Contest closing

Just a reminder to anyone interested in this year’s contest: the deadline to send me the URL of your Pinterest page is midnight tonight Pacific time (although to be honest, I may not actually get to all the boards until midday tomorrow…).  First prize is the iPad mini loaded with my books,and the five runners-up win a signed hardback (and oh, is it ever gorgeous!).  bones-of-paris-cover

We’ll be in touch with the winners probably Monday and trumpet them out on PUB DAY (which is Tuesday, in case you’ve been living in a cave or just come out of a coma.)

So: the contest rules are here.

Email  your page address by midnight Pacific Time to [email protected]

An iPad mini that’s really loaded

Yes, the first prize in this year’s Bones of Paris contest is an iPad mini pre-loaded with my books. It’s an iPad, it’s an e-reader, it’s just gorgeous.hero

The not-so-great news is, because Bantam Books is the sponsor, the iPad will only go to a US citizen.

The really quite good news is, we’re also giving away five signed hardcover copies of The Bones of Paris­­–and those can go anywhere in the world.bones-of-paris-cover

So no matter where you are, polish up your Pinterest page and send me the URL.  You have fifteen days. The instructions are here.Screen-Shot-2013-08-14-at-10.52.46-AM-300x240

Paris is so Pinteresting

In case you didn’t get the August News & Nonsense, there’s a really fab contest you need to know about.  You can win an iPad mini–yes, a real one, brand new–that’s been pre-loaded with my novels.  All you have to do is start up a Pinterest page along the lines of the one I’m doing, here, and stick up anything you come across on the web that has to do with excerpt one or excerpt two, or the video, or the interactive map, or just 1929 Paris in general.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.52.46 AM

The full contest rules are here, and although I’m afraid it’s only for US residents (since it’s sponsored by Bantam and Picador, my US publishers) I understand that my British publisher, Allison & Busby, plan something fun for their edition of The Bones of Paris, later this fall.  More on that later.

In the meantime, the rules are here, my Pinterest page is here, and you have until Sept 6th to send me your Pinterest URL.

Let the Pinning begin!

Contest winner: “Clash of the Books”

Every year we run a contest celebrating National Library Week, asking readers to talk about their love for libraries.  This year I posed the challenge of explaining what “library” means,  to someone like a Martian—and said that there would be extra points if the essay/poem/etc mentioned Kate Martinelli, whose 20th anniversary 2013 is.

I loved all your entries, which were without exception heartfelt, affectionate, appreciative expressions of Library Love.  But I only had one prize—a set of all five Martinelli novels—and so I had to choose one.  And here it is: Sabrina Flynn’s “Clash of the Books.”

Because it’s a nice and long, I’ve divided it into four episodes, which you can read today, tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday.  After that, I’ll put a pdf of the entire story on the web site for a while, with Sabrina’s blessing.

Enjoy—and as you read, you can be planning your own entry into next year’s Library contest, when Mary Russell turns 20!



Clash of the Books

by Sabrina Flynn

With the editorial eye of Merrily the (presently retired) Librarian


         A Presence drifted beside the moon, puzzling over the unknown.  Its thoughts spiraled along the stars, plunging down a luminescent waterfall.  Far below, the starlight pooled, gathering around a solid stone building.  It seemed a cage.

The Presence seeped through the cracks in the stone.  Its thoughts explored the prisoners who stood upright in dark holding cells.  Their spines were straight, one pressing against the next in cold, multitiered prison blocks.  The hush was tangible, a silence that could be heard, filled with a million minds whispering of their lives before imprisonment.  This could not be endured.  A Savior descended, bearing the key to their freedom.  Liberation was nigh.


            A curly-haired woman sat at her desk.  She had remained after hours to work, but in actuality, she was reading, surrounded by a warm pool of light.  The lapel of her stylish coat bore a tag, proclaiming her as Merrily the Librarian.  She turned a page in her book, absorbed in a world of detectives and murder.

An irritating light niggled at the edges of her vision.  The intrusion grew persistent, growing brighter until it blurred the pages.  Merrily glanced up, severing the connection between mind and word.

A figure approached.  Man or woman, she did not know, human or animal, she could not say.  Its skin glowed like sun through parchment, its veins were elegant letters that swirled beneath the light, from runes to hieroglyphs, of every language ever spoken and those yet born.

Merrily’s mouth fell open.  The book slipped from her numb fingertips, tumbling onto the floor.  The being of light extended an arm, long fingers uncurled, revealing an inky cube in the palm of its ever changing hand.  Letters drifted into the space between librarian and figure, shifting to form words, rearranging into comprehension.

I have come to free the prisoners.  Do not interfere, Jailer, for I am their Savior.

            Merrily recovered the use of her legs, but not her lips.  She bolted to her feet, knocking a cart of books over, scattering their bindings across the floor.

The Savior placed the inky cube on the desk, and tapped its top with a long finger that ended with a dot.  The cube cracked into a thousand splintering lines of molten gold.

Pages fluttered, shelves shook, the library shuddered.  Letters rose from the pages of print with tornado like force.  Merrily retreated from the alphabetic cyclone, tripped over the scattered books, and fell to the floor.

The churning letters took shape over the open book she had been reading. Two figures emerged from The Art of Detection.  One was tall and lean and decidedly male.  The other was short and athletic and most assuredly female.

“What the devil?” the first demanded.  Undaunted by the winds, he swept a steely gaze over the cavernous stacks, and finally pinned the Savior with steadfast skepticism.  Sherlock Holmes concluded that someone had introduced a hallucinatory element into his champagne at the dance hall.

Kate Martinelli spotted an immediate threat, placed herself between the terrified woman on the floor and the towering lunatic of light, and drew her gun.

“Inspector Martinelli, SFPD.  Put your hands up!”

The figure did not move.  Holmes glanced between policewoman and illusion, and calmly moved to assist the fallen librarian to her feet.

Wind battered the three.  A raven flew from between the pages of another book, croaking, “Nevermore!”  A herald of chaos followed by a mélange of fiction.

Out stepped the Red Death in all his glorious tatters.  The armies of Agincourt washed over the main floor like a ferocious tide.  Goblins swarmed, and hobbits scattered.  A pillar of shadow and flame raged between the stacks, and a grey-bearded man in pointy hat skidded to a stop.

“Run, you fools!”



(Tomorrow: Part II, in which Mr Darcy is murdered and Inspector Kate Martinelli appreciates Miss Mary Russell.)

Newsletter drawing

A last group of Garment of Shadows ARCs will go out to ten people on the newsletter mailing list.  We’ll do the drawing on Tuesday, so if you’re not signed up for the newsletter, you might like to drop in on the web site and stick your name here.

Good luck!


Thanks to everyone who sent in a comment over the last ten days—and congratulations to the winners (although Betsy Chamberlin and Elizabeth Copley, you might want to check your email if you’d like an ARC because we haven’t heard from you yet!)  And actually, I apologize for inflicting the task of a daily comment on so many of you—I didn’t think it through in advance, and hope it didn’t prove too irritating.  Still, it did give me a lot of lovely comments to read.

And I did read your comments, all of them, and I loved them—loved your enthusiasm for the upcoming book and for the idea of Morocco.  I began responding, but found that WordPress was sticking the response off on the end of the comments instead of matching them up, rendering it both pointless and confusing.

However, I particularly enjoyed Kaye’s wooden finial of the man with a bowler hat, Kristina’s bottle of myrrh, and Rachel Ratliff’s Costa Rican ox carts.  I appreciated umma from Jessica B, and her remark that “It would be hard not to care about the plight of the people who keeps you in shirts and good olives.”  I enjoyed Karen’s story about the white donkey, and Allison T’s Sinai donkey, and Kath’s Nissan van.

I appreciated Pam’s speculation about the effects of scirocco and Carlina’s remarks about the Moors; Jane Halsall’s blue/green (and, Come and Get Me Copper!) and Terry P’s brain neurons; Merrily Taylor’s evoking of Istanbul and Rachel H’s of Granada. I liked Iscah’s comment that for the zellij makers, a love of beauty was a love of God.

And to Tom Varela, I say Afwan.

If you didn’t win and are still willing to stay with me for this, you have another thirty chances:

Mary Russell is giving away an ARC a day beginning today, when she will also be Tweeting snippets from the book.  Her @mary_russell Twitter feed is here, and although you would need to join Twitter in order to do the re-tweets (correction:) respond to her tweets and enter the contest, you don’t need to join to listen into the conversations she has with her friends.

Random House has another ten copies of the ARC that they’re giving away, today and next Friday, through their Twitter feed, @AtRandom.

And when Russell and the publishers are finished, we will do one final drawing on July 31st of ten names from the newsletter subscribers.  So if you don’t subscribe to the News and Nonsense, which comes out about once a quarter, you might want to fill in the information at the top of the web site’s sidebar, here.

Good luck to you all, and thank you again for being such enthusiastic and supportive readers.  Since the response to these comments and photos have been so great, I’ll keep putting them up here over the next few weeks, although at a more leisurely rate than daily.

I hope you enjoy Garment of Shadows, whether in ARC, e-, or bright shiny hardback come September.

Rome in Africa

Leave a comment on today’s Mutterings for a chance at winning a copy of the Garment of Shadows ARC.

Among other oddities of this extraordinary country, Morocco was part of the Roman empire.  As Hadrian’s Wall, between England and Scotland, marked the northern point of Rome’s West, the city of Volubilis occupied its south-western fringes.

Volubilis lies about forty miles from Fez, at the foot of the hills containing the shrine of Moulay Idriss.  You can see both in this 1940s documentary, not very different from what Sherlock Holmes saw in late 1924:

The road turned north, bringing into view an unlikely piece of architecture, away in the distance.

“Is that the ancient city of the Romans?” he asked the man.

The man followed Holmes’ eyes to what could only be a triumphal arch and began a detailed story about the time his wife had got it into her head that what their farmyard needed was a stone entranceway and how much time he’d had to spend hauling blocks out of the place until she was satisfied.

Clearly, not a student of archaeology.

To read more from Garment of Shadows, go here.

To order a copy—hardback, audio, e-book, or signed—go here.

The city gates

Leave a comment on today’s Mutterings for a chance at winning a copy of the Garment of Shadows ARC.

Fez remains a walled city, as it was in 1924 when Russell and Holmes walked its streets, as it was for the centuries before that.  Cars are kept out by the high adobe bricks, the population kept in by the press of the walls.  The gates,

although now largely symbolic, remain places of gathering and transition as much now as they were a thousand years past.  Russell meets the first of the city’s gates from the inside of the city:

I soon came to the explanation for this district’s relative bustle: a city gate, very new and strong-looking, ornate with mosaic tile (zellij, the translator in my head whispered). Beyond it was clearly a more modern part of this city, with men in suits, the sign for a bank, several horse-­carts, even a motorcar. And: soldiers.

I leant casually against a wall. Armed French soldiers, with the bored stance and alert gaze of guards the world around. As I watched, they moved forward to intercept a man on a white mule, who freely handed over the immensely long Jezail rifle he held and continued inside. It would seem that arms were not permitted in the city.

To read more from Garment of Shadows, go here.

To order a copy—hardback, audio, e-book, or signed—go here.

A very local economy

Leave a comment on today’s Mutterings, and you have a chance at winning a copy of the Garment of Shadows ARC.

One of the fascinating things about Fez is the way the crafts of everyday life are created where they are used: need a shirt, a chair, a bowl?  They’re still made down the street, or at most in the next neighborhood, as they were in cities before we started shipping goods from Korea or the Dominican Republic.

Everywhere you walk in Fez, the sounds of creation ring out: the rhythm of the loom, the whir of the lathe, the ceaseless tap and ring of hammer on brass.

Russell takes shelter in one such workshop:

A myriad of gleaming shapes shone back at me: stacks of brazen bowls, trays ranging from calling card–sized to sufficient for an entire roast sheep, bowls of similar variety, a dozen shapes and sizes of lamp.

To read more from Garment of Shadows, go here.

To order a copy—hardback, audio, e-book, or signed—go here.

Lyautey’s Fez

Leave a comment on today’s Mutterings, and you have a chance at winning a copy of the Garment of Shadows ARC.

In 1924, Morocco was a protectorate, under the administration of France to the south and Spain to the north.  The Spanish portion was, simply speaking, a disaster, with years of oppression that erupted into vicious open rebellion.  The French protectorate, on the other hand, was by and large a successful nurturing of a technologically backward country into the Twentieth century.

That result was due to one unlikely man.

(Sorry, I can’t seem to make it embed, but the YouTube of Lyautey and the Sultan of Morocco is here.)

Hubert Lyautey was a minor aristocrat who learned the task of colonial rule in Indochina and Algeria, and was appointed resident general of Morocco in 1912.  He plays a central role in Garment of Shadows, even more so than Edmund Allenby in O Jerusalem, and his home in the medina is the center of much of the story’s action.

Dar Mnehbi is a beautiful little palace surrounded by the tangled lanes of old Fez, used now for special events such as the city’s annual festival of sacred music.  I came across Dar Mnehbi the first day I spent in Fez, although I did not realize what I had seen for many months:

The library opened off the grand central courtyard of the main dar, where an ornate expanse of tile echoed with the music of falling water and cushioned banquettes lay against the walls. The halka grid was directly overhead, indicating that this part of Dar Mnehbi was but a single storey high. I could see why it had been necessary to take over the adjoining dar—most of the doors opening onto this ornate courtyard stood open, revealing a series of formal salons. It took Youssef some time to lead me to the correct doorway, my steps being slowed by my attempts to take it all in. I goggled, frankly, at the intricate texture of the zellij tiles and carved plaster, zellij and water, zellij and painted wood, zellij and coloured glass. It was a space both intimate and intimidating: lavish to the point of majestic, yet clearly designed as a place to welcome guests.

The patient servant, having stopped me first from walking into the fountain and then from tumbling over a charcoal brazier, finally led me to one of the intricately painted doors off to one side.

To read more from Garment of Shadows, go here.

To order a copy—hardback, audio, e-book, or signed—go here.