I'm trying to remain calm. Trying really hard. Honest :-)
Laurie R. King writes mysteries, including a series about a pair of detectives named Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. (You're starting to see why this interview fits with this read-along, right?) I absolutely adore her writing, and The Beekeeper's Apprentice is one of my top ten favorite books of all time. She brings Sherlock Holmes to life in a way that thoroughly delights me, and I heartily recommend her Russell/Holmes books to anyone who enjoys reading good mysteries.
Something too much of this. Time for the interview!
Me: You worked The Hound of the Baskervilles into your Russell/Holmes book The Moor. You haven't used any other canon stories to such a degree -- what is it about Baskervilles that made you want to build your own mystery around it?
Laurie R. King: The Hound of the Baskervilles is such a gorgeous novel: mystery, spookiness, romance -- and Sherlock Holmes! Even Dr Watson gets to show his best side here, which isn't always so in the stories. When I first went to Dartmoor, it was a sunny June day, with cheerful sheep, perky little ponies, and hikers all over: really not what you think of when someone says, "Dartmoor." But the next time, it was October. Everything was dripping including the sheep, the ponies were glum, there was both heavy fog AND a strong wind. Now, it's not that I like to torment my characters, exactly, but… shall we say, Mary Russell has yet to travel to a nice warm vacation spot.
Me: Do you revisit any particular canon stories for inspiration when you're writing a new Russell/Holmes book?
LRK: It depends on what I'm working on. For the pair of books about Damian Adler, for example, I took a close look at "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Adventure of the Empty House," as well as several of the stories that touch on Holmes' attitude toward women, such as "Copper Beeches" and "Solitary Cyclist." For The Moor, obviously I pored closely over The Hound of the Baskervilles and "Silver Blaze."
Me: How old were you when you first encountered Sherlock Holmes? Did you read the stories or see an adaptation first?
LRK: I must have read a couple of stories when I was young, probably Hound and "The Speckled Band," but I didn't start reading them methodically until I began writing the Russell stories. The Jeremy Brett series was being televised at about the same time, so I suppose my print and film immersions were about simultaneous.
Me: Do you have any favorite filmed adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles?
LRK: In fact, I did love the recent re-telling in the BBC’s Sherlock, "The Hounds of Baskerville." The entire series approaches the Sherlockian canon with marvelous creativity, mixing a deep respect for the stories with a bold iconoclasm. Newcomers to the Conan Doyle stories view the BBC productions simply as great tales; those who know every detail of the originals can delight in the twists, references, and word plays.
Me: What draws you to the mystery genre and makes you want to write mysteries more than some other form of fiction?
LRK: I wrote a short piece for the Edgars Annual some years back on precisely this question (link), concluding: Why the mystery? Because it's human.
Also, the latest Russell/Holmes book, Dreaming Spies (number thirteen!), will be coming out in February. I'm eagerly awaiting its release, as you might imagine. You can read more about it here.
I hope you've enjoyed this interview with Laurie R. King -- I know I still get all tingly and bouncy when I realize that this happened for real :-)