So Thrilling, it’s Criminal

Crime and Thriller Writing is the how-to book I wrote with Michelle Spring. If you’d like to win a copy, joining the fanfic “Letters of Mary” will put your name in the hat–see below.Crime-and-Thriller-WritingCrime-and-Thriller-Writing9781472523938_p0_v1_s300x

It’s a collection of reflections followed by step-by-step recommendations on how, what, and why to write.  Michelle, unlike me (I am definitely an Organic Writer), is an Organized Writer down to her bones, but both of us agreed that we needed to include a series of essays from a bunch of other crime & thriller writers.  Twenty-six of them, to be precise, names that appear regularly on bestseller and awards lists across the globe.

Like Laura Lippman. Laura has won pretty much everything there is to win, she hits the charts every time, she has a long string of superb books behind her–and like every one of us, old-timer or newbie, Laura writes by putting down one word at a time.  Why does she do it?  Because it’s a life that lets her make things up.  Here, let Laura introduce her own piece:


… it seems to me that a lot of writers have lost faith in their imaginations. They talk about their research. They confess which moving passages have been lifted, virtually intact, from their own lives. Both are fine, good, even. But whatever happened to making stuff up? That’s what I heard Donald Westlake say early in my writing life. ‘I became a writer so I could make things up.’ Bingo!

The problem, I think, is that we believe imagination is magical and therefore not something we can control. You can’t will yourself to have an idea, can you? Well … actually, you can.

Crime and Thriller Writing, by Michelle Spring and Laurie R. King, in paperback (signed by at least half of the two authors, if you like, at Bookshop Santa Cruz) or from Barnes & Noble/Nook, or from Amazon/Kindle.

Twenty-eight experts for the price of one.


Happy birthday, Letters of Mary!

If you’d like to exercise your writing skills in the company of amiable, talented, and like-minded Friends of Mary Russell, you might look at joining the group Letters of Mary, here.  This is strictly a fan group–I am not involved with it, although I am friends with many of the members.  To celebrate the eighth anniversary of this vibrant community, they are doing a giveaway of ten copies of Crime & Thriller Writing during the month of September. Drop in, take a look, and tell ’em Laurie said hi!


  1. Merrily Taylor on September 6, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Yes, we at LOM are a friendly group, and in addition to coming up with scenarios for those mysteries that Laurie left us in Kanon (where did Holmes go when he deserted Russell in the bolt hole? what happened between that epic kiss on the dock, and the wedding? what went on in the time between the end of BEEK and MREG?), we also enjoy discussing many things relevant to Holmes and Russell, or barely tangential (there is a surprising overlap between fans of Holmes and Russell, Doctor Who, and Star Trek!). We’d love you to join us, and if you ever had the slightest desire to write about Holmes and Russell yourself, we are the place to be – even if you’ve never tried your hand at fiction before.
    And we thank Laurie most sincerely for her support and indulgence!

  2. Colette on September 6, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Due to the fact that Startrek and Dr. Who are both fabulous, though, Russell and Holmes tops them both, consider me party of the party!

    • Alice Wright on September 6, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Come join us at LOM, you would be surprised how we manage to start discussing one thing and wind our way around to Russell and Holmes. It happens time and again.

      I’ve met such lovely people in all these fandoms, and continue to be impressed by how intelligent, articulate and friendly they all are..

      Thanks for your support, Laurie. As co-moderators, Merrily and I really appreciate it.


  3. Meredith Taylor on September 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Ta Dah for Letters of Mary! and Laurie and Michelle’s book on Crime and Thriller Writing is jolly good. Come join!

  4. Beth McMinn on September 6, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    How marvelous to discover a community of Russell-Holmes followers! I look forward to our future adventures.

  5. Sabrina Flynn on September 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Letters of Mary is such a fun community of fellow Mary Russell fans, and a great place to get into all kinds of fandom discussions!

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