Why did I write a Holmesian mystery?
My latest story, “An Affair at Oxbridge”, is a Holmesian mystery.
Let me tell you why Holmesian.
I wrote “AN AFFAIR AT OXBRIDGE”, in its original incarnation, about 5 years ago. At the time there were a few things happening.
First, I had just finished working on my dark fantasy novel about a boy kidnapped by two goblins. And to do the goblins I had to immerse myself in Charles Dickens, so I was reading ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘A tale of Two Cities’, some Oscar Wilde, too, but he didn’t work as well for the goblins. So I had just written the goblins. They sound something like this:
Castle kept up his needling. “I trust you must have a very good reason for bringing us so close within the Duchess’s queenly reach. Is it true then? Pray, tell, have you found it? Are you certain?”
“Rot your black ears, of course, I’m certain,” Rook snarled, and he drew the goblin rune for ‘fire’ inside the triangle. Then he hocked up a nasty wad of black phlegm and spat it upon the rune. The phlegm instantly began to bubble, and the red dirt burst into purplish black flames that produced a noxious black smoke. Content with his fire, Rook stood up and glared at Castle. “Am I going to have to do everything myself or are you going to lend me a claw, you good-for-nothing louse?”
The goblins were dark, cruel, fun to write, exhausting. I lived with the goblins daily and nightly for 4 months. When the story was done I felt, I don’t know … Relieved, but wanting to do it again. To relax I started watching the 1984 TV series, Sherlock Holmes, with Jeremy Brett, and I loved it! And then I started reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
I have to admit I have a particular weakness for the English language in the Victorian era. And the reason is because it’s different from how we speak today. There’s a certain cadence to it, sentences are long and meandering, by the time you get to the end you forget what the sentence began with.
But what I like most is that whatever people were saying was not said in a straightforward way. Like today, let’s say you want to call someone an asshole, you just go ahead and say: “You’re an asshole.” Simple!
In Victorian English, you’d say something more like this, roughly: “I do not believe I will be extending my attentions upon you, for your general countenance and way of thinking have not prevailed upon me favorably.”
So the language was big draw for me. It doesn’t come exactly naturally, writing in Victorian English, but I liked working on it, which meant thinking a little differently.
And another reason I chose to go Holmesian is because I like the structure of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. The story opens in Sherlock Holmes’s living room on Baker St., then the client arrives, case is laid out, Sherlock goes out, and then comes back to his living room to conclude the case. Basically. If you have the format, the story, more or less, writes itself. Of course, you have to figure out clues, mystery and so on, but that’s the easy part.
Check out “AN AFFAIR AT OXBRIDGE” and see how I did it.
Some key questions in the mystery at Oxbridge, and there’s only one person in the whole British Empire who has the answers: Lady Clarke! BUM, BUM, BUMMM!
I’m happy to announce that the first story of 2020 at my bookstore is a historical Holmesian mystery titled “AN AFFAIR AT OXBRIDGE”.
There is so much to say about this story, like:
– How I came to write it.
– Why Holmesian?
– Why steampunk (because it also has some steampunk elements)?
– Why historical?
– Why a duchess?
– Why a doctor?
– What happens to the deleted scenes?And the list goes on.
Well, I will reveal all of these in due time, but today I just want to announce that the story is out and there will be more coming out about it, because there’s just too much to say in one blog post, and no one wants to read it all in one breath anyway. However feel free to read the story in one breath.
Here’s the blurb:
AN AFFAIR AT OXBRIDGE, the first story in THE WIND-UP MYSTERIES, is a Holmesian mystery novella, that features Lady Clarke – a fearless consulting detective – and Doctor Rachel Adler – her loyal friend and companion.
When the Eye of the East – a diamond as famous for its immense size and quality as for the curse which it brings upon its owners – is stolen, Scotland Yard’s clandestine ‘Special Branch’ turns to the only person in the Empire who can possibly recover it – Lady Clarke. But when she and her faithful companion, Dr. Adler, travel to Oxbridge Manor, they discover there is more to the mystery than just a missing diamond.
What do dangerous highwaymen, petty thefts, and the mysterious illness of the Lady of the Manor – stricken on the cusp of her much anticipated nuptials – have to do with the theft of the famous diamond? For most observers, nothing, but for Lady Clarke, there are no coincidences. Digging into the facts, she reveals a sinister plot that could shake the very stability of the Empire.
Read “AN AFFAIR AT OXBRIDGE” to see how it all unravels.