Sunday, March 27, 2022

Interesting Interview: Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves

When The Parallel Case of St. Louis hosted  Holmes in the Heartland back in 2018, most of the attendees were from the Midwest.  But there was these two names from California...  Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves and her young daughter traveled all the way from the west coast for some Sherlockian fun that weekend.  Joanne was the sweetest person and was decked out in Victorian garb that caught everyone's attention.  She looked so authentic that many people expected her to be a part of some demonstration at the event.  But nope!  Joanne was just a Sherlockian wanting to spend time with other Sherlockians.

And she is loved by the other Sherlockians that know her.  When Joanne received her investiture earlier this year, the room ERUPTED in cheers!  And rightfully so!  Her talks and performances have received rave reviews from her fellow Californians (and they know entertainment!).  So enjoy this week's Interesting Interview with Joanne Zahorsky-Reeves, a passionate Sherlockian that more people should know about!

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

I define it as a person who has an unusual passion for Sherlock Holmes – not just an “interest;” he or she doesn’t just enjoy reading the stories or seeing the odd movie; this person will drive over a hundred miles to find that tiny, art-house theatre that’s showing an old Basil Rathbone Holmes film so they can experience it on the big screen. He or she makes widows of spouses for long weekends spent arguing over whether Watson was wounded in the shoulder or the leg – or both – or neither! He or she screams with delight at discovering some Holmes-related trinket in a dusty bookshop or a cluttered thrift store, be it a first edition or a plush mouse in a Deerstalker. We are not “normal” by society standards, and we are proud of it!

How did you become a Sherlockian?

Seventh grade, forced to choose a book in the library, when caught doing homework there during Study Hall rather than reading. Found this huge hard-back book, The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes. An impressive six hundred and some odd pages Two and a half pounds. I mean, what girl could say no to this this? I took it back to my chair and started reading at the first story: “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I was hooked. I tore through all the stories and novellas in just a few months. 

What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?

I am a laboratory animal veterinarian (I take care of research animals and consult with scientists on their studies), and also hold a PhD in comparative medicine. So I have a medical background, and also am trained to figure stuff out. So at 12 years old, when I first found the stories, my mind was ready for Holmes, a thinking machine, and his side-kick.

What is your favorite canonical story?

My favorite one is probably the first one I read, “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Holmes is beaten by a woman. It also gives us a glimpse into how an independent woman like Irene is able to get around in the world, by dressing up like a young man to follow Holmes into the night. With the speed that she does it, it’s obvious it is not the first time. 

Being a vet, I also really like “Silver Blaze.” There’s a lot going on there behind the story that I won’t go into here, but lot’s of animal stuff that’s really very interesting 

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?

Bob Thomalen (who passed away a year or two ago) was one of the first Sherlockians I met in my youth and was just such a wonderful fellow. He also did a lot of work with his World War II squadron, which made him really quite a well-rounded guy. See here: Robert Thomalen Interview: Oral History Project - The Baker Street Irregulars Trust ( 

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

Well, the medical and animal stuff, mostly. I also collect and restore Victorian clothing, so so many of Watson’s descriptions of the clothing that the women (and the men, but mostly the ladies) were wearing at the time can really be fascinating. He really had an eye for detail! I am currently working on a paper on what Charles Augustus Milverton was wearing, and what that said about his character (literally). 

Your fashion sense at Sherlockian events is amazing.  What do you look for when putting your outfits together?

You are too kind! Like I said, I collect, restore and copy Victorian women’s clothing. I never ever wear anything vintage that is in good condition. Those items I preserve. Sometimes, for local meetings of the Curious Collectors of Baker Street (CCOBS, my home Scion in Los Angeles at the moment), I will come to the meeting as a character in whatever story we are reading at the moment. Sometimes outfits are just dictated by the weather out here! Not wearing wool when it’s 103 degrees outside! Often just following Victorian etiquette – nothing off the shoulder for daytime, thank you very much….

What goes into your Sherlockian readings and dramatic performances?

Over the years I have had the chance to write and perform quite a few skits etc., back at the Baskerville Bash, then at the Gaslight Gala. Also in “real life” I have tried to bring Sherlock Holmes “to the masses” – I re-edited a script of “The Hound of the Baskervilles for our local community theatre, and during the pandemic, when the theatre switched to Zoom plays, was able to write a series of modern “gumshoe” mysteries where the two LAPD detectives consulted with a great-great-great-grand niece of Holmes. Whatever I have written, especially for the more general public, I always hope that it sparks some interest in the original stories. 

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

There are several books that help to put Victorian London in perspective, that help Sherlockians understand the backdrop of when and where the stories are taking place. Judith Flanders is an expert on Victorian London and has written several very good books on this topic. The Victorian City is very interesting, although it focusses more on Dickens time, which is a little earlier than Holmes and Watson. Still it gives the reader a really good idea of what the City was like. She also wrote The Invention of Murder and The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed although I haven’t had a chance to read the latter yet and I have only read selections from the former. It’s all really amazing stuff, and made me think twice about wanting to go back in time to live in Victorian London!

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?

I see us even more on the Internet, which I think might be a double-edged sword. Personally I enjoy the meetings in-person, and the conversations had about specific stories and plot-points, etc. In my own life, I am so busy that I really don’t have time to squeeze in the time to be able to “surf” what seems to be growing internet presence of Sherlockian sites – which I think is really good for the younger generation, but it’s leaving us older folks behind. And yes, I count myself amongst the older generation now. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

All That Was Monstrous and Inconceivably Wicked in the Universe [DEVI]

Tonight, I'm happy to announce an open call for anyone interested in Sherlockian scholarship that plants its tongue firmly in cheek. 

What if the Canon were actually cover stories for fantastic tales of horror?  This approach has been done many times before in pastiche, but let's take a swing at publishing this from a scholarly approach.  Come join the fun!

The Monstrum Opus

of Sherlock Holmes

A Compendium of Horrors
Dr. Watson Dared Not Tell

Those who study the life of Sherlock Holmes have long known that there are things that Doctor Watson didn’t tell, details that have never quite made sense, and matters that could not be revealed to the general public. And many of the Sherlockian faithful have speculated, in oft-ignored articles in the journals of their cult, on what real mysteries might truly lie behind the carefully presented words that they call the “Canon.” A feeling of “something more” lurking behind each page has haunted many readers of John H. Watson’s reports.

But let us suppose, for a moment, that a new collection of articles was about to be gathered and presented to the public en masse to reveal what actual horrors lay behind the “stories” of Sherlock Holmes, creatures for which, like the giant rat of Sumatra, “the world is not yet prepared.” All of the monsters, hidden in plain sight behind the sixty stories of the Sherlockian Canon revealed. Werewolves, mummies, cryptids, supernatural beings . . . except maybe ghosts (“No ghosts need apply.”) and vampires. (“The idea of a vampire was to me absurd.”) . . . given their proper place by those students of the Canon who have studied the life of Holmes with a keen eye for such things. 

We’re not talking about another book of pastiches or fiction here, but the sort of speculative articles that Sherlockians have always written, using their imagination or “powers of logical synthesis” to make connections and see more than the average reader. Hosting this collection, like some crypt-keeper of ancient lore, will be a descendent of Cecil Barker, Holmes’s rival in such investigations.  As the one descendent of Barker to keep their sanity even while holding on to the terrific truth of such creatures’ existence, there will be no doubting each piece’s veracity by said host as they introduce each article and its writer..

One could see this collection as a veritable monstrum opus of Sherlock Holmes.

Or to put it plainly: We want articles about Sherlock Holmes and monsters!

Any monsters. All the monsters. (Except maybe those ghosts and vampires, as denied specifically by Holmes earlier. We have to respect the Master.)  We’ll be making a list and checking it to make sure we don’t have any writers duplicating efforts in their choices. We’ll also have a list of potential subjects for those who like a target in their Canonical monster hunt.

This project will be edited by Rob Nunn and Brad Keefauver, and will be published through Amazon Direct Publishing.  (If you are unfamiliar with this format you can view Brad’s recent book here and Rob’s here.)  Authors in this collection will receive a contributor copy of the book.  All proceeds from this project will be donated to The Beacon Society, helping to introduce students to the stories of Sherlock Holmes (even if those stories don’t tell the monstrous facts…).

Are you interested in following the paths that John Watson dared not write of?  If so, please respond to Brad Keefauver or Rob Nunn by March 31.  The projected date for submissions will be July 31.  Let’s tell the world about all of the monsters that Sherlock Holmes really faced!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Interesting Interview: Christian Monggaard

I'm going to bet that many readers aren't familiar with this week's Interesting Interview.  But Denmark's Christian Monggaard is definitely a Sherlockian who would be a great guy to spend some time with.  A Danish journalist, author, and collector, Christian has made it a point to amass a wonderful collection of the Shaw 100 List.  

I got to know Christian through his piece in The Finest Assorted Collection, and found his approach to our hobby a great one.  He is all about writing for the public and enjoying Sherlockiana with others.  If you are willing to let Google Translate do some work, Christian's website is a real treasure trove of writing about film, books, and Sherlockiana.  You'll get a real feel for a guy who knows his craft and is passionate about his interests.  But if you want to get a taste of Christian's take on Sherlock Holmes and the Sherlockian scene in Denmark, then dive on in to this week's Interesting Interview!

How do you define the word "Sherlockian"?

I think I have a very broad definition of the word, but I do believe you should have more than a passing interest in Sherlock Holmes, his biographer and literary agent. That interest could also be in the films and TV shows – or comic books. Usually, it all leads back to the source, the original stories and the writings on the writings. I began with the books, took a detour to the films and TV shows and now I am back with the books, keeping my eye on everything else. 

How did you become a Sherlockian? 


I have been reading Sherlock Holmes all my life. When I was born my mother places three things on the shelf above my crib: A Donald Duck magazine, a book with Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators and a book of Sherlock Holmes stories. Those three items have more or less shaped my life. In my teens in the 80's I began rereading the books – and a lot of other classic British crime stories – watched the Jeremy Brett series and really fell in love with Sherlock Holmes. 

At that time, I also became aware of The Danish Baker Street Irregulars/Sherlock Holmes Klubben i Danmark and for a short while corresponded with then president and famous Sherlockian, Henry Lauritzen. I didn’t become a member until 25 years later – and I am now on the board – though I did write quite a few articles on Sherlock Holmes in the newspaper, Dagbladet Information, at which I am the film- and TV-editor. I do believe I have always been a Sherlockian at heart, but it wasn’t until I joined the club here in Denmark, I really felt a part of the Sherlockian community and dared call myself one. 

What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian? 


I recently turned 50 and have been writing professionally for almost 30 years. I am a journalist, film critic and editor at a daily Danish newspaper, Dagbladet Information, and I have been so for 25 years now. Before that I was the editor of a film magazine. And even before that I briefly studied classical archaeology at the University of Copenhagen. I have written a dozen books on cinema, TV and Danish film directors. 

Because of my work and my love of the moving image I have always been very interested in the film and TV adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, and I think that I have reviewed every show and film that has to with Holmes during my years as a critic. I also had the pleasure of interviewing some of the people behind those films and shows – for example Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and John Musker and Ron Clements (The Great Mouse Detective). 


What is your favorite canonical story? 


That would be The Hound of the Baskervilles. Probably not the most obvious choice, but I really like the combination of mystery and horror. It is very suspenseful and gothic and playful at the same time. And there are at least three great dramatizations: The one from 1939 with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, the Hammer Horror one from 1959 with Peter Cushing and AndrĂ© Morell and directed by Terence Fisher, and of course the Granada one with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. 

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting? 


There are a lot of Sherlockians I find interesting: Edgar Smith, Vincent Starrett, Christopher Morley, John Bennett Shaw etc. But there is one I would love to talk to for a couple of hours or days to get his full perspective on Holmes, Watson, Doyle and the Canon, and that is Stephen Fry. I am a big fan of his and I love his audiobook version of the stories. He has been a Sherlockian for many years, and he is himself a fascinating, brilliant and knowledgeable man with a great sense of humour. I think it would be very exciting to be in his company talking Sherlock Holmes.

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you? 

It must be the films, TV shows and comic books. I can combine three of the great loves of my life that way. Sherlock Holmes is a very flexible, elastic character and you can use him for many things and in many ways – you just have to do it with love and knowledge AND respect the spirit of the original stories.

What does the Danish Sherlockian world look like? 

It is not very big and not that active, but it has gotten somewhat bigger and younger during the last 5-10 years, mostly because of the BBC series, Sherlock. That show got a lot of younger people, many of them women, hooked on Sherlock Holmes and that lead them to the books and the club. The members of the club itself meet up a couple of times a year, and we publish a magazine, Sherlockiana, three times a year. We have a small handful of scions that meet more regularly, talking about the books, the films, TV shows, radio adaptations and the like. 

Recently one of our members, Palle Schantz Lauridsen, became a doctor in Sherlock Holmes at the University of Copenhagen, and another long-time member, Svend Ranild, who is also the editor of Sherlockiana, was invested in the Baker Street Irregulars. I must say that we sometimes look towards America, a bit envious of the Sherlockian world there. It seems to be very dynamic and full of scions meeting and publishing a lot. 


What is it about the Shaw 100 that so fascinates you as a collector? 

There are several things. Most importantly it has been a good guide while becoming a ’professional’ Sherlockian. It has helped me get a lot of the books I need in my collection. And when I began collecting according to the Shaw 100, I decided I would get all the books on all the different iterations of the list. So, it is more like the Shaw 150. 

Also, as a collector – I collect films, LEGO sets, books, comic books and much more – I sometimes find it difficult limiting myself and the Shaw 100 gave me a goal to pursue, and some kinds of boundaries to stay within. I must admit that I haven’t kept to that list only and my Sherlockian collection is quite big now. In his essay on collecting Sherlockiana John Bennett Shaw writes about having a shelf, a collection or a library. I believe I have a library. 

Also, I really like his idea of sharing: If you have one book, you brag. If you have two, you share. I have that kind of relationship with a Sherlockian friend of mine, Michael Skov Lambek, who is also a collector, and it is very fun and rewarding. Collecting Sherlockiana has also made me friends in the international Sherlockian community, and I owe Denny Dobry a big thanks for getting me many of the books I needed in my collection. 

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians? 

Again, there are so many, but I must say that I cherish The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes with annotations by Leslie S. Klinger. When I read one of the stories, I also like to read what Klinger writes about it. And then of course The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett, one of the pillars of the Sherlockian world. I have a first edition of that book, with a dust jacket and signed by Starrett.

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now? 

That’s a tough one. I really don’t know. But I do hope that it only grows bigger and even more connected. One of the positive by-products of the pandemic is that a lot of talks, meetings, lectures are now also done online which gives us in Denmark the possibility to participate much more than usual. I was supposed to be at the BSI Weekend and Dinner in January, but I couldn’t make it because of Covid concerns. That meant I also missed the opening of Glen and Cathy Miranker’s exhibition, Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects, at the Grolier Club. But later I got to watch a talk with Nicholas Basbanes and Glen Miranker online from the club and about the exhibition, and that was a real treat. 

I have always had the impression that the Sherlockian community is a generous and welcoming one, very connected across the globe. Technology has only made that part easier. After I had my first article in The Baker Street Journal last year – on Sherlock Holmes and The Three Investigators – and an essay in the book on colleting Sherlockiana, that you, Rob Nunn, edited with Peter Eckrich, I have received e-mails from other Sherlockians wanting to connect. That is a very nice feeling.

Also, the interest in Sherlock Holmes really doesn’t seem to wane. New books, pastiches and studies are being published all the time. New websites and podcasts pop up. A new Enola Holmes film is on its way – I look forward to that – and potentially exciting new TV shows and comic books are coming. I can recommend the French-language Dans la tĂȘte de Sherlock Holmes. It is a very inventive and beautiful comic book that plays with both the artform and its central character. Two volumes have been published so far. A third is thankfully on the way.