At first, I had a very short list of people that I already knew, often just through email correspondence. I asked them to participate, and the response was immediate and positive. As I became more ambitious and confident – as well as greedy to read new stories straight from Watson’s tin dispatch box – I combed my book shelves, seeing which authors I wanted to ask next. Of course, some that I asked weren’t able to participate due to various reasons, but everyone was gracious and helpful. Along the way we picked up several additional participants that were recommended by authors who had already joined the project. In other cases, I had to do some detective work – and it helped that my first career in my twenties was as a U.S. Federal Investigator – as I tracked down physical addresses for people that couldn’t be contacted by email. Several authors in England, for instance, are only reachable by mail, which certainly makes one recall the old days before emails and instant communication.
My main condition when assembling the stories was that the authors’ submissions had to be about the true Holmes and Watson from the Original Canon. There could be no parodies, and no new characteristics about them that were not in the original stories. I indicated that the authors could use the characters, but they had to put them back unchanged for the next author when they were done. All of the stories in the book do that, with great success. I’m currently re-reading all of the submissions for the final edit, and some of these stories still give me chills, even after multiple readings. This is going to be good!
|All the manuscripts from Volume 1 - printed out and edited|
IHOSE: I am sure all the stories in the anthology are exceptional. Tell us about a few stories that stand out.
It seems as if there is a unique story for every author that I contacted. Many were strangers back then who were instantly gracious about being approached with no warning, and so many have now turned into friends. For instance, just after we “met” by email, bestseller Andrew Lane sent me another Holmes story that he’d just written for my opinion, probably just because he knew that I’d enjoy it. Then, when he was writing the story for this collection, he sent me a sentence at a time for part of an afternoon, just to drive me crazy.
I contacted best-selling author Lyndsay Faye, who has written a number of Holmes short stories, early on, and she agreed immediately. Of course, she was in the middle of all the things associated with the release of her latest book, including a nationwide tour. I don’t spend much time on Facebook, but this project has made me visit there more often, and I saw some of her journey chronicled there. In the middle of Lyndsay’s busiest time, and before I was expecting it since I could follow how busy she was, her story arrived in my inbox one day. That was really cool.
Lyndsay is a member of both the Baker Street Irregulars and also the Baker Street Babes. This collection also has several stories written by other members of both groups. And then there is Larry Millett
, who has written seven excellent Holmes novels. He wrote a story, and then allowed it to appear in the latest Strand magazine in order to give the project some extra exposure.
There are so many other stories as well. I was able to locate my favorite pastiche writer of them all, the legendary Denis O. Smith
, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have a new story from him, and to have been the first one to read it. I also found the amazing John Hall, who contributed his first new pastiche in several years. We have a story by best-seller Will Thomas, who has thus far only written about Holmes’s contemporary investigator, Cyrus Barker, and has now written his first Holmes adventure. Then there is best-seller James Lovegrove, who I first contacted last year to discuss the location of Holmes’s retirement cottage in Sussex, near where James lives. After that, I felt comfortable in asking him to contribute to this project.
We have a contribution from Bert Coules
, who supervised the amazing BBC broadcast of the entire Canon. And we have a number of stories from writers who have contributed to the U.S. radio show, Imagination Theatre
, including founder Jim French, and writers Matthew Elliott, Matthew Booth, John Hall, Daniel McGachey, Iain McLaughlin and Claire Bartlett, Jeremy Holstein, J.R. Campbell, and me (David Marcum
There are a lot who have famously already written about Holmes, and others who have written in other genres, but not about Holmes before. Several of our authors originally wrote some fan-fiction that’s as good as anything I’ve ever read anywhere about Holmes. I found their real identities and asked them to join us, and they did, with amazing results! Finally, I asked a few people who have done a great deal of work in keeping the world of Holmes alive, but hadn’t tried writing a story until now. Someone once said that every Sherlockian should write at least one pastiche, and this gave these folks the chance to do it. They truly knocked it out of the park. I’m now trying to convince them to write even more stories for their own future books, just so I’ll have even more to read about Our Heroes.