Sherlock Holmes came to me in the form of Jeremy Brett (still the best Sherlock) while watching him on television in high school...a bit later I developed a further interest and starting reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books.
Had in been in your mind to write a Holmes pastiche long before you did so?Sherlock Holmes and the Discarded Cigarette started out as just a "what if" idea some time back and only when I got my first computer with MS Word I started writing...it was written over a two year span. I really didn't even know I was writing a pastiche at the time I just remembered bits and pieces from the original stories and as I was writing they just seemed to fit in with what I was writing at the time.
John Druitt first...while thinking up a character who would take advantage of a jilted wife to further his own criminal career I was stuck trying to create such a person...so with a little research of criminals at work in 1895 I came across a minor suspect in the Jack the Ripper case...John fitted the bill...I just changed his career to a small time art forger...who goes to an H.G. Wells reading of his first science fiction book (The Time Machine) and the story pretty much wrote itself.
Mary Watson...always an after thought...who according to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dies two years after her marriage to John Watson...it was while I was writing the second book that I felt that John Watson should acknowledge the woman that he had been married to and the part she played in his life...it wasn't too clear about the relationship between Sherlock and Mary...so I took the initiative and had John...during Christmas, make introductions. I have a special place in my writing for Mary Watson because in the third and fourth books she takes on more importance in each story...up until now there are few strong female characters in classic Sherlock Holmes stories...the only one that comes to mind is Irene Adler...with Mary Watson as a main character I can move on from formula Sherlock Holmes stories and explore new story ideas.
Your second Holmes pastiche was set at the time of The Great War. Was this an area you were familiar with or did you learn as you wrote?
Sherlock Holmes and The Terrible Secret served a number of purposes...first it is often referred to as "the forgotten war...I wrote the book with two ideas as another "what if story" and as a brief history of the first world war...I should go back and say that I am a student of history...world war one changed the world...up until then war was almost polite and civilized...but with all the innovations and inventions war became impersonal and a matter of acceptable losses. There was a lot I knew about world war one and a lot I learned a lot while doing research.
Right now just waiting for the release date of Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery Writer where Mary Watson through a tragic loss takes centre stage in recording the great detective's cases...I am now working on Sherlock Holmes and The Escape Artist (based on the career of Harry Houdini)...up until now all of the stories have been set some where in England...this time on the invitation of her American cousin, Mary and Sherlock have been invited to stay in New York City...where Alice (Mary's cousin) her husband Peter, Mary and Sherlock go to see a performance of Harry Houdini's feats of illusion...and where Mary at Central Park runs into a troublesome young lady she had first seen in Gravesend.
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