A bulletin on the doings and undoings of
Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels
Issue Number 30
Spring 1999
Kristen Whitbread, Editor

also look for:

Another Shirt Ruined! The Amelia Peabody Page
by Margie Knauff & Lisa Speckhardt
With links to other Peters web sites





If you wish to stay on the list, drop me note. Okay, for all of you who, like me, have a habit of putting things off till the last, I gave you a year and it's finally that time. If your name DOES NOT have an "*" before it and you want to remain on the mail list then I must hear from you by August 1, prior to sending the Summer/Fall newsletter. If I haven't heard from you by that date (even if someone else signed you up) I will remove your name. (Apologies to those who sent a renewal notice close to the mailing time of this - once I ship the bulletin off to the printer/mailer I cannot make any changes to the list. There always seem to be a few letters with which I cross in the mail!)

Once again, I must thank those who have written such lovely compliments regarding MPM's books, Margie & Lisa's Website, and, of course, the newsletter. As for those who send bribes -- you really don't have to.  Nonetheless your kindness has been...urp...appreciated.


"I don't know where you get these melodramatic notions. From some novel, I suppose."

-- Elizabeth Peters, The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog

Elizabeth Peters:

Are you truly ready for the next journal of the Peabody-Emersons? Well, get ready!

available JUNE

available MAY


RECORDED BOOKS available NOW - (as narrated by Barbara Rosenblat)

Barbara Michaels:

hardcover -
available NOW

While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put.

Anne Tyler,  The Accidental Tourist

MPM won't be attending Malice Domestic, the annual convention for mystery lovers held in Washington, DC the end of May. Check "ASR" for updates and additions to this list.

  • NEW TIME! JUNE 10, 7PM Borders Books, Bailey's Crossroads,Tysons Corner, Virginia A signing to kick off "The Amelia Peabody" (read on to find out what this is!)
  • ADDITION! JUNE 15, 7PM Bibelot, 1829 Reisterstown Rd., Baltimore, MD - book signing
  • ADDITION! JUNE 17, 7PM Borders Books, Frederick Maryland - book signing
  • CANCELLED! JUNE 24, 6PM The Freer Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C) and ARCE are hosting a talk by MPM in the Meyer Auditorium. The talk is free and open to the public. MPM did NOT cancel this event, it was the Freer Gallery who cancelled it. If you wish to complain to anyone about it, please complain to them.
  • JULY 14, 7PM The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is hosting "Splendors of Egypt" a large exhibit from the collections of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany. This amazing exhibit of items (most never seen in the US before) will include months of lectures, lessons, and workshops meant to educate the public about Ancient Egypt. MPM's talk is the "grand finale of the Summer Institute lecture series".

Sandra Rosenau: National Geographic did a spread on Lawrence of Arabia this month. His character and exploits reminded me of Ramses. Why are we talking about Ramses all the time? I guess we just can't wait to see what he has to do to win his true love's heart. Anybody notice we aren't hearing anything about the age difference any more? As I recall Nefret is some three years older. Ramses would ignore this but is Nefret likely to?

MPM Three years are very important when the parties are 16 and 19 - the difference becomes less important as one gets older. (Trust me on this.) As for Lawrence, I suspect Ramses would consider him something of a poseur.

Sandra Rosenau: It may be gauche to bring up this topic, but how has Amelia avoided repeated pregnancies, given the Emerson's enjoyment of their relationship? She never mentions this issue except for some obscure comment about the time Ramses was born. Is this a case of secondary infertility? I know this isn't any of our business, but one can't help being a little nosy. After all, Amelia herself invites us into her boudoir often enough.

MPM She does not. Only to the door. I do not intend to discuss Victorian methods of birth control. They make even me cringe.

KDW: Amelia does mention that what she had originally viewed as a disappointment (having just one child) turned out to be a gift from an all-knowing providence -- which should suggest something about their ability to avoid repeated pregnancies.

Margaret Miles: I'm sure I'm not the first person to ask the obvious question not covered in the current issue: When is Elizabeth Peters going to write more about Susan Jezovnik and Jamie Erskine? (Who???) (Legend in Green Velvet) (Oh, them.) Given the general trend of the other answers, I can guess the answer to this one, but it would be interesting to hear the excuse. I suppose Jamie has grown the beard again. Given the events of the past several years, it's probably inevitable.

MPM Jamie let his beard grow back and it turned out to be gray. Having seen himself in the mirror he decided he wasn't cut out to be a romantic hero. These things do happen.

Margaret Miles continues: I expect I'm also not the only admirer of The Anthropologists, Abbot and DeKarsky to point out the very fact that their involvement in a further criminal case is "most unlikely" will render the events of such an exceedingly unlikely series of events supremely absorbing to hundreds of thousands of readers - all of whom would naturally purchase not only the hardcover edition but the Barbara Rosenblat audiotape as well.

MPM Naturally, I knew a sequel to Summer of the Dragon would have been an instant best seller but, motivated only by the lofty sentiments of literary contribution, I refused to write for such crass purposes.

Peg Duthie: Regarding Pat Monahan's genealogical hypotheses, my own pet theory is that Ramses' granddaughter gets involved with a descendant of Sethos and... But aside from knowing that MPM isn't telling (yet), I somehow suspect that the Tregarth-Emerson connexion resembles a family hedge rather than a family tree. ("Tree" just sounds too simple for anything that would relate (to) Ramses and/or John.) ...I also rather hope if there's any Emerson-related trouble that it'll be Vicky rescuing John et al rather than vice-versa, but I do realize that they're going to behave the way they're gonna regardless of what I (or even MPM) personally want to happen.

MPM Right. But have fun....

If Rosa Parks had taken a poll before she sat down in the bus in Montgomery, she'd still be standing.

-- Mary Frances Berry, in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World

As a result of the many letters MPM receives regarding all the series she's not currently writing we've decided to take a poll. Send your answers to the PO box and we'll publish the results in the next newsletter. And, in order to spur your response, MPM promises: I solemnly swear to abide by the results of this poll and write my next book on whichever book YOU, the majority, choose (as long as it's the book I was already planning to write).

Given the fact that MPM can only write one book at a time and that each book takes about a year, would you rather have:

1)Another Amelia
2)Another Vicky
3)Another Jacqueline
4)A sequel to Summer of the Dragon
5)A sequel to Legend in Green Velvet
6)A sequel to ______________________________
(fill in blank with your choice)

As all gardeners know, a hobby soon becomes an addiction. Having prepared a proper setting for the Discobolus, we have embarked upon a proper approach to the proper setting: a woodland path winding through the meadow, surrounded by flowering trees and culminating in a forecourt of majestic proportions. (No columns, though.) To those of you who expressed concern, HE survived the winter without damage and with no complaints. In fact, he looks better than ever. (Were that possible.)

And now for something completely different. I have been busy at work on the next Amelia, He Shall Thunder in the Sky. (The title is official.) My editor turns pale when I refer to it as the last Amelia, so I won't, because (inshallah) it isn't. However, it is the culmination of an internal quartet (me and Lawrence Durrell) featuring the younger Emersons, which began with Seeing a Large Cat. I have already received a few protests about the miseries I've inflicted on "the children;" if you think I've been cruel and vicious so far, just wait until you read Falcon at the Portal. Rest assured, however, that Thunder will answer all the unanswered questions, solve all the unsolved mysteries, and make (practically) everybody happy.

After that, who knows? Shall I fill in some of the missing years, proceed with the saga through WWI and beyond, or turn to something else? (Yes, I know how you fans of Vicky feel about that.) I would be interested in hearing your opinions.

I am not touring this year. I wish I could, but I can't. I will be making several local appearances in June and July. Only three are definitely scheduled so far. (See publicity above.)

We'll keep Lisa and Margie informed about other appearances, so check the website. Oh, and do visit your local Borders during July for an "Amelia Peabody." I am honored to be their Author of the Month, and part of the program is the serving of a special drink in those stores that have cafes. I don't know what it will be, but you can be sure it won't be whiskey and soda.

 M    P     M


Archaeology Magazine March/April 1999 "Murder They Wrote" by Amy Lubelski -- an article about Agatha Christie and other "archaeological" mystery writers.

University of Chicago Magazine February 1999 Interview w/ MPM

Ingram Beyond the Cover (free from local libraries and bookstores) Interview w/ MPM

Waldenbooks Waldenbook Reports (available in June/July) Interview w/ MPM


 M    P     M

The collection of letters herein designated "B" are signed by Nefret Forth, as she then was. Since the recipient of them is addressed only as "Dear" or "Darling," the Editor was originally in some doubt as to this individual's identity. She has decided to leave the Reader in doubt as well. Speculation is the spice of life, as Mrs Emerson might say.

--Elizabeth Peters, The Ape Who Guards the Balance


 M    P     M

Connie Frank asks: KDW do you live at MPM's house with your family? It all sounds so cozy with gardeners, cookies, etc. What fun!

KDW Cozy?

MPM Cozy?

KDW I did mention I have a ten year old boy, didn't I? And a fourteen year old girl. And five cats of my own. And A Dog. (Not The Dog - he is preoccupied taking down calves on a farm in Pennsylvania.) But A Dog who has, among other peculiar habits, a fascination with cats in all their various uses -- currently he is working on a recipe book. Somehow, living with MPM doesn't strike me as cozy. In fact, living with my own family isn't particularly cozy. Surely those with ten year old boys can empathize. Now, if you had used the word Disastrous, while a weak substitute for the true nature of things, you might be closer to the experience that would be enjoyed if MPM and I and my family, and my animals lived together.

MPM Cozy?

KDW MPM has five cats of her own, by the way. And two dogs. And no children at home.

MPM Cozy?

KDW Now, see what you've done? She's in shock.

MPM Cozy?

Laurie Ann Rhein: Was The Scroll of Wadi Qumran reprinted as The Dead Sea Cipher or are these two separate books?

MPM Laurie's letter really left me open-mouthed. Some of my books have appeared under other titles, but I never wrote a book called The Scroll of Wadi Qumran. If such a title exists, under the Peters name, I'd like to know who published it.

[MSK Interjects:  I did a search in Books out of Print ( for The Scroll of Wadi Qumran, and it lists that as the "original title" for The Dead Sea Cipher. The publisher is listed as "W. Clement Stone, P M A Communications, Inc.    Apologies for the interruption and we now return you to your reguarly scheduled newsletter.]

Vivian Geiselman wrote to MPM and/or Barbara Rosenblat: I'm sorry to be so ambivalent about the greeting but I've come to the point where you are inseparable in my mind. It no doubt stems from listening to 10 Amelia Peabody Emerson and 5 Vicky Bliss novels [from Recorded Books]. I'm hoping that Ramses will not have to wait too long for his true love, my heart is breaking for him. And could you please make it possible to let poor Cyrus have a little but significant find? As for Vicky Bliss, I think I can see her and her (finally!) husband, Sir John, continue their adventures by solving antique jewelry mysteries. And I agree that Barbara's (Rosenblat) interpretation of Herr Schmidt is priceless.

KDW We agree, which reminds me (we try to do this as often as possible) - if your library doesn't have the Recorded Books edition of the Amelias (or any of MPM's books) call (800) 638-1304 for a catalog to rent or buy the books on tapes.

PS Since retirement, I've made golf my job. Although I do not as a rule use bad language, every once in a while, I do let one slip. You can imagine my own surprise when sending my ball into a lake, my only expression was "curses." It probably was an improvement over what else I might have said.

MPM I'm happy to hear that I have cleaned up someone's language. As for Ramses, you ain't seen nothing yet. It's really touching to hear that so many of you care about the lad.

Linda Boggetti: Thank you for so many delightful hours, both reading and speculating on the Master Criminal and any possible relatives (Actually, a few of my own relatives have come to mind but that's another story.) My daughter says Ramses and Nefret belong together, but I'm actually preoccupied with the Discus Thrower... all that lovely (ah, muscles) culture.

KDW We concur. His "culture" is precisely what has preoccupied us, too.

MPM She sneaks out when I'm not looking. Occasionally we collide.

discobulus (21745 bytes)


Margie and Lisa just concluded another competition on ASR, this time for the galleys of The Falcon at the Portal. No complaints, please. Someone has already received the signed bound galley. But you can still enjoy the entries on their website. If you haven't any internet access see if you can get a friend or librarian to print the submissions for you. You don't want to miss them! Actually, you probably don't want to miss the rest of the site either. (They keep updating the site so there's always something new to enjoy and learn about.)

What, exactly, is too much? I've been giving this one a good bit of thought lately. It is hard not to when you see the dispossessed of armed conflict or natural disasters wherever you turn your head. We strive so hard to accumulate and I must ask myself - for what? And at what point do we begin to say "enough". Not being traditional in my desires -- clothes, furniture and so on--I have always felt rather virtuous. I've compared myself to those around me and thought I had my head pretty level. My niece is on shoe pair #168. (It is her personal goal to supplant Imelda Marcos in the Guiness Book of World Records. Personally, I think she might make it since she's only 27. Go, Christa, go!) There's my one sister-in-law who lives for the mall and measures the year by clothing quarters. When the quarter comes due - you go out, purchase an entire closet-full of outfits, gather up the old outfits, and toss them (to the Thrift shop). She's a size six or I 'd head her off at the pass and rifle through her garbage bags. Or how about my mother who was likely the single biggest contributor to the rebirth of the bauern painting tradition in Germany two decades ago. Land, they must miss her. No, that type of acquisitiveness has never interested me. (I won't even start on the Beanie Baby craze that has infected my other sister-in-law.) But me? No, not I. I have never succumbed to such accumulation. Perhaps that is why I am going home tonight to plant over two hundred bushes and shrubs. But they'll be good for the environment! They'll offer nourishment for the birds. Okay, truth be told, I couldn't pass up a deal. I was able to choose ten of each native specimen for the usual price of two. It was like being in a"penny" candy shop when I was a kid. Okay, even then I probably wouldn't have walked out with two hundred items. I might have wanted to but I couldn't have afforded it. So, now have I got enough? I'll let you know when I've dug the 220th hole.

(Since we're all readers out there I'm sure I need not add that books don't even come into any deliberations of excess. Books are not about accumulation; they are about enrichment, expansion, and enlightenment. You should see my extended family's faces when they reckon with my shelves of books. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Shelves of Beanie Babies.... Shelves of books.... And our perspective is the right one.)

"You," she said, "with long skirts, sweep up and carry home with you samples of all sorts of filth from the streets, and besides you are not modest, for when you must lift your skirts there is always a suggestive display of hosiery, while I come home free from extraneous matter and never have to expose my ankles."

--Adelaide W. Smith quoting Dr. Mary Walker who wore male attire from Reminiscences of an Army Nurse during the Civil War (submitted by Elizabeth Foxwell)