I was fortunate enough to pop a few questions to Sherlock Holmes author and Baker Street Babe, Amy Thomas recently....here is what she had to say.
When did your love of Holmes originate and how?
My first formative memory of Holmes occurred some time before the age of ten. My sister, who is a little older than I am, was getting into the stories, and I checked an audiobook version out of the library. My strongest recollection is that I was scared witless by "The Speckled Band." I went on to read many of the stories and was heartbroken when Holmes "died," until my sister relieved my misery by revealing that he lived on in more stories. Several years later, a friend gave me a copy of The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, and my love of pastiche was born.
Are your parents big readers, did your love of reading stem from them?
My parents are both hugely into reading. My mother has a master's degree in reading education, and she homeschooled me for several years. Her philosophy is that the best way to raise a child who loves reading is simply for parents to have books available and read a lot themselves. This was totally true for me, and homeschooling gave me an opportunity to read many classics, including the Holmes stories.
Your first novel was well received, were you already forming the notion of a second excursion at that time?
While I was writing the first book, I certainly had other potential plot ideas rattling around in my head. Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler are such rich and complex characters that I believe there's nearly unlimited potential for stories about them. I started The Detective, The Woman, and The Winking Tree soon after I finished my first book, but I didn't sit down to really get everything on paper for several months.
Assuming the series continues, do you already see where the future lies with regards to Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler?
In terms of timeline, the second book is sandwiched between the end of the case that I detailed in The Detective and The Woman, but before the events that the Epilogue implies. Without spoiling those who may not have read the first book yet, I would say that I've already revealed one big piece of the puzzle of where the characters end up. The second book continues the process toward that conclusion and adds more pieces of the puzzle, alongside a new mystery.
That answers a question that I was going to ask regarding that epilogue! You mention in your new novel your writing partners. Can you tell us a bit about them and how it works?
I have two amazing writing partners, one of whom lives near me and another one who is all the way across the country. I credit my long-distance writing partner with instilling a lot of the confidence that made me able to write a book in the first place. We exchange writing samples with each other online and critique and comment on one another's writing regularly. She's finished several books and is a great voice of encouragement and suggestion. My other partner, the one in town, is my local cheerleader. She writes for children, a very different genre from mine, obviously, but she has a great understanding of the challenges and ups and downs of the writing/publishing process. Her positive outlook helps me keep going.
What differences did you find in setting the new novel in England as opposed to America? Did it call for greater research?
One of the reasons Winking Tree took longer for me to write than its predecessor is that I was certainly challenged by the prospect of an English setting. As much as I would have liked to set all my books in south Florida, which is familiar to me, it wouldn't have made any sense for England's greatest detective to keep popping up in such an unusual context. I knew that I needed to bite the bullet and take both characters back to a more traditional Holmesian setting. When writing about England, I definitely paid attention to social conventions and ways of speaking, word usage, and manner. Florida at the turn of the century was a little bit wild, but the English countryside before the Great War was a more traditional place. As with my first book, I researched as I wrote and forced myself to be ruthless about jettisoning anything I wasn't sure about. I've been to England more than once, read more English books than I can recollect from several different eras, and consumed a lot of English media of other types as well. Those things definitely helped, though I still spent considerable time on particular questions that came up.
And what part do the Baker Street Babes play in your life? How did your involvement with them come about?
The Baker Street Babes, the ladies that comprise an international, all-female, Holmes-themed podcast, were kind enough to invite me to join them at the beginning of 2012. In addition to being part of recorded interviews and discussions, I also review Holmes-related literature for www.bakerstreetbabes.com ;
And what next for you?
Writing about Sherlock Holmes is addictive! I've started to sketch out ideas for my next book starring the world's greatest detective and the inimitable Irene Adler.
Thanks Amy. Visit Amy's page for her Holmesian insights and information about her two novels, The Detective and The Woman, and The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree (released on February 13th). News there too of a giveaway!!!
What can you find here? Reviews of new and not quite so new Sherlock Holmes novels and collections. Interviews with authors, link to blogs worth following, links to where you can purchase my books and some reviews of my work garnered from Amazon sites. Plus a few scary pics of me and a link to various Lyme Regis videos on YouTube...see what we do here and how....and indeed why!!! Next to the Lyme Regis Video Bar is a Jeremy Brett as Holmes Video Bar and now a Ross K Video Bar. And stories and poems galore in the archives.