There are certain little impulses every Sherlockian has, but few of us like to talk about.
Living in the brilliant glow of Conan Doyle's incredible creation, that beautiful literary Frankenstein of lifeless words energized into a living, breathing superman, we can't help but dare to think, in our most private moments, "Could I possibly do such a thing?"
And as we love Sherlock Holmes so much, we don't just want to create our own legendary figure. We want to summon our own version of the genie.
Any rational person knows that trying to match Conan Doyle at that is purely insane, but still, that impulse rises in us, born of love, vision, and that eternal question, "What if . . . ?" Common sense, reading the attempts of those who have attempted that sort of flight and crashed horribly, and our own fears all work against us, and with so many mainstream Sherlockians, that urge to summon the genie has been beaten down. The mere thought of daring to try such a thing . . . one shudders.
And some of us elder Sherlockians do have skeletons in our closet. Collectors of obscure Sherlockiana might have copies of my serially-published novelette HOLMES! tucked away on a shelf. Back in the very early 1980s, not many of the Sherlockian collectors who picked it up probably realized that the villain was based on Wolverine from X-men comics. Luckily, there aren't more than a hundred copies out there floating around, so my secret is fairly safe.
Since then, I've written a vampire novel, two modern day mystery novels, but no more Holmes . . . there was an attempt I always wanted to get back to, but it always seemed . . . foolish? A waste of time? I'm not sure. It's not like the other books ever got past my own quality-control judgments and saw print.
But then I was listening to Amy Thomas on the Baker Street Babes podcast today, talking about her own process for writing her Holmes novel, The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree. While she was on the podcast, obviously, to promote the buying of her book, she actually sold me on something else. As she spoke about what went through her head in working up the book, I found my own brain heading into familiar patterns of a tale that has been held inside for years now. And I found that I missed my own little attempt to summon the genie.
Is it silly to attempt to walk anywhere close to Conan Doyle's path? Obviously, Les Klinger doesn't think so, believing in it enough to go up against the Doyle estate in court. Sure, Les deals with writers much more talented than myself, but his efforts seem to be the clarion call of a new day for Sherlock Holmes. More writers writing Sherlock mean more failed attempts, sure, but they also mean more successes. And what did Sherlock Holmes say was the motto of the firm? "We can but try."
So I wound up buying Amy Thomas's book, The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree, on Amazon. I feel like I owe her that much, just for the inspiring interview. And after reading a certain pastiche I'll talk about another time, which came free in the mail, I really need to read something a bit better . . . which I think Amy's book might definitely be.