Marriage before Murder
“The Marriage of Mary Russell” started, as many of my more interesting projects seem to, with a conversation with my editor. Was there by any chance, she asked, a short story I’d like to write? One that Random House could use as an e-short, during the build-up to The Murder of Mary Russell, to tease new readers into Russell’s world?
Now, I find short stories a whole lot of work. They don’t take as long as a novel, obviously, but the creation of a world takes energy, whether that world lasts for 50 pages or 450. So if it had just been a matter of providing my publisher with sales fodder, the answer would have been thanks, but no.
However. A short story is also a way to tell small tales, or to explore gaps left by novels, or simply to play with ideas. A story about a particular time in the life of my protagonists interested me. So I said yes.
This business of attracting new readers becomes a growing problem, the longer a series goes. I mean, I love all you guys. Your enthusiasm boosts my spirits on even the bleakest days, and you’re really good about telling your friends HEY THIS IS A GREAT BOOK YOU HAVE TO READ IT RIGHT NOW! However, word of mouth is only one of the ways books get around, and publishing only works if a person keeps growing her readership. So I told my editor I’d be happy to write them a new story to dangle in front of peoples’ noses and infect them with the Russell contagion—er, bring them into Russell’s world, because I knew this story would make you guys happy as well.
During the fall, as I was working on the novel, I was aware of this story simmering away in the back of my head. Unlike some stories, where I can go wherever I want to, this one had certain things it needed to do:
- Because The Murder of Mary Russell has a lot about Mrs Hudson in it, I wanted this short story to involve her as well—with a gentle hint of the lady’s unexpected depths.
- Because this series forms Russell’s memoirs (until she, um, dies) the story had to capture her voice: wit, snark, dry humo(u)r, ornate vocabulary, and a suspicion of double entendre in some of her most matter-of-fact statements (“Did she just say…?”)
- Because more people know Sherlock Holmes than know Mary Russell (I know, hard to believe, right?) the Holmes in this story needed to be spot-on, despite the completely foreign idea of that gentleman and…marriage.
- Humor. And humour. Because why read Laurie King if she doesn’t make you snort, or at least chuckle?
- For devoted fans of Russell & Holmes, stories like this offer me a chance to fill in a few of the gaps left by novels. And really, who doesn’t want to know about the wedding?
- Finally, it’s about a marriage. So although there’s no more overt [(S*X)] here than any of the other memoirs, the reader needs to be aware—needs to see Russell being aware—that marriage, even to a thinking machine, just might have a physical side to it.
I say no more.
Other than: with all these requirements, I am happy with the story. In fact, my feeling is: Nailed it!
At first it’ll only be an e-book, although later in the year it might appear in print.
And maybe you’ll even tell your friends they HAVE TO READ IT, too….