Sunday, April 10, 2016

Author Meet-and-Greet with Laurie R. King

Thanks to a good friend of mine, I attended an author signing/Q&A/reading with Laurie R. King in Denver on Friday night!

For the uninformed, she writes the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and I think she has another series too, but I'm not sure what it's called.

Now, I've never read her books, but thought the event sounded like fun and it was . . . just a terrific way to spend an evening with my friend! If you're ever in Denver and get a chance to go to the Tattered Cover bookstore on Colfax, it is AMAZING. I highly recommend it, just to wander through in awe!

But back to Ms. King. 

Here's a few fun facts about her in regards to her work.

She does not use an outline when she writes. In fact, the closest she ever got to an outline was little 3x5 inch notecards. That didn't last. She considers the difference in authors that are for or against outlines to be simply a matter of "organization" vs. "organic." I thought that to be a very congenial way to describe it.

However, she does write down plot points she must hit when she's working on her mysteries, just so she doesn't leave anything out.

She never writes about places that she hasn't visited herself (very wise, I think, and something I must remember with my own writing).

She does have a writing schedule, but it's usually no more than 1,500 words a day, sometimes as little as 600.

She knows that if she has writer's block than she's taken a wrong turn in the story somewhere and will re-read the book she's having trouble with until she finds the spot where she went wrong.

Her creativity flows in the way she sits. She wrote her stories longhand for the longest time until laptop computers actually became light enough to put on your lap. Then she could sit in the same position she was used to sitting in to write and her brain continued to work. Until laptops, if she tried to write on a computer, her brain blanked on her.

Her reason behind Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes was a wish to contrast and compare such incredible intellect side by side, 2 different people from different generations put together. When you think about it, that's really quite clever.

I found Ms. King to be utterly fascinating and very entertaining. She loves her work, enjoys her fans, and really has a deep respect for Sherlock Holmes, which I appreciate. I may not fully agree with her take on Dr. Watson, but is it really her take or how Mary Russell perceives him? Who knows?

And yes, I did stand in line to get her latest book, The Murder of Mary Russell signed. Not for me, but for someone else who I know is a fan and reads her books faithfully.

Here's a photo that Ms. King herself took from the podium and posted on Facebook and the little person circled in purple in the back on the left is, in fact, me. So exciting!

Now the biggest question is probably, do I want to read her work? Well, I started listening to The Beekeeper's Apprentice audio book at work on Friday before the event. So I'm not very far in. But I find it intriguing. While I am not really one for series in general, as most of you know, I may buckle down and try reading Ms. King's work. Or I may find that one book is plenty.

What I do know is that as an orator Laurie R. King is a pure delight. In fact, I bet taking a writing class from her would be a really entertaining and fun experience.

So there you have my weekend experience. I am now in love with the Tattered Cover bookstore and since my friend, Lindsay, is in love with it too and they have authors visit regularly, we might just make it a regular thing we do together. Now that would be awesome!

One last photo for the road, me meeting Laurie R. King. Proof positive that she signed a book for me! You didn't know my blonde hair was so long, eh?


  1. I had the great pleasure of attending a Laurie R. King reading a little library in Connecticut about six years ago -- I think it was her book tour for The Language of Bees. I agree 100% with how you described her! She's fascinating and funny and just a nifty person to hear talk.

    And I stood in line to meet her and get a couple books signed too. I brought along my own copy of The Beekeeper's Apprentice, which she kindly signed for me, and I also bought a copy of whatever book she was promoting, and asked her to dedicate that to the English Lit prof who first introduced me to her books. She was charmed by that, I think, and we had a tiny discussion about studying Sherlock Holmes in an English Lit class and so forth.

    The bookstore looks amazing! If I lived near it, I would definitely be an addict. So glad you got to visit it AND hear LRK!

    1. I'm so glad you had a chance to meet her too! She is quite an entertaining lady. I liked her immensely.

      And it is an awesome bookstore. There are 3 or 4 of the same store in Denver and now I'm curious about the others!

  2. BTW, LRK just did a really nice post about what it's like to do a book tour -- I think you must be one of the "beautiful and intelligent young women" she mentions :-)

    1. That was a lovely post she wrote. I suspect she must remember myself and my friend!

  3. I'm glad you had fun.

    I enjoyed TBA but not the later books. Knowing me as you do, you'll probably figure out why.

    1. Hmmmm. Too stridently feminist? Or is it mostly her portrayal of Dr. Watson?

      Her other series, about Kate Martinelli, is even more feministic. But I thought you might reeeeeally like her two books Folly and Keeping Watch. They're not in any of her series, and very cool, lots of suspense and character development. I wouldn't mind rereading them one day soon. Folly was good, but the sequel, Keeping Watch blew me away.

    2. Charity, yep, I know why you didn't like the later ones and I completely understand.

      Rachel, feminism won't bother her, but the idea of a married Holmes does. I admit, it bothers me too, a bit. But I may check out her other series that you just mentioned. I like her writing style a great deal.

    3. Aha! Yes, I know a lot of people who don't like the idea of a married Holmes, and don't like these for that reason.

    4. Me, have a problem with feminism? Not likely. =P

      Entangle Holmes in any kind of romantic sentiment, or marriage in general even if it is devoid of emotional attachment, and you lose me. I don't even remember anything other than that. I'll have to look into her other books, though. I might like those.

    5. Rachel, in that same thought process, though, I now understand why she put them together. Not counting her own marriage to a man 30 years older, but she wanted a compare and contrast scenario of intellect from different generations. As she put it, she could have put Mary Russell in any era, but she wanted her to interact with Sherlock Holmes, so she did it.

      This wouldn't be the first romantic entanglement I've encountered with Holmes, and I don't even think, from what I've heard, that it's all that romantic. So I could probably get used to it. I feel she does deserve at least a concerted effort on my part now that I've met her and like her so much.

    6. I remember in the Q&A session I attended, someone asked that inevitable "how did you come up with the idea for this series" question, and her answer was something along the lines of, she was watching one of the Granada series episodes, and she thought, "What if Holmes was a woman? Would the abilities that make him Holmes be dismissed as just woman's intuition? How frustrating would that be?" And everything grew from there. Having one person understand and value your abilities would be exhilarating -- for both!

      (Full disclosure -- when I replied to the first comment in this chain, I was on my phone and the print was tiny and I thought it was Carissa replying to my initial comments, and it wasn't until Carissa replied to my reply that I read it on a computer and realized that oh! That was Charity! But I think both of you might really enjoy Folly and Keeping Watch.)

  4. Carissa, you'll probably like it fine. If you didn't mind Langella's Holmes falling in love, this won't bother you.

    (I, meanwhile, being Fi, sit here and screech NOPE while covering my eyes. ;)

    1. *eye roll* You're so funny.

      You know me, anytime Langella falls in love I'm good with it, even his Holmes.

      But, there are times when I'm less agreeable with the concept. The only reason I didn't mind before was because it was Langella. He sort of made all the difference.

    2. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE... ;)


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