I’m still alive!

I’ve gotten a couple of emails asking “Are you okay?” because it’s been so long since I posted on the website, and – you know – covid. Yes, I’m fine, but there are now three things to share, so I’ll see if I can remember how to send out a blog post!

Thing One: It looks like a screen adaptation of The Sparrow may finally be made. Scott Frank, the screenwriter for “Queen’s Gambit,” is writing all the episodes, and I read someplace that his intent is to stick close to the book. Director Johan Renck’s prior work includes the superb HBO series “Chernobyl.” Can’t ask for better than a team like that!

Before you ask, nobody consults me about anything and I have no influence on any aspect of the production, nor do I know when it will be on FX, if it gets that far. At this stage, we all need remind ourselves that nothing in Hollywood is really happening until the cinematographer is on the set eating a breakfast burrito.

Thing Two: The Women of the Copper Country has been getting a lot of love lately. (No interest from Hollywood, but hey! Took 25 years and four attempts for The Sparrow.) We had to cancel half a dozen library events when covid hit and tried to make up the difference with Zoom, but… It’s not the same.

Then, earlier this year, it was named as a Michigan Notable Book and now the novel has been selected as the 2021-22 Great Michigan Read by the Michigan Humanities.  

Click the link for details about participating. This is a whole-state, whole-year series of events, starting in the autumn of 2021. Don and I have been Modernaized, so it’s possible the events will be in person, but that will depend on how covid is behaving.

Thing Three: It’s time to share a decision I’ve made during this quiet year at home.

During the first months of the lock-down, I pushed and dragged myself through to the completion of another novel. Complete is not the same as finished. It would take another 18 months of concentrated effort to do the work that manuscript would require to be publishable. And even if I had the drive and stamina and concentration needed to hammer a half-assed story into shape, there’s this reality: I’d be mortgaging another 3-4 years of my future to the process of publication and support of a new novel.

Don and I are in our 70s now. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in September. We are healthy enough to enjoy every day we have together. We are also aware that life can take a quick, sharp turn.

So I have decided to join Don in retirement. Together, we’ve gotten very good at pottering. We garden. We’re working through 100+ years of inherited photographs. We spoil the dog. Don is learning how to use a 3D printer. I’m farting around with watercolors.

We both worked very hard for a long time. This is a well-earned season of harvest, and we intend to enjoy the time we have together before winter sets in.





44 thoughts on “I’m still alive!”

  1. All my love to you, for you to enjoy life as you see fit, in every minute you can, as many as you can with Don. And when the world opens up as it can, may you decide on a trip to Providence, where you will be welcome with open arms. You’ve done so much and deserve so much.

  2. Well, shoot, I was looking forward to Corpus Christi. But with retirement scheduled for me in 25 days (but who’s counting?), I get it. Wishing you much happiness, good health, and adventures to come – and sending thanks for the pleasure you’ve brought this reader.

  3. I’m sorry we’ll not see that last novel. But, you have earned the enjoyment you are experiencing.

    Someday, could you tell us what it was going to be about? Just interested, as I am fascinated by all the different themes you’ve tackled.

    Peace be with you!

  4. All I can do is send deep gratitude for the wonderful books you have given to us. Oh, and — BRAVO! — for the courage to change your focus as a fully-concious woman elder to the inner path of completion.

  5. As a 70 year old woman, I understand completely. Moreover, as the longest living person in my nuclear family in three generations, it’s my (unexpected) life and I’ll putter if I want to! Peace.

  6. Follow your heart! You’ve blessed us with your writing . We all want you and hubby to be around for a long time. Best Wishes and good health!
    Judy Curin

  7. I will certainly miss looking forward to new and unforeseen voyages with you; unforeseen in the wide and varying scope of your work. But I am 75 myself and well aware that no life lives forever. Enjoy your time. You have earned it. All best wishes.

  8. We’ll miss your future novels, but life goes by too fast not to take time out to enjoy it together while you’re still able. Thank you for the rich legacy you have given your readers.

  9. Thank you for all the wonderful stories. I hope you let us know every once in a while about the great adventures you and Don will be enjoying. Much love to you both.

  10. While my husband and I are saddened there will be no more books with you as author, we welcome you to the wide-open world of retirement. There isn’t enough space in this little box to describe the joys and discoveries that await you.

    We read aloud to each other daily. Your books (yes, we have them all) are about due for a re-read. Thank you for enriching our time together. May you and Don enjoy many happy years in this “new” relationship!

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you have given us. You have earned your retirement. I hope it is long and glorious!

  12. Sad to learn that there won’t be another Mary Doria Russell novel to look forward to. I’ve read all of your novels, and would love to be able to read dozens more. But being close to your age, I completely get your decision to retire, and I wish you many more years of happiness “pottering” with Don!

  13. Congratulations on your retirement, although I am quite certain that I would have enjoyed your new creation. We all deserve to quit at some point. Relax, enjoy and expand your senses.

  14. Follow your heart and enjoy your well deserved retirement knowing you have brought joy so many.

  15. Wise decisions. Coming to grips with our temporary existence on earth is how we grow up. You have made great contributions to the literary world.

  16. Very exciting news about The Sparrow being made into a movie. That would be just fabulous!
    And, Mazel Tov on retirement. You’ve worked hard for many years & you deserve this! Enjoy every minute & I wish you good health & many adventures ahead.

  17. Congratulations. I know that was a difficult decision in many ways. I hope you’ll enjoy the peace and the challenges new directions will bring. We’ll miss you and we’ll reread and reread your novels.

  18. Congratulations on this momentous decision! You both deserve to spend time together, doing fun things. Congratulations on your 59th wedding anniversary too! How wonderful that you still enjoy each other’s company after all these years. I will re-read all your books and wish you both a joyous retirement, enjoying your life together and trying new things! Sending so much love,
    Barb Balkwill

  19. I have read all your books and love each one. I was looking forward to more and more. But congratulations on your decision to retire. Everyone one deserves that. I’ll look forward to the Screen adaptation of The Sparrow although I’ll be holding my breath knowing they can’t possibly put the soul of your book on the screen.
    Please keep up your blog and keep us advised on the progress on both The Sparrow and Women of Copper Country projects.
    Thank you for all your wonderful characters and stories.

  20. Maria…you are amazing and while I’m sad that you are retiring as that means I’ll never get to meet, talk with, or have you sign my copies of Doc or Epitaph which are my favorite books by the way; I am happy that you are moving to your next glorious chapter.

  21. Congratulations on your decision to retire. During the past year I stepped more deeply into my retirement and relish the unfolding of each day. Grace abounds!

  22. Well-deserved retirement, good for you! You had a long run and we wish you well!
    Venice, FL

  23. Oh good for you, congratulations! You deserve a wonderful retirement so I hope it’s divine. Thank you for so many books I’ll always, always treasure.

  24. I love you. I’m disheartened to hear you’re done publishing but I get it and wish you nothing but the best.

  25. Enjoy your retirement. Thanks for the many great reads!

    The Sparrow is my favorite and the novel I’ve most recommended to friends.

  26. while i’m sad that you won’t be gifting us with more novels, thank you for the ones you wrote! and retirement is definitely a good thing when you are aware of the passing of time! (I retired early so we could travel the world — worked well the first year — sigh/laugh)

  27. I wish you well in retirement, I’m sure Don will enjoy having you with him…I have retired, but my husband (who is significantly younger) is still working full-time, while I certainly understand this as reasonable, I do miss the ability to be able for us to plan more things together…so be sure to enjoy the time together.

  28. Good for you! You will be missed. I have enjoyed your novels and meeting you when I worked at Ursuline College. Best wishes on your retirement!

  29. Much happiness to you and Don. I’ve always been an avid reader and of all the authors I’ve enjoyed, you did one thing that none of the others did. You wrote my all time favorite book. I have a paperback of The Sparrow that has things underlined, notes in the margins, and has the patina of an often read book. I also have a hardbound in pristine condition which has, and will always have, pride of place on one of my bookshelves, the cover facing out. Wishing you all the best and—have fun!

  30. Congratulations! It can not have been an easy decision. I hope your “inner path to completion” will include occasional blog posts about the journey. We would all continue to welcome your thoughts.

  31. Excellent decision! How wonderfully sane and humble of you to relinquish the spotlight and enjoy retirement. Thank you for your wonderful books. You have made me laugh. You have caused me to cry from both joy and sadness more times than any other author. I hope you and Don have many serene years of simple pleasures.

  32. Just started The Sparrow for the umpthteen time. I’m not big on rereading books except for this one. It’s my go to when I need a lift. Love all your books and I want to thank for the hours of pleasure you’ve given me. Wish you and Don all the best. I almost want to read your manuscript. Bet it’s better than many finished novels. I’m a little sad but I’m your contemporary and totally understand. Enjoy

  33. How lucky am I to discover you with your “swan-song” The women of Copper Country! I just finished it last night and came to your site today to learn more about you and the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and your well-written account of copper country in my homeland, Michigan. Thank you for taking so much time to research and write their story. Enjoy your retirement – 70s are the new 60s in 2021!

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