A lifelong Sherlockian, Richard Ryan is the author of The Official Sherlock Holmes Trivia Book as well as a book on Agatha Christie trivia. His Sherlock Holmes novels, The Vatican Cameos: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure, The Stone of Destiny, The Druid of Death, and Through a Glass Starkly are available from MX Publishing, London.
What can readers expect from the Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery series?
Richard T. Ryan (RR): It’s odd that Conan Doyle set only A Study in Scarlet in 1881, and possibly “The Resident Patient”, although that is widely disputed. Adding to the enigma is the fact that none of the canonical stories take place in 1882. As a result, the authors had almost carte blanche when it came to subject matter. Several turned to the events of the day as linchpins for their stories while others created their narratives from whole cloth. The result is an engaging mix, in which even the most discerning Sherlockian should find something – hopefully, many somethings – that satisfy the desire for a new tale while at the same time posing a challenge for even the most ardent armchair detective.
1881 & 1882 are right at the beginning of the friendship between the doctor and the detective. Even though the stories in the anthology are written by different authors, do we get a sense of how the friendship developed over these early years?
RR: I hope the readers can see the evolution and development of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. In the stories told by our authors, you can see the pair as they try to come to terms with each other’s foibles. They also offer an insight into a relationship that will grow and mature into a friendship for the ages.
You have one of your own stories in the anthology. How was it different to be the editor of the anthology but also an author? Did the other submissions impact your stories?
RR: I have one story in 1881 – “A Matter of Taste.” For me, there was little difference since I’m always editing and writing simultaneously. In addition to the short story, I’m working on my sixth pastiche, but I’m also editing for other people. I know some people can’t read a Sherlock Holmes tale if they are writing one, but I’m very good at compartmentalizing, so the other submissions had no effect on me as a writer.
As the Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery series continues, there will be some time periods open to interpretation. First up will be Baring-Gould’s proposal of Watson’s time away in San Francisco in 1884 – 1886. Are you planning on incorporating some of these interpretations or will you stick strictly to the Canon?
RR: I hope that these books will adhere strictly to the Canon. It would be foolish of me to say I’m not going to consider something that deviates from the Canon, but there is going to have be a certain degree of justification for including such a piece.
What are some of your other upcoming projects?
RR: My sixth pastiche Three May Keep a Secret will be released on Nov. 29 from MX Publishing, and I’ve already begun work on the seventh. In addition to that, I’ll be collecting stories for 1883-1884 and possibly trying my hand at another children’s book, different from but similar to B Is for Baker Street.
Any last thoughts about Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery 1881 &1882?
RR: I’d also like to express my gratitude to all the authors who worked with me on this project. Without their efforts, there is no book to edit. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Jeffrey McKeever a shout-out for his outstanding covers. Finally, I’d like to express my appreciation to the folks at Belanger Books for trusting me with this project. It truly is an honor to be associated with so many talented people.
Look for more author interviews in the next project update, and if you haven’t backed Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery 1881 & 1882 yet on Kickstarter, you can by CLICKING HERE! And don’t forget to check out our other Kickstarter project from Belanger Books, The Essential Sherlock Holmes.