Thursday, April 23, 2009

Laurie R. King Guest Post--Welcome, Laurie!!

I got home late last night from five fantastic, sunny days in London (not one drop of rain, can you believe it?). We just about walked our feet off, did a lot of book shopping and had an interesting visit to the London Book first trade show experience. (More about that later).

Now I would love to welcome one of my favorite authors, Laurie R. King! Laurie is the mind behind the Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell mystery series, the contemporary Kate Martinelli mystery series and several stand alone novels, as well. She is a New York Times bestselling author, read one of her books and you will immediately see why!

Her latest novel, The Language of Bees, will be released on April 29. An excerpt, schedule of appearances, contests, and lots more can be found at

Welcome Laurie! I'm thrilled about this guest post because it concerns a subject near and dear to me...travelling!

You want to know why writers set their stories in exotic places around the world? Different writers will give you different answers, but basically, they boil down to three reasons:

1. Doing so gives you an excuse to do travel that you want to do anyway. Not only are readers impressed with the effort of all that scrupulous research, if you set a book in a place you’ve travelled, you can write it off as a business expense. You don’t even have to figure out what percentage is business and what pleasure, because it’s all research. All of it. And it’s hard work. Every minute of it. I go for a drink in a pub? I’m taking notes all the while. I swear.

2. If you are getting bored with your characters, you can either begin killing them off, or you can send them somewhere. And since you only have so many characters and since people tend to get attached to them, it’s much preferable just to pile them on a plane—or, in the case of historical fiction, a boat. However, you don’t want to send them on a cruise with good champagne and a stack of new hardback fiction beside their deck chair. No, you want to give them a really rotten time of it. The kind of trip that gets written up in books with titles like "There and Survived" or "100 of the World’s Worst Journeys": fleas, disgusting local foodstuffs, awful weather, solitude and sickness, maybe a robbery or a brief arrest—all grist for the fictional mill.

After Dartmoor, the Sinai desert in January, and an English country house, I vowed that I would let my poor character, Mary Russell, go to someplace warm. So I sent her to India. Except it turned out to be January, and she was in the foothills of the Himalayas. But after that she went to California, where it’s nice and warm, right? Just not in San Francisco. And now in The Language of Bees when it’s August and she’s back in Sussex and the summer is glorious—until she has to go to the Orkneys, and she climbs into an aeroplane (this is 1924, right?) with nothing but a bit of glass between her and a storm.

Poor Russell might be happier if I did simply put her out of her misery.

3. The places themselves have some appeal for the books. Barry Eisler writes about an assassin who works a lot in southeast Asia, so clearly his books incorporate the milieu of that part of the world. Lee Child’s hero wanders across the US, coming to the rescue of a series of damsels. And in my books, particularly the Russell and Holmes series, they often set out for someplace that demands their services. O Jerusalem would only make sense in Palestine; The Game requires that they be in Twenties India. In both cases, the setting defines the book and what the characters are doing—becomes, in essence, a character itself.

And besides, it means I can write off that travel…

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Laurie! I can't wait to read the tenth installment in the Holmes/Russell series....


LuAnn said...

I can always tell if an author really knows the area where the book takes place. It's obvious when research hasn't been done.

Unknown said...

Great interview! Laurie seems to see so many wonderful places.

Ruth King said...

Poor Russell might be happier if I did simply put her out of her misery.Yes, but I think Holmes and many of your readers might object. ;)

Wonderful post, Laurie! I am always impressed by the amazing detail that goes into each book's settings. Armchair travel at its finest.

bermudaonion said...

Okay, now I want to be a writer so I can travel more and write off the expenses. You're a tease to mention the London Book Fair like that.

The Tome Traveller said...

Sorry Kathy! ;)

Zibilee said...

Awesome post! She sounds like a very amusing lady. I haven't yet gotten the chance to read one of her books, but I aim to change that now. I think I am going to check out the first in the Holmes/Russell series. Thanks!

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.