This month's Interesting Interview is Brad Keefauver, a name familiar to any Sherlockian that's been around for any amount of time. Brad has been blogging about all things Sherlockian (and whatever non-Sherlockian things he can twist to become Sherlockian) on his site, Sherlock Peoria for about as long as the internet has been around.
Throughout the nineties, Brad was writing books and publishing journals that are chock full of goodness. More recently, he has started a new podcast, "Sherlock Holmes is Real," which is a new and inventive take on the history of Sherlock Holmes' place in the world. The second season of Sherlock Holmes is Real started in March and is well worth checking out.
How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?
Someone who loves Sherlock Holmes. And, I suppose, we must be polite and allow that they self-identify as a Sherlockian, just in case they’re a Holmesian, Sherlockholmesian, Watsonian, or “just someone who loves Sherlock Holmes.”
How did you become a Sherlockian?
I saw Sherlock Holmes in a rowboat trying to fight the Loch Ness monster. I was in junior high and only saw the preview to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes without getting to see the actual movie for years. The spark was struck in that moment.
What is your favorite canonical story?
“The Illustrious Client.” Can’t even say why.
What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
The things Watson doesn’t tell us, but are there all the same. The “here is what really happened” genre of Sherlockian scholarship, extrapolating from the evidence we’re given. When done right, you always get a “Why didn’t I see that before?” moment.
What things do you like to research related to Sherlock Holmes?
Historical nooks and crannies. Timelines. Single moments where something was happening to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson while other things were happening elsewhere in the world at exactly that point in time. (Haven’t actually done that last one yet, but it’s on my list. And, actually, Vincent W. Wright would be better at it than me.)
What is one of your favorite posts or topics you've ever covered on Sherlock Peoria?
My favorite posts are always the ones where I get to express something that someone else can’t come out and say or is having a hard time finding words for. There are some topics in Sherlockian culture that we rarely communicate about in print, and I enjoy getting them on the public record. The most gratifying moment in blogging is when someone else tells you that you expressed what they had always thought perfectly. It’s like you got an instant of telepathy in a way, and a good contact with one other person is the best thing in life, really.
How would you describe "Sherlock Holmes is Real" to someone who's never heard it before?
“Sherlock Holmes is Real” is a fictional investigation into Sherlockian history without quality control or standards, with a kind of Mulder and Scully set of hosts, and episodes that can pack a lot of confusing detail into less than twenty minutes. Kind a a next level of “playing the game” that hasn’t quite figured itself out yet. And will hopefully improve as it does figure itself out.
Where did your inspiration come from for a conspiracy theory based podcast?
I had spent a year trying to figure out what kind of podcast I’d enjoy doing, and the I listened to “The Black Tapes” podcast. Their style of ongoing investigation into a supernatural world seemed like something that could work with my imaginary view of the Sherlockian world as a place of conspiracies and secret connections. The real facts out there don’t take much of a push to seem like over-imaginative fiction sometimes.
What Sherlockian things do you like to read other than the Canon?
A really good novel with a Sherlock Holmes tie-in. It’s so hard to find Sherlock done well, so it seems like the most enjoyable things are the almost-Sherlocks. The last three I enjoyed featured female leads: a client, a sister, and a great-great-great-grand-
daughter, so I think the gender-shift shakes me out of comparing it to Doyle enough to relax and enjoy it. If a novel tries to say “This is the real Sherlock Holmes!” then it has to match the mental image of Holmes I’ve built over decades, and at this point, that’s an extremely hard task. BBC Sherlock fan fiction hits the mark more often than Doyle-based pastiche for me due to that.
Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or ?
We’re going to see a lot of talented writers who cut their teeth with on-line prose entering the commercial markets, many of them with new Sherlock Holmes stories to tell. We’re going to see more variations on Sherlock Holmes across all media, too, as those little seeds called “AUs” grow out into the mainstream. The things we see in the years ahead aren’t going to come from the Sherlockian venues who like matters exactly the way they are. They’re going to come from directions we weren’t expecting at all. And Sherlockiana will be playing off those new ideas, both groaning and exalting in the new, as we always do. Oh, yes . . . and the women are going to finish taking over. Maybe not in five or ten years, but it’s coming. (Except in St. Louis, of course, when a fairly young fellow is doing a fine job, and will hopefully continue on with that.)
(Editor's note: It seems like Keefauver's set the bar fairly low for the St. Louis Sherlockians, but I'll take the compliment nonetheless.)