Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interview with Ann Lewis on Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Today I have a guest blogger, my good friend and fellow Pious Lady Debora Hosey. Debora is an inveterate lover of all things Sherlockian. She will be posing questions to Ann Lewis about her book Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes.

Debora Hosey discovered Sherlock Holmes nearly fifty years ago when a teacher had to find a way to entertain chorus members at a night-time Christmas concert when they were slated to be the final act...she read them "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" by flashlight -- and to this day, Debora continues to be thrilled by the Master Detective...

Debora is a writer of poetry and short fiction, an online reviewer, a mother of two /grandmother of four, and a lector at St. John's-Holy Angels parish in Newark, Delaware.

1. How did you come to write about Holmes?
I fell in love with Holmes in high school. In college, in one of my re-readings of the Canon, I saw the reference to the “sudden death of Cardinal Tosca” and I wanted to write it in the worst way. However, I didn’t have the writing ability to tackle the project. I put the idea aside, then 20 years later when I was moving I found my notes and realized that I’d grown enough as a writer to give it a shot. That and the fact that Holmes is mostly public domain inspired me to give a shot now.

2. The three stories are vibrant and rich in detail. Did you do a lot of research before writing...and did anything surprise or startle you?
I did a lot of research – much with primary source material when it came to Pope Leo. One fact that surprised me was that so many facts of history just fell into place for me. The fact that the Catholic Cathedral was finally being built at the right time, the fact that Leo was ordained the same year that Victoria became queen, etc. Research added the flesh to the bones of my original story ideas.

3. Did you reread any of the stories to help you prepare writing your book? Do you have a favorite Holmes story?
I reread the Canon over and over while I wrote, and actually did “word searches” through the digital text to see if a word had been used by Doyle. And I like too many of the stories to say I have an absolute favourite. “Scandal in Bohemia” comes to mind as does “Red Headed League.” But I think “Hound of the Baskervilles” will always be the one closest to my heart because it was the first one I read.

4. What's been the reaction of Sherlockians regarding the religious nature of the stories? I would guess that the non-religiously inclined would embrace the more traditional "The Second Coptic Patriarch." I loved "The Death of Cardinal Tosca," and especially, "The Vatican Cameos." By the end of the latter, I was hoping for more Leo XIII stories! It was especially delightful meeting up with Fr. Brown in two of the stories...

I’m glad you liked Papa Leo. I loved him, too and I would love to write some stories with him as the star. Not sure how well they’d go over. We’d have to see. However, in the Sherlockian community you have a nice mix of folks. I’ve received compliments from most people, even those who are atheists. One in particular, an atheist, read the book twice and he doesn’t like pastiches…which made me so very happy.

5. Sherlock Holmes is making a comeback these days...what do you think the appeal is?
He’s a classic. He’s a unique character that everyone likes to copy (Dr. House, for instance). He’s got a whacky personality and he’s exciting to read. And his buddy is just as fun (Dr. Watson). What is there not to like?

6. If you could ask Arthur Conan Doyle one question about Sherlock Holmes, what would it be?
Why didn’t you realize what a wonderful thing you’ve created? Doyle hated Holmes and felt he took too much attention away from his “greater works” of historical fiction. But when you create something whose popularity spans more than a century, he has to realize he created something amazing.

7. Do you plan on future Church Mysteries or Holmes stories?
Holmes stories, yes. I have one book written called The Watson Chronicles that I must find a home for. It’s a novel in stories about Watson (but Holmes is a BIG part of it, of course).

8. Finally, what would you like for readers to come way with after reading Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes?
I would hope that they simply had a lot of fun reading the book. That’s the primary reason I wrote it—so that people can have an enjoyable read.

1 comment:

Rae said...

Hey, Murder in the Vatican has wond the 2011 IPPY award for Best Religious Fiction. Buy it now! (Handy dandy links on the right of this blog.)