Guest Post: “Stuck in the Middle with Sherlock” by Paul Cornell

CornellP-AuthorPicIt was the title that first came to me: Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? And from there, the pieces just fell into place. In the London of my Shadow Police novels, ‘ghosts’ are the collective memories of all Londoners, and so include fictional and mythical characters, as well as those who were once alive. Therefore, Sherlock Holmes would very much be present, in 221B Baker Street, as a phantom, visible only to those with ‘the Sight’, like my Metropolitan Police heroes. Perhaps the phantom’s cohesive presence could have been recently amped up, say by three different current versions of Sherlock Holmes all filming in London at the same time, creating ‘Sherlockmania’?

What if that ghost were to be ‘murdered’, found lying face down with a ceremonial dagger in his back? What’s the motive? What does killing a ghost even mean? Continue reading

Interview with VAUGHN ENTWISTLE

EntwistleV-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Vaughn Entwistle?

I was born in Weston, Ontario, Canada to British parents, but I grew up in Northern England where the Entwistle tribe hails from.

Later, I lived in Seattle, Washington for close to twenty years (and loved it), but when I landed the book deal my wife and I seized the chance to move back to England. As a writer who specializes in historical fiction (much of which takes place in England) it is much easier to carry out research and actually walk the ground of the places I write about.

Currently, my and wife and I live in the ancient city of Wells in the county of Somerset. Most days I take a break from the keyboard to walk the dog on a route that takes us past the 11th century cathedral, through the market place, and along the moat that surrounds the Bishop’s palace, returning home through Vicar’s Close, the oldest street in Europe with all its medieval houses intact. Wells is a wonderful place for a writer to live. Beyond the obvious history, I find something very calming and deeply spiritual about the place.

Your new novel, The Dead Assassin will be published by Titan Books this month. It’s the second book in the series, The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What can fans of the first book expect for this new book, and how would you introduce it to new readers?

Fans of the first novel, The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, will find themselves on familiar territory. But as many reviewers have noted, it’s not necessary to have read the first book. I constructed the opening of second novel in such a way that new readers are brought up to speed in just a few paragraphs. That said, anyone expecting a straightforward mystery might be knocked a bit off balance. Both novels feature elements of the paranormal and are written to be funny and scary and slightly over the top. (Reviewers often describe them as “a romp.”) Wilde is there to provide wit and a bon vivant’s skewed outlook on the proceedings, while Conan Doyle’s Holmesian mind keeps the plot anchored in reality. Continue reading

Excerpt: ELEMENTARY – THE GHOST LINE by Adam Christopher (Titan)

ChristopherA-Elementary-GhostLineElementary is one of my favourite TV shows at the moment, so I was very interested when I saw that Adam Christopher would be writing some tie-in novels. The first novel is The Ghost Line, out this week. Titan Book were kind enough to send me this excerpt to share. First, though, the synopsis:

A brand-new novel tie-in for the popular Elementary TV series.

A summons to a body found riddled with bullets in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment is the start of a new case for Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. The victim is a subway train driver with a strange Colombian connection and a mysterious pile of money, but who would want to kill him? The search for the truth will lead the detectives into the hidden underground tunnels of New York City, where more bodies may well await them.

Adam Christopher is the author of a number of other novels, including Empire StateSeven Wonders and Hang Wire (Angry Robot), and The Burning Dark and The Machine Awakes (Tor US/Titan UK).

Onwards with the excerpt…

Continue reading

On Strong Female Characters & Sherlock Holmes’s Modern Successor?

First up, a hat-tip to Abhinav for sharing the link on Facebook, which is where I spotted it [everyone should check out his reviews on his blog, on Founding Fields, and follow him on Twitter].

Sophia McDougall has written a very good piece for the New Statesman, with an attention-grabbing headline: “I hate Strong Female Characters”. It’s an interesting article, and addresses what a lot of society views as a ‘Strong Female Character’, and the double-standards that exist when characterising a hero or heroine as ‘strong’. The whole article is well worth reading, so off you go and read it…

One paragraph in the piece got me thinking. Not really about the topic of the article, but something related to an example McDougall used to make part of her argument:

“Is, say, Sherlock Holmes strong? In one sense, yes, of course. He faces danger and death in order to pursue justice. On the other hand, his physical strength is often unreliable – strong enough to bend an iron poker when on form, he nevertheless frequently has to rely on Watson to clobber his assailants, at least once because he’s neglected himself into a condition where he can’t even try to fight back. His mental and emotional resources also fluctuate. An addict and a depressive, he claims even his crime-fighting is a form of self-medication. Viewed this way, his willingness to place himself in physical danger might not be ‘strength’ at all – it might be another form of self-destructiveness. Or on the other hand, perhaps his vulnerabilities make him all the stronger, as he succeeds in surviving and flourishing in spite of threats located within as well without.”

This made me wonder if there were any female characters that I’d read (recently or otherwise), who maybe adhered more to this archetype of (anti-)hero. And, I actually think I’ve come up with a speculative-fiction contender for the modern successor of Sherlock Holmes. There is, after all, a female character who can be described similarly to McDougall’s Sherlock. To reiterate:

“Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius.”

Who am I talking about? Chess Putnam, from Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series (published by Voyager in the UK and Del Rey in the US).

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Downside Ghosts UK Covers

Chess is an addict, she is a gifted (supernatural) detective, she can be alternately abrasive and vulnerable, she can handle herself in a fight (against ghosts and against corporeal antagonists). She sometimes manipulates those around – on the job, but also as a way of hiding her substance abuse. She’s certainly brave, charging ahead into situations that would make me bug out, screaming like a petrified kitten. Even regarding the more ‘mundane’ elements in the above description, Chess can tick them off: Bohemian (she lives in a converted church on the wrong side of the tracks), vain, neurotic, untidy, and fastidious (in her spell-making, for example). I haven’t yet seen anything that suggests Chess is quite a “polymath genius”, but she has a considerable breadth of skills. At the same time, sometimes Chess needs help from “sidekicks”, and has a couple of her own Watsons – most notably Trouble Terrible,* who she does not always treat well or fairly.

So. There we have it. Chess Putnam is our contemporary Sherlock Holmes. Anyone have any other suggestions who could fill that role?

Downside Ghosts Series: Unholy Ghosts, Unholy Magic, City of Ghosts, Sacrificial Magic, Chasing Magic

Downside Short Stories: Finding Magic, Wrong Ways Down, Home, Close To You

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* Update: The original version of this post got the name wrong. Apologies to Stacia!

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Incidentally, Sophia McDougall is the author of the Romanitas trilogy – Romanitas, Rome Burning, and Savage City (published by Gollancz) – which you should all be sure to read, as well.

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