I had a moment to chat with Wendy about her brand new novel – She had the crazy idea to write 50 different ways Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson met. It was quite the undertaking. So we talk about her new book and her passion for Sherlock Holmes.
Tell us about you? If you were going to fill in an online dating profile, describe yourself:
Wendy C. Fries is a crazy-haired writer who writes because it pays the bills but also because she loves it, it’s her hobby, her diversion, her pet in lieu of a cat or a dog or a unicorn. She’s New York-born, resident of and in love with London, and she thinks a five mile walk is just warming up. Adores almost all things Sherlock Holmes and quite possibly drinks far too many caffeinated beverages.
What was your first introduction to Sherlock Holmes?
Like everyone, I read the stories when I was a kid but all I can remember of those single-digit days was reading The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and wondering why on earth a snake would drink milk. I soon wandered from mysteries to science fiction, then was brought back into the fold with Granada and Jeremy Brett’s Holmes, then was baptised and found my true Holmesian lord and saviour in the BBC’s Sherlock.
Why do you think so many people are inspired by this character?
You know, I think people are less inspired by the eccentric, not-always-good-company Sherlock Holmes than they are by the friendship between him and John Watson. Combine those characters and suddenly you have adventure, intrigue, puzzles and, in the end, legends.
If you could be a fly on the way in any of the canonical cases which one would it be?
The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton because I think Holmes and Watson risk so much in that story. Also I’m utterly in love with the push-pull-give-take-serious-sass of the whole “You are not coming,” “Then you are not going,” exchange.
What inspired your book? Why 50 ways they met?
I wrote a story a few years ago where I said that there was no time or place where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would not have met. If it hadn’t been in a lab at St. Bart’s it would’ve been somewhere and somewhen else. Afterward a friend asked, “So, can you give me a for instance? An example of another way they could have met?” That was the genesis of The Day They Met.
Why fifty? It seemed like a good idea at the time.
What was the hardest thing to write when you were crafting the book?
I say it ‘seemed like a good idea’ because the only difficulty in writing the book was coming up with fifty distinct stories in seventy days (I was trying to get the book to MX Publishing before Christmas). I nearly committed seppuku by the time I was writing tale forty-two, and I could not have pronounced my own name the night I put the last full stop on the last story. Mercifully I recovered. Caffeine’ll do that for you.
Do you have a favourite scenario in which they met?
They are all my precious babies! You can not favour one baby over another! *Covers 50 sets of baby ears* I might love some babies a tiny bit more than others, including, in no particular order: A Curious Man, Chamber of Horrors, The Child is Father to The Man, The Moment Before I Am Powerful.
Are there any plans for a follow-up? If so, would it be another 50 ways or something different?
I hope to do a follow-up book called The Day After or something similar, expanding on twenty reader-favourite stories—basically twenty adventure tales of what the heck happened next. While people have been truly lovely in their reviews, most of the criticism has been that the stories are too short, so I’d love expanding on reader favourites. I’ve also got four other Sherlockian book ideas for MX Publishing, just in case.
As a writer yourself Luke, I’m sure you know the answer to the “where do you get your ideas” question is always, “It’s not where do I get my ideas, it’s how do I make them stop.” So yeah, I’ve got at least five books I hope MX might like!
What’s your favourite non-Doyle Sherlock Holmes story (book, film, tv, play, anything)
I think The Great Game, from BBC’s Sherlock, hews wonderfully to the spirit of ACD, as does Universal Studio’s The Spider Woman with Basil Rathbone.
Outside of Sherlock Holmes, do you have another favourite literary character, if so who?
I do quite like Valentine Michael Smith from Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, and Mr. Dark from Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, probably because both those books and their writers influenced me a lot growing up.
Hm. Now I’m wondering what would happen if these two other-worldly men—Valentine and Dark—met. You know, there could be a story in that…