Amy Thomas is the author of a series of Irene Adler (The Woman) and Sherlock Holmes novels titled, The Detective and the Woman, The Detective The Woman and the Winking Tree, and The Detective The Woman and the Silent Hive. Her trilogy is being released in a hardcover edition in advance of her latest Holmes novel this September. She is also one of the Baker Street Babes — don’t worry, she’ll explain that herself shortly.
Recently, I had a chance to get to know Amy a little better. Here’s what she had to say:
It’s great to meet you, Amy. Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I’m a knitter, reader, and avid music fan. I proofread and edit professionally, in addition to writing. One of my main clients is a court reporter, and I proofread a lot of legal transcription. Not only is it interesting, but hopefully it also hones my ability to write effectively in the crime/mystery genre.
Wow, we have a lot in common. I hardly know where to begin. Let’s stick to the subject at hand, though. You share my fascination with the enigma that is Sherlock Holmes. How did you first discover him, and what keeps you coming back?
I started reading Sherlock Holmes, the original stories by Doyle, at nine or so. I was intrigued by the strange and sometimes grotesque world of stories like The Speckled Band. Once I got a little older, a friend introduced me to Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, and I became aware of the wider world of pastiches and homage novels.
As an adult, I continue to be captivated by how much life is contained in brief stories, how much truth about human nature and the richness of friendship. I go back to both the Canon and subsequent works, and I continue to learn more.
Well said. What, for you, is the biggest challenge in writing a Sherlock Holmes novel?
I think it’s the voice. Most of my works are not in Watson’s voice because I think it’s extraordinarily difficult to capture well. I often write from Irene Adler’s first person perspective, and I’m always trying to hone things like expression and wording to capture both the uniqueness of who she is as a person and the fact that she is a woman of a certain time. Similarly, I want Holmes and Watson to “feel” like themselves, but not be mired down in too many Doylean tropes just for the sake of using them.
Period pieces always present challenges to keep the characters historically faithful but not so over-the-top into tropes that they cease to seem human. It’s an ongoing process to get better.
Like so many other Holmes’ fans, myself included, you are drawn to the women of the canon. Do you have a favourite among them? If so, who, and why?
I appreciate many for different reasons, but I continue to be intrigued by both Mrs. Hudson and Mary Morstan. These intelligent women are around the periphery for a huge amount of the Canon, and I would love to know all they’re seeing and thinking.
Of course, Irene Adler intrigues me enough that I’ve written a series about her. Some of the more lurid sorts of things writers come up with are not the angles that sticks out to me. I admire her as a smart, self-directed woman trying to survive and go after the life she wants.
Have you been tempted to explore writing other types of fiction? If so, what?
I have. I’m currently about halfway through a fantasy. It’s a novel-length re-telling of the Grimm fairy tale Allerleirauh.
Wow, that sounds amazing. And you also have a new novel due out at the end of the year. What can you tell us about it?
Before the new book comes out, the first three books in the series will be released in a hardcover edition. These books tell the story of Holmes and Adler meeting again after the events of A Scandal in Bohemia and forming a friendship that leads to occasionally partnering to solve cases. One takes place in London, one on the Sussex Downs, and the first in the towns of early Florida, populated by characters like Thomas Edison.
The new book will take Holmes and Adler back to Florida, to the islands, to investigate a mystery involving pirate treasure and organized crime.
You are one of the ‘Baker Street Babes’. Care to elaborate on what that means?
The Baker Street Babes are an international, all-female, Sherlock Holmes podcast. We cover everything from film, TV, and books, to anything else Holmesian. We have been featured in the London Olympics coverage, Cake Boss, shortlisted for a Shorty Award, and we have recently published a book called Femme Friday that celebrates women of the Holmes Canon and adaptations. We’re proud to continue producing episodes that celebrate the female geek perspective and highlight all areas of Sherlockian culture both old and new.
Who are your heroes, fictional or otherwise?
Sherlock Holmes is certainly high on the list. He’s a hero who isn’t always heroic, he doesn’t usually fit in, and he’s certainly not perfect. However, he uses his mind and abilities to accomplish amazing things. He’s an inspiration to all of us who feel like misfits, a reminder that the world needs our unique gifts.
Another one of my heroes is Dorothy Sayers, the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey, who also happened to be a Christian, a Sherlockian, and a feminist, all of which I am. Sayers wasn’t a traditional woman of her time, and she contended with being a very intellectual square peg in a time when women were expected to be quiet and fit in. In many ways, she lived a difficult life, but I admire her courage as a theologian and mystery writer, and I aspire to be even half as brilliant a writer as she was some day.
It was great fun getting to know you a little better, Amy. Any woman who is a fan of the Great Detective and the redoubtable DL Sayers is very cool, in my opinion. Best of luck with the release of the trilogy and the new book.
If you would like to know more about Amy Thomas’s work, check out her website here: Girl Meets Sherlock
You can also find the kickstarter for the hard cover release of her Irene Adler trilogy here.