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.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Grinning cats...Captain Nemo...and Sherlock Holmes! An Interview with Joseph Svec.

In addition to Joseph Svec's Sherlock Holmes books, He has previously written and published a book of rhymed metered story poems, Mystical Journeys. He has also written a Guide to Toy Castles and Knights from Around the World. It covers 60 years of toy castle production from 10 different countries, covering over 100 different toy castles. It has been sold to readers in 16 different countries. He has given two presentations to the Amador county Holmes Hounds Sherlockian Society, one on Arthur Conan Doyle's second most popular character, Professor George Edward Challenger, and one on Captain Nemo. Interestingly enough, Sherlock Holmes crosses paths with both of them on numerous occasions. Another interest of his is creating 54mm dioramas. He has created dioramas on many different subjects including Robin Hood, the Battle of Grunwald, in 1410, the classical music piece A Night on Bald Mountain, H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He has one Sherlock book out right now, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Grinning Cat. The sequel, Sherlock Holmes in the Nautilus Adventure, just went to the MX printer. They are books 1 & 2 in his Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Authors Trilogy.  The first book as you can tell is a Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland crossover, as the Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter turn up at 221-B Baker street to enlist the help of Sherlock to locate Alice who is missing from Wonderland, and Lewis Carroll, who is also not to be found. Between a Unicorn, the Jabberwocky, Wonderland humor and word play as well as logic puzzles, H. G. Wells and his time machine, this is a most strange and curious adventure. The second book is Sherlock Holmes in the Nautilus Adventure, featuring Captain Nemo!  

Your love of adventure is readily apparent from your interests. When did that spill over into your writing?
I have always enjoyed writing and medieval fantasy, however, until recently, most of  my writing has been in rhymed, metered verse. I very much enjoy writing story poems. 

Would you say that there are very few books published today which approach the level of enjoyment provided by say, Jules Verne for instance? 
No, there are still excellent books being written today. The Chronicles of the  Imaginarium Geographica, by James Owen, is an outstanding series. Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle are all characters in that series, which makes it even more interesting. Many of the pastiches being written today are excellent stories.

When did you first formulate the idea to write a Sherlock Holmes pastiche?
Sherlock Holmes is considered the ultimate proponent of logic and rational thought. The idea came to mind, how would he react to the ultimate un-logical character, the Cheshire Cat? The book developed from that idea.

Sherlock Holmes and the Grinning Cat is quite a crossover. Were you apprehensive as to how it would be received by Holmes fans?
I really did not have any apprehension. Readers like Sherlock Holmes. They also like Alice in Wonderland, as well as H.G.Wells and time travel, so this book should have a very wide audience. Initial comments have been that the Wonderland characters are very well portrayed, and that Sherlock is at the top of his game.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nautilus Adventure takes the reader firmly into Jules Verne territory.  Did you always want to combine those elements?
Once I started writing new Sherlock Holmes stories , yes. Again, I thought it would make a great combination. Take one of my favorite authors and characters and put him in a story with the world's greatest detective. 

Your first two Holmes adventures are part of the Missing Authors trilogy. Who will be next?
The third book is titled Sherlock Holmes and Round Table Adventure. The missing author is Alfred Lord Tennyson, who wrote The Idylls of the King, a epic series of poems about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He was the Poet Laureate of England.

Your guide to Toy Castles and Knights from around the world sounds fascinating. A life-long love? How many toy castles do you own up to owning?
Yes, toy castles have been an interest of mine since childhood. At one time just after completing that book, I owned over 100 toy castles, but now my toy castle collection is down to somewhere around 65. I have a hobby room where I have at least 15 of them set up in full dioramas. 

After the completion of the Missing Authors trilogy, what then for you?
I am thinking of a Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Scientist trilogy, as well as Unicorn novel. I have over 150 books on the subject of Unicorns, so I have great deal of source material. I also think a Sherlock Holmes pastiche that involves tea would be fun. I am an avid tea enthusiast, and my tea chest includes over 200 different flavor/varieties of tea.

If you were bundling up five of the very best adventure stories to take to a desert island, which five would you choose?
That is a tough one. I tend to read series, not just individual books.
My three absolute favorite series are The lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the previously mentioned, Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica Of course I would want to bring Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth.                               
Can we expect to see a Sherlock Holmes diorama from you?
That is a fun thought.  Sherlock Holmes stories tend to be on a smaller personal scale, while dioramas tend to be on a grand epic scale. It could be done though and would be a fun project. I will add that to,my list of future plans I must say here that the combination of Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland was a fun writing project. My wife is a great part of all of my writing, providing input, inspiration and ideas. She is truly my muse.

Thanks Jospeh! Visit Joseph's website HERE

Monday, 11 January 2016

Killing Dr Watson!! An Interview with Matt Ferraz

Matheus Fernandes Ferraz Soares, and  a 25 year-old Brazilian from a industrial town called Contagem in the state of Minas Gerais. He never had English lessons outside regular school, and learned the language through movies and internet. He has always loved the mystery genre, from Agatha Christie to Dashiell Hammett and of course, Conan Doyle. His first Portuguese written book, Teorema de Mabel, was self published. After years of trying to publish a book in his mother tongue through a regular publishing house, he decided to write a book in English, and that was Killing Dr. Watson. He has just got his degree in Journalism and is about to move to England to take his Masters in Biography at the University of Buckingham.

Can you tell me about your background in your home town?

I was born and raised in Contagem, an industrial town in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Contagem is a developed town, but its only cultural spots are its two shopping malls. Every time I wanted to see a play, go to a library or watch a non-mainstream film on a theatre, I had to take an hour and a half bus ride to Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state. I had to take that same ride everyday for four years to take my degree in Journalism. So I'd always bring a book with me, and must have read a million words during these bus trips. They were a huge part of my education.

You learned English from reading. How difficult was that?         

It just came off naturally. We had English classes in school, but they just covered the basics. I didn't have internet at home until I was sixteen, so I liked to rent DVD's and watch English films without subtitles. After internet, it got much easier, as I could read websites and watch a ton of videos in English. Once I was confident enough, I started writing texts and sending them to websites. After a decade of practice, I guess I just got good.

Which authors did you concentrate on in those early days?

There was a wonderful series of books in Brazil called Coleção Vagalume ("Firefly Collection"). They had fun, adventurous novels for young teenagers that didn't treat us like fools. One of my favourite ones was "O caso da borboleta atiria" ("The case of the butterfly atiria"), a whodunit mystery with insects as protagonists. Another one was "Enigma na TV" ("Enigma on television"), which is a major influence for "Killing Dr. Watson".

A huge turning point for me was when I was nine and my teacher lent me Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Nile". I instantly became an Hercule Poirot aficionado, and wanted to read every single one Christie's books. That's when I actively started writing crime stories, trying to create my own detective. From her I went to Edgar Alan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen King and many others. Another writer who was very important to me in my teens was Terry Pratchett. I simply loved his Discworld books!

Your first novel was written in your native Portuguese. Can you tell us more about it and how it came about?

My first book was "Teorema de Mabel" ("Mabel's Theorem"), a novella about a young girl, Mabel, who dreams of becoming a writer. She gets an invitation to work as a secretary for her favourite writer, Milton Dantas, but finds out that what he really wants is her typewriting machine, which holds a very dark secret. I've always been fascinated by typewriters, and wanted to write a book about them. "Teorema de Mabel" brought me a lot of joy and the chance to appear in local media. I have plans to translate it to English myself.     

Your new novel, 'Killing Dr. Watson' was written in English. That must have been a challenge?

My mother has a saying: when you don't know something is impossible, you may have a chance of succeeding on it. That's what I did. Writing in a different language is harsh as it is, but writing literature is simply insane! Plus, I was on my last year in college, doing my monograph on TV series Elementary, and applying for my Masters at the University of Buckingham. In the end it all worked up well: I got my degree, finished my book and was accepted at Buckingham. Only now I see how crazy that was.

Ah, Buckingham...I spent my teenage years there!! Briefly, without giving anything away, what is the novel about?

"Killing Dr. Watson" is a novel about fandom. My main character, Jerry Bellamy, is obsessed with a BBC series called "The Baker Street Sleuth", where Sir Bartholomew Neville played Sherlock Holmes. The book starts at a TV series convention, when Jerry is eager to meet his idol. But after a series of bizarre events, they find out there's a serial killer going after the actors who played Watson in the different seasons of the show. Neville and Jerry team up to solve the mystery, like modern Holmes and Watson, with one major difference: neither of them is that smart, which makes it even harder to catch the killer. 

Have you plans for another similar work?

I really enjoy writing crime novels, and will certainly return to the genre. Another thing I'd love to do is a spy thriller, but this isn't my next project yet. I have a great idea for a private detective character that I'll develop throughout 2016.

And what of the future, what are your immediate plans?

Right now I'll focus on my academic career, which is something I'm love with. I'm currently working for a crime fiction magazine, that gives me a unique chance to meet and interview other crime writers. I have lots of plans, some of them represent great challenge. I still don't know how people would react to the idea of a Brazilian writing a Cold War spy thriller, for example. I guess we'll have to find out.

Thanks Matt!

Killing Dr Watson is available on Amazon UK HERE

On Amazon USA  HERE

And at the Book Depository  HERE

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Sherlock Holmes in Venice

A few years ago I wrote a very odd piece where Holmes and Watson meet Laurel and Hardy (re-posted here recently). In it, Watson is described as trying to write up his notes for The Gondolier and the Russian Countess. Several years later here it is:


‘No dawdling again please, Watson,’ Holmes called.
With a grimace, I set off in pursuit. There were to be a few more twists and turns on our route before we entered the Campo dei Mori. Pinpointing Angelo’s address, even though we turned out to be virtually on top of it, proved to be very tricky indeed, but eventually we climbed a set of stairs that took us to his apartment. The hollow sound that greeted Holmes’s knock on the door told us of an empty apartment.
‘Evidently Angelo is not home. I don’t see what more we can do.’
‘I hardly expected that he would be home, but now we are here we can best be employed by interviewing his neighbours. Any information they can supply however trivial it may seem could aid us.’
Four of the other five apartments were apparently empty for no one answered our earnest knocking. The door of the solitary apartment on the ground floor was opened an inch or two and all we could see of the occupant was a left eye which was protected by the bushiest of eyebrows and a left cheek adorned with flamboyant whiskers. The voice was muffled owing to the heavy door jammed in front of its owner’s mouth.
‘Good morning, gentlemen. Is there something I can help you with?’
Our surprise at being greeted in English became greater when the door swung fully open to reveal man who belonged to an earlier age. His style of dress was as dated as were his whiskers, which appeared to have a life of their own, being too large and bushy for the thin face they framed. I was forcibly reminded of a professor of English who taught me at Winchester, following his fall from grace at one of our smaller universities.
‘You must forgive our intrusion,’ said Holmes as we were invited in by an elaborate sweep of the arm. ‘My name is Sherlock Holmes and this is my friend and colleague, Doctor Watson. We wish to ask you a few questions regarding Angelo who rents an apartment on the top floor here.’
‘I see. Well, do come in. You are most cordially welcomed into my humble abode.’
This humble abode had the appearance of an ancient library, dust covered books filled every available space. Piles rose vertically defying gravity by refusing to topple. The large book cases pressed back against the walls were not just adorned with volumes of every size, but cobwebs hung down from the uppermost corners of each one. This chaos was negated slightly by the order I could see on a large desk situated under the window where pens paper and dictionaries were sitting quite neatly and most surprisingly, dust free.
‘Please sit down,’ he offered, then looked around, surprised by the fact there was precious little to sit on. He swept a few periodicals and journals onto the floor from the chairs they had been occupying and took his place on a well-upholstered chair behind the desk, evidently his usual habitat.
‘Now we have a degree of comfort, we can proceed. Your names are known to me. Indeed, I have some of your work here, Doctor Watson. Tell me, do you realise how often you confuse your tenses? I would also recommend working on your subjunctives, they can be a little clumsy. Aside from those small criticisms, to which I might add your very singular approach to punctuation, I have enjoyed your accounts very much.’
‘Bravo, Watson. You have an admirer who is not so blinded by your prose to spare you constructive criticism. Professor Collins, how came you to pitch up in Venice?’
‘You know me then?’
‘I can assure you I know nothing whatsoever about you other than the obvious facts that you graduated from Cambridge University, you suffered a painful divorce late in life, you have a son you love dearly, but are estranged from, you are a teacher of English at ridiculously low rates and you have lost your faith although that may be temporary.’
The recipient of these insights, smiled at Holmes and looked around the room.
‘I have it, Mr Holmes. The diploma on the wall gave you both my name and university. The painful divorce...’ He looked at his left hand. ‘The mark of my wedding band is still obvious, hence it has been removed fairly recently. If it were anything other than a painful divorce, for instance a bereavement, than you might reasonably expect to me to wear it still. The photographs on the wall feature my son, the familial likeness is clear. There are no photographs of us together of a recent nature, so yes the deduction of an estrangement is sound enough. Now, the loss of faith? Let me see now. No, I confess I cannot see how you came by it.’
‘The explanation is simple, Professor. There is a neck-chain with a cross on it in the corner of the room. Evidently thrown there by you. It is a chain that you were previously accustomed to wearing, even at this distance I can see grey hairs from your neck caught in the chain. I deduce your loss of faith to be temporary from the fact that the chain is still here and not been consigned to oblivion, although I admit I am on somewhat shaky ground there.’
‘And the teaching at low rates?’
‘That fact you teach is plain to see by the paraphernalia on your desk. You hardly live in the lap of luxury if I may be so bold, my dear sir, hence my deduction of low rates. Perhaps you see it as a vocation more than a living.’
‘I do, Mr Holmes. I feel privileged to impart my knowledge to others. All I ask for is enough to cover my humble needs. I gravitated to Venice after my wife left me some five years ago. I intended to stay here just for a short while, but as there was nothing left for me in England, my son already being estranged from me, I elected to stay.’
‘Are you familiar with Angelo, Professor?’
‘I am. I have tutored him a little, in his chosen profession a few words of a foreign language can reap dividends when it comes to gratuities.’
‘Is it just the English language your tutor your pupils in?’ I asked.
‘I have a smattering of knowledge of other tongues, certainly enough to help with common phrases, but English is my main language, followed by French, Spanish, German and Russian. Angelo learned a little of those languages, but his main goal was to become fluent in English. He is a very good student, attentive and punctually completes any work I give him. With the other languages I mention he was keen to learn not only the usual greetings and basic everyday polite exchanges, but also phrases more concerned with, how shall I put it gentlemen, the language of love.’
‘We have heard him described as a ladies’ man,’ I interjected.
‘A more than fitting description, Doctor Watson. He loves their company, they love his. It’s an arrangement that entirely suits him and there is some financial gain, always a bonus for an often impoverished gondolier. You appear shocked, Doctor.’
‘I am not shocked, Professor, I have seen too much of life to be shaken by a matter like this. Rather, I am surprised that Angelo would let slip something like this.’
Professor Collins gave a wheezy chuckle which turned into a prolonged coughing fit. When he had regained his composure he continued.
‘You must excuse me, Doctor, my solitary life affords me very few opportunities for laughter. The fact of the matter is that Angelo did not let it slip, he likes to boast of it; his conquests and their generosity towards him. You may reason that he should be ashamed of what he does, but I say live and let live. He provides a service much like he does as a gondolier. Good luck to the fellow. But, tell me, has our romantic gondolier strayed into criminal activities? I cannot imagine Sherlock Holmes making a social call on a humble gondolier.’
‘As far as we are aware he is an upright citizen notwithstanding his amorous adventures. We are here at his sister’s request. She is worried because she has had no word from him for three days and her intuition leads her to believe there is something gravely wrong.’
‘It is not unknown for Angelo to sequester himself away for a period of time with a new acquaintance, something his sister must be well aware of. Three days absence is by no means unusual for Angelo.’
‘Do you know any of these acquaintances by name,’ Holmes asked.
‘Although Angelo is boastful, he does exercise a degree of discretion and has never revealed names to me. Of course I can deduce their nationalities by which language he needs to brush up on.’
‘Has there been such a request recently?’
‘There has indeed, Mr Holmes. Angelo was desirous of a little Russian to help smooth his way. Mostly phrases as I intimated before, redolent of the language of lovers.’
‘When did he make this request?’ Holmes asked.
‘It was three weeks ago today, Mr Holmes. I especially remember the date for that morning I had decided to embark on a thorough cleaning of my apartment. But, as you can see, gentlemen, the spirit is willing, but the flesh rather less so.’
Holmes got to his feet, picked up a stack of periodicals from the floor and placed them back on the chair he had vacated.
‘Thank you for your time, Professor Collins. You have been of great help.
‘It was a great pleasure to meet you both and if I can be of any further assistance please feel free to call again.’
‘Thank you. It’s entirely possible that we will need to use a little Russian ourselves. If so, we will be in touch. Arrivederci.’
‘Well, Holmes,’ I said, as we entered the campo once more, ‘there is nothing more we can do.’
‘I think there are several courses of action open to us. There can’t be that many Russians in Venice that one of their number cannot be tracked down. Angelo may have been the very soul of discretion with the professor, but he may be less inclined to be so with his fellow gondoliers; interviewing them may bear fruit.’
‘We do not know who his closest colleagues are and we have no clues as to who this Russian is.’
‘I think, Watson, that we can at least assign a gender to the Russian in question.’
‘A Russian needle in an Italian haystack.’
‘Oh, we can do better than that I am sure. Come, we will report back to Maria Grimaldi who can probably supply us with names of some of her brother’s fellow gondoliers. Along the way, Watson, we will begin our sight-seeing. I have in mind a small church that you will find most interesting.’