Dec Q&A (2)

Q, Liz asks, on behalf of several people: The Martinelli novels explore queer themes and issues in a highly textual way, but similar themes arise in the Russell novels, not just through the obvious presence of lesbians, but in the subtext. Is this intentional, or merely fortuitous?

(We’ve found it highly rewarding to apply queer theory to the Russell books. Hours of fun. Thanks!)

A: Queer themes and issues, huh? I’m not sure what you mean by this, although certainly, you can catch glimpses of gay men and lesbians in most of my books, some central, others in the background. Russell may move through a society made largely of white people, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely monochromatic—regional differences and varying sexual orientation are two ways of showing the texture of a society. And if, as research suggests, ten percent of human bodies are born wired to respond to their own gender, that’s a thing that should be reflected in fiction as well.

Q: Edna asks, Have you read the work of Mary Renault? If so, what do you think of her mid-career switch from plain fiction to historical fiction? As a writer of both, what do you see as the advantages/disadvantages?

A: I am a writer of genre fiction, mostly crime with one venture into fantasy. Within the crime genre, police procedurals and historical mysteries are two, as it were, neighborhoods I spend time in. But mainstream fiction? I suppose FOLLY comes closest, but even that is a suspense
novel.

That’s the problem with classifying fiction, isn’t it? Relatively few books slot neatly into the divisions.

Q: Recent comments:“I’m a lesbian mom raising a young daughter with my partner in the midwest, and was salivating to hear about Kate & Lee’s life in SF as parents. Unfortunately, I really didn’t feel like I got it”; “It appear[ed] that you didn’t really want to write a Martinelli and could only do it if you could also bring in Holmes. I did enjoy it but I think the reading audience of Martinelli books may be different to those who love the Mary Russell novels and possibly you are diluting each novel for the reader”; “No Russell till ’09? Have mercy, Laurie, I’m an old lady after all!”; “What will be necessary to put on the table to negotiate (reads bribery) to put a sequel to CALIFIA’S DAUGHTERS sort of up the line?”; etc.

A: To my amusement, I find that my Cunning Plan of varying my books from the beginning, and thereby establishing myself as a crime writer and not just a writer of series X or Y, has not been entirely successful. Clearly, a series is a black hole, and the longer the series, the weightier its pull on the affections of readers.

But what happens when there are two black holes in the universe? Does the one begin to pull at the other (ie, Russell beginning to pull in Kate Martinelli’s world?) Does the bigger one swallow up all the energy in an author’s universe, leaving the occasional blip of a standalone to escape its pull?

I’m sorry there wasn’t enough Kate in ART OF DETECTION. I’m sorry there wasn’t any Russell at all in it; sorry, too, that CALIFIA’S DAUGHTERS (paperback original, pseudonymous) hasn’t brought in enough to pay my car insurance, much less my mortgage, and so will only find a sequel when I’m free of economic considerations. And I’m sorry you won’t find Kate, Mary Russell, or Dian’s ancestors in TOUCHSTONE.

Some writers find enough freedom within a series that they don’t need to break away from it. Others of us chafe just a little, and remind ourselves that when readers care enough to want more, it’s a sign we’ve done something right.

If only I could give up sleep, I might manage a more efficient writing schedule…

Comments

  1. Hey–get some sleep. Just last night I was thinking how much I would love to revisit the world of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice again … I figure, when you put out a new book, then you do. And I will be waiting with bated breath.

    I guess you can’t please all of the people all of the time, huh? Personally, I loved The Art of Detection. But then, I love the Russell books. I hope you don’t (soon) tire of writing the ‘series.’ While awaiting your next contribution, I will bide my time by reading everything I can find in your canon, then rereading everything again.

    Myself, I prefer quality to quantity. Write your books to please yourself (and to pay your bills, of course). Until reading your blog, I never really thought of writing as a career or books as a business. So, as an author, one is caught between trying to write one’s best and meeting publishers’ deadlines. Doesn’t (always) sound like a comfortable place …

    Anyway, I hope that you get some rest, that you find time to spend with your family, and that you enjoy the holiday season. My thanks to you again for the gifts you have already granted us (your readers).

    Oh–and Happy Holidays also to all who read your post and submit comments. Though I have never met any of you, you feel like friends.

    Shalom, Roxanne

  2. KLCtheBookWorm says:

    I loved The Art of Detection too and now have your Martinelli series on my have-to-buy list, having just been obsessed with your Russell series before. Though my reading experience had some humorous moments, namely my boyfriend’s reactions to my statements such as: “ARGH! They found Russell’s SF house and didn’t tell me who’s living in it now!”

    One of these I’m going to give him something so cryptic he’ll have to read the series, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  3. I just listened to the audio version of Beekeepper. Well Done. the reader could improve the range of her voices but still the book carried the performance.

  4. Regarding The Art of Dectection, this dyke is very keen on the cross-series mashup. Some lesbians like Holmes too, having read about him since age 12 (and Russell even more, *ahem*).

    While I enjoy the Martinelli books, I don’t like them quite as much as the Russell ones, simply because police procedurals aren’t wildly exciting for me. Also, I’m afraid to say I find Lee bloody irritating, and she would drive me mad if I knew her in RL. Mark of a good characterisation, I suppose. 🙂

    One thing I like about Laurie’s writing is the way in which she populates her novels with people I recognise, and many I don’t. It all works, and without having to make a Statement (although Statements are indeed made at suitable intervals).

  5. Thank you, Laurie, for your interesting answers/comments on my Martinelli posting. I wasn’t trying to be awkward – I’m just a Martinelli fan. I’m not a great Russell/Holmes reader but my partner is. You can’t please all the people all the time. Just keep writing but take some rest too. All good wishes to you and your family over the festive season.

  6. Please, stop with the apologies! There is no such thing as pleasing all of the people all of the time, even your adoring fans. Write what you can, when you can. I, for one, am happy to read anything that sprouts from your remarkable brain. Enjoy the holidays, take a deep breath and write when you get a chance.

  7. L. Crampton, LAc says:

    Laurie, kind as you are to indulge us in not only putting your blog out for us to read but ALSO taking the time and kindness to respond to our thoughts and questions here, please shake off the sheer bloody-mindedness of us in (as we humans do) pursuing our own interests and agendas in demands towards your writing. If I gave you a list of what I want and don’t want in a future novel, it would never be Laurie R. King’s remarkable work! I’m hugely grateful that you wrote Beek.App. exactly the way you did, and for exactly the reasons you did, whatever those were, and I trust you’ll write from your own well of inspiration, at your own pace, for a long time to come.
    Meanwhile, I echo Roxanne: merry, joyous days to you all!

  8. I must admit that I, too, have missed Kate and wanted very much to spend more time with her in TAoD. But I loved the book nonetheless; it was just a matter of emptying my cup and enjoying what you wrote rather than focusing on what I wanted you to write.

    (Now, there’s an interesting fantasy: a favorite author writing books to order whenever I want them — that could be fun!)

    Anyway, I’m hanging out with Rae for a while and will probably visit Alan next while eagerly awaiting the next opus. And if this new recipe for potato soup pans out, I’ll try to share it as well! Happy holidays to all . . .

  9. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous, there is a wonderful BBC radio adaptation for BEEK done by Sean Prendergast in 2000. I don’t know if it is available anywhere, but it would be well worth looking for. Perhaps Miss King would know where to look?

    Carisa

  10. Well, Its no much, but I did like CALIFIA’S DAUGHTERS very much, and its no my kind of reading, I’m a Russell fan, maybe it was the dogs, but then I think that if you suddenly decide to write a Chemistry school text I will read it too, and worse I will probably like it also, and I do hate Chemistry….

    Uhh, I got that BBC thing, somewhere. Someone was nice enough to put it for download for the Russ-L a while ago…. if someone wants it we can think of something.

  11. I have to agree with the others who have suggested you stop apologising! If you ever come up with a way to please everyone, please let me know — I could use some of that. I’ve been a Russell fan since the beginning and have just made my delightful way through the Martinellis (almost done with A of D) and I have to thank you for writing at all. Don’t feel apologetic about writng what you want — your passion and enjoyment shows through and all your readers benefit from it.
    Happy Christmas,
    Elizabeth

  12. While I eagerly await your next book (any – I love them all) & one of the things I love about them is that I never get tired of re-reading them. I read well over 300 books a year – and keep a dozen a most for my permanent collection. All of your books make the cut.

  13. I was lucky. I only discovered the Russell books just before the most recent one was published. I read all of the existing ones in rapid succession, then only had a short wait before the new one.

    Recently, I needed a Russell fix and began reading the series again. I’ve read the first four and enjoyed them almost as much the second time around. I’m hoping you finish the next Russell book earlier than you intend (I’m an old lady, too!),but until then I’ll try to patiently wait.

    I enjoy the contemporary Martinelli books also, but am addicted to Sherlock Holmes and other mysteries of that era, particularly those set in England.
    Can’t get enough!

  14. Hi, just wanted to say that I’m a HUGE fan of the Russell books. (I haven’t gotten round to any of the Kate Martinelli books, but they’re next on my list!) Just wanted to say how pleased I am to see your handling of the gay issues in your books. I’m Secretary in my school’s GSA (and am of unsure sexuality myself) and I’m always really glad to see the issues that my close friends face in books and other parts of culture.

    Thanks!

  15. This is a really nice blog setup.I sure hope mine will be nearly as good. Comic Book

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