Elizabeth Varadan was born in Reno, Nevada, traveled to many states while growing up, but has lived most of her life in California. A former elementary school teacher, her current passion is writing. She and her husband live in Sacramento, California.
The Fourth Wish, a middle grade fantasy, was published in 2009. Her work has also appeared in StoryFriends, LadyBug, and Skipping Stones. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, a middle grade mystery featuring a ten-year-old sleuth and Sherlock Holmes, was published by MX Publishing, June 15, 2015. She is currently working on a middle grade novel/ghost story set in 1919 and a cozy mystery for adults.
She reviews children’s books for The Children’s Book Review
Tell us about yourself and the types of books you write.
I write in a range of genres. I started out writing short stories, poetry, and flash fiction for adults (many of which were published in small literary magazines). I’m a former teacher, and after teaching middle grade students for many years, I found myself drawn to MG and YA novels, although at present I’m in the middle of a rewrite of a cozy mystery for adults.
What makes your stories different from other Holmes’ pastiches?
I’m not sure my MG mystery novel, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, and the story in Beyond Watson (“Kidnapped”) would be considered pastiches. I don’t attempt the style and voice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Instead, they are through the eyes of a ten-year-old Victorian girl and, in the latter case, the family cook, with a Victorian tone to the storytelling, but not the famous “voice” that pastiche writers do so successfully.
When you’re not reading Conan Doyle, who’s your go-to author or genre?
Oh, dear, so many! I’m hooked on mysteries, and two of my favourite authors are Rhys Bowen (her Molly Murphy series based in early 20th century New York) and Cara Black (her Amée Leduc series based in 1990s Paris.) A recent discovery is the Samuel Craddock series by Terry Shames. He’s the chief of police in a contemporary small, Texas town, but he’s so likeable, you just have to keep looking for his next challenge.
Still, a favourite mystery I return to again and again is Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. I love it for its twists and turns, and different points of view, and a thread of subtle humour that runs through it. I must have read that book five or six times, and it’s still new and fresh each time.
Do you have a favourite fellow pastiche writer? Who and why?
Another hard one. I enjoyed David Marcum’s collection of tales, Tangled Skein, so much. He really captures Doyle’s voice, and his prologue is terribly funny. Another is Christopher James. His Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Ruby Elephants is like a kaleidoscope of patterns that all come together at the end, but with a humorous tone throughout. (As you can guess, I like humour.) I enjoyed your story in Beyond Watson, very much. I’ve always been drawn to Mrs. Hudson, and I’m a Turner fan, so that was a wonderful combination. I also enjoy Derrick Belanger’s children’s mysteries. I haven’t read his adult works yet, but the mysteries he writes for children are fast-paced, and he has footnotes in the form of tiny pictures to show what a hansom cab is, etc., which I think is brilliant.
Other than Holmes, who is your favourite detective?
On TV, Foyle, hands down. My husband and I watch new Foyle’s War series and re-runs whenever they are featured. Then Miss Marple, whom I find endearing, and then Amée Leduc, Molly Murphy, and Samuel Craddock.
Who are your heroes?
Ah, this question takes me far, far away from mysteries and mystery writing: Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, JFK, and, right now, Barack Obama, an elegant thinker with a sense of what is important in this world.
Your favourite quote, Sherlockian or otherwise?
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” — Mahatma Ghandi
Check out Elizabeth’s blogs here: http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.ie/
And here: http://victorianscribbles.blogspot.com/
You can find Elizabeth’s book, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, at: