 2:09 am

    2,493 words! *Joins in on the dancing*

    Right now I am sitting at my desk in my room, after having a horrible day and this just made it so so much better.

    Thanks :]

    Good luck with the writing.

  8. Carlina on December 7, 2007 at 2:38 am

    I comprehend the e-book bit. I have the same regards about historical research because it’s taking the same route. There is nothing more humbling, than holding a 150 year old+ document in your hand and reading someone else’s writing….looking at how they wrote, where they paused, got emotional, cried, and even smudged their ink or spilled it. You see much of the latter Civil War letters. You can also tell when soldiers were writing hastily on their knees with whatever they could find. Those are true treasures that are now being digitized. You loose that personality each letter holds in person versus being PDF-ed. Alas, I also understand the concept of preservation for the future, but it still pains me to lose that personal connection.

    Congrats on your books! I know you’ve got to be over the moon. Ooo and such lovely tidbits on Russell *moonwalks*. I have several images going through my mind right now. You know there have been several studies on the behavioural ecology of bees and sexual selection vs altruism…etc…in recent years in journals like Sociobiology. All my best to you and your family. Take care.

  9. kuttlewis on December 7, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Hip, hip, hurra on the 2,500.

  10. Teresa on December 7, 2007 at 9:44 am

    I loved what you said about receiving and handling your new book. It is one of lifes SevenWondersoftheWorld pleasures. My first act on taking a book off a shelf is to smell it. Old or new. That is the way into any story for me.

    Now that Touchstone is out, I know where a good chunk of the Ch’mas holidays is going.



  11. Kerry on December 7, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Books really are sensual pleasures, aren’t they? Whether they’re treasured hardbacks saved up for the days when their heft is the perfect finishing touch to a few hours spent curled in a chair (preferably wrapped in a comforter and enjoying a cup of tea) or battered paperbacks tossed into a carry-on to while away airport hours, the physicalness of them is just plain necessary. Having said that, though, I always make sure I have a handful of e-books stashed on my PDA for those rare occasions when I forget to have a book in my tote and find myself stranded somewhere!

    I’m told my ARC just arrived today, and I can’t wait to enjoy it while I wait for the Real Deal to come out!

    Congratulations on starting the new Russel. Just tell me that neither she nor Holmes are going to be running around waggling their rear ends as they point the way to the next clue . . .

  12. Roxanne on December 7, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    “Running around waggling their rear ends?”

    Roxanne scratches her head, mystified.

    Oh. Do you mean the dance that honey bee foragers do to communicate the spatial location of food and other resources to their nestmates? Oh. Okay. Now I get it. (I think.)

  13. Amy on December 7, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Huzzah! Another Russell book. I’ve listened to the copies I have so many times…

    Is there any chance that some of your already published books that are only on cassette tapes will ever be released on cd? I discovered the Russell books on cd, and when I read “A Monstrous Regiment of Women” in book format because it wasn’t out in audio at all, it just didn’t feel right. I have forever associated Jenny Sterlin’s voice with Mary Russell.

  14. admin on December 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Amy,

    Sorry you couldn’t find Monstrous Regiment, it should be available, as far as I know. I don’t know when they’ll re-issue the older books in cd form, or even if–as things are going, they may convert straight to a download format and skip the hard disc entirely. Perhaps with the next Russell?

  15. Heide on December 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Can’t wait for the next instalment of Russell’s memoirs. Meanwhile, over the last few months I’ve re-read Locked Rooms and then The Game and then O Jerusalem and then Beekeeper’s Apprentice — and I was very interested to see how many of the things in the later books were set up? anticipated? in Beekeeper’s Apprentice. If you’re taking questions at this point, I’d be very curious to know how you work in terms of maintaining continuity from book to book, and how much of Russell’s world you had created when you wrote the first book. Thanks for a terrific, smart, and engaging series!

  16. vicki on December 7, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    “Can’t wait for the next instalment of Russell’s memoirs.”

    You can always get some of the lovely new Russell-gear to tide you over until the next volume of memoirs are edited and published. 🙂

  17. KarenB on December 7, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    May I join in the happy dance? *lovely visual of people all over the world skipping with glee* Congratulations on Touchstone – I was enthralled with the ARC and am looking forward to the final hardcover. And a new Russell begun!! Oh frabjous day!

  18. Ellen on December 8, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Looking forward to both books, and also you’re coming to my library on January 12!

  19. LaideeMarjorie on December 9, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I am going to say something illogical, counter-intuitive and contrary. Laurie, please take as much time as you need in writing “The Language of Bees”. It’s not that I am not as eager and excited as everyone else to see the next book in the series published and placed into my hot little hands. It’s just that I would hate for you to feel pressured by all of us into getting it done on some tight schedule and, perhaps, sacrificing quality in the bargain. I still feel so fortunate in having found you and Mary Russeel just this year so that I could immerse myself in the first eight books at once and not have to wait for each of them to be published over a stretch of years. But now that the next one requires my patience, I can be as patient for as long as it takes you, as long as you create another literary masterpiece for us all. Thanks. You have given me a great gift and I am grateful.

  20. tangential1 on December 10, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I had very mixed feelings about e-books when I first learned of them, but after much thought, e-books seem like the literary equivalent of digital music files and MP3 players. It is so nice to be able to carry my entire music library with me wherever I go; I like being able to pull up a particular artist or album or song whenever a craving strikes. However, I still love going to my local music store and browsing through all the titles and covers and I love opening up a new album and looking through the carefully assembled images that go into the cover booklet. E-books are the same, really; it would be so handy to be able to carry my entire library with me on a trip, when the two or three books that I’ve carefully picked out just aren’t cutting it and I want desperately to read something I didn’t bring. But I would still want to have my bookshelves. I would still want to wander through the bookstore and look at all the covers to find something new. As you said, Laurie, that tangibility of books just can’t be duplicated, but I’m starting to like the idea of the digital platform as a compliment, rather than a replacement, to the Real Thing.=)

  21. Pat Mathews on December 12, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    I love Touchstone so far.

    I think I’ve spotted a typo. Page 22, first page of Chapter 3, “…but held found a bank down the street….”

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