Sherlock Holmes is a well-established character known for his detective work of gruesome murder cases. In the new book Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, we find several stories by the book’s authors, James Lovegrove, Mark Hodder, and others.
George Mann, the book’s editor, recently sat down with us to give us some clues to the mysteries ahead.
AMANDA DYAR: Encounters of Sherlock Holmes features numerous stories from authors James Lovegrove and Mark Hodder, among others. Can you tell us a bit about each story and how they fit together in the Sherlock Holmes universe?
GEORGE MANN: Well, I was aiming for an eclectic mix of stories for the anthology, ranging from the traditional (in the mould of Doyle’s originals) to the fantastical, with a fair bit of variety in between. So on one hand we have stories such as Mags Halliday’s tale of mysterious passengers on the Necropolis Express, James Lovegrove’s case of a bizarrely disappearing person, Mark Hodder’s exploration of events surrounding Richard Burton’s translation of a notorious manuscript, while on the other we have Eric Brown describing Holmes’s investigation into the murder of a Martian ambassador and Nick Kyme giving us Holmes’s encounters with infamous villains such as Frankenstein’s monster and Mr. Hyde. On top of that, both Paul Magrs and David Barnett open our eyes to the true story of Mrs Hudson.
AMANDA: You also wrote one of the stories for the book yourself. What is your story about, and how did you prepare to write a story about one of the greatest literary characters of all time?
GEORGE: Watson takes centre stage in my story, joining forces with the redoubtable Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, to investigate reports of a strange beast that’s been climbing out of the Thames. Of course, Holmes is never far from events…
As far as preparations go – I’m not sure you can really prepare yourself to write for such a great literary character. I think the key is to focus on the story and not worry about the weight of what has gone before. After all, that’s your job – to tell a good story – so that has to come first. After that it’s all about the characters and your responsibility to portray them well. It helps that I’ve been reading Holmes stories for over twenty years, and he’s pretty much embedded in my psyche!
AMANDA: Sherlock Holmes fans are some of the most loyal and particular fans of any series. How does Encounters of Sherlock Holmes cater to the fans and stay loyal to the original works?
GEORGE: Again, the key is to get the character right. Holmes already exists and has done so for over a hundred years. He’s one of the most important literary creations of all time, and people the world over have an expectation of how he should behave, how he goes about investigating a case. If you can get that right, the rest should click into place. I think that’s what people are looking for and how you remain respectful of Doyle’s legacy.
Holmes is a rationalist, and there’s great drama to be had from pitching him into situations where his fundamental beliefs are challenged or otherwise seemingly impossible circumstances. I think the authors of the stories in Encounters do this admirably.
AMANDA: You’ve written several novels in your career including The Ghost series and have edited several other works as well. How did your previous work help contribute to your work on Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, and do you have any other current or upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
GEORGE: I think my experience editing the four Solaris anthologies stood me in good stead for Encounters, in terms of how to structure an anthology. It’s a lot like making a good mixtape (or playlist, to use modern speak!). You have to get the balance right, the ebb and flow of the stories. Of course, my love of Holmes and the Victorian era in general helped a great deal, too.
As far as other projects go, there’s a new Newbury & Hobbes novel this year, called The Executioner’s Heart, as well as a related short story collection towards the end of the year. Aside from that, I’m just putting the finishing touches to a new Holmes novel called The Will of the Dead, which has been tremendous fun to write.
To learn more about Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, visit the official Titan Books website.
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