I was sitting in the "Coffeeshop AU" panel at 221B Con this morning and comparing it in my head to some of the sessions I recently attended at a more traditional Sherlockian venue. The big note resounding in my head was what an audience member came away from in each experience.
More traditional Sherlockian presentations are often a single speaker presenting their gathered research on some original Canon subject. In the more enjoyable ones, fun conclusions are drawn, and the abilities of the speaker can make or break the session. T'were coffee to be the subject of one of those, we would learn all sorts of delightful facts about Victorian coffee culture and walk away wiser and older on the matter. And, if you're a researching sort, maybe inspired to do some yourself.
A panel discussion on Sherlock and John and coffeeshops, like the one I just attended, is not as much about what does exist (which is there, for sure), but heavily about what could exist. Why do writers choose this particular genre? What opportunities does it offer for Holmes and Watson to interact? Ideas come quickly, new ideas, and you can't help but silently form your own as it goes on. When you come out of a good panel, it isn't what you now know, but what you now want to do. Now I want to write a coffeeshop AU.
I think I would define more traditional Sherlockian sessions as science and the kind 221B Con has brought into Sherlockiana as art. Not that either doesn't have some of the other -- Sherlockiana is everything.
And on to the Baker Street Babes interviewing Nancy Springer, author of the Enola Holmes series. I've read the first of her works before con and it's really good. I want to read more, and hearing Nancy talk is really cementing that desire. Not going to go into too much details here, as you really need to listen to the interview on the Babes own podcast.
Nancy Springer is full of origin stories and tips and tricks on her research and sources for her Enola Holmes stories. She's got a lot of very original smarts -- doing research from the most unexpected and wonderful sources. And since Lyndsay Faye is in on the interviewing, a little comparison of research comes up. There's talk of Enola's character arc, and some great attitude on how the problems of Doyle's own screw ups and London being destroyed by Hitler really are helpful to a writer.
There is some real fun in this interview, including killing mammogram inventors by being crushed in their own machines. Nancy apparently has more Enola Holmes books already written and waiting for the potential Millie Bobby Brown movie market upsurge. Okay, out of respect for the Babes content (and my own laziness) I'm going to shut down my reportage for now, with a few added notes.
Nancy Springer is a great Sherlockian, though, which she'd have had to be to do so well with Enola. She brought foreign editions of her books to give out for free, and she's a funny and frank woman. Listen to the interview (and if you haven't figured out podcasts yet, get help and do so!).