Califia’s Daughters, by “Leigh Richards”

Each Tuesday during our Twenty Weeks of Buzz, I’m posting about a different one of my twenty books, with remarks, reflections, and snippets of information about writing it. I’ll be discussing Califia’s Daughters this week, which was published as Leigh Richards in 2004.

A lot of crime writers start out in the science fiction realm. I was one, although my venture into SciFi didn’t make it into print until I was well established as a mystery writer.

I started writing this, my first novel, in the summer of 1984, when I had just finished my MA in theology and took my kids (ages 1 and 4) and my mother to England for a few weeks. While the kids were sleeping, I sat and wrote—about a young woman with interesting gifts, and dogs instead of children.

I wrote about half the novel before realizing that I didn’t know how to finish it, then life got busy and I left it on the shelf for quite a while. Three years later, when the one year old was four and in preschool a few days a week, I started writing again, only this one (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) set me on the path of being a mystery writer.

I never quite put away my first book, however. I loved the characters and enjoyed the setting, and although in the meantime PD James had written an alarmingly similar novel (even the name was startlingly close: hers Children of Men, mine originally called Daughters of Men.) I finished it along the way, and eventually Random House agreed to publish it, as a paperback original and under a pseudonym, lest “my” readers expect to find a mystery.

Dogs play a central role in the novel, although I’m not much of a dog person (not even much of a cat person, at the moment..) But the canine presence was born during that trip to the UK, when we went to visit family near Dublin and visited a friend of theirs who raised Irish Wolfhounds. And the following spring, she shipped us a puppy, a black Wolfhound who lived with us for eight short years and dominated our lives in ways only a 110 pound, four-legged Irish lass can do.

I’ve been rather spoiled for dogs ever since; most other canines seem a weak imitation.


  1. RussellHolmes on April 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm


  2. Anna Elliott on April 7, 2010 at 7:38 am

    What a great story. I love that you never gave up on a book you were passionate about. And sometime you could maybe write a separate blog post about how you convinced your 1 and 4 year old to sleep AT THE SAME TIME so that you could write? 😉 My two (7 mos. and 3 years) are definitely challenging my time-management skills with their totally separate schedules!

  3. Bill Edwards on April 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Remembered with pleasure and recently reread! Have you thought of continuing the story?


  4. Carolyn Wade on April 8, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve been waiting for another book in the Califia universe for years! Any chance you’ll return?

  5. Laurie King on April 10, 2010 at 1:35 am

    I’ve long considered Califia’s Daughters the middle in a trilogy. I have the beginning of the first volume, and sort of know where I’m going with the third, but until they invent a 36 hour day, I’m tied to what I can do now. But yes, some day…

    (And Anna–one of the reasons this book went so long unwritten was that I started it when the kids were so small. It wasn’t until they were in school and pre-school that I could actually write a whole book!)

    • Cathy on October 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Found a copy at a good will store-didn’t recognize the author. but thought I might like it. Surprised at how well written this book I’d never heard of was hoped there were more. Imagine my bemusement when I turned the last page to read about the author. I Will look forward to the trilogy’s completion..

    • Cindy on May 7, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      I’ve bought the book a number of times. I love giving it to strong women & they’ve all loved it. I would be so excited about a trilogy!

  6. Sue Lester on June 21, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    More please. Thomas has to get home. In the end, he has to kill the captain.

  7. Nancy on November 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I loved this book and found this page during a search for your books. I was so disappointed after reading this to find that there were no more as it has the makings of a series. I’m heartened to hear that there may be possibly in the future.
    I also love mysteries so I will check on your other offerings but I’ll keep a diligent eye on any new books in the Califa series.

  8. Cora Jane on December 10, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Am also waiting for this intriguing adventure to be continued (as are my dogs). I hope there will be a sequel to Testimony as well. Perhaps a 48 hour day?

  9. Cora Jane on December 10, 2010 at 11:24 am

    oops, Touchstone not Testimony. My apologies. CJ

  10. Donna on August 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Was pleased to see you have a new Mary Richards novel out. But in all truthfulness, your stand alone novels like Folly are much more to my liking. Especially loved Califia’s Daughters. Have waited a long time for a sequel and will continue to do so!

  11. Natalie on August 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I so love all of your books. I eagerly await each Mary Richards book. This Califia’s Daughters was wonderful, and I look forward to another. Thanks so much for writing good stories.

  12. Rebecca on November 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Add me to the list of people who are hoping you revisit this “universe” one day. I love post-plague fiction, and the dogs just clinched it for me!

  13. Diana on November 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I ran across this book in audio format and LOVED it. I read both sci fi/fantasy and mysteries so when I went looking for more of the same, I was surprised to see who was behind “Leigh Richards”. I desperately hope you go back to this world and write more. I was pleased by the posts above, but I know that the 36 hr day just isn’t possible at this point, so I hope something happens to allow you to go back to this world. I would happily re-read the book if I knew that a sequel or pre-quel was coming. thanks so much for this book. I also recently finished the “Homecoming” series by Orson Scott Card, which is a similar sort of idea. It was excellent also. (Just put that in for any readers who are looking for similar)
    Good Luck with your future writing!

  14. Pat Erickson on July 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I just took a trip to visit some National Parks and listened to Califia’s Daughters along the way. Fell in love with the characters. Wish you would write the sequel. It really needs to be written.

  15. Karen on April 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I just finished Califias Daughters. I loved the book, but was wondering if you had ideas of a follow-up book.

    • Laurie King on April 5, 2014 at 6:18 am

      I’d love to follow up on the world of Califia’s Daughters–one year I may get the time to do it!

  16. Chuck Radlo on July 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Just finished Califia and frankly can’t wait for a sequel or a prequel.

    I loved Dian and the rest of the principals, both human and canine. Intrigued by the hints you left about Dian’s empathic connections to her dogs and the wonderful epilog with Tomas heading home. I have read almost all of your other novels, both the contemporaries and the Russell/Holmesian works. I will continue to look forward to each new book as they emerge from your creative and meticulous mind. I guess I am a devoted fan. But please, Miss King, find or make time to craft another novel set in Dian’s world. Soon, please. I am 71 years old and in good health, but one never knows.

    • Laurie King on July 15, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Oh, I would love to write another Dian adventure, but I’m afraid it won’t be for a while. Here’s wishing a long life for us both!

      • Barbara Lamar on October 26, 2014 at 7:03 pm

        I’m with you, Chuck Radio. I hope I live long enough to read another Calilfia book!

  17. Kathlynn on May 5, 2016 at 3:53 am

    I love Califia’s Daughters I first read it in high school, but (as frequently happens) I didn’t write down the title or author. Didn’t do too much rereading at the time, spend the next decade looking for it (found it in 2008, but forgot to write it down again), Now I have it in audio and paperback. Still love it as much or more then I did originally. But the ending is very nail biting. Hope you eventually get to write a sequel, short story or full length book.

    • Laurie King on May 5, 2016 at 6:25 am

      I’ve always envisioned this as the middle in a trilogy, so yes, I hope to write the others…some day!

  18. Lisa Anderson on July 20, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I loved Califia’s Daughters! My aunt bought at resale book shop and passed along to me. I was looking for the sequel, the story was so good. Hope you write them soon!

    • Laurie King on July 20, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      I do have a prequel and sequel in mind, who knows when…

      But I’m glad you enjoyed the one that has made it out into the world.


      • Laurie on June 1, 2020 at 12:03 am

        Please write another book or books coninuing Califia’s Daughters. If you can’t do both prequel and sequel, perhaps flashbacks? 😉
        Also, like so many other fans, I really want to see Tomas make it home!
        I have read all your books and love them — thanks so much for countless hours of good reading.

        • Laurie King on June 9, 2020 at 1:34 pm

          Some day, some day….
          Thanks, and keep well.

  19. Dolores on January 8, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I am adding to the list of all the readers of your novel Califia’s Daughters who have requested you write a sequel. Do you think it is possible?

    • Laurie King on January 8, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      I’d love to, some time. Not for some years, though….

  20. Miki on February 15, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    I love Califia’s Daughters. I’ve read it at least 6 times and have recommended it to so many of my friends and family! I grew up in the Bay Area and now I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains (SLV) so its fun imagining where exactly Dian might be on her travels. Every time I read the book it makes me happy, and I can’t wait until my daughters are old enough to read it too!

    • Laurie King on February 16, 2020 at 6:39 pm

      Some day, if I live long enough, I’ll write the other two books in that imagined trilogy…

      • Miki on February 17, 2020 at 5:15 pm

        That would be amazing and I’d buy them in a heartbeat! (I’m curious about the political climate of the rest of the continent.) But honestly this book is like a comfortable old friend now, totally enjoyable as a stand-alone. Thank you for writing it!

  21. Adrienne on October 4, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    Please please add to Califas daughters! The world needs stronger women in their books! I’m tired of the idiot simpering girls. I hardly ever seem to find women in books that I can relate to. I keep looking but can’t find an equal to this book! Is now finally the time?!

    • Laurie King on October 4, 2023 at 7:44 pm

      I do wish I could make the time to finish this planned trilogy–although there are some good strong women in other sci fi, and mysteries as well.
      Genre fiction rules!
      Laurie King

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