by | Jun 5, 2020 | Extraordinary Guest Bloggers | 4 comments

by Karna Small Bodman

We are delighted to welcome guest blogger, Laurie R. King – the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.

Author Lee Child describes this series as “the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.” In the newest installment, Riviera Gold, Mary and Sherlock turn the Riviera upside down to crack their most captivating case yet.

In addition to this series of fourteen mysteries, Laurie has penned a number of other bestselling stories as you can see here.

Now, Laurie tells us about her writing style, daily routine and other personal details.

1. Which is harder: writing the first or last sentence? The last, definitely. The first sentence is usually a thing that has been living in the recesses of my mind for the weeks—months—while I was waiting to start the book. Not that the first sentence doesn’t change, or become the first line in chapter two or three, but there’s usually such a relief at being allowed at last to start the book, I hit the ground with my feet already in motion. The last sentence, on the other hand, is so incredibly important, that final taste the reader will have before the book closes, that sentence that needs to wrap it all up and tie the knot and encourage the reader to sit for a moment in satisfaction AND make them look forward to the next book—I mean, so much rides on that last sentence, the only thing that gets anything written that day is the nagging deadline and the reassurance that it’s not carved in stone.
2. What’s your favorite word? One word? I couldn’t begin to choose one. But I love words that are so specific, you can’t use them more than once or twice in a novel. Miasma. Gusto. Languid. Dubious. Fraught. 
3. Where do you like to write? I have a very nice study, the size of a two-car garage because that’s what it was, with a dark purple carpet and shelves on all the walls. A study that is currently filled with workout equipment since the other three people in the house, including one who teaches workout classes, need some place to exercise. So I’m writing in a corner of the bedroom. Although it’s a very nice corner of the bedroom, and there’s nobody lifting weights or running the treadmill in it.
4. What do you do when you need to take a break from writing? Depends on what you mean by a break. I’m always writing something—if not a first draft, then a rewrite; if not a novel, then a short story or essay or (ahem) Q&A. They’re all on keyboards, true, but they all seem to draw from a different part of the brain. Longer-term, I don’t write much when I’m traveling, unless it’s a long trip and I have a deadline. Travel might be exhausting, but it definitely renews the writing sections of the brain.
5. If you could have lived in a different time period, what would that be? If I could take along modern medical and dental practices? I think I’d have found a good niche as an abbess in one of the more progressive Medieval convents. Though preferably not during a time of plague…
6. What’s your favorite drink? What time of day is it? Well, over a 24-hour period, the drink whose cups outnumber all others is tea: black in the morning, herbal in the evening. 
7. When you were ten years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Because I’d never met a writer, it didn’t occur to me that actual people wrote the books I took down from the library shelves. Instead, I assumed I’d be a teacher, an attitude that persisted through grad school when I began to realize that with small kids and a husband looking longingly at retirement, I wasn’t going to spend seven years on a PhD in order to teach at university level. So I sat down to write a story, thinking that perhaps I could tell some stories… and I could.
8. Do you have a literary hero? A teacher, mentor, family member, author who has inspired you to write stories? I think that would be a group, rather than one individual: the Golden Age women of crime, who told the stories they wanted, and it turned out the reading world wanted them too. Ladies like Sayers and Tey and Allingham and Christie, who ended up patting the boy writers on the head and gently setting them aside. 
9. Describe your very first car. A 1954 Chevy. This was 1973 or 4. I’d traded my sister for a guitar, since she was off to Africa and couldn’t drive there, and I was living with someone and couldn’t inflict my guitar-playing and folk-singing on him. We called the car Proud Beauty—black, round, smelled of horsehair and long years of being parked in the sun. I drove her for years until someone else fell in love with her and I upgraded…to a 1939 Chevy. That one had a handle you pushed down to open a vent that blew onto your feet: thirties air conditioning.
10. Do you write what you know or what you want to know? What I know is boring. Where I’ve been is interesting—but even then, a setting isn’t in itself an exciting story. So what I aim for is something that fascinates me, because I know that the fascination will show up in the writing. Of course, that means I have to take care with research, and make sure I don’t describe a place or event in a way that betrays my ignorance. (And one thing that always makes me ridiculously happy is when someone who knows a place or thing writes to say that I got it right. Yay, research!)
11. Is there anything you’d like to tell us – maybe about your upcoming book? Or is there a question we’ve forgotten to ask or that you wished we’d asked? Does there seem to be a theme in these replies? Proud Beauty, Golden Age crime writers, and monastic abbesses? Yes, the next book is in a series, but is focused on an under-appreciated member of the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes world: Mrs. Hudson. Old ladies like her (and, I have to admit, me) can be invisible, unimportant—and slyly subversive.

Thank you, Laurie, for being our guest. We all look forward to reading your new mystery which will be released on June 9.
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  1. Lisa Black

    I would love to hear more from Mrs. Hudson!

    And I remember cars with handle near the floor to turn on the air vents! Remember the little triangle shaped window at the front of the larger one, so you could get some air without rolling the window down? I miss those.

  2. Gayle Lynds

    I'm crazy about the bees. Oh, that Sherlock!

  3. Sharyn Jordan

    Since I just discovered Laura's series, I was delighted to read this RWW's interview. The question posed per her favorite word(s) reminded me of a comment from Stephen King's "On Writing." He told of how an author's overuse of the word "zest" had caused him such ire. I much preferred Laura's yet appreciate how they are much precious to use more than once.

    Thank you.

  4. Sharyn Jordan

    P.S. Just noticed auto-correct changed Laurie to Laura. Sorry!🙄