Today it’s the blog blitz for Sherlock Holmes And The Singular Affair. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to MK Wiseman for answering my questions!
Have you always wanted to write?
I have always loved books but, no, writing was not something which occurred to me until recent years. It just never sank in for me—even as an avid reader—where it is that books come from. To my mind, stories just magically *existed* and that was that. But then, one day, I started writing, just as an exercise to get an idea out of my head which was rattling around in there, and after that I never really stopped writing. Oops. 🙂
What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?
In hindsight, something in me really wanted to write books, even if I wasn’t fully aware of it. My undergraduate studies centered on video and animation. Storytelling. And then I completed a graduate degree in Library Science because: books! To this day, I still storyboard things as part of my process and my librarian background is super helpful when I engage in historical research.
What was your inspiration for Sherlock Holmes & the Singular Affair?
In my first Sherlock book, my goal had been to really look at the friendship of Holmes and Watson. And though Singular Affair is a prequel to the Baker Street era (and thus set before Holmes meets Watson) I wanted to, again, ask such questions as might give us a fresh look at their partnership: what is it that led Holmes to seek out a companion; where was his mind at with regards to what sort of person he might want to live with?
So it’s a flip side view of my prior book, in some respects. Also, after the seriousness of the Ripper story, I wanted to run as far into farce and fun as I dared.
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
My Sherlock books are a little different in that they are Conan Doyle’s characters and I am just playing in that sandbox. I keep a number of resources at hand to ensure that I get certain motions, certain habits, correct as regards official Canon. But there is some leeway in writing from Holmes’ point of view rather than Watson’s. It’s fun to pick out what I believe Watson was truthful on and what he might have fudged for the reader. As for anyone I make up from wholecloth, I don’t think I am consciously picking out anything specifically from people I know. Sometimes it’s a matter of “pick a trait by throwing a dart at a board” and sometimes its just a game of opposites/make sure this or that person is unlike the others for variety’s sake/for ease of reading.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a very detailed plotter. Granted, the initial charts, spreadsheets, outlines rarely survive for long without massive changes overhauling everything time and again. But once everything locks in properly for me, I have pretty much set all the details—and some of the dialogue, even—before I work on putting the story into prose. This is actually the same for me whether it’s a mystery or a fantasy tale.
How did you research? Did you enjoy it?
I looooove research. 1. It’s interesting 2. I get to buy really cool books! (Most recently I bought a facimile of a late-1800s railway chart.) Frankly, I enjoy knowing what Sherlock Holmes’ pocket change would have been or what concerts he might have attended.
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?
I am sure that the influence happens when one reads as much as I do, but I don’t feel like I’ve been influenced in any directly measurable way. My husband has accused my “such” (a word I tend to use in a manner that, apparently, is not all that common these days?) as being from Conan Doyle.
For reader-me, though, the best thing that can happen when I am reading is: to be surprised. I forever love a turn of phrase that my brain wouldn’t have come up with in a million years. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman books are like coming home for me. Ursula Le Guin and Douglas Adams have a way of observing things that I just adore. Dickens drives me mad at times, but sometimes his prose just shimmers. And the mind of Tolkien forever impresses me.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?
I’ve had a year with a fair bit of loss in it so I’m trying not to make this super personal, admittedly. But the reality is that I’ve some family I’d love to have home to dinner one more time.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Someone who panics would not be good for me. (I’m probably the someone that someone else doesn’t want to be stuck in a lift with . . . due to said panic.)
Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Sherlock Holmes & the Singular Affair?
Gosh, I don’t know actors! Truly, I am terrible with names and faces and am forever relying on my husband to know who is starring in this or that. I am, however, a big fan of how Mr. Jeremy Brett played Sherlock Holmes in the ‘80s Granada TV series. Can I cheat and say him, since this is wishing time? 😉
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I play a couple of instruments. This past summer I became a hobbyist beekeeper. I have a tendency to go on long meditative walks. And *blush* I am super into Fortnite.
What is next for you?
More books! Wahoo!! I am currently working on my next Sherlock Holmes & book but I am looking to get back into fantasy, too. I miss my wizards. Admittedly, I wish I could just blink and have books done and ready. The writing process has, lately, been a major source of frustration for me—I am a slow writer with very short patience when it comes to my own work.
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
The 10th Kingdom
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(I grew up there)
Plain as they come
Sherlock Holmes And The Singular Affair is available from Amazon.