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 says:


  2. 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 says:

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


  4. Carolyn Wade says:

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

  5. Laurie King says:

    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!)

    • 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..

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

  7. 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. 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. oops, Touchstone not Testimony. My apologies. CJ

  10. 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. Laurie,
    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. 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. 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 says:

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

    • Laurie King says:

      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 says:

    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.

  17. Kathlynn says:

    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 says:

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

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