I've been a fan of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell novels since the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, was published in 1994 (well, technically I've been a fan since the paperback came out in 1995). In The Beekeeper's Apprentice, set in 1915, independent 15-year-old orphan Mary Russell becomes, after a chance encounter, apprentice to a nominally retired Sherlock Holmes (aka the beekeeper). In their first meeting, Mary is walking along on the moor reading a book, and literally stumbles across Holmes. He takes her for a boy. She takes him for a tramp. And so a life-altering partnership is born. Mary is young, bright and adventurous. She's the perfect foil for the sarcastic and sometimes supercilious Holmes.
Since that first book, Russell and Holmes have had a variety of adventures on different continents, solving mysteries wherever they go. I've found all of the books to be clever, engrossing, and well-researched. The ninth book in the series, The Language of Bees, is due out on April 28th.
During the 15 weeks leading up to the new book's publication, Laurie is taking a blog tour: 15 Weeks of Bees. I was honored when Laurie's publicist for the tour, Zoe, approached me about participating. As Zoe pointed out, this is a series that's always had a lot of crossover appeal for young adults. Mary Russell is a teenager at the start of the series, for one thing. For another, mysteries are often bridge books by which teens first dip into adult fiction (I know this was true for me). Plus, these books are both smart and exciting, two attributes sure to appeal to teens. So, although I'm not normally a big blog tour person, this was one that I couldn't pass up. Without further ado, I bring you a guest post from Laurie R. King:
"Readers often wonder how much of the author is in her story. How much of Mary Russell is actually Laurie King, anyway?
I wrote The Beekeeper's Apprentice in 1987 during a time when I couldn't seem to find much of interest in the library, and I decided that telling myself a story would at least keep me for longer than reading one. And I wrote that book the way I have written all 17 books since then, by launching myself into it and seeing where it took me.
Not knowing where the story I'm writing is going until it gets there means that when I finish, I then turn and look back at it, trying to figure out what I was aiming for. And when I've done that, I begin the rewrite with that aim in mind, seeking to make those key elements stronger and clearer. But sometimes, I've finished the rewrite and the book has gone off to be printed and I'm long past the point at which I can fiddle with the story, but I'm still not altogether certain what story the book is meant to be telling. Sometimes, it takes the first reviews before I begin to figure it out.
One of the early reviews for The Beekeeper's Apprentice was in the San Jose newspaper. The woman who wrote the article, a combination of review and interview, noted that the book was for all those girls who had read the Sherlock Holmes stories and then realized, They don't mean me.
Yes, I thought. Mary Russell may not be me—she's far more clever, infinitely braver and more resourceful, than the woman writing her on the page. However, Russell is me in the sense that she is who I would love to be, and without a doubt she is who I would love to have been at the age of fifteen. Independent (and independently wealthy) and sure and clever and physically competent to boot; quick-tongued instead of having laboriously to construct clever comebacks; possessing a trace of romantic tragedy in her past, instead of being boring and middle class. Heavens, she can even throw a knife with deadly accuracy!
Mary Russell is a person able to argue with a man three times her age-and win. Who wouldn't want to be her?"
So true! I would have loved to be Mary Russell when I was 15, too. And probably when I was 25. Thanks so much for sharing this, Laurie!! I can't wait to read the new book. And I recommend the series to all of you reading this, young adults and up, especially for those looking for strong female characters.
Laurie R. King's ninth Mary Russell novel, The Language of Bees, will be published in April 2009, shortly after the first in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, turns fifteen. Her website is celebrating with contests, activities, and Russell and Holmes events during this spring's Fifteen Weeks of Bees.
Here is the schedule for the entire the blog tour:
February 2 Bookish Ruth
February 13 Reading Group Guides
February 18 & 19 A Striped Armchair (review & guest post)
February 26 Jen Robinson’s Book Page
March 4 Age 30+… A Lifetime of Books (Guest post)
March 11 A Work in Progress
March 18 Age 30+… A Lifetime of Books (Interview)
March 26 Presenting Lenore
April 2 Reading Group Guides
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.