Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day Eleven of A Fortnight on Baker Street, "Bitten by Books revisited".

For those of you who missed the author interviews on Bitten by Books, I have reposted them here.  To see the amazing comments, and conversations that happened underneath this initial interview, you can go to

It is an amazing conversation.



In the dark lurk horrible secrets. Long buried and hidden from prying eyes are the twilight tales of the living and the dead – and those that are neither. The stink of a Paris morgue, the curve of a devil’s footprint, forbidden pages torn from an infernal tome, madness in a dead woman’s stare, a lost voice from beneath the waves and the cold indifference of an insect’s feeding all hold cryptic clues. From the comfort of the Seine to the chill blast of arctic winds, from candlelit monasteries to the callous and uncaring streets of Las Vegas are found arcane stories of men, monsters and their evil…

Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes includes works by:
Stephen Volk, Christopher Fowler, Kim Newman, Paul Kane, Simon K. Unsworth, Tom English, Tony Richards, William Meikle, Fred Saberhagen, Kevin Cockle, Lawrence C. Connolly, and Simon Clark.

BBB: Welcome editors Charles Prepolec and J. R. Campbell, and the many authors from “Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes who have joined us today. Our authors are joining us from a variety of places from around the world. Where in the world are you from originally? Where are you currently writing from (as of the day of the event)?

Paul Kane: Derbyshire, UK
Lawrence C. Connolly: Southwestern Pennsylvania
Stephen Volk: Great Britain. Born in South Wales. I’m writing from my home in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire in the West Country of England.
Christopher Fowler: King’s Cross, London, England. Currently writing my tenth murder mystery ‘Bryant & May and the Invisible Code’.
Kevin Cockle: Calgary, participating in the online chat from Calgary.
Tony Richards: I’m from, and live in, Sherlock Holmes home city, London, England.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: I’m from Manchester, England (which is a suburb of America), but am currently based about 60 miles north of there in a city called Lancaster
Joan Spicci Saberhagen: My name is Joan Spicci Saberhagen. I am managing the literary estate of Fred Saberhagen. Fred passed away in 2007. Originally Fred and I are from Chicago. Since 1975 New Mexico has been home. I am writing from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Tom English: I’m from Hampton, Virginia, USA; I currently reside in (and am now writing from) my home in the woods of New Kent, Virginia.
Simon Clark: Doncaster, England
Willie Meikle: I’m originally from Ayrshire in Scotland, since 2007 I’ve lived up on the Eastern shore of Newfoundland.
Currently just finishing off THE ISLAND OF TERROR, a Professor Challenger novella. (40,000 words)
BBB: Without providing a spoiler, could you please give us a summary of your story in Gaslight Arcanum?

Paul Kane: In ‘The Greatest Mystery’, a young woman comes to Holmes and Watson for help when her cousin is accused of a murder he says he didn’t commit – though all the evidence points to him; he was even found with the murder weapon in his hand. After encountering more of these mysterious killings, where the person who committed them swears they didn’t – Holmes finds himself struggling to solve the crimes. Until, finally, he realises exactly who he is facing: his greatest ever enemy!
Lawrence C. Connolly: In ‘The Executioner’, Holmes wakes to find himself in a gigantic mansion filled with oversized furniture and works of art. The mystery centers on where he is, how he got there, and a terrible bit of unfinished business that waits for him in a secret chamber on the first floor.
Stephen Volk: In ‘The Comfort of the Seine’, Sherlock Holmes recounts a strange story from his youth, of a weird encounter in Paris which ultimately leads him on the path to becoming a great detective.
Christopher Fowler: In ‘The Adventure of Lucifer’s Footprints’, Holmes is summoned to Devon to discover why the prints of horses’ hooves are appearing in a field where there are no horses.
Kevin Cockle: ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Great Game’: What if the stories of Holmes that we know, are actually a kind of age-of-enlightenment myth meant to disguise his true nature…or super-nature. It’s Watson’s job to translate their weird adventures into the rationalistic discourse of the times, for reasons known only to Holmes himself. It’s a great game alright…between Holmes and Watson; Holmes and the problem in the story…and between the story and the reader.
Tony Richards: In ‘The House of Blood’, Sherlock Holmes did not die at the Reichenback Falls — he turned out to be immortal, and is still with us to this very day, touring the world and solving cases. Currently, he is in the United States. A series of grisly murders is taking place around Las Vegas. Bodies of both sexes and all ages are being found in the surrounding desert. They both share two characteristics. One, they recently won big in the city’s casinos. And, two, they have been drained of all their blood. The local law enforcement are calling them ‘The Vampire Killings,’ but Holmes, knowing such creatures do not exist, suspects something else.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: ‘A Country Death’ : It’s about the investigation of the death of an old man – he’s found, his body swollen and covered in tiny wounds, so it’s about discovering how he died and trying to stop it happening again.
Joan Spicci Saberhagen: In ‘From The Tree Of Time’, when a Victorian lady’s happiness and honor are threatened she calls upon the great detective. The mysterious details cause Holmes to call in a consultant, Dr. Corday, better known as Dracula.
Tom English: (A summary is more difficult to give. It’s akin to presenting one’s infant child to a bunch of strangers: Isn’t my new baby absolutely adorable? But here goes.)
In ‘The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes’, Holmes and Watson investigate the mystery surrounding an occult artifact which may be responsible for a string of ghastly crimes: an enigmatic tome which has been in the safekeeping of the Holy Church for hundreds of years — until its sudden, inexplicable disappearance — and which the Church appears overly anxious to recover.
(Actually, I love the way Charles described the story in his Introduction “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere…” and I can’t state it any better:
“A ghastly grimoire, written in the blood of a madman, is stolen from the monks who have guarded its secrets for centuries. To stop a string of terrible and inexplicable murders they turn to Sherlock Holmes, but can even the Great Detective withstand the pull of these cursed pages? Find out in ‘The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes’ by Tom English.”
(Absolutely marvelous copy which makes ME want to re-read it!)
Simon Clark: In ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell’, a diving bell was lost years ago. When a salvage team reconnect the phone cable the voice of what should be the long-dead crew member comes ghosting up the line.
William Meikle: In ‘The Colour that came to Chiswick’, something green has got into the beer in the Fullers Brewery in Chiswick, and Holmes is called in to see if it is sabotage… or something a bit more esoteric.
BBB: What do you like the most about this collection?

Paul Kane: I love the mixture of genre elements with the traditional Holmes type of tales. I’ve always loved the darker side of Holmes’ universe.
Lawrence C. Connolly: Sharing the book with eleven of my favorite writers.
Stephen Volk: I like the wide diversity of some of my favourite modern genre writers bringing their talents to bear on brand new Sherlock Holmes stories.
Christopher Fowler: It draws out and gives voice to a side that was always in Holmes, especially in the later stories; a sinister Victorian aura of bereavement and sadness.
Kevin Cockle: I love the premise – Sherlock vs the supernatural. It works on the level of image because it’s vaguely steam-punky; it’s got that tinge of Victorian mysticism always in the background; it’s got a brand name character being re-imagined in unfamiliar settings…it’s just a really evocative milieu in which to place the very symbol of rationality. And on a more personal note, I’m digging the illustrations (including the cover!)
Tony Richards: It’s a genuinely imaginative new addition to the Holmes cannon, with some brilliant writers of dark fantasy making contributions.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Practically, being in it! It’s always great to be published, particularly in a book that got so many great authors in it. I like writing these stories because they aren’t quite what I normally do, so this is a good chance to spread my wings and little and experiment. I also like that there I’m in this with friends, but also with people I’ve never met so reading it is a real treat, finding new authors and revisiting ones whose work I already know I love.
Joan Spicci Saberhagen: The stories are unusual, entertaining and thought provoking.
Tom English: I love the character of Holmes, and I love to read and write atmospheric tales of the supernatural; so it’s the unapologetic pairing of these two great passions — by a couple of editors who themselves share and understand these loves.
Simon Clark: Sherlock Holmes v the supernatural. A stable of wonderful writers all contained by the coolest of covers. Brilliant.
William Meikle: The variety of voices and approaches that allow us all to put our own twist on these famous characters
BBB: Please send a question for the other authors to answer.

Paul Kane: How easy or hard did you find it working on a Holmes story?
Lawrence C. Connolly: What’s your current project?
Stephen Volk: To Simon Unsworth – how much research did you do into bee-keeping, and how? To Kim Newman – what were Moriarty and Moran doing during the crimes of Jack the Ripper in 1888 and did they know his true identity? To Simon Clark – where did your wonderfully creepy idea of the diving bell come from?
Christopher Fowler: Why don’t the long Conan Doyle stories work as well as the short ones?
Kevin Cockle: How much of a Sherlock-geek are you? Did you think going in that it was essential to have some grasp of the original source material? Do you HAVE expertise when it comes to the originals?
Tony Richards: What attracts you to writing Holmes fiction in the first place?
Simon Kurt Unsworth: What was the hardest thing, for you, in writing these stories?
Joan Spicci Saberhagen: What aspect of the original Holmes’ character do you find most fascinating?
Tom English: Doyle’s tales are filled with lean but wonderfully descriptive passages, and Holmes has some killer lines (such as “‘No crime,’ said Sherlock Holmes, laughing. ‘Only one of those whimsical little incidents which will happen when you have four million human beings all jostling each other within the space of a few square miles. Amid the action and reaction of so dense a swarm of humanity, every possible combination of events may be expected to take place, and many a little problem will be presented which may be striking and bizarre without being criminal.’” (from “The Blue Carbuncle”) To each of the writers: Is there a passage or line(s) of dialogue in your story of which you’re particularly fond?
Simon Clark: Why does Sherlock Holmes endure when other literary heroes fade away?
William Meikle: Do you fall into the voice for these stories naturally, or do you have to work harder at it than you would writing for completely new characters?
BBB: Please send a question for the readers to answer.
Paul Kane: What appeals to you about the world of Sherlock Holmes?
Lawrence C. Connolly: What are you reading?
Stephen Volk: Do you want more adventures of Holmes and Watson versus the supernatural – and what monsters or beings would you like them up against that you haven’t read in the series so far?
Christopher Fowler: What would be the ultimate Homes short story?
Kevin Cockle: How mad do you get when authors mess with a beloved brand like Sherlock Holmes (or Dracula; Bond – whoever)? Do you need a certain “familiarity experience” when you read a story about one of your favourite characters, or do you enjoy so-called “re-imaginings”?
Tony Richards: There’s been the Robert Downey Junior movie. There’s been the TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch. Both wildly successful. Why, after all this time, is Sherlock still so amazingly popular?
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Are there any other literary characters or worlds that would benefit from having horror stories written about them?
Joan Spicci Saberhagen: What pleases you most about Holmes stories (consider both the original and the derivatives): the Holmes & Watson characters, the Victorian setting, or the nature of the mysteries?
Tom English: What do you as a reader find most important in any pastiche? What do you find intolerable (if anything) in a pastiche?
Simon Clark: Why does Sherlock Holmes endure when other literary heroes fade away?
William Meikle: What keeps drawing you back to Holmes?
BBB: Thanks everyone for joining us!

Gaslight Arcanum authors, and editors: Thanks Rachel for having us!

Again, to see the authors' answers to the questions above, please visit ttp://

If you have another question that you would like the authors to answer, but did not in the Bitten by Books interview, please post it below, and we will endeavor to have the author answer your question.


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