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.

Thursday 31 March 2016

MORE BEYOND WATSON with Luke Benjamen Kuhns

I have Luke Benjamen Kuhns with me today. Not literally (I might have to feed him!). Luke is a London based crime writer and reviewer. He has published several novels including The Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (now in Italy & India), Studies in Legacy and graphic novels The Horror of Frankenstein and Case of The Crystal Blue Bottle. He also  contributed to the Fan Phenomena series: Sherlock Holmes, spoke at University College London’s Past and Present conference on pastiche writing and was featured on the Japanese TV Network NHK. 

First of all, I hope I am forgiven for taking your family name in vain in 'An American Adventure'.

 HA! No, no I had no problem with that. The Kuhns' are a crazy bunch from my experience. 
Your short story collections are well-known for the great plotting of the individual pieces. The question is: How the hell do you keep coming up with them?                         

 I find it really hard, to be honest. Sometimes I feel like these stories could be full length novels or novellas. Which is exactly what happened with The Scarlet Thread of Murder. But often I try and come up with a good murder or I'm inspired by something I've seen somewhere and go from there. But it's no easy task. Especially when you do lots of short stories, because you sometimes want to reuse ideas but you don't want to come across as lazy or unimaginative so you always got to push yourself to come up with new or interesting characters and narratives. 

How does your home or work life inform your writing? Is it easy to find the time you need? 

Yes, there are influences. A conversation here, a comment there can sometimes be the basis of a subplot or lead to an interesting piece of interaction within a story. I know my story The Acquitted Client (in Untold Adventures) was based on my friend who had an issues with a cabdriver that lead to a court case, lots of fees, before finally being acquitted when the driver was actually in the wrong. So work and personal life is always a source of inspiration, often it's just finding the right Victorian setting for that! And no, it's never easy to find time!! Often is very hard and you work through the tiredness in order to get things done.  

You have collaborated with some very talented people on a series of Sherlock Holmes graphic books. How did that come about and can we expect more? 

Crystal Bottle (my first) was a charity effort and that put m in contact with lots of illustrators (many of whom I've developed great friendships with). But how it came about was that I simply wanted to try and comic but I didn't have the funds to pay, hence why we did a book with royalties for Undershaw and many many illustrators were keen to help. I met Marcie Klinger who illustrated a part of Crystal Bottle and went on to do my second book. We have a third in the works, but not sure when it'll be ready. But I would like to do more comic book in the future. Marvel, here I come! 

How did you find writing your piece for 'Beyond Watson' given the non-involvement of Watson? 

It was a very fun challenge. Scarlet Thread of Murder was a story that in some part featured Holmes but didn't always get told by Watson, so I loved the idea of writing a Watson-free story.  The tricky bit was writing a story that hadn't been done before! I always loved the character of Violet Hunter and thought it would be incredibly fun to see where she was and if she had any other adventures or interactions with Sherlock Holmes. 

Do you feel you have grown as a writer through your Sherlock Holmes tales? 

Certainly. I was incredibly inexperienced when I wrote Untold Adventures and it painfully shows! But I laugh it off now. Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle have been great to research and learn from. Writing these stories have put me in contact with some really wonderful writers who have been great influences and encouragements to me. I'm certainly no pro. I might have graduated from Freshmen to Sophomore, but no further! Or I might still be in that Freshmen year. haha! But I've picked up some great tips that have aided my second and third books. 

What can we expect from you in the near and far future?

I am completing a historical piece about Undershaw, that will be releasing in July/August of this year. It'll be a very short intro to Arthur Conan Doyle and his early life and his time at Undershaw. I still have a graphic novel on the back burners and I'm writing my first wholly original crime novel that I can't say much about now. But I'm really excited for it and seeing where it might take me. 

Visit Luke's website: HERE

For the latest news on Beyond Watson: HERE

Thursday 24 March 2016

Beyond Watson: An Interview with Geri Schear

Geri Schear is a novelist and short story writer. She was born in Dublin and currently lives in Kells, County Meath. She has contributed a story to a new Holmes anthology: Beyond Watson.  I caught up with her recently.

As a writer, what initially drew you to the world of Sherlock Holmes?

I started reading Holmes stories when I was very young (seven) so he's been part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. 

I began my writing career with literary short stories, and published a fair few of them. In 2012 I won an international award for my as yet unpublished first novel, a traditional ghost story called Shakespeare's Tree. However, the idea for my first Holmes tale was already nibbling on my brain (which didn't hurt so much as tickle), and eventually I started writing it down. I began by wondering what would happen if someone discovered a stack of old papers and journals and, through them, discovered the great Sherlock Holmes was his grandfather. The idea eventually morphed into A Biased Judgement: The Sherlock Holmes Diaries 1897.

Writing A Biased Judgement was great fun. It allowed me to combine my passion for all things Sherlockian with my interest in history. My Holmes novels try to weave real historical events and people with the canonical tales and an original story of my own. The first novel dealt with the rise of anarchy in 1897, and the second, Sherlock Holmes and the Other Woman, has the Dreyfus Affair as a backdrop.

How do you think your pastiches differ from the mainstream of new Holmes tales?     

All writers bring their own vision to Holmes. For some, the attraction lies in exploring secondary characters like Irene Adler; for others it's imagining Holmes in outer space, as a puppy, as a woman. All these ideas are valid, which says something about the genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work. 

For me, the heartbeat of the original tales is the Holmes - Watson relationship. To be honest, I'm not wild about stories that eliminate Watson altogether. Even though Holmes is married in my novels, his marriage does not restrict him in any way. Most importantly, allows him to continue to live in Baker Street with Watson. 

My first novel begins a few years after Holmes's return from his apparent death. I try to explore the impact his absence had on his relationship with his 'Boswell'. Watson is, I think, as generous and supportive of his friend as he ever was, but perhaps his wounds are a little more apparent. In other words, I'm trying to imagine the characters as real people. 

The other thing that sets my stories apart is they are written in the form of Holmes's diaries. This allows me to get inside Holmes's head and, more importantly, his heart. He can say things in his journal he'd never say out loud. The diary format also helps me to show how oblivious Holmes is to some things, such as how beloved he is to  so many people. That blind spot helps me add a lot of humour to my novels.

Finally, I plant 'Easter Eggs' in my stories, little inside jokes for Holmes fans. For instance, in the new book, Return to Reichenbach, the big villain's name is an anagram of an actor who once played the great detective. Don't worry, though, I reveal all in my notes at the end of the book. Don't cheat! Read the book first.

Does your heroine, Lady Beatrice share any of your own traits. or is that a closely guarded secret?

I'd love to be more like Lady B. She's feisty, independent, and funny. I'm not as feisty as she is -- though I have my moments -- but I am very independent. I hope readers will agree I'm funny!

How do you prefer to write? Certain times of day? In silence? Or?                     

I'm lucky enough to have a study in my house, but I tend to use it primarily for editing and proof-reading. Even though it's full of books and pictures, I can't seem to shake the business-like feeling I get when I'm in there. That makes it a good environment for detail work, but it's not so good for generating ideas. For my first couple of drafts, while I'm still in creative mode, I tend to use the living room. I curl up on the sofa with my laptop and I'm off. 

I find I do my best work first thing in the morning, the earlier the better. By 2pm I'm starting to flag and I have to stop for a few hours. If the work is going well, though, I'll pick it up again after dinner and will sometimes work through to the early hours. 

Over the past few years, I've discovered I can no long work with music in the background. It's just too distracting. Oddly enough, I'm fine in a cafe with a lot of people around talking and I can tune out the babble. Weird, huh?

Who has inspired you?

My grandmother was a great reader and I get my love of books from her. She was also a wonderful storyteller, and I'd like to think I inherited some of her talent. She gave me my first copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was seven, too, so she has a lot to answer for!

Your story for the 'Beyond Watson' collection reveals how Holmes and Mrs Hudson first met. Can you tell us a little more without giving too much away?

When Derrick Belanger first suggested the anthology I immediately had the idea for this story. It features a very young Holmes not long up from university meeting his future landlady (or is that housekeeper?) for the first time. As you know, Holmes once solved a case by observing the depth which the parsley had had sunk into the butter on a hot day. My mystery hinges upon a bonnet's ribbons changing from yellow to white. 

What is your next project?                                                                           

I'm nearly completion of a new Holmes novel called Return to Reichenbach. It opens like this: 

The telegram said only, "Man found on moor in nightshift. Please come." 

The story sees Holmes face a terrifying antagonist known only as The Sorcerer, a man whose specialty is exploiting the fears of his victims.

Once the Holmes novel is finished, I'm planning to resume work on an urban fantasy novel about the knights of Camelot in modern day London. I have a first draft but it needs a lot more work before I can start looking for a publisher.

Finally, who for you, has most successfully played 'The Great Detective' on screen, both small and big?

Oh dear, I was afraid you'd ask me that!

I think my perfect Holmes is an amalgam of several. For instance, in film, I loved the late Christopher Lee's intelligence, Peter Cushing's humanity, and Basil Rathbone's appearance and overall interpretation of the character. I hated most of their scripts, though.  I'd probably go with Rathbone in terms of performance, but only if he had a different screenwriter.

For TV, I'm a big Jeremy Brett fan. I love how kinetic his performance is, and how nuanced. I'm also a big fan of Douglas Wilmer's series. I think his Holmes was the first I ever saw on television. Then again, I also adore Benedict Cumberbatch's modern take. The wit and vulnerability he brings to the character reveals something fresh and new, but never loses that sense of Conan Doyle's character. I'm going to cheat and say Brett for classic Holmes, and Cumberbatch for modern. 

Edward Hardwicke for Watson, though. Most of the others are good, but he's my favourite.

Visit Geri's website HERE

For news of Beyond Watson, click HERE