We’re crazy happy for Emma Newman, who yesterday won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, for her story “A Woman’s Place.”
There’s not much in this world – or any other for that matter – that can inject good feelings into our shrivelled black heart.
However, when the nominations for the 2015 British Fantasy Awards were announced, we’ll admit to feeling something akin to happiness. In fact, we were actively delighted, for Emma Newman’s “A Woman’s Place”, as seen in Two Hundred And Twenty One Baker Streets, has been nominated in the Best Short Story category.
Joy! So much so that our very own David Moore, who edited this peach of an alternate Sherlcok anthology, danced a merry jig straight out of the door in celebration, and hasn’t been seen since.
Congratulations Emma on a well deserved nomination. And good luck David, wherever you may be…
Here you are. The first two paragraphs are optional (by which I mean, not for publication). Obviously.
David Thomas Moore is quite clearly the greatest man who has ever lived and will ever live, a colossus who bestrides the world of publishing and every other world, showering those around him, those lucky enough to know him, with his genius. His talent for just about everything exceeds that of the foremost experts in any field. He also has a beard.
But enough about David Thomas Moore. Here’s a blog piece about my tale for 221 Baker Streets.
[ED: Err not sure this was meant to be included Gittins – have you been at Guy Adams’ drink cabinet again?]
I’m a fan of superheroes.
Always have been.
I was into superheroes long before it was fashionable,long before Marvel movies were raking in billions at the box office and everyone knew who Green Arrow was thanks to the hit TV show. Since the early 1970s I’ve eagerly followed the exploits of comic book costumed folk with super powers. I’ve stuck with them through the lean years, when even the people responsible for writing and drawing stories about them seemed to lose faith and be overwhelmed with a sense of futility and despair, and will continue to stick with them despite the fact they’re now ubiquitous and big business.
I’ve also always been a massive Sherlock Holmes fan. My father read me the Conan Doyle stories when I was little, and the character and his world have stuck with me ever since. Holmes is, I would argue, a superhero himself, a prototype of the caped adventurer who rights wrongs and fights for justice with a loyal sidekick forever accompanying him. Holmes’s super power is his brain, his amazing ability to analyse, deduce and ratiocinate, his unerring eye for the small, telling detail which leads him to unlock mysteries and collar crooks. Like many a superhero he is flawed, sometimes insufferable, his main Achilles heel being his boredom-driven manic depressive episodes and his penchant for pharmaceutical stimulants – but you can still be sure that, come what may, he is staunchly, resolutely on the side of the angels and will never succumb to his dark side.
When I was asked by David Moore to contribute to an anthology of short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes in various different settings and configurations, my immediate thought was to write something which involved super powers. From there it was a short hop to imagining a world where everyone had a power of some sort, a preternatural attribute which they could utilise to varying degrees. There could be people who were extraordinarily strong, people who could fly, people who could swim underwater… The setting would be the Victorian era, exactly as we know it, with this one major twist.
And then I thought, what if Sherlock Holmes was someone who lacked any such power? What if he was a rare anomaly, born vanilla, without the abilities which everyone else took for granted? How would that change him? Would it alter what he does? Would he still be the world’s first and only consulting detective?
Of course he damn well would!
And so I wrote “The Innocent Icarus”. It isn’t my first Holmes outing, not by a long shot. I have written two novels featuring the character (The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War) with a third (The Thinking Engine) due out in 2015. I have also penned a short story, “The Fallen Financier”, which appeared in George Mann’s Encounters Of Sherlock Holmes anthology, and I am starting work next year on a trilogy which pits Holmes against creatures from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
“The Innocent Icarus” is, though, I think the sheerest fun I’ve had with a Holmes tale. It’s a fusion of classic detective yarn and superhero fantasy, and thus reconciles my two earliest and most enduring literary passions in a single, unified whole.
You could say it’s a story I’ve been waiting all my life to write.
James Lovegrove (jameslovegrove.com) was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and is the author of more than 40 books. His novels include The Hope, Days, Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed, the New York Timesbestselling Pantheon series—so far Age Of Ra, The Age Of Zeus, The Age Of Odin, Age Of Aztec, Age Of Voodoo and Age Of Shiva, plus a collection of three novellas, Age Of Godpunk—and Redlaw and Redlaw: Red Eye, the first two volumes in a trilogy about a policeman charged with protecting humans from vampires and vice versa. He has produced two Sherlock Holmes novels, The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War.
James has sold well over 40 short stories, the majority of them gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications. He has written a four-volume fantasy saga for teenagers, The Clouded World (under the pseudonym Jay Amory), and has produced a dozen short books for readers with
reading difficulties, including Wings, Kill Swap, Free Runner, Dead Brigade, and the 5 Lords Of Pain series.
James has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Society Award and the Manchester Book Award. His short story ‘Carry The Moon In My Pocket’ won the 2011 Seiun Award in Japan for Best Translated Short Story.
James’s work has been translated into twelve languages. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Literary Review, Interzone and BBC MindGames, and he is a regular reviewer of fiction for the Financial Times and contributes features and reviews about comic books to the magazine Comic Heroes.
He lives with his wife, two sons and cat in Eastbourne, a town famously genteel and favoured by the elderly, but in spite of that he isn’t planning to retire just yet.
James Lovegrove is the author of The Innocent Icarus in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!
For more related posts hit the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets navigation tag at the top of this post.
I was encouraged to go to my first WorldCon this past year (September 2013) by prolific author L.E. Modesitt, Jr. We had a long discussion about the pros and cons of going, and Lee certainly made the pros sound far more exceptional than the cons.
So, because I’m a girl who’s definitely able to follow instructions (you know, when I wanna), and because Lee gave me quite a long list of benefits I could expect to reap by dint of attending and participating on panels and such, I headed off to San Antonio for what was a really wonderful convention experience.
It was the last day, and so far, everything Lee had said would happen had so happened, other than one thing: I hadn’t run into an editor and had them invite me into an anthology. Oh sure, Lee hadn’t said that this was a given, but he’d made the point that many times one only got invited into an anthology if one was right in front of an editor pulling said anthology together.
I was in the middle of the dealer room, chatting with Ellen Datlow, Carrie Vaughn, David Lee Summers, and a variety of attendees, when two tall men with British accents came up and started to talk to Ellen. As often happens when there are a lot of people around all talking to each other in a fluid group, people move off in and out of smaller groups, still there but talking amongst themselves. This happened here, leaving one of the Brits and me standing near each other and yet alone.
So, I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Gini Koch, I’m an author.”
“I’m David Moore,” he replied pleasantly. “I’m an editor.”
“Oh? What do you edit?”
“WELL, I’m working on an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories.”
At this moment I began to geek out like David was One Direction and I was a preteen girl. “Oh my GOD, I am a GIGANTIC Holmes fan!”
David, whose expression had been normally pleasant until now, got incredibly animated. “Me, too! Which Holmes do you like?”
“All of them! I used to swear I was a purist, that I only wanted ‘real’ Holmes, but now I realize it was a lie – I love any and every Holmes there is.”
“ME TOO! My anthology is going to put Holmes and Watson any time, anywhere, and in any way.”
At this point, David and I were both geeking out at the same level, having our own private Holmesian convention – albeit a convention of two, but two really PASSIONATE attendees – while everyone else was still enjoying WorldCon. However, as excited as we were, I’m sure we weren’t jumping up and down. Okay, not much jumping. Okay, we probably were, but I don’t believe there’s photographic proof, so it didn’t happen.
We were sharing our thoughts on every Holmes we could think of. “Sherlock”, “Elementary”, the Robert Downey, Jr. steampunk versions? Check. Jeremy Brett as possibly the best screen Holmes ever? Check. The awesomeness of Lucy Liu as a female Watson? Yep. Older Holmes movies? Naturally. Obscure Holmes movies only David and I had ever heard of? Double check.
By this time, I was squealing, “I HAVE TO BE IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!” And David was saying, “YOU’RE IN!”
I gave him my card and then spent the next week terrified that I’d somehow given him someone else’s card.
But I had not. And the rest is history.
Or rather, the rest is my story, “All the Single Ladies”, with a Holmes and Watson I’m really proud of. David was a joy to work with, the book is chockfull of great stories from wonderful authors, the cover art is beyond beautiful, and I’m still excited every time I think about the whole experience.
By the way, the moral of this story? Do whatever L.E. Modesitt, Jr. tells you to do – apparently he’s never wrong. And the other moral? One can never, ever, have enough Holmes.
Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty”
Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. Alien in the House, Book 7 in her long-running Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. Alien Collective, Book 9, released in May, and Universal Alien is coming this December.
As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series and she’s made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch. Currently, Gini has stories featured in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthologies, and, writing as J.C. Koch, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. 1, and A Darke Phantastique anthologies. She will also have a story in the first book in an X-Files anthology series coming out in 2015.
Gini can be reached via her website: www.ginikoch.com
Gina Koch is the author of All the single ladies in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology out now from Abaddon Books!
For more Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets posts click the navigation tag at the top of this post!
I’d never done a pastiche before. I’d read plenty of them, heard them discussed quite often, but it wasn’t something I had considered trying until David gave me the opportunity. I found it to be a more difficult type of writing than I had previously experienced. (Though everything has its own challenges)
I felt a real responsibility to do it correctly, to honor the original characters and stories in a way that felt authentic. In the end, this may have added more pressure than was required. I realized early on there was no way I was going to capture the voice of the British Victorian era, so it was better to make it a present day experience using a character that was distantly related.
I suppose the idea to make it a patchwork killer came from my recent interest in knitting. I was working on a square, a knitting thing, and thought how fascinating it would be if someone had human skin rather than yarn. I actually didn’t focus on the mystery so much as the attempt to show the bond between the characters. Some people like this approach, some don’t. I always found that personally I cared less about the puzzle at hand and more about how the characters interact. Now, after having lived with those guys a little while, it seems like it might be fun to try again with another mystery.
Miss Jenkins took a bow, lingered as her head tipped downwards and her breasts fought to stay tucked into her burgundy corset. She moved offstage, but for the life of me I couldn’t see that her feet had even made contact. She moved like a crowd of men followed behind her. Most times, they did.
As the whistles and claps faded into the black behind her, she found herself at the lighted mirror where she had prepared only hours ago. She released the black clip which held a feather band to her head and shook loose her fire-red locks. Stuck in the corner of the mirror was a small white envelope. She peeled it open and smiled.
It was him again.
This time, though, something was different. He seemed more urgent, desperate to see her. He was going to have to wait. Men don’t want a woman who comes running every time they are called. He had a wife for that. This, this was something else. It meant more to him than it did her, but she didn’t mind. He was sweet and reliable and she got free botox out of the deal so it seemed like a win win.
Now changed and fresh faced, she shoved her stilettos into the bag flung over her shoulder and exited out the rear door into the alleyway as the door slammed shut behind her.
Tonight the crowd that waited for her out back was smaller than usual. Actually, it had been like that the last few times, but she couldn’t let that get her down.
“I still got it,” she said to herself as a sudden thud caught her attention.
She could see the workers at the ice cream parlor down the way through the glass windows. Buzzing around, rushing to close up shop.
She signed a few autographs and posed for a few kissie-faced pictures as she walked to the parking lot that housed her new black Mustang convertible. She’d worked a long time to afford a car like that, and then just three weeks of being with him, she had it. All her own.
She stopped outside the vehicle under the street lamp which flickered above when she heard another loud noise. This time, she felt a sting in the back of her head.
She opened her eyes and the world spun. On the ground now, gravel embedded into the backs of her thighs she reached around to touch her head. It was wet, and the smell of dirty copper was strong. There was so much blood.
The spinning began to lessen and through the beams of light she could make out a figure standing over her.
“You’re gonna be famous forever,” said the voice.
Jenkins let out a whimper, and then the world went black.
First published at the tender age of 8, Kasey Lansdale is the author of numerous short stories as well as editor to several anthology collections. Her most recent project, Impossible Monsters, was released from Subterranean Press summer of 2013. A full time singer/songwriter, she has also just completed her first novel. She is the daughter of acclaimed author, Joe R. Lansdale.
She is the author of The Patchwork Killer in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!
For more Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets related content please hit the navigation tag at the top of this post!
Originally aired 11th October 1962 on the BBC Light Programme.
Available on the double-CD box set A Little More Sherlock and John (BBC Music, 1997).
ANNOUNCER: This is the BBC Light Programme.
GRAMS: [‘HOLMES AND WATSON OPENING 1’ by Willy Scott]
ANNOUNCER: We present Sherlock Holmes and John Watson with Gordon Lestrade, Martha Hudson and Billy Page in…
GRAMS: [‘HOLMES AND WATSON OPENING 2’ by Willy Scott]
HOLMES: The Adventure of the Wrong-Headed Blog.
EFFECTS: Establishing sounds. Baker Street buzzing with life, news boys holler, cart wheels clatter. We fade into the contemplative world of 221b, a grandfather clock ticks, a match is struck, pipe tobacco crackles.)
HOLMES: What do I say about David Moore, this giant among men?
WATSON: (STRAINED) You tell him to sit in another chair, the colonial colossus is crushing me to death.
MOORE: Sorry, didn’t see you there.
(MOORE gets up. It sounds like the entire contents of a butcher’s shop being moved three feet to the left where it is dumped on another ungrateful armchair.)
HOLMES: There certainly is plenty of him. Where’s the… what should we call him?
HOLMES: That’s stretching things too far.
HOLMES: No. No. We mustn’t devalue words. That would compound his crime.
HOLMES: Agreed, let us be gracious, he is, after all, a guest.
ADAMS: (MUFFLED) I’m having the will to live squeezed out of me by my editor.
MOORE: Sorry, didn’t see you there.
ADAMS: It’s fine, it wasn’t an entirely new experience.
(MOORE moves to another chair, it explodes in a huff of suicidal leather and oak.)
MOORE: I’m not this massive in real life, why are you being so mean?
ADAMS: You suggested Holmes’ opening line, what else did you expect me to do? Pander to your ego?
MOORE: I think Lydia was just joking.
WATSON: (LIKE A STARVED DOG BEING SHOWN A MAP TO AN ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD Lydia? There’s a woman here?
(There is the rushed sound of suit brushing, splashed cologne and plucked roses.)
HOLMES: Easy Watson, she’s married.
WATSON: Not for long!
HOLMES: She’s the PR for the publisher. She’s the one who asked Adams to write this meandering nonsense.
WATSON: (IMMEDIATELY DEFLATED, HIS COLOGNE EVAPORATES) She works in publishing? (SIGHS) Never mind.
HOLMES: Indeed, she’s taken up residence in the drinks cabinet and is likely no longer capable of coherent conversation.
(EFFECTS: HOLMES opens the drinks cabinet, there is the sound of raucous German Beer Hall dancing, he immediately slams the door shut again.)
HOLMES: A sight beyond words. I will never be able to enjoy walnuts again. Do pass me that padlock, WATSON, for all our sakes.
(EFFECTS: HOLMES chains up the drinks cabinet.)
HOLMES: So gentlemen, other than incarcerating your inebriated staff, what can we do for you?
MOORE: We were hoping you’d help promote the new book I’ve edited. It’s called Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets and it’s an anthology of Holmesian tales across time and space. A selection of stories offering an unusual take on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
WATSON: Two hundred and twenty one of them?
WATSON: Two hundred and twenty one stories?
MOORE: Erm… no. There’s fourteen actually. From people like Adrian…
WATSON: Then it should be called Fourteen Baker Streets shouldn’t it?
MOORE: Ha! (OFFERS THE SORT OF LAUGHTER PEOPLE EMPLOY WHEN THEY’RE BUSILY TRYING NOT TO PUNCH PEOPLE). That doesn’t sound quite as good.
WATSON: But it would have been more accurate.
MOORE: I don’t think people would expect there to be that many stories.
WATSON: Unless they’d read the title.
MOORE: Even then. As I say, we have writers like Adrian…
WATSON: I suppose it would be bad for the wrist.
MOORE: I’m sorry?
WATSON: A book containing two hundred and twenty one stories. Nobody wants to publish a book that makes reader’s wrists ache.
ADAMS: I don’t know, I’ve enjoyed a few in my time…
HOLMES: I fear we’re straying off the point a little.
WATSON: I suppose you could do two hundred and twenty one extremely short stories.
MOORE: Much better to do fourteen really good, satisfying stories, from people like Adrian…
WATSON: “Once upon a time there was a small duck called Sherlock Holmes and he lived on the river with his friend John Watson, an otter.”
MOORE: There are no otters in our book.
WATSON: Don’t blame me. “One day Holmes the duck found the body of a dead moor hen. “Curious!” he quacked, “someone’s killed this moor hen.”
MOORE: Yeah, that’s not really the sort of thing…
WATSON: “It was me Holmes!” cried John Watson the naughty otter, “I stabbed him with this sharpened reed.”
MOORE: Not much of a mystery is it?
WATSON: Shows what you know. It’s brilliant and intriguing. WHY did the otter kill the moor hen?
ADAMS: Because he really hated the pompous, quacking git?
WATSON: Perhaps the otter and the duck could plunge off a weir at the end.
MOORE: Why would they do that?
WATSON: It’s worked before. Drama. Self sacrifice. The noble duck sacrificing himself to rid the world of this bastard of an otter.
(EFFECTS: A loud crashing sound. MOORE has left the room, taking most of a wall with him.)
HOLMES: If you’re going to storm out, Mr Moore, might I ask that you stoop when you negotiate the doors?
(EFFECTS: A distant crash followed by the sound of screams and veering carriages as the behemoth MOORE attempts to navigate the street outside. Eventually the chaos subsides.)
HOLMES: What are we going to do with the sauced-up loon in our drinks cabinet? I was hoping he was going to take her with him.
WATSON: More to the point, why is this entire thing written like a particularly stupid radio programme?
ADAMS: That’s my fault I’m afraid. In my story Holmes and Watson are actors, comedians who play the characters we know from Doyle’s original stories as part of a long-running radio comedy series.
ADAMS: I know. It’s actually a far more serious story than this old waffle would suggest but, you know, guest blogs… always hard to think of something to do.
(EFFECTS: The rattle of a chain as ADAMS unlocks the drinks cabinet.)
ADAMS: I’ll be in here if anyone needs me.
(EFFECTS: A burst of German Beer Hall music stifled as ADAMS closes the door behind him.)
WATSON: A brave man. So what do we do now? This has gone on far too long as it is.
HOLMES: (RE-LIGHTING HIS PIPE) Tell me more about this naughty otter.
WATSON: Well! He is the Napoleon of River Based crime! He strikes fear into the hearts of badger and water boatman alike…
(EFFECTS: We fade out on their conversation, moving outside to where the screaming continues as MOORE makes his slow way back to his Oxford office, muttering to himself about the perils of working with stupid authors.)
MUSIC: [‘HOLMES AND WATSON CLOSE’ by Willy Scott.]
Guy Adams (guyadamsauthor.com) has written far too many books. In recent years these have included: the Heaven’s Gate Trilogy for Solaris; the Deadbeat books for Titan and the Clown Service series for Del Rey UK.
He has, as yet, not written far too many comics but he’s working on it: he’s written a number of strips for 2000 AD including a reinvention of Grant Morrison’s Ulysses Sweet: Maniac for Hire, scripted The Engine for Madefire and is the co-creator of Goldtiger with artist Jimmy Broxton.
A lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes (once playing him, rather badly on stage) he has written two original novels, The Breath of God and The Army of Dr Moreau, as well as a couple of non-fiction books.
He is the author of A Study in Scarborough in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!
For more Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets related content or to find more from Mr Adams click the navigation tags at the top of this post
When the indomitable David Thomas Moore and his epic beard approached me to participate in his Sherlock Holmes alt-anthology, I couldn’t say no. (Seriously, the beard held me at gun point.) His instructions were posed as questions: What would Holmes and Watson be in a different time and place? Would they still solve mysteries? Would they even be friends?
And so these are the questions I asked myself when putting together “A Scandal in Hobohemia”.
Truth be told, I jumped at the chance to be a part of Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets. I have always enjoyed the stories of Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson. Be they the original Doyle works or the modern film adaptations, the mysteries are not what keep me riveted, but the relationship between the two lead characters. I’ve always loved the strange, inexplicable friendship Holmes and Watson share. They are from disparate backgrounds and Sherlock can be so maddening that sometimes the true mystery is not who done it, but how do these two men not kill one another?
This relationship is what I chose to focus on in my story, answering the question originally posed by David Moore, “Would they even be friends?”
I drew inspiration from many Sherlocks: the Doyle works, the Robert Downey Jr. films, and the BBC series. While I do draw on canonical details and character traits, I wanted to distance my work from Doyle’s. So, I chose to rename my characters. In “A Scandal in Hobohemia” readers will meet newly minted Pinkerton Agent Jim Walker, our Watson. A veteran of the Great War, Jim was an army medic who served largely in France. His partner is Agent Adele Trenet, a Pinkerton officer who happens to moonlight as a mole for Leland Haus, the head of the Secret Service. While Agents Trenet and Walker are on a case for Pinkerton, Mr. Haus has sent his spy to look in on his wayward little brother Sanford. Both missions lead them to the Soggiorno Brothers Traveling Wonder Show in the dusty Midwest of the United States. The circus and Ms. Trenet’s cases are the backdrop of what I feel is the true story: the meeting of our Sherlock and Watson.
I had immense fun writing in this world with these characters, and hope to revisit the Traveling Wonder Show in the future. While you enjoy Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, I do hope you enjoy your time at the circus.
After a misspent adulthood pursuing a Music Education degree, Jamie Wyman (www.jamiewyman.com) fostered several interests before discovering that being an author means never having to get out of pajamas. She has an unhealthy addiction to chai, a passion for circus history, and a questionable hobby that involves putting a flaming torch into her mouth. When she’s not traipsing about with her imaginary friends, she lives in Phoenix with two hobbits and two cats. Jamie is proud to say she has a deeply disturbed following at her blog.
Jamie’s debut novel Wild Card (Entangled Edge, 2013) is available wherever ebooks are sold. You can also find her short story “The Clever One” in the anthology When The Hero Comes Home 2 (Dragon Moon Press, August 2013). Look for Unveiled, the follow-up to Wild Card, in November 2014.
She is the author of A Scandal in Hobohemia in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!
For more Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets related content hit the navigation tag at the top of this post!
It all started one chilly morning while keeping Sarah Lotz company outside the Metropole Hotel in Brighton, while she sucked some nicotine into her lungs, during the World Fantasy Convention in 2013.
I was just an innocent bystander, watching others smoking and trying to pretend that I wasn’t freezing my arse off. I hadn’t seen Sarah in ages and wanted to catch up – she’s always a good laugh and probably one of my favourite writerly types, so she’s worth enduring a little cold weather for and at least I didn’t get frostbite. Bear in mind that I’m South African so anything under 20°C is considered cold and the weather that weekend in Brighton was well below that.
Somewhere along the line David Thomas Moore, the bearded, crazy, genius, joined the conversation. Sarah said something about my writing being twisted and that I was sick in the head. In any other circles that would probably be considered an insult, but not in the horror writing world. Someone saying that about you in the horror world is probably the greatest compliment a writer can get. I duly blushed. David had a strange evil glint in his eyes as he turned to me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a story for his Sherlock Holmes anthology. I thought he’d lost his mind or had a few too many pints at the bar. Who in their right mind would ask me to write a story about Holmes?
I think I may have had a few too many glasses of wine at the bar and said yes. Because, hey, I love Sherlock! I did, however, add a disclaimer and warned him that, as Sarah had pointed out, it was likely to be bit twisted. He seemed pleased by that idea, which left me wondering just how twisted was I allowed to be … I had a feeling he wouldn’t have a problem with my writing something as twisted as I could possibly get.
By the end of the convention I’d convinced myself that there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I would ever hear from Mr Moore again, but a few months later there was an email in my inbox from David asking if I was still interested. I almost shat myself. I was now actually going to have to produce something that was worthy of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. I knew there was no point in trying to reproduce the original stories and plus that wasn’t what David wanted. I also realised that an editor wouldn’t ask a horror writer for a story unless he wanted a horror story, so that’s what I set out to do. I also wanted to have a bit of fun with it.
Pretoria is my home town and Mamalodi, the township, informal settlement, ghetto, or whatever you want to call it is only about a ten minute drive from my front door. It’s the type of setting that most people living in first world countries would find alien, but is common place anywhere in Africa and other developing countries. I wanted to put Sherlock and Watson outside of the readers comfort zone and away from the normal settings. Pretoria and Mamalodi are also not the typical settings you find in most South African novels. Most South African authors seem to set their books in Johannesburg or Cape Town or in more exotic locations, but I prefer to set my stories in places that I know well.
Mamalodi may not be as dangerous as some of the other informal settlements that they have in Johannesburg, but it has a character all of its own and makes for an interesting backdrop for Holmes and Watson and a multi murder.
I’m incredibly grateful for having had the chance to spend some time with Holmes and Watson and for working with David. It’s been one hell of a fun rollercoaster ride. I can’t wait to see what else David and the Abaddon team do next.
Joan De La Haye (joandelahaye.com) writes horror and some very twisted thrillers. She invariably wakes up in the middle of the night, because she’s figured out yet another freaky way to mess with her already screwed up characters.
Joan is interested in some seriously weird stuff. That’s probably also one of the reasons she writes horror.
Her novels, Shadows and Requiem in E Sharp, as well as her novella, Oasis, are published by Fox Spirit (foxspirit.co.uk).
You can find Joan on her website and follow her on Twitter @JoanDeLaHaye.
She is the author of The Rich Man’s Hand in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!
For more Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets related content hit the navigation tag!
New York, 1977
Following the events which I have chronicled in ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Bandana,’ Holmes seemed to descend into depression, as he often did after a case which tested the glittering heights of his deductive prowess.
One evening when I called on him in Bleecker Street, I found him slumped in his armchair with the telltale glassy-eyed expression which I had seen before. His violin hung listlessly from one hand, and beside his chair was a plastic Baggie half-filled with white powder.
‘Enough,’ I said. ‘I will not allow you to wallow in his apartment, taking drugs. You are coming out with me right now.’
‘What’s the point? Everything is so dull.’
‘It’s New York, man. The world is at our fingertips. A concert, a movie. Actually, yes—a movie would be perfect. You need a more wholesome escape from your own mind.’
He fluttered an indifferent hand. ‘Movies are for the simple-minded. I need a case, Watson. And perhaps some more—’
I snatched the bag of coke and flushed it down the toilet.
Half an hour and some harsh words later, we were sitting in the third row of The Strand theatre, watching the opening credits scroll across the screen. Holmes looked supremely bored, but I was quite excited. I’d seen Star Wars before and I was delighted to be seeing it again.
Most of my attention was taken up by the thrilling events on the screen (and the smart-mouthed charms of Carrie Fisher), but I did notice that Holmes was gradually sitting upright, his keen eyes focused on the film. By the final scene, he was positively on the edge of his seat, his hands clasped, his mouth quirked into half a smile.
‘So you enjoyed it,’ I said to him as we left the theatre into the neon Manhattan night.
‘Even though movies are for the simple-minded, and science fiction is utterly implausible?’ I couldn’t resist repeating his own words to him. ‘What did you like the best? The space battles, the light sabres, the Death Star?’
‘It gave ample scope for observation and deduction. Of course it was obvious that C3PO was suffering from backache, but less so that Grand Moff Tarkin was wearing too-tight shoes. Or that two thirds of the cantina band had recently given up smoking.’
‘Holmes, I rather think you have missed the point.’
‘I miss nothing. Surely even you must have noticed that the Imperial Stormtroopers were nearly all left-handed, due, no doubt, to the magazine on the modified Sterling L2A3 submachine guns they used.’
I threw up my hands. ‘But what of the story?’
‘Stories are for children, Watson. All the same, I thought the twist was moderately cleverly done.’
‘What twist? When Han Solo returns, you mean?’
‘I mean the fact that Darth Vader is both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia’s father.’
I stopped on the sidewalk, flabbergasted. ‘Holmes…that’s not in the film.’
‘I think you will find that it is.’
He lit a cigarette and drew the smoke deep into his lungs, like a man who has found a new zest for life.
‘Overall, this has been a most invigorating evening. I think we should watch another film. What say you to Smokey and the Bandit?’
J. E. Cohen’s (julie-cohen.com) life changed at age eleven, when she bought The Complete Sherlock Holmes because it was the biggest book in the shop. She joined the Baker Street Irregulars at sixteen, and at age twenty-two moved to England to study Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement in the Cottingley fairy photographs. Despite not being able to draw, she is an official cartoonist for The Sherlock Holmes Journal, with her feature “Overrun By Oysters.” Under the name Julie Cohen she writes novels which have sold nearly a million copies worldwide. Tweet her @julie_cohen.
She is the author of The Adventures of the Speckled Bandana in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now!
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Sherlock Holmes was inhabiting a part of my brain when I travelled to Aradale Asylum in Ararat, Victoria. The story needed to be written and I was looking for clues.
I found them at Aradale. This cluster of buildings is 150 years old, built to house those considered ‘insane’ in the late 1880s. These days, of course, most of the inhabitants would be considered ‘us’. Strong-minded women, men with grand ideas, women who wore red, people with epilepsy. All locked together in this imposing, disheartening and at times frightening institution.
All was fine until we got locked in the high security men’s ward. This was where they locked up the spree killers, the blood-lusters, the cannibals, including one so desperate for human meat they had to lock him in a cage out in the yard.
Did we see ghosts? I didn’t think so. But I did take this photo of one of the cells. Is that a man in a suit on the right?
We also visited the morgue. There was less atmosphere here than elsewhere, though it was cold and the air had a hint of…something.
Outside the morgue stands a massive pink peppercorn tree. Our guide told us it was planted to cover the smell of the morgue, so the stench didn’t waft over the buildings, into the wards, the kitchens, the dining hall.
Photo by William Tabone, Australian Paranormal Society.
Later, I sat under another peppercorn tree, looking over the “Married Staff Quarters” (considered by some to be the most haunted building) and I began with the question: How can this peppercorn tree, pink and pretty, help Sherlock? How might he engage with it? And the idea for Sherlock as architect came to me.
You can see how the mood of Aradale affected me. The sense of lost souls, of lost lives, of secrets and lies. Hopefully I’ve captured some of this mood in The Lantern Men.
Kaaron Warren (kaaronwarren.wordpress.com) has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She’s sold many short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification) and four short story collections. Through Splintered Walls won a Canberra Critic’s Circle Award for Fiction, an ACT Writers’ and Publisher’s Award, two Ditmar Awards, two Australian Shadows Awards and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her story “Air, Water and the Grove” won the Aurealis Award for Best SF Short Story and will appear in Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. Her latest collection is The Gate Theory. Kaaron Tweets @KaaronWarren.
She is the author of The Lantern Men short story in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out on Abaddon Books NOW.
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