Photographs by COURTESY PHOTO
Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories. She is, her publicist says, probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology.
Friday, May 19, 2017
"It's hard for me to say what it's been like to grow up with Sherlock and Russell because they, like my parents, were simply always there," Zoe Quinton says of the popular stories by her mother, Laurie King. "Laurie wrote 'Beekeeper' when I was not even a teenager myself, so of course I (like all teenage girls) envisioned myself as Mary Russell: strong, smart and acerbically witty. In the longer term, growing up with fictional characters as part of my household shaped my own choice of career, as I have been working with Laurie to create and sell the Russell stories for over 10 years now. Soon they will become a part of my own children's lives, and the story will go on."
This weekend, King travels from her home in California to Eureka Springs for the 12th annual Books in Bloom Sunday at the Crescent Hotel. Here, she answers five questions for What's Up! -- because why rewrite the words of a writer?
Books in Bloom
WHEN — Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE — In the gardens at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs
COST — Free
INFO — BooksinBloom.org
BONUS — Authors attending include C.D. Albin, Garrard Conley, James & Kimberly Dean, S.C. Gwynne, Kate Hart, Nathalia Holt, Craig Johnson, Sara Flannery Murphy, Rex Nelson, Todd Parnell, Stephanie Storey, Alexandra Teague.
May Festival of the Arts
Today — White Street Walk, 4-10 p.m., White Street
Saturday — Art in the Park, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Basin Park; Birdcage Art Bazaar, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., The Birdcage on Spring Street; Grady Nichols in concert, 5-7 p.m., Basin Park
Sunday — Books in Bloom, noon-5 p.m., Crescent Hotel
Wednesday — Plein Air Festival, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Basin Park
May 28 — Dancing in the Park, 1-3 p.m., Basin Park
Q. You say Mary Russell walked into your life. How was the idea of a Sherlock Holmes "collaboration" born?
A. It was during the '80s. The local PBS channel was playing one of the Jeremy Brett series of dramatizations, and I reflected that much of what this great detective did was the sort of thing any mother of young children does daily. A kid who isn't interested in dinner, shortly after you've found a chair out of place near the sideboard? No need to look inside the cookie jar to know the level has gone down.
So I began to wonder, what if the mind of Sherlock Holmes actually was in a woman? Not a mother, but younger -- a 20th century girl instead of the more familiar middle-aged Victorian male? How would the result be superior? How would she be held back? And even more interesting, what would it be like to watch those two people with similar minds come together, face to face?
Q. What were your favorite books when you were Mary's age?
A. At 15 (when "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" opens) I would have been reading mostly science fiction, the classics of Heinlein and Clarke and such. By 19 (Russell's age when that first book ends) I was immersed in historical fiction (Mary Stewart! James Clavell!) as well as the the kind of speculative novels that sophomores adore, that Mary Russell would have turned her nose up at, and that most of us grow out of (Hermann Hesse, Ayn Rand). I'd also have encountered an odd trilogy that would nudge my future into shape, in novels by PD James, Chaim Potok and Nicholas Meyer.
Q. What has Mary taught you about yourself?
A. Hmm. Can one teach one's self lessons? Maybe. I guess writing Russell and Holmes have made me trust that there are patterns in chaos. That even when a book is little more than a puzzle, a tangle of plot and character and place, there is a thread to follow that leads to a solution. Trust: not a bad lesson to learn from a fictional character.
Q. Who is your favorite of the characters you've created?
A. I love Russell, of course, and always return to her world with a lot of anticipation. But by now I know her so well, she doesn't fascinate me. Other characters are foreign to me, and make me want to dig into them until I understand what makes them tick -- Bennett Grey, for example. ("Touchstone") I'm also very fond of Brother Erasmus, a holy fool who is the main character in the second Martinelli story ("To Play the Fool" was my mother's favorite) and appears in the upcoming "Lockdown." Also in "Lockdown" is Gordon Hugh-Kendrick, who I can't help feeling has a whole lot more to tell me ...
Q. When you do events like Books in Bloom, what do you hope to leave with readers?
A. That depends on who the reader is. If it's simply a person looking for a new set of books to get buried into, I hope they fall into the Laurie King world with vast pleasure and curiosity. But if it's a reader who is also a writer, or even someone thinking of writing, I hope they come away with the knowledge that those of us who have our names on the spines of books are just making it up as we go, too. That there aren't any secret rules, no special incantation, merely a passion for stories and a determination to learn every day.
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 05/19/2017
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