Sherlock Holmes, crime fiction and the value of stubbornness
The Daily Basics would like to introduce a new feature to our site, Author Access by Karen Jones. Karen features notable and current authors in one-on-one interviews bi-monthly which introduces you to authors in an up-close and personal way.
Karen Jones is a New York-based freelance writer and journalist who contributes to a wide variety of respected publications including The New York Times, The New York Daily News and Publishers Weekly … More
When Laurie R. King created a new partner for the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes in the guise of a spirited young woman named Mary Russell, she launched a best-selling book series and a new generation of devoted fans.
From The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (1994) through the current title Pirate King, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes share both a professional and personal partnership in these richly textured crime fiction adventures. She has also co-edited A Study in Sherlock, a compilation of short stories inspired by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle canon.
Ms. King is a third-generation Northern Californian with degrees in Comparative Religion and Old Testament Theology. She has traveled the world, raised two children and is very handy with a carpenter’s toolbox.
10 Minutes with Laurie R. King
Karen Jones: What is the secret to Sherlock Holmes enduring appeal?
Laurie R. King: Sherlock Holmes is a man driven by passion to set evil straight. We don’t read the Conan Doyle stories because this guy is clever and can out think everyone. We read them because he is absolutely committed to the pursuit of justice and that comes across in the Mary Russell stories.
KJ: How difficult was it to create a partner who is Holmes’s equal?
LK: Because I am not writing Sherlock Holmes stories but Mary Russell stories, I think that lets me come at the Conan Doyle material from a different point of view. Mary Russell is a young, female 20th century Sherlock Holmes, and shares a commitment with him to stand up and do the right thing.
KJ: The series takes place in the early part of the 20th century. What is your method for research and writing?
LK: [laughs] My daughter calls me a recovering academic. Research is hard work but it is addictive…When I start a book, I know the characters, the place and the background– enough to get the story going. My first draft is the immersion method. I work maybe 6-7 hours a day, 6-7 days a week for a couple of months. This functions as an outline. The rewrite process takes 4-6 months and that is where I craft the book out of the raw material.
KJ: What is your advice for aspiring writers?
LK: There are three prongs to being a successful writer. The first is to read, read and read so you can learn the language of storytelling. The second is to write–you should always be writing. The third is stubbornness. You just do not accept the word no. The one basic characteristic of a successful writer is they do not give up. Especially in this time when dollars are tight stubbornness goes a long way.
For more about Laurie R. King, visit her site LaurieRKing.com.