My love affair with Sherlock Holmes began with tv and a series in the 1950s starring Ronald Howard (son of actor Leslie Howard). That series hatched the idea of the mystery story in my brain and I’ve been indulging a love of it ever since. Thanks to tv I also thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy Brett’s amazing portrayal, and I absolutely love Benedict Cumberbatch’s quirky 21st century creation..
Thanks to that introduction to the mystery, I found Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie and Lillian Jackson Braun and Louise Penny and PD James and Jacqueline Winspear and more authors than I can count whose books are filed under ‘mystery’ at my local library–my favourite shelves! Fortunately too, there are always writers who keep bringing Holmes back to life, sometimes in short story collections, and sometimes in novels. One of my favourite of these writers is Laurie R. King, whose novel The Beekeeper’s Apprentice launched a series of books featuring Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. What more could a Holmes fan ask for? And do I own copies of all of the original Holmes novels and stories? Yes. Three copies actually. One is a set of paperbacks nearly falling apart. One is a large edition with Strand Magazine illustrations that a student gave to me, and the third is the ebook verion on my Kobo.
The first stories I ever wrote were mystery stories, too. One title that I remember is “Castle Mort.” I have no idea what happened in the story, but I do remember looking up the word for “death” in my French/English dictionary and thinking I was being awfully clever. My love affair with Holmes led to another place, too. I’ve published two stories featuring the great detective. One was published many years ago in THEMA Magazine. Along with solving “The Case of the Cumberland Barrister,” Holmes and Watson met their old friend Henry Higgins, whom I borrowed from George Bernard Shaw for a couple of pages. Just lately I sold a Holmes story for children to JLS Storybook Project, featuring two children who help Holmes solve a crime. I couldn’t have been happier doing the research, because I read many of the stories again to help me get the back into that special time of fog and gas lamps, horse-drawn carriages and meerschaum pipes. All research should be that much fun!
So, for the writing and the watching and the reading–Thank you, Sherlock Holmes!
Are there literary characters or authors that you “met” at an early age that still influence what you read or write? How do they work their way into your writing or reading life today?