Monday, March 27, 2023

Interesting Interview: Ray Wilcockson

Last month, I hosted a raffle for readers to choose an upcoming Interesting Interview subject.  Not only did that raffle raise money for Special Olympics, but it also introduced me to this week's Interesting Interview, Ray Wilcockson!  Ray is a fellow Sherlockian, so it's no surprise that he's an intelligent and interesting fella.  

Ray's blog, Markings, is a great way to spend some time.  I'm glad that spring break is coming up here, because I plan to spend quite a bit of time there!  Ray knows a ton of stuff about early stage performances of Sherlock Holmes from around the world, and anyone interested in knowing more about media adaptations of our detective could definitely benefit from reading his stuff.  So here's some words on the man behind the Markings in this week's Interesting Interview!

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

Ah, that perennial topic of debate with as many definitions as there are Sherlockians!

In my Baker Street there are many mansions. It seems most rewarding and apt to view the Sherlock Holmes community as a broad church without a priesthood. This encourages cross-fertilization of ideas and is reflective of the multifarious ways we encounter the Great Detective. Hence, for me, a Sherlockian is anyone who evinces active, abiding, appreciative engagement in aspects of Holmes, his world and his legacy expressed in discussion, research, writing, art or performance, according to their individual lights. “Sherlockian” isn’t a title to be coveted or conferred; it’s simply descriptive of how (delightfully) you may spend some time on this earth.

How did you become a Sherlockian?

With an eye to my definition, I’d have to reply: ‘with a false dawn and a much later day that has not yet set.’

In April, 1961, aged 13, I completed a term-long school History project on London. Michael Harrison’s classic “In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes” (1958) happened to be shelved with the capital’s history in my local library. I’m now 75 and still treasure this book that gave me a Sherlockian template for writing about Victorian and Edwardian London and subsequently, that summer, inspired me to read the whole Canon. I’m grateful now to have first encountered Holmes and Watson as literary texts, unfiltered by stage or screen adaptations. Only Hobbs and Shelley’s radio voices predated that formative imaginative experience. My Holmes is, thus, very much my Holmes.

I would not be an active Sherlockian again until 2012. In the interim (‘Great Hiatus’?), Rathbone and Bruce became well-loved, cinematic companions, and Jeremy Brett deeply impressed as the best dramatic embodiment of Holmes I have ever seen. It was a cherished privilege to see Jeremy Paul’s “The Secret of Sherlock Holmes” at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre in 1989, and a sad day indeed when we lost that fine actor.

The ‘Return’ of Sherlockian Ray was occasioned by “The Reichenbach Fall”, the concluding episode of BBC’s “Sherlock” series 2. Broadcast on January 15, 2012, it coincided with my creation of “Markings” blog. I had anticipated writing, in retirement, mostly about education and my specialism, Shakespeare. The Fates had other plans.

The blog began with a quartet of posts on “Sherlock”, inspired entirely by what I described then as “some of the best small-screen acting I have ever seen”: Martin Freeman’s John in bereavement. Here’s the link to my essay on his Watson.

Since then, I’ve written dozens of essays on all manner of Holmes-related topics, aided and given direction primarily by the welcome proliferation of online searchable news archives, my association with Sherlockian, Howard Ostrom (see below), and critical approaches bequeathed by a career passed in daily communion with imaginative literature and drama in performance.

What is your profession (or previous if you are retired) and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?

Decades of teaching secondary English through to ‘A’ Level, along with my M.A. in Shakespeare Studies and work in amateur theatre, trained me to be acutely aware of (and fascinated by) authorial choice of genre, form and narrative voice, the artistry exhibited in structure and the indivisibility of character from parent creation. I’ll keep this answer brief as the blog post links provided elsewhere in this interview open to essays that clearly illustrate the impact of my profession on the way I see Holmes in text and adaptation.

Worth stressing here is the crucial insight that characters in imaginative literature are inseparable from their original artistic context and are what they are to fulfil the broader demands and thematic purposes informing a work of art.

Believe in them as we do and must, literary characters are not real people. If they “die” as they often do in Shakespeare’s plays it is because they have fulfilled their dramatic purpose. 

Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are riveting creations but they are not Shakespeare’s pair doomed to die in England. We suspend our disbelief and agree to think Stoppard’s duo is Shakespeare’s to savour the dramatist’s wit. But they’re not. They only ‘exist’ for the duration of a performance of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in the imagination of each spectator.

I taught Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” many times to ‘A’ level students and begged them to avoid, set aside and not rely on cinema and stage adaptations while studying the novel. This, because there is a crucial difference between seeing and reading about the Creature. Idon’t personally think the novel is adaptable because its power relies on the reader being as “blind” to the Creature’s deformity as the old man, de Lacey, who (like Shakespeare’s Gloucester) sees more truth than if he had eyes. It is of paramount importance that we listen to the Creature and hear his essential humanity. More than once, my students have commented in astonishment that the Creature (and Mary Shelley, scarcely older than themselves when she wrote the classic) possessed a broader vocabulary and powers of eloquence well beyond their own. Teacher Ray was quietly pleased by such observations. 

So, you can see why my focus is primarily on Conan Doyle’s texts. In truth, I love adaptations as much as the next Sherlockian, but the English teacher in me carefully distinguishes between creation and metamorphosis into a different form.

What is your favorite canonical story?

In common with many Sherlockians I find something special to savour in pretty well every story of the Canon. I love the familiar pattern where adventures begin and end with the iconic duo in Baker Street and those brief but fully realised evocations of the metropolis just beyond their window. Conan Doyle wrote in a variety of fictional and nonfiction genres and forms. I think the best of him is found in the Canon short stories. Of these, I am especially impressed by the structural dexterity and narrative art of “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “His Last Bow”, both examined for these qualities in “Markings” essays.

I choose, however, “The Blue Carbuncle” as my all-time favorite for its consummate artistry, humour and vivid London setting. The Ray of 2012 explained why much better than I might now in two aptly timed Christmas essays.

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

Media expert, Howard Ostrom, of Florida will be well known to many reading this blog. He’s the Encyclopedia Brown of our international community and a veritable force of nature. As with Sherlock Holmes,one can never quite see when he sleeps. His work-rate is invariably break-neck and recall of facts frankly phenomenal. Facebook’s “Sherlock Holmes on Screens” group is one of the most active and assiduously curated. Set up as a shop window for Howard’s series of that name, the site now operates additionally as a collection point for his ever-expanding “A-Z of Sherlock Holmes Performers”. It’s been a personal joy for years to contribute new finds to this Magnum Opus that is periodically updated by Ross K. Foad on his website “No Place Like Holmes”.

Less familiar perhaps are Howard Ostrom’s essays, on some of which I have collaborated. It is these to which I’d like to draw attention in answering this question. A selection may be read on Ross Foad’s site (click on the “Essays” tab). These are a fraction of Howard’s total oeuvre and a request to him via Facebook for the full list would enrich any Sherlockian’s reading. He’s very good on Russia’s adaptations.

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

Briefly, anything that stirs in me the thrill of the chase. I revel in research, often to the neglect of my blog. Early stage representations of Sherlock Holmes continue to be fertile ground for my attention. I’m perhaps most pleased with tracking down the mysterious John Webb, tying him to the Surrey Theatre and unearthing a photograph (see Markings here:

Currently, I have on the stocks, waiting to blog, new information on the genesis of the play known as John Lawson’s “An Adventure in the Life of Sherlock Holmes: a Sketch in Two Episodes” (1902) that predates it to 1901 and reveals a new early performer of the detective.

Female performers in the role continue to draw my interest, a surprisingly large contingent collected by (who else?) Howard Ostrom in his “Original Baker Street Babes” and headed by one of the greatest recent versions of Holmes, that of the tragic Yuko Takeuchi in “Miss Sherlock”.

As someone who knows a lot about the early stage performances of Sherlock Holmes, how have you seen adaptations of that character evolve from its initial portrayals?

Well before William Gillette was given carte blanche to marry or murder him, Sherlock Holmes was effectively common property, beyond Doyle’s control, and treated satirically, musically and every which way, much as he is appropriated and reimagined today in all manner of media.

Perhaps the most significant evolutions have been in the enhanced status of John Watson and the promotion of Professor Moriarty and Irene Adler from minor to major characters.

Ever before us as we read his Sherlockian annals, ironically, in early adaptations, the good doctor slipped into drama’s shadows for half a century. Even Sherlockians struggle to name a Watson performer before Nigel Bruce, whose contribution must not be undervalued. He paved the way for an illustrious line of actors in the part from here to Russia.

Early stage and film representations of Moriarty were conventionally melodramatic and, for a while, with the success of Doyle’s play “The Speckled Band”, he was out-villained by Lyn Harding’s formidable Grimesby Rylott. In Henry Daniell et al, Rathbone’s Napoleons of Crime, we perhaps see the seeds of more complex and fully realised Professors like those of Eric Porter, Andrew Scott and Jared Harris in our time.

William Gillette’s Alice Faulkner ( Fermin GĂ©mier’s ‘Alice Brent’) may be viewed as an early (abandoned) candidate for Sherlock’s love life in adaptations. She was never more than a stock figure, suffering from having little to do on stage or film. In 1922, John Barrymore’s Alice, Carole Dempster, marked the character’s swan song.

Since Inga Swenson’s musical Irene alongside Fritz Weaver in “Baker Street” (1965), this lightly sketched character from a single short story has never looked back. Gayle Hunnicutt, Lara Pulver, Rachel McAdams, Larisa Solovyova and Lyanka Gryu in particular have mined a rich vein of resourcefulness and Siren magnetism but fleetingly suggested in “A Scandal in Bohemia”.

Such evolutions do not surprise me. Adaptation always prompts new perspectives on an original. The short story, especially, positively begs for expansion of elements that can only be nodded at within such narrow confines.

Which country do you think has done the best job of putting out Holmes adaptations?

I shall answer this with the caveat that Holmes adaptations have long displayed international cooperation in production. Well before air travel, producers and actors thought little of criss-crossing the Atlantic, voyaging to the Antipodes, South Africa, India and the Far East in search of audiences. When Charles Frohman met his death on RMS Lusitania, he was returning to the US from what was a regular visit to check on theatres and productions he controlled in England and France. Gillette’s London appearances as Holmes spawned touring productions with English leads, like H. A. Saintsbury, Australian successes, and many European versions in translation, notably that by Pierre Decourcelle at Theatre Antoine, which was in turn retranslated within a year for performance as far away as Portuguese-speaking Rio de Janeiro.

Russia has made significant contributions to the Pantheon of great Holmes adaptations. The Soviet-era TV series with Livanov and Solomin is a world classic and 2013’s series gave us a fascinating Holmes in Igor Petrenko and one of the greatest ever Watsons in Andrei Panin.

On both stage and screen, the US has written an illustrious history of adaptations. Gillette’s influence may be detected to this day and Robert Downey Jr. has arguably surpassed even Benedict Cumberbatch in terms of international clout.

However, while the US possibly takes the laurels on the big screen, on the back of stars like John Barrymore, Basil Rathbone and Robert Downey Jr. it is significantly behind the UK in the production of series addressing the whole Canon. Neither the 39 episodes starring Ronald Howard nor Rathbone’s radio plays nor “Elementary” seek to dramatise Conan Doyle’s original stories as faithfully as possible as a sequence of stand-alone adventures.

The UK excels here. Think of Clive Merrison (and the earlier Carleton Hobbs) on radio. Of Eille Norwood’s silent series and that steady procession of television classics starring Alan Wheatley, Peter Cushing, Douglas Wilmer, and Jeremy Brett.

I award this accolade to the homeland of Sherlock Holmes.

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

Many of the books I might have recommended here will already grace the bookshelves of Sherlock Holmes devotees. So, I have chosen one reminiscent of my childhood favourite, the Michael Harrison, which, like “In the Footsteps...” celebrates the third main character of the Canon: London.

Charles Viney’s “Sherlock Holmes in London” (1989) is subtitled “A Photographic record of Conan Doyle’s stories”.It’s a beautifully produced coffee-table-size publication by Smithmark of New York. Viney progresses story by story from “A Study in Scarlet” through to “The Casebook”, omitting only those such as “The Valley of Fear” that feature little of London, illustrating with fabulously evocative vintage photographs of the metropolis Holmes prided himself on knowing as intimately as Charles Dickens. For good measure, Viney appends an “Atlas of Victorian London”: full-page reproductions of G. W. Bacon’s 1888 “New Large-Scale Ordnance Map of London & Suburbs”.  It’s a beauty of a book and looks available, used, on the net.

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

Sporting a long, venerable beard no doubt, Howard Ostrom will still be striving to complete that impossible task of charting every performance of Sherlock Holmes!

Seriously, I don’t foresee any let-up in the proliferation of Sherlock Holmes adaptations in either traditional or 21st Century media.Recent plays like Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville” are enormously popular and likely to enjoy regular revivals. The Far East is having a love affair with the Great Detective (often through blockbuster musicals) that shows no sign of abating.

Three personal hopes for the coming decade to close this interview that I’ve very much enjoyed:

1) That the current project preserving Eille Norwood’s silent series will attract further funding that allows for the public release of the whole restored archive.

2) That finding William Gillette’s 1916 film of “Sherlock Holmes” and determined international hunting for copies of films herald the discovery of at least one more “lost” screen Holmes.

3) That, amidst all the adapting, cos-playing and experimenting with Conan Doyle’s detective, more and more Sherlockians take time out to respond privately, individually to the original texts and are thereby enriched with authentic imaginative experiences generated by literary text, without recourse to pre-packed interpretations by actors, excellent and beguiling though they may be.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Needs Some Little Editing [ILLU]

Last week, I finished editing a friend's book project that will be released next month.  As I was talking to my wife about it, I was explaining how much I enjoy that task.  Spotting grammatical errors and inconsistencies, throwing out ideas to help an author polish their text, or arguing about capitalization in sub-headings, all of it is just plain fun for me.

While this sounds mind-numbing to everyone else in the world, I've found that I enjoy getting to see texts in their unfinished form and offer some help to move things along.  Maybe that's the teacher in me.  By the time my students get to fifth grade, they have definite personalities and learning styles, so I'm not building foundations.  Yet they aren't the finished versions of themselves that later teachers get to see.  I'm somewhere in the middle of their educational spectrum and get to introduce new ideas, correct misconceptions, and if I'm lucky, get them to think in new ways.  In a much smaller sense, that's what I feel like I'm doing when I am editing.

Somewhere along the line, I've transitioned from more of a Sherlockian writer to a Sherlockian editor.  (Make no mistake, Charles Prepolec has the Twitter handle @sherlockeditor and is the undisputed king of this.)  I wrote a pastiche six years ago and contribute articles to journals and anthologies, but think I do more editing at this point than writing.  Just off the top of my head, I am in the throes of editing an anthology to be released in January, I co-edited The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes and The Finest Assorted Collection books, edited The Rise and Fall of an Eighties Sherlockian, am associate editor of two newsletters, Timelines and Sherlock's Spotlight Gazette, and have gladly looked over numerous articles for friends before submission.

So why do you care about this?  Well, I want to do more.  Do you have a project that needs a different set of eyes on it?  Aren't sure if the possessive form of "Holmes" should have an "s" after the apostrophe? Have you looked at that draft so many times you can't see what you're missing?  Send it my way.  Articles, short stories, research, non-fiction, I'm interested.  (Sorry, no long form pastiche, though.)  

I'm here to help and I like to help.  Let's get more Sherlockian writing out to the world!

Sunday, March 5, 2023

I Know as Little [YELL]

Much has been said about Sherlock Holmes's failure in "The Yellow Face."  But I have to say, I don't fault him for falling short on this one.  As a wise man once said you can't make bricks without clay.  And Holmes is dealing with a severe handicap in this case because Grant and Effie Munro might be the dumbest people in the Canon.  How can you solve a case when it is being bungled on so many levels before it ever gets to you?

Let's run down some of their behaviors:
  • Grant accepts that Effie's first husband died of yellow fever when he saw the man's death certificate, but never wondered why there wasn't a death certificate for her daughter.  Also, Effie doesn't have any pictures or papers from her previous life.  Annnndddd.... she wears a locket but says it doesn't open.  There is some shady stuff going on here, but dear old Grant, or Jack, or whatever his name is, isn't bright enough to question any of it.  
  • Effie expects to get a hundred pounds from her husband and not raise any suspicion in him.  Hmmm.....
  • Grant gives his wife a hundred pounds without any explanation and "never thought any more of the matter." Must be nice to never have to think about that kind of money.

  • The Munros live in a fairly uninhabited area, but Grant decides to NOT tell his wife of the unpleasant people who just moved in down the street. Sounds dangerous.
  • And then he lets his wife sneak out at night after knowing there's something odd going on at that house?  This guy doesn't seem very bright.
  • Effie is a very bad liar when Grant catches her sneaking back in that night.  If she's sneaking around, she probably should have been ready with an explanation.

  • The next day, Grant actually catches Effie coming out of that house.  And her plea?  "Trust me only this once."  It seems like she's already been asking his trust plenty in this story.
  • Does Grant find out what's going on with his wife and why she's been acting strangely lately?  Nope.  Instead, he says, "Okay, but no more of this nonsense.  Got it?"  Grant Munro has clearly never heard the adage "Give her an inch and she'll take a mile."  Of course she's going to agree.  And of course she's going to keep sneaking around on you, you dope.

  • Because as soon as Grant leaves the house again, where does Effie go?  Right back to where he asked her not to.  How does this guy honestly expect his wife to avoid it?  Even if she did try to stay true to her word, it's right down the street.  There is no avoiding the problem here.  But go ahead, Grant, hide your head in the sand, you blockhead.
  • Now, if Grant Munro isn't dumb enough already, let's look how this next thing plays out.  He returns home to find Effie gone.  Asks the maid where she is and hears she's gone for a walk.  He tells Holmes, "My mind was instantly filled with suspicion."  He knows she's gone off to the forbidden house, but he runs up to their bedroom to check?  Grant Munro has no idea what's happening in that strange house, and instead of rushing after her, he checks the bedroom, just to make sure.  He's lucky there's not an ax murderer in that other house.  What a dummy.
  • Effie tries to calm Grant down but still won't tell him what's going on.  He clearly doesn't want her going to that house, but says he can't trust her and leaves.  Hey, smart guy, guess where your wife goes when you aren't around?  I can't believe this guy didn't drive Holmes to drugs.  Oh wait....
  • (Side note, Grant hasn't gone to work for a couple of days by this point.  He is either A: someone with a very reliable staff, B: someone who isn't that important at the office, or C: someone who is about to get fired. You decide.)
  • After all of this, Grant Munro visits Sherlock Holmes and tells his story.  Holmes listens, sends him back, and says to see if anyone is still in the house.  Grant does, and when Holmes and Watson arrive, by golly, Grant Munro has decided that he will force his way into that house.  Where was this decision making when a scary face was looking out of the window, or his wife was sneaking off in the middle of the night, or his wife was walking out of the actual house?  Now this guy gets a backbone?  Grant Munro is the worst.
  • I've focused quite a bit on how dumb Grant Munro is, but here Effie Munro really starts to shine.  Her husband and two complete strangers approach the mystery house and she tries the same old ploy.  "Trust me again, and you will never have cause to regret it."  Lady, you've got to have something stronger than that.  You haven't really thought this out, have you?
  • Turns out, Effie Munro's daughter from her previous marriage was still alive, and Effie left her there to move to England?  Mother of the year, right there.

  • Okay, so here was Effie's great plan.  Move her young daughter and caretaker into an abandoned house down the road from her own.  The kid was never allowed outside and had to wear a mask and gloves at all time so no one would know that she was a Black child.  Has Effie Munro ever been around children?  There is no way that this, or any kid, will keep a mask and gloves on 24/7.  And that's your big plan?  A mask?  Good Lord, these two people are paragons of intelligence.
  • But back to Grant.  Because even when he was in the same room as Effie's daughter, he couldn't tell she was wearing a mask?  I'm at a loss for words with this guy.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Doctor Watson listed "The Yellow Face" as one of Sherlock Holmes's failures.  Not because Holmes couldn't solve the great mystery of a little girl wearing a mask, but because Holmes's client and adversary were so stupid that Holmes's deductions couldn't stoop low enough to make rhyme or reason of their behaviors. 

Maybe "Norbury" wasn't a code word to keep Holmes humble after all, maybe it was a reminder that some people are so stupid that not even Sherlock Holmes can help them.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Interesting Interview: Andy Solberg

Andy Solberg is one of those guys who makes you feel like you've known him forever.  After about five minutes of conversation, he's treating you like an old friend.  His is a name I've seen on a ton of things over the years, and I finally got to meet him last month in person.  As advertised, I immediately felt like an old friend.  Andy is spoken so highly of by many Sherlockians that I already had a high expectation of him and was even more impressed by how great of a guy he is once we got to talking.

But for those of you who don't know Andy, you may be asking: why him?  This guy's Sherlockian resume is as long as my arm and he's been publishing since before I was even born!  He's currently the Gasogene of the Six Napoleons of Baltimore and a past Gasogene of Watson's Tin Box of Maryland.  He's a member of the Baker Street Irregulars and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and any member of those two groups can tell you how great he is to be around.  So let's spend some time with a guy everyone loves, Andy Solberg!

How do you define the word “Sherlockian?”

I define a Sherlockian as anyone who currently genuinely loves reading the Sherlock Holmes stories, even if they are still reading them for the first time. They may lose their Sherlockian status if they don’t stick with them and just enjoyed them while they were reading them.  But every scion society has newer Sherlockians who are joining the Sherlockian community, and I always think that they can add refreshing insights to the discussion.  

Years ago, there was a kerfuffle in the Sherlockian community when someone used the phrase “real Sherlockians” to refer to scholarly Sherlockians.  I think that is a false distinction. I think that he meant that “real Sherlockians” were people like him (a seasoned Sherlockian who writes articles).  Lots of people come to the Sherlockian habit for different reasons, whether they came because of the books, BBC Sherlock, the Rathbone films, or other avenues.  If they continue to read (and reread) the stories, they are Sherlockians.  There may be different levels of immersion and involvement, but they are all Sherlockians.

How did you become a Sherlockian?

I remember when I was around ten years old, I found a book of Sherlock Holmes stories on a top shelf in my parent’s back hall (essentially a mudroom).  No one in the family knew how it got there.  I read them and found them boring.  I thought, “I guess these aren’t for me.” I returned the book to that shelf.  It disappeared as magically as it appeared.  No one ever saw it again.

About ten years later, I picked up a random book.  It was the collected works of A. Conan Doyle.  I began reading the Sherlock Holmes stories and have been re-reading them ever since.  Go figure! 

After I graduated from undergraduate school (where I majored in Philosophy), I decided to fill my time by writing a paper for myself on the philosophy of Sherlock Holmes.  I didn’t even know that there was a Sherlockian community, let alone a Baker Street Journal.  I was just writing the paper for myself.  Then, I got ahold of Baring-Gould’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes and learned about, well, everything.  

I wrote to Julian Wolff and asked if there was a Sherlockian society in Boston (where I was living).  I was invited to attend the Speckled Band dinner.  There, someone asked if I had written anything.  I mentioned my paper, and he suggested I send it to the BSJ.  It was published in the December 1976 issue.  I have been doing Sherlockian analysis and writing periodic articles ever since. I have often joked that my four years of studying philosophy at Brandeis prepared me for a career of writing on Sherlock Holmes. 

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

I am a strategic planner for hospitals, health departments, and other health providers.  At one time, I ran a health care planning regulatory program for the State of Maryland.  I also taught community health planning at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I’ve joked that it’s allowed me to feed my Sherlockian collection, but it has been more than that, as two books on Sherlock Holmes and medicine for BSI Press demonstrate. Because Conan Doyle and Watson were both physicians, I have always found interest in their points of view and how they reflected public health at the time. 

What is your favorite canonical story?

I have only recently come to realize that the first four chapters of A Study in Scarlet are my favorite part of the Canon.  It is some of the most beautiful prose in the Sherlockian saga - in all of literature, really.  The saga, which is a forty year chronical of Holmes’s life, starts not with Holmes, but with a down and out retired military physician in London.  It is filled with Watson’s typical self-deprecation and incredible humor.  Remember, it may be set in 1881, but it was written in 1886, so Watson had been living with Holmes for at least five years when he wrote his impressions.  He knew he was dead wrong.  

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

That is the toughest question you ask.  There are so many interesting Sherlockians.  I am not sure that I have met one who is actually boring.  (Well, maybe one or two.)  On the whole, I always love the interaction between Sherlockians.  We are generally critical thinkers who, as we contend that Holmes and Watson are real people, are starting with our tongues place firmly in our cheeks.  The wit runs high.  My best Sherlockian friends are my co-editor Bob Katz and Francine Kitts. Both are tremendously interesting people. 

But there are so many with whom I am genuinely friendly and find (or found, if they have passed on) interesting.  This is going to get me in trouble because I will just name a few.  (Forgive me if I forgot to mention you.) Mike Dirda has been called the best-read person in America.  I love his essays, book reviews, and books.  Scott Monty and Burt Wolder have been a blessing to the Sherlockian community with their I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast.  It is an oral history of the Sherlockian world. Evy Herzog is one of the nicest people in the world and is a living piece of American Sherlockian history.  Of course, Peter Blau is always interesting, a great raconteur, a long time friend, and another important historical figure.  Glen Miranker was Chief Technology Officer at Apple and brought out the IMAC and the MacBook. But so many Sherlockians are giants in their fields, Al Rosenblatt, Les Klinger, Nancy Holder, Curtis Armstrong, Maggie Schpak, Nicholas Meyer, Russell Merritt, Rebecca Romney,… So many more.  

I love spending time chatting with them.  I miss Ralph Earle, who was an ambassador and was the Chief Negotiator on the SALT II Treaty. And those of us who are not necessarily “giants in our fields” are still incredibly interesting people, doing remarkable things.  All these people are (or were, in the cases of people who have died) approachable, and we have developed some level of friendship.  That is why I love Sherlockian gatherings.  Getting to know interesting people better is a huge benefit of the Sherlockian community. 

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

I like the 60 stories.  I am not crazy about pastiches or films.  It is the chronicle of Holmes’s and Watson’s lives that interests me.  I like themes and analyses. I don’t take quizzes. I’ve often said that I think that all Sherlockian tests should be essay exams. And the Sherlock Holmes Canon is a bridge to so many interesting related subjects. That is why I love to read the Baker Street Journal. I am always interested in new analyses of the stories or “Sherlock Holmes and ______.”  But they have to be faithful to both the stories and the history of the time.

As someone who has worked on more than a few books in the BSI Manuscript Series, what keeps you coming back to these types of projects?

Bob Katz and I have co-edited four Manuscript Series books and two books on Sherlock Holmes and medicine.  I love doing these projects for several reasons.  First, the Manuscript Series makes Conan Doyle’s hand so accessible.  You can see his thought process.  Also, the related chapters about different facets of the stories are so interesting.  

The same is true of the books on medicine.  Bob and I approach the books starting with questions to which we have always wanted answers.  If we have these questions, others will have them, too.  And the authors who accept the responsibility for answering our questions do such a wonderful job. We require them to keep speculation to a minimum and to document all of their content.  Keep things canonical and real! They always come through for us.  We generally choose authors with related expertise, so they know their fields and can do the research that is required to answer the questions. The books are a lot of work, but we’ve loved doing each one. We learn so much from them.

You served as Chair of the Baker Street Irregulars Trust from 2013 to 2019.  What does the Trust do, and why should Sherlockians pay more attention to its efforts?

The Baker Street Irregulars was the first Sherlock Holmes literary society, founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley.  I’ve read histories of fandom that have said that modern fandom began with Morley and the founding of the BSI. The Trust is not a Sherlock Holmes collection. It is an institutional archive of the history of the BSI.  And, it is an important record of an early literary society that has survived and thrived all these years as the popularity of Holmes has ebbed and flowed. 

Generous BSI have donated thousands of items that document the history of the BSI. As I have said previously, Sherlockians are tremendously interesting people, and the BSI has continuously had well known and interesting members. The Trust runs a BSI Oral History Project that reaches back into members’ memories from many years.  Many of them are reflected in correspondence, photos, and other material in our archive. The archive has been used by fandom researchers, academics, Sherlockians, and non-Sherlockians. It is located at The Lilly Library at Indiana University.  

When I was the Chair, we began to make the Trust’s holdings and BSI history available to people at home by posting them on the Trust’s website.  There you will find a page for every BSI Dinner with photos and, in some cases, recordings.  You’ll find selected Oral History Project interviews and features on items in the collection.  Of course, The Lilly also has a finding aid to assist researchers to locate items in the collection.

Sherlockians (BSI or not) should pay more attention to the Trust because the history of the BSI is the history of the Sherlockian community. It all started with Christopher Morley. There was no organized Sherlockian community before Morley decided to start it, and the BSI has been the central to the Sherlockian movement ever since. And the history continues to unfold.  Today’s BSI are as interesting as yesterday’s, and it is important to document their personalities and the role of the BSI as times evolve. It’s important that BSI members keep sending the Trust their BSI related correspondence, photos, etc.

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

While there are lots of books that I could recommend, the one book I would recommend that Sherlockians get is William S. Baring-Gould’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes.  I note that it is currently available on Ebay for under $30. Sure, it’s more than 50 years old (my God!), and, yes, many, many more articles have been published in the interim that could or should be among the annotations. But, to me, Baring-Gould best captures the romance of playing the Grand Game (contending that Holmes and Watson are real).  It reads just like it was – a labor of love.  Les Klinger’s much more recent New Annotated Sherlock Holmes is also excellent, but I find that it doesn’t quite have the romantic flavor of Baring-Gould.  If you can’t get Baring-Gould’s version, certainly get Les Kinger’s version.

By the way, I once wrote an article that recommended books for Sherlockians based on whether one wanted a classical collection or just wanted to both enjoy the stories and have some other neat Sherlockian books. I identified a core group of books for the casual Sherlockian, the budding Sherlockian collector, and the researcher. I also identified some books that are just plain fun and some books for those who are interested in the reading more about the Baker Street Irregulars.  You can find that article in the 2019 Baker Street Almanac (as a free PDF) here.

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

I have a non-Sherlockian friend who is amazed at how frequently Sherlockian references come up in popular culture almost every day. I believe that Sherlock Holmes will still be a “thing” in 10 years. I have seen Sherlockian popularity ebb and flow over the last fifty years.  We go through a lull, Sherlockian societies age and attendance declines, and then Baring-Gould’s book hits the market.  Then a lull. Then Nick Meyer’s Seven-Percent Solution is a NYT bestseller for forty weeks and terrific film, bringing younger people into the Sherlockian community.  Then a lull. Then PBS does the Canon with Jeremy Brett, and the community expands.  Then a lull.  Then BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. I suspect we will have a lull until the next time someone succeeds in making a popular Sherlockian book or movie.  But I see the Sherlockian community surviving for many years.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Take the Plunge [DANC]

As we creep closer and closer to 100 interviews on Interesting Though Elementary, I want to give a chance for YOU to choose one of my upcoming interviewees.  

But how to decide who will choose an interview topic?  I'll turn to The Valley of Fear's McMurdo for that:

"It's for charity and good fellowship."

On March 3, I am participating in Special Olympics' Polar Plunge in honor of my daughter's Special Olympics basketball team.  If you are unfamiliar with this event, participants raise money from friends and on a specified date typically run into a cold body of water.  My event is sponsored by my school and we can't bus all of the students out to a local lake, so kids are going to be able to throw water balloons at myself and other staff members.

How does this tie into an interview subject on this blog?

I'm going to run a raffle.  For every $10 donated on my donation page, you will be entered into a randomized drawing.  I will use Google to choose a random number and if you are the winner, I'll contact you to see who you would like to be interviewed in an upcoming blog post.

So, let's recap.  A donation to Special Olympics via the link below provides the following:

1. Supporting a fantastic organization that allows kids with special needs to participate in sporting events.

2. You have a chance of naming an upcoming interview subject on this blog.

3. You support fifth graders throwing water balloons at their teacher.

While it's not quite the same type of plunge that Sherlock Holmes is famous for, I think it's still worthwhile.  Whatever of the three outcomes above you find to be the most alluring, there's something for everyone.  Please consider donating and helping support Special Olympics.  Thanks so much!

Rob Nunn's Polar Plunge Fundraising Page

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Holmes in the Heartland 2023

It's been too long, so it's time to bring Holmes in the Heartland back!

This July 28-30 you can join The Parallel Case of St. Louis at the second Holmes in the Heartland weekend in St. Louis, Missouri to celebrate this year's theme, Arch Enemies!

What will Holmes in the Heartland include this year?  Well I'm glad you asked!

Friday will start off with an architectural tour of the central branch of the St. Louis Public Library, home to the St. Louis Sherlock Holmes Research Collection.  After the tour, a viewing of the Research Collection will be held in the Rare Books and Manuscript Room along with some other items of interest from their collections. 

A common thought after Sherlockian gatherings is, "I wish I had more time to socialize with everyone."  Well that is what Friday night is all about!  Our home base for the weekend, The Sheraton Westport Plaza is surrounded by great restaurants and we have left the night open for you and your friends to get some food and spend some time together.  Return back to The Sheraton and spend the evening in the lounge with everyone for a night of laidback interactions.

Saturday will be a full day though, so rest up!

We have a great lineup of speakers on Saturday, expounding on the theme of Arch Enemies.  Ray Betzner, Cindy Brown, Steve Doyle, Beth Gallego, Mike McSwiggin, Kristen Mertz, Monica Schmidt, and The St. Louis Costumers' Guild will all be sure to delight with their presentations.  Enjoy the breaks between presentations to visit the vendors' tables and enjoy a box lunch at midday.

That night, we will host a banquet dinner with live entertainment straight from 1895!  Brad Keefauver and Steve Mason will host The Alpha Inn Goose Club Trivia Night that may see a carbuncle or two awarded to people in attendance.

And what would be an Arch Enemies weekend without the Arch itself?  Sunday includes a trip to the top of the St. Louis Arch in downtown St. Louis and lunch at a local restaurant.  

Two- and three-day registrations are available to accommodate everyone's travel needs.  Registration for the weekend and hotel rooms at a discounted rate can be found at 

We have been notified by the hotel that they expect to be full during the weekend of Holmes in the Heartland.  So if you are interested in joining us this summer, it is better to book sooner rather than later.  

Come at once if convenient!

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Interesting Interview: Jenn Eaker

It's very possible that Sherlockians who aren't from the New York area or who haven't been to a BSI Weekend for a while won't know of Jenn Eaker.  But if do you do know Jenn, when you saw this week's Interesting Interview participant, I hope you thought, "It's about time!"  Spending time with Jenn is always one of the best parts of the BSI Weekend for me.  She manages to be friendly and no-nonsense at the same time, which makes everyone around her want to listen to her thoughts on whatever subject is at-hand.

Jenn Eaker proves that Sherlockiana isn't just a hobby for old, white guys.  This woman can write about almost any topic related to the Canon and proves that in the myriad of publications she's appeared in, rarely covering the same topic twice.  Energetic, knowledgeable, and unbelievably likeable, Jenn is a big part of a new generation of East Coast Sherlockians.  She is one of the unsung Sherlockian heroes that can always be counted on for a toast, a talk, an article, support, or to spearhead a project.  And you know it will always be done well.  So here is one of New York's finest Sherlockians, Jenn Eaker:

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

Wow, way to put me on the spot right up front. I would describe the word “Sherlockian” as a person who enjoys the canonical characters and adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. I don’t care how you came to the original stories (BBC Sherlock, the Jeremy Brett series, the Enola Holmes books, the Guy Ritchie films, hell, even the wacky 2010 Sherlock Holmes movie), a Sherlockian has been led to the original stories, embraces them whole heartedly, and loves the main characters. 

A Sherlockian is also someone who is open to other Sherlockians, no matter how they choose to celebrate and honor the canon. You don’t have to agree with how someone views the stories or chooses to embrace them. You are all there enjoy the same characters and stories.  

How did you become a Sherlockian?

My earliest memory of Sherlock Holmes was as a child and hearing an adult say “no shit, Sherlock,” for the first time and me wondering who this “Sherlock” was. 

However, my real Sherlockian journey began when I watched the first series of the BBC’s Sherlock. I was blown away by the story telling and loved the mood of the whole series. Because of that, I found a message board on Ravelry, an online knitting community, and discovered many, many other people who had the same feelings as I did. As we knitters discussed what we liked best about the show, and knit up our own Watson jumpers, it became quite apparent the massive gap I had in my reading; I had never read the original Sherlock Holmes stories. So, one day, I visited a long since closed Borders Bookstore, and bought the two volume Bantam Classics edition of the stories and started reading from the beginning with A Study in Scarlet

At the same time, I met some other young women and helped start a podcast (The Baker Street Babes), met Lyndsay Faye, Susan Rice and Mickey Fromkin, and then was asked to write for the Baker Street Journal by Steve Rothman. I really hit the ground running from there. Even though I became a Sherlockian at a later age than most other Sherlockians, it does feel like I’ve been a part of this community my entire life. 

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

I work in television, in a high pressure environment, and honestly, it helps me enjoy being a Sherlockian more. When I’ve had a tough day at work, or I’m just exhausted from a long week, I can shut the door on all of that and be with my friends and chosen family. I can have fun and remind myself there is more to the world that just work. 

What is your favorite canonical story?

I actually think this is the easiest question you have given me so far, Rob. No contest for me; The Hound of the Baskervilles. I just remember reading through all the stories the first time around and enjoying the vast majority of them (I mean let’s be honest, the Utah section of A Study in Scarlet nearly lost me in the beginning). The Hound of the Baskervilles stuck with me long after I read it. The gothic horror element to it, the family legend and terrifying dog, Watson playing detective, Sherlock Holmes hiding away out on the Tor investigating in the background. I just love coming back to this story.

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

I don’t care where I’m at, if Rebecca Romney is in the room, I always want to say hello and chat about what’s going on with her. I find her job in rare books to be infinitely fascinating. I also enjoy just talking literature with her outside of Sherlockiana, whether it’s about the history of writing, the popularity of romance novels, or a person’s book collection as a biography of themselves. I always leave the conversation with my brain full of new ideas and things I’ve never considered before. 

If you need an opening topic when approaching Rebecca, you should ask her about the collection of books her business recently obtained that belonged to the late British singer/song writer, Amy Winehouse. It blows me away the care and attention she has given to these books that most people would never associate with Ms. Winehouse. It’s incredible.  

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

Defending against long held, and in my opinion, incorrect beliefs about characters in the stories. I will be defending Mary Sutherland, my investiture, until my last breath. And then I’ll continue to haunt people from the grave who still believe she is dumb! 

Seriously though, anytime I have a discussion about class, race, and/or sexuality in the canon with Mary Alcaro, I always leave it learning something new or having my thoughts turned in a different direction. I love delving into what was going on in the outside world during the time Arthur Conan Doyle was writing these stories. You can’t escape the influence it had on his work. 

The topics you've written on for Sherlockian publications are wide-ranging.  How do you settle upon a topic to write up?

Often times they are topics I’ve been asked to write about for scion meetings or publications. The two stories I wrote that won The Jan WHIMSEY Award were story summaries I was asked to present at The Priory Scholars of NYC. Bob Katz and Andy Solberg asked me to write two different chapters for the two Nerve and Knowledge books, even though I have no medical background. It was just interesting to research. 

But sometimes, I get so fixated on an idea, I just have to write about it. Like the paper I presented at the Scintillation of Scions about how Mary Sutherland was not dumb, but a young girl in love who was taken advantage of. Or the talk I delivered at the BSI dinner in 2019 about how dogs are the under appreciated characters in the canon (Justice for Carlo! Both of them!). I like being both informative and fun in my writing. If I’m not having fun, then why am I doing it? 

We often hear recaps of the BSI Weekend from out-of-towners.  As a New Yorker yourself, how do locals view the weekend?

I can’t speak for all New York locals, but here’s how I view it: It’s like a great big family reunion descending upon your home. But better, because you don’t have to cook, provide places to sleep for everybody, keep the alcohol flowing, or clean up after everybody has left. You are surrounded by familiar faces, some you only see this one time a year, and you just catch up and have as much fun as you can stand, while trying to pace yourself through 5 days of activities. It’s exhausting and soul-filling at the same time. And when it’s over, you look to the next year when you get to do it all over again. 

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

I’ve got two recommendations. The first one, Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit. It’s a book that explores how people communicate and the importance of voices and listening to them. The second recommendation is The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. It’s about a detective, Thursday Next, and her role in a world that is very literature-obsessed. This book gave me a new way to think about fictional characters and what happens to them after we close the book. 

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

I have a bit of trouble looking that far ahead to what the Sherlockian world will be like. I think group discussions about the stories and local scions will continue, whether in person or online. New adaptations and pastiches will continue to be created and new audiences will be attracted by them. 

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are literary characters who will always be around. I just hope that Sherlockiana can keep attracting a new and more diverse generation of participants. Being a Sherlockian can have financial limitations, especially if you want to participate in the larger activities. I could see that becoming a much bigger hurdle for folks just discovering the Sherlockian world. There are challenges ahead, I think, but I have hope Sherlockiana can continue to evolve with the times. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The New Dance Was in This Form [DANC]

I like Sherlock Holmes.  My daughter likes dance.  So when I saw that a new dance performance called "My Dear Watson" was playing in St. Louis, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Except that my daughter isn't too interested in Sherlock Holmes and I don't understand modern dance.

The Big Muddy Dance Company's performance closed those gaps for us, though.  "My Dear Watson" is a brand new, 90 minute piece created by Joshua L. Peugh and I had no idea what to expect.  I'm not a widely cultured person, but I like to keep an open mind.  And I'm glad that I did because this was a fun show.  

It took me a bit to figure out how modern dance pieces work.  Why were Holmes and Watson dancing so closely?  How can you tell a mystery story if there's no dialogue?  Why do characters who are dead keep getting up and dancing some more?

This may be a big "duh" moment for folks who get to theater performances more than I do, but I soon realized that when people are dancing together, that is showing that they are talking to one another.  The dead people keep getting up and dancing because the audience is seeing Holmes deduce the events in his investigation.  And how does a mystery work without dialogue?  It's elementary: the story is told through dance.

If you're the type of person who scoffs at new takes on old stories, pass on this performance.  But if you're open-minded when it comes to adaptations, "My Dear Watson" is definitely worth checking out.  The show only ran for two nights in St. Louis this weekend, but it will be available to stream on February 3-5 at  

One thing I really liked about this performance is that it is a brand new story.  No retreads of the classic tales and no reworking of old characters into a new mystery.  (Thank God Adler and Moriarty weren't trotted out for another go round.)  "My Dear Watson" is a straight forward murder mystery that shows what these performers can do.

So let's talk about some of the performances.

Sherlock Holmes is played by Sergio Camacho and Will Brighton is John Watson.  These two bring different energies to their roles, but when they are performing together, it's flawless.  Brighton has a few dance numbers on his own and you can almost feel Dr. Watson's Victorian prose flowing from his poised moves.  Camacho really gets to shine when he is investigating crime scenes, and you can see the manic energy in his eyes as he moves all around.

The Baker Street Irregulars show up for two scenes in the second act, and this group brought a whole new energy to the stage.  You don't expect much "fun" in a show full of murder, but this group provided it for sure.  And watching Sherlock interact with them brought out a new side to his character that the audience hadn't seen up until this point.  

Another standout performance was Jessie Yero, who plays Mrs. Shawcross.  Yero evoked emotion every time she was on stage and was the character my daughter and I talked about the most on the drive home.  

But the pieces I enjoyed the most were the big ensemble numbers.  When you've got twenty or so highly talented dancers on stage, it's amazing how well a story can be told with just movement.  And some of the moves these people pulled off?  If I even thought about some of those positions I'd pull a muscle.  Someone else could describe it much better than I could, but let me just say - wow.

The stage presence of everyone involved added a lot to the show as well.  Scenes set outside were always foggy.  The cast moved through the aisles and front rows during numbers and milled about on the stage to set the mood before the show started.  And the costumes were fantastic.  I'm pretty sure Sherlock's pants alone are worth the price of admission.  If you've ever wondered what Benedict Cumberbatch's wallpaper would look like as a pair of trousers, "My Dear Watson" has answered that for you.

Did "My Dear Watson" make me want to run out and buy season tickets to all of the dance companies in St. Louis?  Not quite.  But did it make for a fun Sherlockian evening? You bet.  If you're at all interested in seeing Sherlock Holmes in a new way, I recommend checking out the streaming performances on February 3-5.  

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Interesting Interview: Nicholas Meyer

Very few people can claim to be responsible for a Sherlockian revolution.  Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Brett, and Basil Rathbone of course.  But this week's Interesting Interview may be one of the only non-actors who can say that.

Nicholas Meyer's novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, brought Holmes back to the forefront of public consciousness.  That book stayed on the bestseller list for the better part of a year and was later turned into an Academy Award nominated movie.  But Nicholas isn't a one-trick pony.  He's since written four more Sherlockian pastiches in between his massive screenwriting career.  (The guy's impressive; just check his website for a full list.)  So what are his thoughts on our hobby?  Keep reading to find out!

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

I am not aware of any official or accepted definition of the term Sherlockian.  I know, for example, that in the UK, the word is generally Holmesian.  I take it both terms imply affection and enthusiasm for stories involving Holmes, Watson and their world.

How did you become a Sherlockian?

I was introduced to the Holmes stories by my father when I was about eleven years old. An enthusiast himself, he gave me the complete one volume edition, edited by Christopher Morley.  My recollection is that I gobbled them up avidly, (though I was certainly perplexed by A Study in Scarlet when I turned the page and found myself in Utah with a whole series of different characters!)

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

My profession is Storyteller.  I write novels but also screenplays for film and television and direct same. In my world - at least so far - there is no such thing as retirement. There's no weekends, no holidays as such and no vacations.  It's all about narrative.  I look forward to dying in harness.

What is your favorite canonical story?

It is very hard for me to pick one favorite Holmes story.  I number "The Devil's Foot," "The Bruce Partington Plans," "Silver Blaze" and "The Red-Headed League" among my favorites, and I'm partial to "The Yellow Face," which shows that Holmes could fail - that fact, I think, makes him the more real.

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

I have always enjoyed reading the works of Michael Harrison and also Trevor Hall.

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

There was a time when I really enjoyed reading "the writings about the writings," especially when I originally discovered their existence and they fueled my enthusiasm for writing my own Holmes tale, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. I've since acquired a small library about Holmes, Watson and their world, though that use has now been put to use in researching my subsequent Holmes stories, The West End Horror, The Canary Trainer, The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols, The Return of the Pharaoh and the forthcoming, Sherlock Holmes and the Telegram From Hell.  

Writing my own Holmes adventures has proved my most enjoyable pastime.  I learn by doing, about Holmes, his world, but also about myself in relation to Holmes.  Over the years I've discovered an obscure kinship between myself and the detective, not, I hasten to add, in terms of talent or achievement, but rather - I tell myself - in terms of sensibility.  Values, if you like.  In sum, Holmes allows me to express myself.

What is your process for writing a new Sherlock Holmes story?

It is very difficult to describe the creative process - mine, for sure.  The first thing that must happen is that I must stumble on an idea that simply won't let go, an idea that to my mind is a natural for Holmes.  Once I am seized by that idea, there follow weeks or months of playing in my head with how Holmes could be integrated into the idea - or vice versa. I take notes, I do research.  Sometimes I wind up abandoning the project altogether; it wasn't as promising as I thought - or I wasn't good enough to lick it.  

Assuming I don't abandon the project, after that, it's much harder to describe: you're at your desk, you're in a state of flow, you look up, it's hours later, and you don't quite know where you've been. I think that trance-like state applies to a lot of creativity, not just writing and not just writing Sherlock Holmes.  When people ask me "how I do it" I can truthfully answer, "I don't know."

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution has widely been credited for creating a resurgence in Sherlock Holmes.  If you had known that during the writing of that novel and movie, would you have done anything differently?

I write the books I would like to read. I don't think I would have done anything differently if I'd been told The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was going to spark a resurgence of interest in Holmes.

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

Aside from Doyle's originals, I tend to recommend my five Sherlock Holmes novels. Typically I don't read Holmes books by other authors, probably because I worry they might be better than mine!  Thus - The West End Horror, The Canary Trainer, The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols and The Return of the Pharaoh.  I have a sixth Holmes novel in the works, Sherlock Holmes and the Telegram from Hell.

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

Truthfully I have no idea where Holmes will be in the future; I've no idea where WE will be in the future.  Prognostications are notoriously faulty.  The only thing Star Trek seems to have got right are the flip top cell phones.