What got you interested in Sherlock Holmes and when?
I had seen a couple of movies in my teens and twenties and liked the mysterious Victorian settings. I've always liked mysteries, and I've always like the Victorian era in fiction for its atmosphere (cobblestone streets with gas lamps, fog, people vanishing down deserted streets). In my 30s and 40s I stumbled onto the Canon although I wouldn't have known to call it that. I just enjoyed the stories and novels. And then my husband and I started watching the many TV series that were appearing and reappearing on PBS. By then I was hooked.
Did you get encouragement from friends and family? Did anyone question your interest?
I wasn’t encouraged or questioned. My husband had enjoyed Sherlock Holmes stories in India (where he’s from), and when I started reading them, it made for some great conversations between us. We like to talk about great reads. My older brother (who has passed on) also was a big Holmes fan, and one Christmas I bought him an anthology of, I believe, the complete collection of stories and novels. He was thrilled.
Who is your favourite screen Holmes and why?
Jeremy Brett, hands down. He fits Doyle’s physical description so well. And, psychologically, he captures that combination of brilliance and weird neurosis that seems to typify Doyle’s depictions of this famous sleuth.
When did you first decide to write a book in the field and why?
It crept up on me. The brother I mentioned above had moved to England, and I visited him and his lovely wife when they were living in Luton, just outside of London. During the visit, they took me to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. She and I had so much fun, donning the deerstalker cap, peering through the magnifying glass, holding the pipe, taking pictures of each other in silly poses. Later, on the plane home, I reflected that it would be fun to write a story about Holmes through the eyes of a young Victorian girl. But I was involved in other books at the time, so the idea took a little while to gel.
How do you find the Sherlock Holmes community, any really positive or negative experiences?
Oh, they are wonderful! I had no idea just how widespread the fandom for Sherlock is! Or how many Sherlock Holmes societies there are. When my middle grade mystery was published, I had a reading up at a wonderful book store, Hein’s Books, in Placerville, California, and I discovered that a Sherlock Holmes society with a huge membership meets there every other month. And I've met some wonderful authors through MX Publishing, as well as Belanger Books.
It’s very exciting to be part of these groups. People are very helpful and supportive, and an embarrassment of riches in the form of more Sherlock Homes mysteries has opened up for me.
I'm in the middle of a rewrite of a cozy mystery (non-Sherlockian) right now, but when I finish and start submitting it, I want to throw more energy into supporting some of these remarkable authors and their books.
Written by Elizabeth Varadan