Q&A with Alexander McCall Smith discussion

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The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

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Barbara Albin | 20 comments My name is Barbara Soloski Albin. I am the person on the internet who has been writing 1000's of emails to bring back the series in some form, I have been doing this since the series ended. I have written journalists, cast members, costume designer, Tim Bricknell and Michael Lombardo of HBO. These people have written to me at one time or another. I even sent a bottle of tears to Hbo Headquarters. I love and have the books, audio, radio and the series. What I want to know is if HBO does nothing with the series, do you still have any decision making ability with the television rights? I understand if you can't answer this. Be assured, I will be reading and re-reading these books no matter what happens, but the series really brought the characters to life and Jill Scott really was Precious Ramotswe. Thank you for all the enjoyment you have given me and your millions of fans.


Rachel (thewretched) | 3 comments When will this series end? How many more books are planned? Thanks!


Bob (BoisBlanc) | 2 comments This is not a question but a comment - Barbara has expressed my thoughts admirably. Each of the forms of the stories has held me entranced - especially the reading of Adjoa Andoh. But I hope that the BBC can be interested in producing a TV series based on future books filmed in Botswana despite the high cost. HBO's decision not to do a series based on the existing books has disappointed a large number of people for whom the the other forms (book, audio, etc) are not accessible.


Julrobs | 5 comments I have not heard when or if another show will come out. I can read the bks as long as they keep coming! I savor them, although I read them fast! They are such nice bks, without being unrealistic and boring, to me.
I can't wait to find out what will happen with Bertie! The pirate thing was so funny! Bertie's mom is a trip, too!


Alexander McCall Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Barbara wrote: "My name is Barbara Soloski Albin. I am the person on the internet who has been writing 1000's of emails to bring back the series in some form, I have been doing this since the series ended. I have ..."
Dera Barbara, What a generous e-mail! Thank you for all your support. HBO has now announced that they want to do two further films and have appointed a screenwriter. I am most grateful to you for all that you have done for the series and I think that you have finally got through to HBO - well done!
Your e-mail has prompted me to form a new order: THE ORDER OF THE FRIENDS OF MMA RAMOTSWE. You are hereby appointed a Commander (First Class) in the Order. Congratulations! AMcS


Alexander McCall Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "When will this series end? How many more books are planned? Thanks!"

I have agreed to write fourteen in books in the series. I shall, however, be happy to continue beyond that if people wish me to! AMcS


Alexander McCall Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Bob wrote: "This is not a question but a comment - Barbara has expressed my thoughts admirably. Each of the forms of the stories has held me entranced - especially the reading of Adjoa Andoh. But I hope that..."
Thank you for these kind remarks. I hope that the new HBO films are at least some form of substitute. AMcS


Alexander McCall Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Julrobs wrote: "I have not heard when or if another show will come out. I can read the bks as long as they keep coming! I savor them, although I read them fast! They are such nice bks, without being unrealistic..."
Thank you. Bertie is one of my favorite characters. Poor boy - what a mother he has. There is quite a bit about him in the next Scotland Street book, "The Importance of Being Seven" to be published in the UK in July and int he USA early next year. AMcS


Marion (MarFen) | 1 comments I started reading the No.1 Ladies series, but switched to the audio version about 4 books in. The acting has been wonderful and I am often laughing out loud on my audio walks and in the gym. I introduced the HBO version via dvd to a friend who is the grandfather of a Botswana boy fathered by his son while he was working there twenty years ago. The boy now lives in the Boston area near his father. The young man recommended your series to his American grandfather for him to get an idea of his early life.

My question: I wonder why you leave Mma. Ramotswe's children in the shadows. Will we be seeing the children and Mma. Ramotswe's parenting skills soon? I can hear Grace Makutsi advice already.

I also enjoyed all the 44 Scotland Street books on audio!


Barbara Albin | 20 comments In response to Bob my hope is that one of the producing companies will make more shows. From what information I have gathered (and not easily) it appears to be HBO and maybe The Weinstein Company. I will not give up ( at least not yet) because as much as I love to read the books and listen to the audios, I am looking forward to Jill Scott and the entire wonderful cast returning to continue the story. Jill Scott brought Mma. Ramotswe to life, with her beauty, strength and infectious smile. Anika Noni Rose just makes you laugh and cry at the same time as she portrys Grace Makutsi and I can not say enough about how Lucian Msamati is probably Mr. JLB Matakoni. A series that appeals to all ages, colors, genders and natinalities. I can't imagine my world without The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in any form and I have to thank Alexander McCall Smith for adding this joy into my world.


Barbara Albin | 20 comments Alexander wrote: "Barbara wrote: "My name is Barbara Soloski Albin. I am the person on the internet who has been writing 1000's of emails to bring back the series in some form, I have been doing this since the serie..."


Barbara Albin | 20 comments Dear Mr. Mcall Smith, I just drove through 2 hours of snow in the month of May in Northern California, to come home and find your posting. A friend congratulated me on my new appointment, and I had no idea what he was talking about. I accept with the grace and dignity that Mma. Ramotswe would. I am looking forward to further shows, books and of course I am now listening to the UK versions of the audio, which are wonderful. Your note has made me a very happy "lady", what more could a mother wish for on mother's day besides the health and welfare of her family. Best regards, Barbara Soloski Albin My best to you and your family.


North | 4 comments I also really loved the HBO series. It was great!!!! I bought HBO just for it! :-) North
Barbara wrote: "My name is Barbara Soloski Albin. I am the person on the internet who has been writing 1000's of emails to bring back the series in some form, I have been doing this since the series ended. I have ..."


North | 4 comments I'm so excited to hear that HBO will make more shows! Any idea when they will air? I've looked on HBOs website and found nothing. :-) North Alexander wrote: "Barbara wrote: "My name is Barbara Soloski Albin. I am the person on the internet who has been writing 1000's of emails to bring back the series in some form, I have been doing this since the serie..."


Jennifer Mcfarlane | 1 comments Hello! I love your Botswana-based books, and have a request/book suggestion: I enjoy imagining all the Botswana locations you describe as Mma Ramotswe travels around her country, and I would love to read a book from you (perhaps titled "The Wit and Wisdom of Mma Ramotswe") that contained pithy and poignant quotes from the series along with photographs of Botswana and her people. . .


Linda | 1 comments I think Jennifer has a wonderful idea!


Cait | 1 comments Hello! I love the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. As a teenager, I have been looking for some great role-model characters in books, and I finally found some in this series. I picked up the first in the series at the beginning of my school break, and I read through the series in the week--I couldn't put them down! As an aspiring writer, I was wondering how you go about writing a story? Do you come up with the plot beforehand or do you make it up as you go? I participated in the National Novel Writing Month this past year, and I had to come up with a plot for my mystery book on the fly, which was difficult but quite a rewarding experience.

Also, how do you come up with new characters? They are all such vivid, imaginative, and unique people. I love the little facts you choose to include about each one of them--from Mma Makutsi's 97% to her love for shoes. These little details are the ones which make them so unique.

Thank you very much for this wonderful series!


Connie Brown (connie_reads) | 11 comments To Cait--wait 'til you meet the wonderful characters in 44 Scotland Street, especially Bertie and Cyril!


Katharine (kmagmo) | 1 comments Dear Mr. Smith,

I am so happy to hear that HBO will be making more shows from "The No.1 L.D.A." series. I own all the books and have read them twice (so far.) Their gentle wisdom and humanity is such a breath of fresh air in this world. Thank you so much!

Katharine Moss


Karla | 1 comments It seems I am in excellent company as a fan of The No. 1 books. I wonder, sir, if there is a woman after whom you've modeled Mma Ramotswe. She is a warm, strong character with such a unique, yet powerful, voice. She exists as real for me---even without having seen the shows---as any living, breathing person I know!


message 21: by Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ (last edited May 10, 2010 07:18PM) (new)

 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ  (tivarepusoinegnimunamuhsunegiuq) | 1 comments really? wew.. can't wait :D


Teresa | 1 comments Dear Alexander McCall Smith,

Our book club in Gilbert Arizona is meeting tomorrow night to discuss The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. If you were to come to our group, what is one thing you would want us to know about you, and what is one thing you would want us to know about your book? I enjoyed the book immensely (for the second time). Thank you!


patience (texanreader) | 1 comments Mr. McCall Smith,

I've enjoyed your books immensely. I think that Mr. J.L. B. Matakoni's thought, that Mma Ramotswe's father was such a wonderful man because he raised an amazing daughter, is one of the more romantic things I've read.

I was told that you've also mentioned that you take requests. Like many south Africans, I and my sister have names that the Puritans would recognize: Patience and Amity. Amity or I would love to see our names in one of your books. Growing up with such a name has not always been pleasant and it seems to bring out the comedian in everyone. I think that maybe I'd have enjoyed growing up in a community where "virtue" names are more common.

Thanks again for your writing. I always tell my friends that you're one of my favorite authors and that you write very good fiction that is also good philosophy and practical ethics.

Sincerely,
Patience


Annie (AnnieofBlueGables) | 5 comments Dear Mr. McCall Smith,
I certainly enjoy any book I have read by you. I love the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I heard there are new ones. I can hardly wait to know the titles. I have asked my Library to order all of them and so far they have ordered every book I have requested by you. I am a huge fan. I love the voice. I love the audio books and the amazing reader. She makes the listener feel like she is there. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful books. I Love the Scotland Series and the Isabel Dalhousie series. All are delightful. Thank you.
~a


Barbara Albin | 20 comments Please if you get a chance email michael.lombardo@hbo.com and richard.plepler@hbo.com and tell them you are loooking forward to new shows coming back to the t.v. We have to let HBO know how we fans feel personally about the series. Thanks.


Pam (musicpam) | 1 comments I love the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next one each time as I finished the one I was reading.

Mma Ramotswe is such a delightful character. Reading the books made me want to try bush tea. Is it possible to get bush tea in the USA? (The kind that Mma Ramotswe loves?)

Please do keep writing more - I wait in anticipation because it is pure enjoyment reading this fun series.


Sharon Johnson (justanoldlady) | 2 comments Pam wrote: "I love the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next one each time as I finished the one I was reading.

Mma Ramotswe is such a delightful character. Reading ..."


Hi Pam, I found the bush tea and it was called Rooibos or Red Bush tea. It has a great aroma and taste. Hope this helps.


message 28: by Sharon (last edited May 10, 2010 08:30PM) (new)

Sharon Johnson (justanoldlady) | 2 comments I love all of the characters in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency. I enjoy their interactions and especially enjoy Mme. Ramotswe's good sense solutions to everything. Please don't stop writing this series. I look forward to them so much and practically devour each one. I also enjoy the Isabel Dalhousie series as well. Thank you for many hours of pleasant reading.


North | 4 comments I just did! :-)

Barbara wrote: "Please if you get a chance email michael.lombardo@hbo.com and richard.plepler@hbo.com and tell them you are loooking forward to new shows coming back to the t.v. We have to let HBO know how we fan..."


Vineet (vb2000) | 1 comments Dear Mr. McCall Smith,

Thank you so very much for the fantastic Ladies Detective Agency books, each of which has had such a serene and calming effect. Just love the wonderful sense of place and time.

Looking forward to more books, and please do not let the series end so easily.

Regards,
Vineet


Jennifer (knittinjen) | 3 comments Alexander wrote: "Rachel wrote: "When will this series end? How many more books are planned? Thanks!"

I have agreed to write fourteen in books in the series. I shall, however, be happy to continue beyond that if ..."


Umm, I think it's safe to say we want you to continue! And thank you, by the way, for finally giving Fanwell a name! (not sure I spelled that correctly, I listen to the books)


Jennifer (knittinjen) | 3 comments Karla wrote: "It seems I am in excellent company as a fan of The No. 1 books. I wonder, sir, if there is a woman after whom you've modeled Mma Ramotswe. She is a warm, strong character with such a unique, yet ..."

I know what you mean about real - I may be going on a mission to Tanzania, and I thought to myself - maybe I could run over to Botswana and meet Mma Ramotswe - haha! I would be so disappointed if I ever did visit Botswana not to find the Tlokweng Motors / #1 Ladies Detective Agency there, it would break my heart. (no I'm not a lunatic, I know they don't exist. Still...)


Jamie | 2 comments Hi Mr. McCall Smith,

I really love your books. They are very uplifting and always make me happy. I love the descriptions of the country, they always make me want to visit there someday! I have not read them all yet, but am currently reading the 8th book in the series.

My questions are:

Do you ever find it challenging to write from a black woman's perspective as a white man?

Have you had any feedback from people in Botswana about your books? How do they feel about the books?

How did you decide to set the books in Botswana? Did you used to live there?

Do you already know how the series will end or do you only plan one book at a time?

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us on Goodreads!


Jon Alexander wrote: "Rachel wrote: "When will this series end? How many more books are planned? Thanks!"

I have agreed to write fourteen in books in the series. I shall, however, be happy to continue beyond that if ..."



for selfish reasons i wish youd stop the series! . Its the only series of books ive managed to get right the way through as ive loved them all and love the lazy paced Africanness of them, but every time i manage to say Ive read everyone of those books, you go and write another, now im 2 behind again!. How inconsiderate :)


Paula Ratcliffe (PaulaCBS) my question is how did you come about writing the ladies detective agency?

I am reading the first one right now, but my mother-in-law loves them.


Linda (LindaMOM) | 4 comments Barbara wrote: "My name is Barbara Soloski Albin. I am the person on the internet who has been writing 1000's of emails to bring back the series in some form, I have been doing this since the series ended. I have ..."


message 37: by Linda (last edited May 11, 2010 08:22AM) (new)

Linda (LindaMOM) | 4 comments I am glad to read your posting. I have dearly loved these books and recommended them to just about everyone. I was afraid the HBO show would be a disappointment and didn't watch it. Now maybe I will buy it on DVD. My brother recommended them to me.


Linda (LindaMOM) | 4 comments Alexander wrote: "Rachel wrote: "When will this series end? How many more books are planned? Thanks!"

I have agreed to write fourteen in books in the series. I shall, however, be happy to continue beyond that if ..."



Linda (LindaMOM) | 4 comments YES, YES, YES!!! Please!


Chantelasco | 1 comments I am very excited at this opportunity as I am a huge fan of this series (I have also read a couple of the books in the 44 Scotland Street series). As another reader wrote above, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books simply make me happy. As a former prosecutor here in the U.S., there is something I find so refreshing about the little mysteries solved in such simple, ethical and satisfying ways by Mma Ramotswe (when real life seems so complicated!) Also, I lived briefly in Tanzania and have traveled to a few African countries and have a real love of the land and the people so I genuinely enjoy the "vacations" back to that continent your books provide. Thank you so much for that!

The question I have always had for you when reading these books is how a Scottish man is able to write so convincingly from the perspective of a Botswanan woman! I understand you have lived and worked in Botswana but it still amazes me that you are able to create such amazing characters in such a different context as your own!


Katherine I'm not sure what inspired me to pick up the first installment of this delightful series, it was so long ago! But, despite my busy life, I have managed to read a few more of them, always with great pleasure and always much relaxed for having done it.... All of the characters are so well written that I can "see" and "hear" them as though I were in their company. Having my own mental image of them, I've resisted the temptation of seeing the HBO series. One request I have for you, and other authors whose series I follow, can you somehow indicate the volume of each book. I never am on the same page volume-wise and get lost when trying to figure out which book to read next and stay in the proper progression of events!


Jennifer (knittinjen) | 3 comments Katherine wrote: "I never am on the same page volume-wise and get lost when trying to figure out which book to read next and stay in the proper progression of events!"

I have the same problem - the ones that I own physically (as opposed to on audible) I have written in black sharpie. Here's the web site, maybe you could use this to number your copies.

http://www.randomhouse.com/features/m...


Karen Bowen (mosslaker22) | 1 comments My husband and I love the audio books of #1 Ladies Detective Agency and eagerly await return of the HBO series...as wonderful to watch as to read. Double enjoyment!

Would you consider leading a group tour of Botswana? We could sip our cups of rooibus (bush tea) and discuss the cattle. It would be such fun to see the real Botswana, except maybe the hippos and gators while on the water in the delta.

Thank you for bringing your characters and the country of Botswana to life. May there be many more than 14 books in this series!


Linda Johnson (barlow0502) | 1 comments May I please be the second member of THE ORDER OF THE FRIENDS OF MMA RAMOTSWE. I want her to be my friend!
Thanks for all the wonderful stories.


Darren Davies | 1 comments Thank you all your wonderful stories. I have had to pace myself for fear of reaching the end. The characters warm you inside like a good single malt and a pair of comfy slippers. You are transported to a place and pace of life that we have sadly lost sight of.

Write faster.

Many thanks, Darren


Katherine Thank you, Jennifer--what a help! I'll check the other publisher websites for my other authors. Perhaps my problem is solved. Off I go with Sharpie in hand, whilst it is fresh in my mind!


Katherine I agree with Karen--a trip to Botswana guided by you would be fabulous. I'd start saving my shekels immediately!


Regina | 1 comments Dear Mr. McCall Smith,
I have read ALL your books and really love all of them, but my favourite is the series about Botswana and Mma Ramotswe. I teach English and I made my students read the first book from the series and now they became addicted to it too. So you can see your books can be used for teaching English. I also watched the film and it´s great. Even Milos Forman mentioned it in an interview and said it´s one of the best movies he had seen lately.
I ma looking forward to a new addition to the series and hope it will come out soon.


Helen (Hat213) | 1 comments Hi,

My name is Helen Tillman and I have enjoyed this series so much (as well as the other series that you have written) and I hope you will go beyond the 14 books that are scheduled. You have made these characters so easy to become friends with. My question to you is, have you actually met someone who is so like Mme Ramotswe? Thank you.


Karla | 1 comments Where did you get the idea to create the idea for the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series. Did anyone inspire the characters? I love the lessons that each book has to offer.


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