Do you have a person in your Sherlockian world that always brings energy to a conversation? Heather Hinson is that person for us at The Parallel Case of St. Louis as well as in the online world. Whether it's a scion meeting, Zoom discussion, or Twitter thread, Heather jumps into every conversation and activity full of excitement and gets everyone around her pumped about whatever is going on.
But she isn't just a local hero or someone who lurks in conversations on the web. No, Heather has started her own online discussion group, The Lion's Mane Literary Society, has had an ongoing series of articles in The Watsonian about important women in the Sherlockian Canon, and was a cornerstone author in The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes. She's also a key player in planning next year's Holmes in the Heartland conference. Have I missed something? Probably because this woman is everywhere! And this week, she's right here, so let's spend some time with Heater Hinson!
How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?
A Sherlockian is anyone who walks into the fandom of Sherlock Holmes and falls right down the rabbit hole. It doesn’t matter how they get here. If they are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, they’re a Sherlockian.
How did you become a Sherlockian?
I blame my father and Nicholas Rowe. In 1985, a movie came on HBO called Young Sherlock Holmes. My father had introduced me to "A Scandal in Bohemia" earlier that year and had given me a (very) brief rundown of the history of Sherlock Holmes. Enough of a history that I understood why the students hated Sherlock in the school, I understood the pipe and the deerstalker. And when the after-credit scene of the movie revealed that Professor Rathe was in fact Moriarty, I was giddy with excitement. Thus began my descent into the rabbit hole. I was stuck for a while but now the full fall is complete.
I work in Medical Records at a local St. Louis hospital. It’s a Monday through Friday job which helps that I don’t need to take much time off I go with conventions and meetings. I work with medical terms, so it helps when I’m writing and need to figure out medical terms. Fun fact, there is a Dr. John Watson who is a physician at one of my hospitals, but I have not met him yet. I am silently amused when I run across his name in a chart.
What is your favorite canonical story?
If you had asked teen me, I would have said “A Scandal in Bohemia” or the The Hound of the Baskervilles because those were two of the popular Holmesian stories that were constantly out in the public’s eye.
However, adult me had two favorite canonical stories, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” followed by “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.” I feel both stories are pushed aside for other popular ones, and I would love to see them get more attention.
Madeline Quinones! I feel like I’ve known her forever, even if it’s only been since the pandemic began. On top of being a member of the John H Watson Society, Madeline also co-runs and co-hosts a podcast called Dynamics of a Podcast the only Moriarty based podcast, she also runs a comic called The Adventures of Professor Moriarty which is basically the Professor and his loyal compatriot, Colonel Moran getting into all sorts of interesting situations. She also hosts a weekly Zoom meeting called Canonical Conversationalists that’s just Sherlockians getting together talking about everything. She has so many things going on, I don’t know how she has time to sleep!
What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
I’m not sure it’s a subset, but I am fascinated in listening to the older Sherlockians talking about their experiences in Sherlockiana. At my first “non fandom” Sherlock Holmes convention, I listened to someone tell me stories of how she met and spoke with John Bennet Shaw as a young woman. I’ve heard stories during Canonical Conversationalists of how Sherlockian meetings and meets up were in the Seventies. There’s so much rich history in older generations that are slowly disappearing and it’s fascinating to me to hear the stories. My goal is to eventually sit down with groups of the older generations and listen to their stories over a beer or drink of choice.
As someone well-versed in the fandom world, how does Sherlockian fandom compare to others that you're a part of?
I came in backwards into the Sherlock Holmes fandom. First by a movie, then reintroduced by the resurgence of Holmes in the 2010’s. In my opinion, the Sherlockian fandom has two distinct groups, the devout media fandom, and the devout academic fandom. There is some meshing in between both, but a portion of the fandom is either in one or the other.
Fandom itself has changed over the years but despite all the discontent in the Sherlock fandom, I would still say that now, it is much calmer than some of the other fandoms I’ve been in. I think it helps that there is both media and literature to fall back on. As the Sherlockian media ebbs and flows, the fandom always has the books. And now with all the stories finally public domain in 2023, I look forward to seeing what the fandom does with some of the newly freed titles!
I was finally able to go to London England and Edinburgh Scotland this past July and I made it a Sherlockian holiday! I stopped at all the touristy attractions like the Sherlock Holmes Museum, where we only visited the gift shop, and the Sherlock Holmes Pub, where I was able to take pictures of the front room they have displayed upstairs. Some of my main highlights was taking afternoon tea at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel, going into the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital’s small museum (and seeing the spot where Sherlock jumped from BBC’s “The Reichenbach Fall”) and doing The Game Is Now escape room.
When I was working on my paper on the Women of Sherlock Holmes, I found the book From Holmes to Sherlock by Mattias Bostrom fascinating. I read it from cover to cover in about a week. Anyone wanting to read the history of the creation of Sherlock Holmes to the current year, should pick up this book and read it.
If we’re talking about fiction books, I will never stop shouting into the Void about Theodora Goss’s The Extraordinary Adventure of the Athena Club book series. While not the main characters, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are continual side characters that fit perfectly in the created world. Theodora Goss was a keynote speaker at the 2020 BSI Weekend and I will forever kick myself that I didn’t know until it was too late.
Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
The popularity of the current Enola Holmes series and earlier this year, Audible’s Moriarty: The Devil’s Game makes me think that Sherlock Holmes isn’t going anywhere. There’s still rumors of Robert Downey Jr doing a third Sherlock Holmes movie, Snoop Dogg is rumored to be working on a Sherlock Holmes inspired series, as well as new stories being released. I fully expect Sherlockiana to continue well past five or ten years.
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