Spotlight: Alumna explores fiction and faith

Laurie R. King (MA ‘84) was recently featured in an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel highlighting her career as a crime novelist exploring the connection between faith and fiction. King’s theological interests and training have found a creative outlet through crime novels.

Celebrated novelist, and proud Santa Cruzan, Laurie R. King has two great intellectual passions. As her international fan base is already aware, one of those is writing smart and gripping crime fiction. But, as few may know, the other is religion.

Before creating her well-known 1920s-era sleuth Mary Russell and modern-day San Francisco cop Kate Martinelli -- the respective heroines of her two series of crime/mystery novels -- King studied comparative religion at UC Santa Cruz and later earned a master's in Old Testament Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

King's Mary Russell, well-known as a kind of female protégé of Sherlock Holmes, is Jewish, and therefore a religious minority in a time and place in which one church, the Anglican Church in this case, makes up the official state religion, King said. King specifically explores religion in the second Mary Russell novel "A Monstrous Regiment of Women," when Mary comes face to face with a charismatic religious leader.

"It gives Russell a chance to interact with someone who is a mystic, which is fascinating to her, because she's a strict rationalist, and she doesn't quite get this highly emotional experience of God."

"Monstrous" also gave King an opportunity to explore the feminine aspects of the Old Testament God, a subject on which she wrote her master's thesis.

"There are parts of the Old Testament that only use feminine imagery and language to describe God -- God as a midwife, a mother, giving birth. It's something we tend of overlook."

Original post at Santa Cruz Sentinel, “Laurie R. King and three other crime novelists explore the links between fiction and faith”