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.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Another excerpt from Watson: My Life

‘John, Henry is dead. He fell heavily down the stairs after coming home drunk. Lily found him the next morning, lying there with his neck broken. I am truly sorry, John.’ While Josiah recited this sad news to me, Irene was weeping uncontrollably, her face crumpled by grief. But, grief for my brother? I could hardly imagine that. But? ‘My God…Lily…why is she not here? Is she…?’ ‘She is well. John,’ said Irene. ‘She is in Carlisle still, in the same house…with her bairns.’ Children? There were children. A girl and boy I was told, Charlotte and John, just four and two years old. I recall running out of the house like a madman, intent on covering the ground to Carlisle as quick as I possibly could. My brother dead. Lily, his widow. A nephew and niece. I was unsure as to what kind of a father I would be, but I was determined to marry Lily and bring up my brother’s children. By the time I was half-way to Carlisle, this happy family had a house in London where the children would go to the finest schools, their uncle would have a successful medical practice and their mother would want for nothing. My face, when Lily opened the door, must have displayed every emotion under the sun. It’s a wonder she didn’t just shut it in my face as I seemed to be only capable of speaking gibberish. Rather than that course of action, she pulled me inside and we fell into each other’s arms. Seated on a small couch engrossed in their own company, playing some kind of game, were two of the sweetest looking children I had ever encountered. I immediately felt there was a bond between us. As for their mother.  I had so many questions I scarcely knew where to begin. Most of all, I wanted to know how she had come to marry my brother. I could hardly qualify it as a match made in heaven nor any kind of love match yet who I was I to judge? I had spent years away and had done virtually nothing to remain in contact with those I professed to love. Through Lily’s tears the whole story tumbled out. Henry had stopped drinking and had begun to reclaim his life which was anathema to the woman he lived with for she wanted no part of a sober life or a sober Henry. My brother sought for himself a respectable position and found one in Carlisle as an assistant in the Parks department of the council, responsible as part of a team for the maintenance of the recreational facilities provided throughout the town and its environs. It was in one of those parks that he ran into Lily. Naturally, they talked of old times and of me I was gratified to hear. ‘He was funny, John. He was charming and so determined to turn his life around. As for you, where were you? I had heard nothing from you. You promised to come and see me when you returned from Australia.’ Her word cut me to the quick. I had no answer for her for I had made a promise to her and my failure to keep it had stung me all these years. Maybe my relationship with Adeline had soured my taste for romance. My overriding thought as I was sitting there in Lily’s house was that now I had been given a chance to atone for my previous failures. ‘I thought long and hard, John, when he asked me to marry him. I knew his history, but I also could see how the future could be. He was attentive and loving, everything I could have wanted in a man. In the end I said yes of course and no woman could have done more to please her man, to make him proud.’ I asked her gently, what had happened, what had changed. ‘He started drinking once more two years ago and the alcohol dragged the wild side of him out, the coarse and abusive man that must have been concealed in him all this time just waiting for the proper release.’ She clung to me and wept as she approached the climax of her story. ‘He became violent, never to the children, but often to me. I felt his punches, his slaps. I learned how to cover up the bruises. I could not tell anyone, I felt trapped and the worst of it was that it was my fault.’ I remonstrated with her, how on earth could be her fault? Did she invite his violence to her? ‘I married him, John. That’s what I mean. I should have realised that sooner or later Henry would revert to his old ways. I could not tell my parents, it would be to confess my weakness twice over for they had urged me not to marry him.’ On that fateful last night, Henry had gone out carousing with his mates while Lily was left to put the children to bed. He had been in the blackest mood imaginable that day she told me and she was fearful that his mood would be even blacker on his return. In spite of her anxiety she had fallen into a deep sleep and heard nothing of Henry’s return and subsequent fall from the very top of the stairs. ‘But if the children had woken? I mean…well…I suppose I mean you would have heard them, Lily.’ ‘They did not wake, John.’ ‘My point is that…’ I found it hard to put my point into words, but it ran along the lines that if a mother would waken at hearing the slightest sound from her children during the night than surely the sound of a fully-grown man tumbling down the stairs was scarcely less of a disturbance. Lily smiled. ‘The sound of a child’s cry is different, John. Surely, you must know that. I heard nothing, nothing.’ I did not press the point and we talked of happier times as we drank tea. She spoke in vague terms of resuming her career or of going home to Corbridge to her parents where she and the children would be assured of being in a happy home. I thought the time was right and I made my proposal of marriage to her. I had rehearsed in in my head during the preceding few hours, what I had not allowed for was Lily’s refusal of my offer. ‘Dear, sweet John. We are not who we were. I am not Maid Marian, you are not Robin Hood. You are so kind to ask, but I cannot accept. I have my own life to lead. You might say I have made me bed and have to lay in it. A marriage cannot be built on the platonic love that we have always shared. There are other reasons too.’ She would not be drawn on the other reasons nor would she listen to further entreaties on my part. Her mind was made up, the answer was no and that was it. I made arrangements of a financial kind for my nephew and niece, settling a small allowance on them to be paid twice yearly into an account I would set up for them. Lily refused any such allowance for herself, but I made her promise that should she find herself in any financial hardship she would contact me immediately. As I fastened up my overcoat, she grabbed my arm and hung on for dear life. ‘I am so sorry, John, for everything. You mustn’t hate me.’ ‘I could never hate you,’ I assured her. It was only when I stood on the doorstep that the true meaning of her words hit me. ‘You pushed him, didn’t you?’ ‘Yes, I pushed him. Goodbye, John.’ The door slammed shut behind me like a metaphor for that part of my life closing. All the innocence of childhood, all those good times disappeared in that instant. I was not put on this earth to be judge and jury. I could not condemn Lily for her actions any more than I could condone my brother for his. I could and would not turn her in to the authorities. She had suffered enough, we all had. During the long train journey, I was haunted by the fact that all that happened could be lain squarely at my door. If I had kept my promise to Lily, then who knows how things would have turned out? No man is an island and the ripples we send out through our action or inaction can have the most profound effect on the lives of others. 

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Watson: My Life  is now finished!!!!

Here is an excerpt:

Mary featured in my dreams of last night. My remembrances of yesterday brought her back into focus. She had not inhabited a dream of mine for many years. So many memories still here in my admittedly fading memory. The murder of Ronald Adair and the return of Sherlock Holmes, that’s where I must start today. My reaction to Holmes’s return has a tendency to puzzle people. Why I did not rant and rage at his devious and harmful subterfuge in hiding the fact that he was still living? Why did I immediately fall in with assisting him? Over forty years on and I feel compelled to explain. What I described was an immediate reaction of mine to his sudden appearance. The friendship we had forged was at the forefront of my mind and I was, as I stated, overjoyed to see him alive and standing in front of me. Those emotions crowded out others which would bubble to the surface only later. Chief among these was my anger, unreasonable the fact of it may be, that Holmes was alive yet Mary was dead. I, of course, was not blaming Holmes for her death, but I grieved in differing ways for both of them. If Holmes could be re-born, why not Mary? Yes, irrational I know. Now, what I have to say may sound like heresy to some, but that emotional reunion with Holmes was not in reality quite how I depicted it. Yes, I was amazed to see him which is not quite the same as being overjoyed. The sequence of events then differed somewhat. I demanded a full explanation of what had driven him to allow me to believe he was dead. Of why he could treat a trusted friend and comrade that way. His explanation after I fainted that he had no idea I would be so affected was particularly hurtful. Then the other side of the coin was that in front of me was a man who had a peculiar difficulty in allowing emotions to alter his equilibrium. He really had no idea of what troughs of despair his ‘death’ would bring about in me. That we were able to continue our friendship was a miracle itself, but at that stage of my life I realised how much I needed Holmes in my life. In some ways we came to be dependent on each other although I very much doubt that he would have admitted to such a dependency. But, as history records, I joined with Holmes in the capture of Colonel Sebastian Moran and before too long found myself back in my old quarters. Once more assisting Holmes whilst keeping my doctoring hand in even after selling the Kensington practice for a very good price indeed. History also records how that transaction came about.[1]  The year following on from Holmes’s return was one of the busiest of his career. The cases came thick and fast with barely time to draw breath. The majority of these cases remain unchronicled. The best I could do was to acknowledge these cases in passing which even then infuriated people who reckoned I was just teasing them with these tantalising glimpses of adventures that would never be told. Perhaps I was. Perhaps I did so deliberately. The pre-eminence that Holmes had achieved in his chosen profession before the three years hiatus had not noticeably been diminished in his absence and now had risen to even greater heights. I personally believe that around that time he was at the peak of his powers. Not that I mean that there was any falling off of his skills in the latter years of his career, more that his talents were seen at their best during those post-hiatus years. His mental and physical form were seen to their best advantage and he was called upon by all and sundry, even his Holiness the Pope[2].  By comparison, 1896 was a barren year when for whatever reason, the great cases failed to materialise. Of course, there were some cases that Holmes looked into, but on the whole the first few months of the year were punctuated by Holmes bemoaning the fact of enforced idleness that he had to suffer. And when Holmes suffered, I suffered too I can tell you! That was all to change when I received a letter from my old friend, Godfrey Jacobs, who I believe I have mentioned before in my ramblings. The letter extended an invitation for me to visit him and his family in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast. Much to my surprise, Holmes after a spot of cajoling on my part, elected to travel with me. Almost immediately when we arrived at that docile, peaceful spot then we were embroiled in a mystery, the like of which we had never known. Rather like the giant rat of Sumatra it is a tale for which the world is unprepared, the stuff of nightmares and dreams. Belief systems counted for nothing during that time and if you agree that faith is defined as something that enables us to believe things that we know to be untrue, then we had faith a-plenty. I will say only this, that I the most flat-footed of men faced head on a force I did not understand. Holmes, that most scientifically minded of men saw for himself something that science could not explain. I did commit an account to paper of the nature of what we encountered in Lyme, but it is not an account for the consumption of the general public nor will it ever be so.

[1] A relative of Holmes purchased the practice, the money to do so evidently coming from Holmes.
[2] An unchronicled case involving the sudden death of Cardinal Tosca.

Friday, 17 November 2017

All the latest news....

It's been so long since I last added any news. Apologies. Current projects are something like this: 'Sherlock Holmes and the Scarborough Affair' is still a work in progress, but we will get there, the 'we' being myself and collaborator Gill Stammers. I am also adapting my first novel 'Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Horror' for the stage which is going fairly well and nearing completion of 'Watson: My Life' which purports to be an autobiography of Watson as dictated by the man himself into a recording device in 1936. Watch this space! 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Monmouth: Fear Nothing but God
After the success of last year's The Tempest of Lyme, this year's community play will be Monmouth: A West Country Rebellion.
How can you help? We need in excess of £5,000 to stage this production. To that end there is Crowdfunding in place. To read more about the play and make your pledge, click HERE

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Another appeal.

Tales from The Stranger's Room Volume 3 is coming along nicely, but there is still some space available for anyone who wishes to contribute. I am looking for short Holmesian fiction, poetry, quizzes, art work or non-fiction. Pleasde feel free to email me on if you have any ideas or indeed contributions. Thank you.

Thursday, 24 November 2016



As some of you may know I am an author of Sherlock Holmes pastiches. A few years ago I compiled and edited Tales From The Stranger's Room in two volumes with mostly work from unpublished writers. I am now looking to create a new volume. The two volumes featured short pieces, quirky pieces and poetry etc. If you wish to take part feel free to contact me here or email me at Thanks all!!!!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

HOLMES AWAY FROM HOME: Richard Paolinelli

Richard Paolinelli : iBorn in Turlock, California in 1964, Richard began his writing career as a freelance writer in 1984 in Odessa, TX and gained his first fiction credit serving as the lead writer for the first two issues of the Elite Comics sci-fi/fantasy series, Seadragon.He won the 2001 California Newspaper Publishers Association award for Best Sports Story while at the Turlock Journal and a CNAE award for pagination in 2005 while serving as Sports Editor at the Merced Sun-Star. He was named a Player of the Year in 2002 by the CCMR Racing Series for his coverage of auto racing while at the Merced Sun-Star. aHe won the 2001 California Newspaper Publishers Association award for Best Sports Story while at the Turlock Journal and a CNAE award for pagination in 2005 while serving as Sports Editor at the Merced Sun-Star. In 2016, Richard was one of a dozen authors selected to participate in, Beyond Watson, an anthology of original Sherlock Holmes stories. Perfection's Arbiter, a biography of National League Umpire, Babe Pinelli, was released on October 8th. W & B Books acquired the rights to the Jack Del Rio Series and will release, Betrayals, the sequel to Reservations, in November. In December, Richard's second Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The Woman Returns, will be released by Belanger Books as part of the Holmes Away From Home Anthology. 

You are contributing a story, ‘The Woman Returns’ to the forthcoming anthology ‘Holmes Away From Home’. How did this involvement come about?                   

I actually became a part of this by way of a very long, strange path.
I was getting ready to retire from sports writing back in 2013 and was wondering what to do next when I discovered the books written by Jack McDevitt. I found out he was the same age when he began writing his first book as I was at the time I was retiring. I figured if he could start writing at that age and be successful at it, so could I and I decided to give fiction writing another shot. (I had written two issues of Seadragon back in 1986)
Jack mentioned that he was writing a Sherlock Holmes pastiche for an anthology, Beyond Watson, with the premise that it be a story told by someone other than Dr. Watson.
I had just finished doing some research on Winston Churchill and had the idea that a Holmes adventure involving Churchill would be fun to write. So I reached out to Derrick Belanger to see if it wasn’t too late to submit to the anthology. It wasn’t, and I sent in “A Lesson In Mercy” which is part of the Beyond Watson anthology.
Derrick encouraged me to submit another pastiche for Holmes Away From Home, which I gladly did and I was thrilled that it was included in this upcoming anthology.
Have you been a Holmes devotee for long?
I discovered Holmes at an early age. We moved around a lot when I was young because of my father’s business and the libraries at each new school and town were my reliable friends. I read all of Doyle’s original stories by age 10 and watched all of the films and televised episodes whenever I could. Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Holmes remains my personal favorite.
Your series of books detailing the cases of FBI Agent Jack Del Rio have been received well by the public. Will the series run and run?        
You never want to say never, so there could be more Del Rio adventures. But the series was originally laid out to be just four books and I really think that I will have told all of Jack’s story that can be told by the time we get to the end of the fourth book.
So at this time, I don’t think there will be a fifth book or more, But, then again, eighteen months ago I never thought I’d be writing original Sherlock Holmes stories either and look where I’m at now.
You spent many years as a sports writer, do you miss that?
Sometimes, especially as toward the end of my career I was also doing sports photography, which was both fun and challenging.
During football season I do a daily On This Date tie-in with my book, From The Fields, with a look back on something that happened in the past involving a Turlock high school team and I run a Facebook page with updates on the current season and updated all-time stats.
But I don’t miss the late nights, the traveling and the inclement weather at all.
What constitutes a typical day for you, if there is such a thing?
Organized chaos, to be honest.
Some days it seems like the day just started and its already 10 o’clock at night. The one constant, of course, is making sure I spend at least three hours either writing or working on something related to writing (promotions, interviews, etc.) each day.
Is there likely to be a full length Sherlock Holmes tale from you in the future?        
Well, now that you mention it…
Actually, I mentioned to Derrick a few months back that I had an idea for a third Holmes story that I might be able to develop into a full-length story. It would have an element of science fiction to it (I’m always scrambling my genres together) and maybe even a little steampunk for good measure. But it would definitely have the feel of a true Holmes story and I think Doyle would have enjoyed reading it.  
And....the million dollar question; your favourite Holmes story is?
Ugh, you’re asking me to pick my favorite child here.
As much as I love Hound of the Baskervilles, I’m going to have to say my absolute favorite has to be A Scandal in Bohemia, which explains why I wrote The Woman Returns.  I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between Holmes and Irene Adler.
Thanks Richard! Visit Richard's website HERE

For news of Holmes Away From Home, click HERE!

Monday, 21 November 2016


The dream team of writer, Andy Rattenbury and director, Clemmie Reynolds who gave us The Tempest of Lyme last year (with a bit of help from Shakespeare) are combining to create: Monmouth The West Country Rebellion as next year's community play. Expect a large cast of local performers and musicians giving their all to entertain and delight. The Duke of Monmouth would have been delighted to have so many willing volunteers. Who knows, Sedgemoor may have turned out differently. Lyme Regis could have been the capital of the West Country and been a city as Monmouth promised! Anyway, enough rambling. Set aside a weekend or two next July for this theatrical feast.

Sunday, 20 November 2016


David Marcum first discovered Sherlock Holmes in 1975, at the age of ten, when he received an abridged version of The Adventures during a trade. He is the author of "The Papers of Sherlock Holmes" Vol.'s I and II (2011, 2013), "Sherlock Holmes and A Quantity of Debt" (2013) and "Sherlock Holmes - Tangled Skeins" (2015). Additionally, he is the editor of the three-volume set "Sherlock Holmes in Montague Street" (2014, recasting Arthur Morrison's Martin Hewitt stories as early Holmes adventures,) and the massive three-volume "The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories" (2015). he is the editor of the forthcoming anthology; Holmes Away From Home.   

You are busy acquiring a reputation as a fine editor of various Sherlock Holmes anthologies, how did that come about?

Thank you for those kind words. I’m still an amateur editor, but I’m learning more and more as I go along.

I’ve edited my own works and various engineering papers for myself and others for years. I think that if you read a lot, you learn how to write and see things that do or don’t work. I had never thought about editing Holmes books as a goal, but one morning in early 2015, I woke up early from a vivid dream about a Holmes anthology that I’d edited. Instead of going back to sleep and forgetting about it, I emailed a few friends and publisher Steve Emecz, and everyone was positive, so I started asking a few other people if they’d like to participate. Eventually interest grew and grew until it turned into the three-volume hardcover set, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories. It was the biggest collection of new traditional Holmes stories in one place ever, over sixty stories, and all the authors’ royalties go to support the Stepping Stones School for special needs students at Undershaw, one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former homes.

After those initial three volumes, the system was still in place, the school still needed funds, and there can never be enough traditional Holmes stories. So we charged ahead, and since then there have been two more MX anthologies this year, Part IV – 2016 Annual, and Part V – Christmas Adventures, and two more are already in the works for next year.

As if that editing wasn’t enough, I’ve also just finished the two-volume set for Belanger Books, Holmes Away From Home, with stories from The Great Hiatus. And I already have almost all of the stories for next year’s Belanger Books anthology, Before Watson, with tales set before Holmes and Watson’s meeting at Barts on January 1st, 1881.

What do you look for in a Holmes story? What for you, makes it work?       

I’ve been reading and collecting traditional Holmes pastiches since I was ten years old, in 1975, and since then I’ve accumulated several thousand of them. I organize them into a Chronology of both Canon and pastiche. Doing that, I play The Game with deadly seriousness, treating Holmes and Watson as historical individuals. As such, first and foremost, I only read and include stories that fit within The Game. No ghosts, vampires, or time travel. No modern day settings, and absolutely no “Sherlock” and “John”. Holmes is not Van Helsing or Dr. Who, but he does need to be a hero, and not some damaged loser who is so broken that, without Watson’s help, he cannot function – I don’t want to read about that guy. When editing, that’s how I judge a story.

What advice would give to budding pastiche writers?

One very important thing is to go ahead and write – don’t be overwhelmed by a blank screen. Start putting something – anything – down. It may not work, it may have to be completely scrapped at some point, but you have something that you can build upon and tie to something else, and if you keep chipping away at it, you’ll be amazed at how a thing that wasn’t there before now exists.

When I went to school to be a civil engineer, they taught us the “Engineering Method”, which is not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Rather, pick pieces you can work on, and if you hit an impasse at one place, move on to some other piece. If you’re stuck on a difficult part of a story, jump ahead to somewhere after that part and start the next piece. Sew them all up when you’re done.

Do your editing duties impinge on your own writing?

Since I’m an amateur writer, my writing method is to find some quite time, usually early on a Saturday morning, and sit down and start typing. I don’t outline at all. Rather, I just listen to Watson telling the story and race to stay caught up while I transcribe it. For a normal 8,000 word story, it takes about two of these sessions, three-to-four hours each, to get the basic story in place. I’m not really aware of the passage of time when I’m writing – I come back and have a big chunk of story in front of me, and all of my coffee has disappeared.

Editing, on the other hand, is an ongoing process. People send me stories steadily, and I read them pretty much as they arrive. When I receive them, I immediately format them as if they were going to be accepted and dropped into the book template. I fix and unify all sorts of things, such as punctuation, layout, etc., for consistency. Only then do I actually read and edit the story and either accept or reject it outright, or send it back comments regarding loose plot threads or holes, or things that don’t fit with The Canon. It has to fit with The Canon!

Away from editing, writing, and work, what do you enjoy doing?               

I’ve always enjoyed reading, and I read a LOT of stuff besides Holmes. Additionally, I love music. When I went to college for my first degree back when I was eighteen, I started as a piano performance major on scholarship, performing in recitals and accompanying vocal performance majors. However, a couple of years of that convinced me that I wanted to retain my amateur status, and I finished up with a degree in Business Management – which helped a lot when I went back to school years later to be a civil engineer. Music is still very important to me, and I usually can’t walk through the house without stopping and playing something on the piano. I just wish that I could sing better, like my musical hero, Mr. Billy Joel.

Of course, I’ll take any chance that I can get to spend time with my wife and son, even if we’re just hanging out at home. And the older I get, the more I want to be outside, even if it’s just for a good long walk, or sitting on the deck and reading.

If you could visit on Holmesian location you have not yet been to, what would it be?

Excellent question. Since childhood, I’d dreamed of visiting London and England, all because of Holmes. I wanted to start in Baker Street and spread out from there. I was finally able to take my trip-of-a-lifetime Holmes Pilgrimage in 2013, visiting hundreds of Holmes-related sites, based on years of research in the two-dozen-plus Holmes travel books in my collection. I was able to return for Holmes Pilgrimages II and III in 2015 and 2016, both in connection with the MX anthologies.

Having now been so many Holmes-related places in England, some of them more than once, I think that I’d like to get to the Reichenbach Falls. After that, I really don’t have much interest in the rest of the Continent – I’d hurry back to Baker Street and do that all over again.

Aside from the editing, what are you currently working on?

I’ve been writing a number of stories for the anthologies that I edit, as well as a few that have been requested for other people’s anthologies. I’m also working on stories for a super-secret Holmes-related project that I hope will come to fruition soon – you’ll either hear about that, or you won’t. And I really need to write some other Holmes stories for another of my own books for MX. I now have enough accumulated stories from previous anthologies to make another collection, but I want to write some more new stuff too.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and also thanks to the many authors – now nearly 100 of you! – who have participated in the various anthologies that keep the memory green for the true Sherlock Holmes!

Thanks David. For news on Holmes Away From Home, click HERE

Friday, 11 November 2016


For more than 15 years Sonia was a successful advertising and public relations executive in her native Pacific Northwest. She’s now an extremely busy freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications and on websites world-wide. Her current project is a book about the silent film appearances of legendary stage/screen actor John Barrymore.
Sonia has published a dozen scholarly articles in THE BAKER STREET JOURNAL, the preeminent quarterly of Sherlockiana. For her research and writing excellence, she was honored with the prestigious Morley-Montgomery Award (2012), as well as with an Eddie Award (2013) from The Baker Street Irregulars. Sonia was the author of the BSI’s (2012) Christmas Annual, BARRYMORE IN BAKER STREET. Her book, PRINCE OF THE REALM: THE IRREGULAR LIFE OF JAMES BLISS AUSTIN (2014) is about an early member of the BSI. She was a contributing author for two titles of Calabash Press’s distinguished CASEFILES series. Sonia’s byline has appeared in Sherlockian publications from Italy to Australia, Japan to Canada, Sweden to the United States. She’s an active member of four scion societies.
Sonia Fetherston received her BSI Investiture, The Solitary Cyclist, in 2014.

When did your love affair with Sherlock Holmes begin?

I was probably five years old.  My dad wrote college textbooks, and he insisted that our house had to be completely silent when he was working.  So I’d crouch in front of our old black-and-white television and watch movies with the sound turned off.  In those days one of the TV stations in town showed nothing but old movies.  Without fail, once a week they’d broadcast all of the Rathbone/Bruce films back to back.  Those were glorious, goggle-eyed hours.  I thought Basil Rathbone was the most magnificent creature I’d ever seen.  He moved like a dancer, but there was always this dangerous undercurrent in his Holmes.  Later, probably around age eleven, I began to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.  The first one was “The Speckled Band.”  I can still remember my heart thudding at the notion of a s-s-snake slithering over its slumbering victim.

Do your family share your interest in the Great Detective?    

My daughter married a Sherlockian.  I tell her she has good taste! 

How did your involvement in Holmes Away From Home come about?

Everybody knows the names Derrick Belanger and David Marcum.  What a winning team!  Derrick advertised for Sherlockian writers to propose short story ideas for the Great Hiatus years.  Purely as a lark, I sent him something.  How astonishing to learn mine was selected.  As it happens, some of my childhood was spent in Switzerland not far from the Reichenbach Falls.  I thought I might combine my very real memories of the terrain and the people with Sherlock Holmes’s flight from Moriarty’s gang.  That’s how I came to invent a little Alpine family who sheltered Holmes in the crucial hours after the incident at the falls.  The title of my story, “Over the Mountains in the Darkness” is taken directly from Holmes’s own description of his run to safety.

How much time do you spend writing?

I try to research, write, or edit nearly every day.  For years I would rise with the sun and work through the morning, but nowadays I’m more of an afternoon person.  Except for rare dips in the fiction pool, most of my writing is non-fiction – essays and commentary, biography, Sherlockian scholarship, book reviews and so on.  I’ve been a frequent contributor to magazines such as The Baker Street Journal, The Baker Street Journal Christmas Annual, Canadian Holmes, The Journal of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, The Sydney Passengers’ Log, The Sherlock Holmes Journal, The Musgrave Papers and others.  My commentary has appeared in several anthologies, like Calabash Press’s Case Files series. 

On small screen or large screen, who do you think has most successfully portrayed Holmes? And Watson?

Call me crazy, or mired in my childhood, but I’m loyal to Rathbone and Bruce.  Rathbone nailed the sleek, aesthetic look and clipped speech.  His is the “voice” I always hear in my head when I read the Canon.  But I’m honest enough to giggle at the opinion of the great John Barrymore (himself a Holmes of the silent screen) who said that Rathbone played The Great Detective rather like a rolled up umbrella that had taken elocution lessons!  As for the oft-maligned Bruce….one must consider him from the perspective of a film director of the 1940s.  His obtuse, lumpy Watson is the perfect visual and intellectual foil to Rathbone’s thinking whippet. 

How often do you read the original stories?                                      

I reach into them almost every day.  I use three different editions of the Canon – the Oxford Annotated, Baring-Gould’s Annotated and Morley’s Doubleday.  The Doubleday is my old workhorse.  There are so many colored highlights and notes scribbled in its margins, there are places where it’s difficult to see Conan Doyle’s original words!  On Twitter I’m known as “@221blonde.”  There I post daily quotes directly from the Sherlock Holmes Canon, sometimes accompanied by photos of my gewgaws: a Holmes teapot, Holmes and Watson salt and pepper shakers, vintage Sherlockian Valentine cards, an autographed picture of William Gillette, the new Basil of Baker Street Christmas ornament from Disney, and more.  My great hope is that others will feel a connection and be inspired to check out the original stories themselves.

What is your current project?

This year I wrote about a half-dozen magazine articles, all accepted for publication in 2017.  I’m just completing a book-length project for an upcoming Baker Street Journal Christmas Annual, with my friend and co-author Julie McKuras.  She and I work so well together, I hope to do other projects with her.  By the end of the week I will finish an essay for a book someone’s compiling about the quirky lives of real Sherlockians – that will be released next year.  It’s always something!

Thanks Sonia!

For more about Holmes Away From Home, click HERE!!