Winners (2) and answers (3)

And today, Catherine of Wellesly (sounds like some 15th century monarch, doesn\’e2\’80\’99t it?) has won her shiny new copy of the ARC for The Art of Detection. Only two left after she claims hers, next Monday\’e2\’80\’99s drawing and the Monday following\’e2\’80\’94and then the hardbacks will be on the edge of shipping, so we may even give away one of those, to get things off to a bang. So again, (and apologies to those of you who\’e2\’80\’99ve had to read this every week for a month) if you\’e2\’80\’99re not on the LRK newsletter list, go to the web site and click on the newsletter bar , so you\’e2\’80\’99ll have a chance at the next two, and future drawings.

I was notified recently that I have won a Career Achievement Award for my body of work for Historical Mystery, AND the Romantic Times Reviewers\’e2\’80\’99 Choice Award for Historical Mystery for LOCKED ROOMS. I won\’e2\’80\’99t be able to go to their Florida convention in May, but if you go, tell them Hi from me, okay?

Now, let\’e2\’80\’99s see if we can finish up the April questions before it gets to May.

Q: I’m always so impressed by how realistic the settings feel (though not being around in turn of the century England, I can’t really say for the Russell series.) How do you manage to capture the smaller nuances and local history of a certain location? Do you just take extended trips, or do you try to live in a place for a while first?

A: When writing about a place, I generally draw on a combination of personal experience and book learning. I rarely write about a location I haven\’e2\’80\’99t been to at all (Vietnam is one major exception, in KEEPING WATCH) but rarely do I have the leisure to really hunker down in a place and learn it from the inside. So when I go to Cornwall or the San Juans, I buy books\’e2\’80\’94picture books, history books, guide books (especially old ones, if I\’e2\’80\’99m writing historically,) personal memoirs of famous citizens, all that stuff. And lots of those I find I never use: I collected maybe fifty pounds (sterling) worth of material about the religious cycle performed in St Just every year, thinking it would be a great thematic element in TOUCHSTONE, but in the end the book took itself out of Cornwall entirely, leaving me just a few scenes there. Maybe in the future Russell will be called to Cornwall\’e2\’80\’a6.

Hi Laurie,I have to admit, your books are part of the reason I became interested in criminology (I’m now at University), so thank you for inspiring myself and other like-minded people! My question is: if you weren’t a writer, what other occupation(s) do you think you would choose? Thanks!

A: I should keep a running tally of how many people I\’e2\’80\’99ve sent into careers with my novels\’e2\’80\’94mostly it\’e2\’80\’99s theology, for which I sincerely apologize, infecting innocent individuals with a passion both all-consuming and utterly useless when it comes to making a living. Criminology at least sounds employable.

If I hadn\’e2\’80\’99t gone through a period in high school where I was dumped into math classes ridiculously above my ability and had to spend a semester flailing around in near-tears, thus stamping me with a permanent sense of failure when it comes to numbers, I might have gone into architecture. The satisfaction of shaping one\’e2\’80\’99s environment around an idea, turning a basic need (keep out the cold) into a thing of beauty and balance, is enormous. But as it turned out, I was lousy at math and not good for much but telling stories. That, I can do.

Q: Jan wants to know, There was talk about Folly being made into a TV movie….is that still a possibility? Are there any other possibilities of either TV or regular movie of any of the stand-alone books? I think Martinelli would be a great TV series, too…

A: I\’e2\’80\’99ve just heard that CBS has failed to renew its option for KEEPING WATCH, deciding that made-for-tv movies aren\’e2\’80\’99t where it wants to spend its money. So there are currently no projects under option, although much discussion.

Q: Kerowyn asks, What was Russell up to during the Influenza epidemic? Of course, she and Holmes were otherwise occupied for most of it, but those weeks on the Continent in 1919 would be promising.

A: The problem with writing historical novels is, how much of the setting do you force down the reader\’e2\’80\’99s throat? I try to scatter in a few names and events to remind people of where and when we are, without making them pay too much attention to information outside the story. I make brief mention in one or two places of the influenza epidemic that so devastated the post-war world, killing more than died in battle, but I think this is one place I should have brought in more emphasis, so it wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t seem that Russell was blithely ignoring the Grim Reaper\’e2\’80\’99s scythe all around her.


  1. Felicidades!!

  2. Felicidades!! Ummm Si los belgas pueden ofrecer chocolates, yo podria arreglar algo por un ARC! Havanos, Havana Club, cafe?lo que sea!!!

  3. On historical details, Laurie wrote:

    “… I make brief mention in one or two places of the influenza epidemic … I think this is one place I should have brought in more emphasis, so it wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t seem that Russell was blithely ignoring the Grim Reaper\’e2\’80\’99s scythe all around her.”

    That is a hard balance to maintain. Yowch. As far as the Epidemic is concerned, I was so convinced that Dr. Leah Ginzberg had died of it when it hit San Francisco. It would explain her lack of response to Russell’s letters, in LOCK. That wasn’t to be the case, as events turned out. However, I wonder which horror was better remembered by the denizens in LOCKED ROOMS: the April 1906 Earthquake or the Influenza Epidemic of 1919?

  4. The reason I asked is I have a physiology professor who is predicting Doom! when(and if) the avian flu mutates into an easily transmisable form, and she cited the 1919 epidemic.

    I know the question wasn’t directed at me, but I would think that the earthquake would tend to stick in people’s minds.

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