Friday, April 6, 2012

Interview with Amy Thomas, Author of The Detective and The Woman

 I was lucky enough to post my last blog entry where I mentioned interviews coming in the next week, and seconds later, received the answers to these questions.  This is Amy Thomas, new MX author of The Detective and The Woman, available on April 16th, though it's available through the Baker Street Babes now.

1. How and why did your interest in Sherlock Holmes start? What is it about the character that fascinates you most?

I read Sherlock Holmes for the first time when I was nine or ten years old, and I remember checking an audiobook out of the library that had “The Speckled Band” on it, which totally creeped me out. Throughout my teenage years, I was a huge fan of the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King, but the BBC Sherlock series rekindled my interest in the canon, and I re-read it in 2010 and began communicating with other Holmes fans from around the world.

2. What is your favorite story of the canon?

My favorite story is “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.” It features a wonderful female character, Violet Hunter, as well as a mystery that seems very domestic and housebound but turns out to be incredibly creepy in the end. It also has humorous character moments, which I love.

3. What are your top three favorites pastiches? (No fair picking your own!)

1. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. I like every book in the Mary Russell series, but the first one is an exceptional introduction into her world. One of my favorite things about the series is that King manages to break so many Holmes taboos, such as the romantic one, but she does it in such a skillful and respectful way that she makes it work brilliantly.

2. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer. Pastiche writers come at their subject from a variety of angles, and Meyer’s seems to be a love for the characters. His story is an excellent mystery, but it’s an even more excellent examination of Sherlock Holmes as a man. I find the book very inspiring because that is also my way of making sense of the Holmesian world—I start with the characters and then find the plot.

3. A Study in Sherlock edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie Klinger. As collections of Holmes stories go, this one is wildly unusual because it enlists the writing skills of non-Sherlockian authors. Some of the stories are very traditional pastiches, while others are only inspired by Sherlock Holmes in the loosest sense. I’m extremely inspired by the variety of techniques and angles.

4. In fellow Holmes pastiche authors, what do you most admire/most detest?

I most admire those who love and respect the characters and canon and are confident enough to do something new with them, while still respecting and connecting with the originals. I am most dismayed by those who try to imitate Conan Doyle without adding any new aspects to the stories. I have 60 stories of Conan Doyle’s to read, and no one else has his exact voice. I don’t have a problem with authors using Watson as narrator, but I expect something unique that gives me a reason to read a pastiche instead of just going back to the canon.

5. What was your inspiration for your own Holmes novels?

As a character-driven author, I was inspired by the canon, both by Holmes’s character and by Irene Adler—the person I thought Conan Doyle meant her to be at the end of “A Scandal in Bohemia” instead of the non-canonical ways she’s been characterized in some books and adaptations.

I was also inspired by the history of south Florida, where I live, which is the historical home of the inventor Thomas Edison. The time of Holmes’s Great Hiatus, when he was thought to be dead, was an interesting period in Floridian history, and I wanted to connect the two.

6. Who is your favorite paring with Holmes, crossover-wise? (Ie--Holmes and the Phantom, Holmes and the Ripper, Holmes and Dracula, Holmes somehow in contemporary times with an original female character, etc.)

I am the biggest fan of seeing Holmes interacting with real-life historical characters, but in a natural way, not necessarily because he’s a part of a major historical event, but just in the course of the normal working of cases. Really, though, the character is timeless enough that he can work in almost any context if the writer writes well.

7. What, if any, is your favorite more obscure Holmes movie? (For instance, Young Sherlock Holmes, Without a Clue, They Might Be Giants.)

I have a peculiar fondness for The Hound of the Baskervilles from 1959, starring Peter Cushing as Holmes and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry. It’s not a terribly popular adaptation, but I think Cushing’s love for the character really comes through in his portrayal.

I also like "Young Sherlock Holmes" a great deal. When I was a child, it made me fall madly in love with the teenaged Sherlock Holmes.

8. What is your favorite Holmes canon quote, and why?

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” – The Sign of Four

It has to be this one because it sums up so much of Holmes’s reasoning method in so many cases. It’s the heartbeat of the detective.

9. What, if any, is your favorite quote from the BBC's Sherlock?

Sherlock Holmes: Meretricious
Inspector Lestrade: And a happy New Year!

Call me frivolous, but this is one of my favorite moments in the whole show.

10. How awesome is Benedict Cumberbatch?? (Lol, just kidding.) Seriously, however, if you've been lucky enough to view the second season of Sherlock, without giving too much away, what is your opinion of it?

First of all, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are so exceptional as Homes and Watson that it’s impossible to give them enough praise. They were outstanding in Series 1, but Series 2 takes them far further emotionally and relationally.

The second series contains three of the best episodes of television I have ever seen, both as a Sherlockian and just in general. Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and Steve Thompson have translated some of the heaviest moments of the canon into beautiful, stirring, heartbreaking, suspenseful, and wonderful hours of television.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview!

    I will check out this book. I liked "The House of Silk" by Anthony Horowitz.