The King lecture

Once upon a time there was a man born in India, educated in England, working in Africa, who was hired by a visiting American to help set up a new college and program at the newest jewel in the crown that is the University of California.

When Noel King came to Santa Cruz, most of the UCSC colleges were little more than architectural plans. It was the era of Flower Power, teach-ins, and self-actualization. Life Magazine came to record this peculiar manifestation of the taxpayer’s dollars for the wonder of readers in Dubuque and Amarillo, and included this wild-haired professor on the page.Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.23.47 AM

Noel taught undergraduates religion and history until he retired in the early 90s. When he died in 2009, his family—both blood and his university kin—began a series of Noel King lectures with a goal of maintaining the presence of religious studies on campus. The third such was particularly great, a panel of women crime writers talking about how they use religion in their work (slightly ironic, considering how fiction baffled Noel!)—the video of it is on my YouTube channel, here.

This year’s NQK Memorial Lecture will take place at 7:00 Thursday night at Merrill College, UCSC, the college Noel and his first wife helped to found. The topic is as dear to his heart as the venue: African Art and Religion, with Professor Elisabeth Cameron talking about how an artifact speaks of the religious truths of a people.

Come and join Noel’s wide-spread family in celebrating his life of ideas.NQKLecture

Me & Edgar & Agatha & friends

That shriek that rattled the country just before 10:00 pm EST was me reacting to the sound of my name from the podium at the Agatha Awards: Malice Domestic’s choice of Best Historical Mystery is Dreaming Spies, by Laurie R. King!


I was nominated for an Agatha once before (for The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, in 1995) and the convention chose me as their Guest of Honor three years ago, but the award teapot (this convention, after all, focuses on the Traditional Mystery) eluded me until now.

Best of all, I got to sit at a table with the awards of three other friends on it: one each for my friends Barbara Peters and Rob Rosenwald, joint recipients of the Poirot award (for which I got to conduct the conference interview, which ranged over subjects from the state of modern publishing to whether or not they had the requisite RomCom “meet cute”–which, it turns out, they did, over accusations of cheating at cards)LRK, Barbara, Rob

…and also on the table was Margaret Maron’s Agatha for Contemporary Mystery (for the gorgeous 20th and—alas!—final Deborah Knott story, Long Upon the Land.) Here are three of the four of us winners:


In general, Malice Domestic is a really fun conference, casual and filled with dedicated book-lovers. I was pleased this year to hear that Good Friends Alice W. (who took a couple of these pictures) and Merrily T. would be going,LRK, Alice, Merrily

along with more-or-less locals like Bill M. and eminent Sherlockians Peter Blau and his wife Bev Wolov (a Smithsonian lace expert!)

My trip to DC came on the heels of a quick 36 hours in New York, during which I fit in dinner with friends, meetings with Picador (who do the stunning paperbacks of the early books) and Random House’s enthusiastic Team LRK, and the Edgars Awards banquet of the Mystery Writers of America. There I had the honor of giving the Ellery Queen Award (for work in the mystery-publishing field) to my friend Janet Rudolph, whose passion for Crime is exceeded only by the joy she takes in fine chocolates.  I introduced her by saying:

It’s not often a person is given the chance to speak for an entire community.  I am so pleased to be the one to stand up here and say, Janet, we love you. We honor and respect you. We stand amazed at your unflagging energy, your unfailing good will and optimism, and your endless creativity in celebrating the genre.

We, the world’s scribblers, give you our thanks, our affection, our Ellery Queen Award–and, more to the point, our chocolate.

Janet Rudolph.

And then handed her the MWA statue, along with a box of chocolate truffles.

The Edgars banquet also involves, of course, drinks in the bar before and after with friends like SJ Rozan and Dan Stashower and Laura Caldwell and—well, it wouldn’t be a black tie party without Les Klinger.IMG_1365

You can read about MWA’s 2016 awards, here.

And think about joining us for the fun, in New Orleans or Honolulu!

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Today (or yes, maybe Tuesday…) is the birthday for the man who changed the English language, William Shakespeare.  There’s a fascinating article over on the New York Post about the near-disappearance of all that genius (thanks to The Passive Guy for the link), where only the determination (and financial commitment) of two friends led to the publication of the Folios.

By the 1620s, his plays were no longer being performed in theaters. On the day he died, no one — not even Shakespeare himself — believed that his works would last, that he was a genius or that future generations would hail his writings.

He hadn’t even published his plays — during his lifetime they were considered ephemeral amusements, not serious literature. Half of them had never been published in any form and the rest had appeared only in unauthorized, pirated versions that corrupted his original language.

Sobering, especially for those of us publishing in the digital era, electronics being the very definition of ephemera…

And speaking of The Bard of Avon, many of us in Santa Cruz were saddened when our longtime annual event, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, lost its support and its home at UCSC. And perhaps even more of us were heartened when news came that a new venue had been found, with a new name: Santa Cruz Shakespeare.Build-the-Grove-Header-Image-Hastag

They’re building a new home, deep inside De La Veaga Park, which is only a couple of miles from my front door!  Suitably enough, the first season will be blessed with Midsummer Night’s Dream (always best in an out-of-doors venue) as well as Hamlet and Virginia Woolf’s gender-bending Orlando.

My friend Lisa Jensen (author of the fantastic Alias Hook) has a fuller blog post about the building process, here.  And Santa Cruz Shakespeare will keep us up on their progress here.  Send them a donation, if you’re interested in keeping The Bard in Surf City.

See you in the forest of Athens, with Puck and the wedding-goers…

Laurie, talking, in her study, on Easter

So: Sunday is coming.  Now, I know you may have a few things during the day to keep you occupied, particularly those of you with small children in the family…20110423_Easter_eggs_(3)

but by the evening, you may be looking for other entertainments.  Maybe something that doesn’t require you to eat.  How about coming to sit down in my study for a nice chat?Print

Well, sure, I’ll be the one in my study, and I’ll be doing most of the talking–but some of it will be about The Murder of Mary Russell (though no spoilers!) and you’ll have a chance to ask me questions. Which I’ll answer.  Carefully, if the question is about the book.  Or relatively freely, if it isn’t.

Put me on your calendar: Sunday night, 5:30 Pacific, 8:30 Eastern time.  And although the Pixel Project is going to put this onto YouTube for future watching, I’m really hoping SOMEONE is tuned in to me on Sunday, so I’m not asking myself questions. It’s a Google hangout, and it’s here.

And if you’re eating chocolate during our conversation, I promise not to tell.

Against violence

I’m involved with a fundraiser and program to help stop violence against women.

First, there’s a Russell Basket.uguxltcadxbmpwejuzxe

This includes a signed hardback of The Murder of Mary Russell, a copy of Dreaming Spies, and one of the gorgeous big Dreaming Haiku posters, all in a handsome Random House book bag.  They’re requesting a $75 donation, and it’s not a raffle or drawing, it’s first come first gone, and there are only ten: for details, go here.

Second, I’ll be doing a Google Hangout on Sunday night.event_theme

That’s right, you can watch and chat while I visit you in the comfort of your own home (no, you don’t need to tidy up first, or even get out of your pyjamas.)  There’s various instructions, but if I can handle it, I’m sure you can.  That’s Sunday night, 8:30 Eastern Time, and we can all sit around with our Easter baskets and compare who got the best chocolate eggs.  For details, click here.

Boucher’s Con

As you probably know, every year the Crime World [Fictional Division] gathers to discuss pretty much everything to do with crime & mystery books: from character development to social media, e-books to Hollywood. The conference is named after the editor/reviewer/writer Anthony Boucher2454

and this was Bouchercon’s 46th year. We met in Raleigh, and the fun began.

Eager audience in the Sherlock Holmes panel.

Eager audience in the Sherlock Holmes panel.

Mutual selfies with Lisa Unger in the "Jumping the Shark" panel.

Mutual selfies with Lisa Unger in the “Jumping the Shark” panel.


The Sisters in Crime breakfast with Margaret Maron (Lifetime Achievement award) and S. J. Rozan (back from Mongolia.)

The Sisters in Crime breakfast with Margaret Maron (Lifetime Achievement award) and S. J. Rozan (back from Mongolia.)

Of course, the funnest part is if you get to win something.

Laurie & Les, Anthony Award for Best Anthology

Laurie & Les, Anthony Award for Best Anthology

Like an Anthony.

Editing a collection: resting on the laurels of other peoples' work.

Editing a collection: resting on the laurels of other peoples’ work.

Next year it’s going to be in New Orleans. That’s right, NEW ORLEANS. And just look at this guest list:

American Guest of Honor: Harlan Coben

International Rising Star Guest of Honor: Craig Robertson

Bouchercon Kids Guest of Honor: R. L. Stone

Local Legend: Julie Smith

Lifetime Achievement: David Morrell

Fan Guests of Honor: Jon & Ruth Jordan

Toastmasters: Harley Jane Kozak & Alex Sokoloff

Sign up now, and get yourself a hotel room, because it’s going to be a blast.

See you there!

Kepler’s & Crime

The marvelous Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park has an upcoming:

Afternoon of Chaos, Killing, Crime, & Kidnapping @ Kepler’s

Now, that may sound somewhat exhausting, but if you’re a fan of crime fiction, and you’re interested in how we writers do our thing, come and listen to 1) Plotters vs Pantsers, 2) It’s Not Me, Babe (writing a character different from you), and 3) a trivia quiz.

There’s a nominal charge, since this kind of thing costs the bookstore, but Kepler’s is one of the great Indie booksellers, and support like this for the Mystery community is a joy. Come and join Paul Draker, Steve Hockensmith, Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Janet Rudolph, David Corbett, Seth Harwood, Terry Shames, Keith Raffel, and me, for an afternoon of Chaos, Crime and…well, all the rest.mystery day image-SMALL_0Check it out, here.


Book fest!

There’s a new Fest in town: the Bay Area Book Festival (first annual?) blows into Berkeley this weekend, and I’ll be there on Saturday, to chat about, well, books.  And writing and crime and stuff.  So if you’re in the Bay Area, come and play!map

Kids stuff, adult things, Grateful Dead and John Scalzi (no, not together) and Catriona McPherson, Kalli Stanley, Diana Chambers and me, talking about How to Get Away with Murder.  The schedule’s right  here.

Shipshape & Bristol fashion

Crime Fest is an annual conference held in Bristol, England.CrimeFest+Logo

This Con has been running for eight years now, although it actually started a couple of years earlier, in 2006, when the indefatigable Adrian Muller had the idea of running a Left Coast Crime on the left coast of, well, England.

This year’s guests included one of the true queens of crime, Maj Sjöwall, who with her husband Per Wahloo changed the face of crime during the decade that started in 1965.  Their series of ten linked novels, beginning with Roseanna, reads as fresh today as when it was published, with gritty reality mingled with three dimensional characters and deliciously dark humor.

And to have her interviewed by Lee Child was a meeting of the generations.Maj_Sjowall_lee_childOf course, one great thing about Crime Fest is that it is in Bristol, a great place to explore not just this side of Britain, but the mind of one of its builders, Isembard Kingdom Brunel.  One can follow the projects of this extraordinary Victorian around the country, from the Clifton bridge to the Thames tunnel.  Ah, if only he’d lived a bit later, and I could introduce him to Mary Russell…




England events

One an interesting difference between the UK and the US, from a writer’s point of view, is that bookshops in the UK look upon events with mistrust, and the offer of a passing writer to sign their books on their shelves receives a look of befuddlement.  “Why,” these good people clearly wonder, “would readers want you to scribble in their books?”

Hence, my lack of a full calendar during these weeks of research and visit.  If you wish to catch sight of LRK in her British perambulation, you have your choice between attending this weekend’s Crime Fest in Bristol, or making your way to Cambridge on the evening of the 28th and joining us at Heffers/Blackwell’s.  Strictly speaking, this is a limited event, but if you phone to 01223 463200 and let them know you’ll be attending, they’ll happily add you to the list.

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And in June, I migrate home again in time for the brand new Bay Area Book Fest, in Berkeley, June 6.  This one should be great fun!