Interview with Erin O'Neill - editor of The Passengers' Log - the journal of The Sydney Passengers.
What got you interested in Sherlock Holmes and when?
I first became interested in Sherlock Holmes during my early years of secondary school, after seeing the Basil Rathbone films on TV. I sought out the books, and then books about the books! I also soon found the Sydney Passengers, my local Sherlock Holmes society, after seeing a notice about them in Abbey's bookshop in Sydney. In those days there was no internet, so all Sherlockian information was communicated by mail or in book form.
Did you get encouragement from friends and family? Did anyone question your interest?
Yes, my father was keen for me to read something other than Laura Ingalls Wilder, so was quite happy for me to find another set of books to widen my reading (I did actually read other things!). My English teacher at the time was also keen to get me interested in the 'Classics' and the Holmes stories counted in that directiion. I can't recall anyone questioning my interest, although I would have kept it between myself and a few trusted friends.
Who is your favourite screen Holmes and why?
Undoubtedly Jeremy Brett, for the authenticity he brought to his interpretation and the (mostly) faithfulness to the original text.
When did you first decide to write a book in the field and why?
My first article for the Passengers' Log was a recycled University essay, that I thought could use a wider audience than just my lecturer for 'Industrialisation, Crime and the Law'. It was called 'Sherlock Holmes and the Police' and was an examination of attitudes to the police in the Sherlock Holmes stories. I chose the topic myself as something that I would find enjoyable to research, and as a great excuse to re-read the whole canon! It won the Sydney Passengers Montpellier Award for that year.
How do you find the Sherlock Holmes community, any really positive or negative experiences?
The Australian Sherlockian community is very welcoming and inclusive. It possibly helps being quite a small group in the grand scheme of things. The isolation, particularly in the pre-internet days, means we have always been, at the risk of sounding like a cliche, quite close knit, and there aren't really any quarrels. It's getting more difficult now to attract new members, as the traditional literary/fan society seems to becoming something of an outdated concept.