Monday, March 28, 2011

Royal Update, danger ahead for the wedding?

One of my Molly Murphy books features the anarchist movement of the early Twentieth Century. Various leaders around the world were assassinated, including President McKinley and of course Archduke Ferdinand, which act resulted in World War I. Now it appears that anarchism is rearing its ugly head again.
A peaceful protet march by the trade unions of Britain, worried about austerity measures and the future of their unions, was infiltrated by masked and hooded anarchists who threw monotov cocktails at police, smashed windows and made the whole thing turn ugly.
Now these same anarchists have threatened to disrupt the royal wedding--but you know what? If anything can bring a dispirited and divided country together, it is a senseless act like this. Before W.W.II Britain was on its knees after the Great Depression. Communists and Fascists were battling in the streets. It was a precarious time. Then the war came and the country not only reunited against a common enemy, it became proud and determined and strong enough to beat that enemy.
We are all sick of bad news and gloom and doom. The world wants a wedding between two wholesome and forward-looking young people. Just let the anarchists try to do their worst!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Royal Protocol

On my other blog today ( I've posted about manners, or rather lack of them in today's society. Since the royal wedding is fast approaching I thought I'd better give a few pointers on brushing up on royal protocol--which is manners in the extreme.

Even today one is expected to leave the queen's presence backward (a rule which has always spelled disaster for Lady Georgie with her tendency to knock into things)

One addresses a royal person by "sir" or "ma'am (pronounced like ham and not like harm). Even their close friends do this in public. This was one of the red flags when Mrs. Simpson first came on the scene with the Prince of Wales in the 30s. She called him David all the time, never sir. There were gasps all around but she didn't care. She also made fun of the future King's famous stutter.

One does not speak to a royal until they speak to you. One does not squeeze the hand they extend to shake (have pity, for God's sake. They shake hundreds of hands a day). When presented one should drop a small curtsey or bow. Not an extravagent sweep to the floor.

When I was young I had tea with the queen. We were instructed that one only eats what the queen eats. She had one piece of brown bread while we looked longingly at all the little cakes and scones and cream. I used that scene in the first royal spyness book. In fact encounters with upper class Brits have provided many of the funny and embarrassing scenes in my books.

So remember if you go to the wedding, once Kate is married she's no longer Kate. She is your royal highness, or ma'am. And I expect cameras will be frowned upon in Westminster Abbey.  Oh, and one always wears a hat to a wedding in England. It can be a tiny little frivolous feather thing or a great big impressive one, however you will not be popular in the Abbey if your hat is huge enough to block the view of those behind you.

And if you go, please tell Will and Kate that Rhys sends her love.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Molly Murphy wishes you all Top O' the Morning for St Patrick's Day.
But I have to confess I'm not a big fan of St Patrick's Day. it's not one of my favorite holidays. For one thing, I don't like corned beef and cabbage. Not too keen on Guiness. Also I associate it with people getting drunk and I have some less than stellar memories.

A few years ago my publisher came up with the brilliant idea of bringing me to New York to launch the new Molly book on St Patrick's Day. They set up events for me including one at the Police Museum, one at the SouthStreet seaport museum.

Good idea, right? The only trouble was that sane and normal people don't venture out in New York on St Patrick's Day when the streets are full of drunken men. So great venues, but nobody came. Lesson learned--some holidays are great to tie into, others not so great.

These days Molly is launched on March 1 (which happens to be St. David's Day--a much more sober festival invoving the wearing of daffodils or leeks but with no alcoholic connotations.

My favorite St Patrick's Days have been watching our little Meghan perform outside City Hall in San Francisco with her Irish Dance troupe. Now that's positive Irish energy.  So Happy St. Patrick's Day to you--however you choose to celebrate it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

How the other half lives!

This weekend I had a surreal existence--seeing how the other half lives, and by that I mean the super rich. On Saturday I attended a Giant's baseball game, using a friend's seats in a great location behind home plate in the 'friends and family' section. This meant we sat among the players wives and families. The wives could almost have had "wife" tatooed across their foreheads. They all had long blond hair, wore fashionable tight white jeans, skimpy tops, gorgeous sandals, designer purses AND on their ring finger a rock the size of Manahttan.
Then on Sunday we went to the racetrack where our next door neighbor had a horse running. I got to go into the paddock before the race, chat with the trainer and watch the horse dancing nervously (it's a very highly strung horse). Actually he's still a baby, having just turned three and therefore a teenager with all kinds of quirks and bad habits, but loads of talent. In spite of taking the final turn incredibly wide he won. So we then had the heady experience of standing in the winner's circle, having our picture taken. The jockey was a tiny English girl from my part of England so we chatted together like old friends.

Yesterday evening our neighbor showed up with the official photo of the winner's circle. He stayed, got through a bottle of our cognac and talked. He owns 6 race horses and it costs him $10,000 a month to feed and train them. But they are his hobby. What actually makes that money to feed them is that he has oil wells. He goes all over the world, looking for oil, negotiating with dubious dictators, dodging through wars. He was in Chernobyl a month after the disaster. He was kidnapped by Russian mafia and taken to someone 's room slung over a bodyguard's shoulder. He was in Ethopia and Eritrea during their conflict and tried to make both sides be reasonable in allowing the land-locked country a narrow strip of access to the ocean. No luck there.

And yes, he thinks all this is a huge joke. Fun. So would I like to live like the other half? You know, I think I'm comfortable the way I am. But I might, just might like to own a racehorse. I have to say the thrill of watching it surge to the lead was really heady. It reminded me of when my kids used to swim competitively and they won. But then they were less expensive to feed and train. Now it's Monday and I'm back to the computer, working through the next five pages of my book. Ah well. Reality ain't so bad.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where the Heck am I going?

Celebrate with me--I've just reached the stage in my new book when the end is in sight--I can see where the story is going and I KNOW I'LL BE ABLE TO FINISH IT!! Heavy sigh of relief.

Every book is the same tortured process--panic at beginning, worry until about page 150 then gathering momentum on the downhill slope to the finish line.
All this could be avoided if I could just outline the story in advance.

The problem is that I can't. I've tried. I can come up with a reasonably good outline for a story BUT it would be nothing like the story I'd end up with if I just let the book grow and develop. And if I had an outline, I'd feel obliged to follow it. Hence the book would not be as good.

Luckily I have wonderful editors who trust that I'll be able to come up with a book in the required length of time and don't demand to see a proposal. If they did want one it would say "she finds a body and then bad things happen to her."

So I have to let my characters stumble through their world, having things happen to them, meeting people I haven't anticipated, finding bodies where I least expected them and in the end it turns out that my characters (or is it my subconscious) knew pretty well where we were going.

Today on Jungle Red Writers , the group blog I belong to, mystery icon Carolyn Hart blogs about exactly this. She can't outline either... and you know, I don't think she's done too badly outlineless.

I hope to finish my first draft by the beginning of April. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, March 4, 2011

What's Next for Georgie?

I'm nearly done with the next Molly book, so naturally my attention is turning to Georgie and what is up for her.
She has been abroad for the past two books, so I think it's time to bring her back to England, don't you? And with the King's Speech doing so frightfully well (as she would say) I'm wondering whether I can do something with Georgie that ties in to that branch of the royals.
Any suggestions on what you'd like to see happening to Georgie next?

And speaking of royal weddings--I am seriously bummed. The royal wedding will happen when I am on the East coast for a convention. I won't even get to watch the whole thing. Not fair. John will record it back at home and I'll watch it later but it's not the same.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rhys at the Poisoned Pen

Last night was my launch party for Bless the Bride at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale AZ. A merry time was had by all with champagne, fortune cookies, shamrock cookies and Rob Rosenwald's famous soda bread which is just yummy. (unfortunately the speaker never gets to eat or drink!)

If you ever happen to be in Scottsdale, then you have to stop by this fantanstic store. Exactly what a bookstore should be. Events at Poisoned Pen are a little different from the average 'here I am and this is my book' sort of thing. Owner Barbara Peters sits with the author and we chat. Sometimes about the book but the conversation wanders as all good conversations do. Last night we found ourselves discussing colonialism and missionaries in Hawaii as a offshoot of the plight of the Chinese in America--which is the theme of Bless the Bride.

I had been telling the audience what I discovered about the abuse of Chinese living in America at the turn of the last century. The US government wanted to send them home but appropriated no funds to do so. So they lived virtually in limbo--no rights at all. No right of citizenship for any child born here. But that didn't happen ofen because it was a society of men and they were not allowed to import their families. So the 1900 census shows 3000 men living in New York's Chinatown and only 30 women. Of course there might have been wives with bound feet lving hidden away, but mostly it was bachelors living in primitive dorms, sleeping on wooden planks and dreaming of the day when they could make enough money to go home. In the meantime they didn't dare cut off their tell-tale braid for in China not wearing the braid was an insult to the emperor and subject to instant beheading.

So some of the Chinese men married Irish girls, who would rather have a hardworking sober Chinese man than a drunken Irish lout. But they were also in limbo, shunned by both communities. Lots of fascinating stuff and of course I could only include a small part of it in my story. But when we shout about human rights abuses in other countries, we should think back a hundred years and realize that we were just as bad.

By the way there was a podcast of our discussion which will be available on the Poisoned Pen website and also on YouTube.