Laurie R. King was born in 1952 in Oakland, California, and grew up on the West Coast. As a child, her family moved often, so that the library was her true home and books her only constant companion. Although reading was a constant in her life, writing came later. King earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and later earned a master’s degree from the Graduate Theological Union. Married in her twenties, she raised two children and did not start writing until the age of thirty-five, when her younger child started preschool. King said that the character of Mary Russell suddenly appeared in her head and began telling her story. The bulk of the first draft was written inside a month, but The Beekeeper’s Apprentice: Or, On the Segregation of the Queen (1994), the first volume in the Mary Russell series, was not King’s first published book. Instead, the second work King wrote, A Grave Talent, introducing Inspector Kate Martinelli of the San Francisco Police Department, was published in 1993, winning an Edgar Award. Although there were some initial legal problems over King’s use of the Sherlock Holmes character, these were resolved and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was published in 1994.
King found herself in the enviable position of having two successful mystery series, both widely read and critically praised, although the Mary Russell series was the more popular of the two. Although two ongoing series might seem enough to keep most writers busy, the prolific King has also written nonseries thrillers, beginning with A Darker Place (1999), and a futuristic novel, Califia’s Daughters (2004), released under the name Leigh Richards. She contributed the introduction to a reissue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901-1902) and has published short fiction in several anthologies.