Showing posts with label eliza doolittle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eliza doolittle. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Another Wafer-thin...











                                                                           Would you care for just one more wafer-                                                                                        thin...interview? About all three books?                    Maybe even one more?














Then check out my talk with three ladies named Dark, Stormy, and Night.
 

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Singapore Charlie

 If you've been following along, you know that I compulsively google my book to see how it's faring in the wide world. And one thing I've noticed is that it's available in a goodly number of libraries, probably due to my starred review in Booklist, which is apparently the Bible for librarians ordering books.

So I'm browsing through Google the other night, and I come across an entry that couples my book's title with the National Library Board. Well, that sounds impressive, so I click on that one--and sure enough, it is the National Library Board--of Singapore. Which has one copy--an ebook at that, for the enjoyment of the people of Singapore.

Now I will admit to you right up front that when I was writing the novel, my imaginary reader was not Singaporean. Which is, I suppose, a failure of the imagination. For there among the dusty e-shelves of Singapore sits my book, waiting for Singapore to discover it.

Let's assume, for the purposes of this fantasy, that Singapore has discovered it. Maybe not all of Singapore. Maybe, really, just one guy. He first came upon Sherlock Holmes when he was thirteen. He read the Canon in Chinese, and fell in love. So much so that he was determined to read it in the original English, so he learned the language backwords and forwords. His name is Charlie.

No, I don't know whether there's a single soul in Singapore (say that five times fast) named Charlie. I could do a little research and come up with a more appropriate name. Never do any research for your fantasies. It can only make them smaller.

So Charlie reads every Sherlock Holmes pastiche he can get his hands on, which is not many, because he doesn't make a load of dough and mainly has to depend on the National Library Board, which he has a fantasy of joining some day. Right now it consists of a dozen grim-faced old greybeards whose idea of good detective fiction is John Grisham.

Some day he'd actually like to write his own Sherlock Holmes pastiche. He figures Holmes made his way to Singapore during his three year hiatus. Maybe he worked the docks and secretly fought piracy for a year. At night Charlie can hear the creaking of

the wooden ships and the clash of swords. Maybe he had a sidekick he called Charlie, but whose name was really something far more appropriate.

But Charlie really latches on to my book. He's read it three times. He's told all his friends about it till they're bored to tears. He's even started a fan club, which has five members besides himself, four of whom don't know they're members, and one shy girl that he calls Irene. She really likes the book too--at least that's what she says.

Charlie would like to come to America, to meet me some day and shake my hand, maybe get an autograph. Maybe I would introduce him to my publisher (whom I've never even met) so he could show him his book, Sherlock Holmes and the Pirates. He's waiting to finish his book before he gets in touch with me. It could take a while, since he hasn't put down a word yet.

But he's got it all in his head. He's just letting it come to a boil. Keep an eye out for Charlie Singapore in your bookstores. Thank you, National Library Board.



Monday, April 12, 2021

The Power of Voice

 Here's a link to an excellent column by Patricia MacEnulty of the Historical Novel Society called The Power of Voice in Historical Fiction.

Here's a snippet:

"I start by asking the character, what’s going on? What is she worried about? How does she feel about the situation she finds herself in? And most importantly, what’s she going to do about it? Usually I’ll get some kind of response. Sometimes the answer is a complete surprise."

Good stuff, eh? Okay now: the paragraph I didn't quote?--is some very nice words about my novel. What restraint on my part! How modest! How self-effacing!

Go READ it already.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Reader's Club

Some kind words from:

The Cozy Tea Cottage
A place to enjoy a cuppa, a little nibble, read a good book, or solve a puzzle.                                                                        
             
                                                                                           cozy_tea_cottage 

What are you reading? I've just finished this thoroughly enjoyable mystery from Timothy Miller and Seventh Street Books. It's a wonderful collaboration of characters from two classics. 

 What if Eliza Doolittle was never actually transformed into a proper lady? What if, instead, she was replaced? And if so, what happened to the real Eliza Doolittle? 

 Well, that's what Colonel Pickering has asked Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to find out. And along the way, the story is joined by some of my other favorite historical characters (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, what have you been up to?) 

 If you enjoy historical fiction, a good mystery, and spending time with some interesting characters, you'll love The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle!

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Moriarty's Ghost

 "I am not a fanciful person, but I give you my word that I seemed to hear Moriarty’s voice screaming at me out of the abyss." 


In all the annals of Sherlock Holmes, there is only one recorded instance of him personally taking another life...Moriarty, mano a mano, at the Reichenbach Falls. This is well l known.

What isn't known is how Holmes felt about causing that death?  (I know, the unfeeling Mr. Holmes. Hogwash.) Certainly it was self-defense. But certainly it was premeditated. And he watched the man plunge to his death. Never to face justice. How did that make him feel?

I think it shocked him to his core. I think he felt insupportable guilt and shame. So much that he could not face his beloved London for three whole years. What else could explain his decision to abandon his beloved London to the predations of the criminal underworld? Fear for his life? Please. Does that sound like Sherlock Holmes, who had always faced danger head on? And with the trials of Moriarty's confederates ongoing? Would he not be needed as a material witness?

No; Holmes was undergoing a crisis of the soul. Where did he go? The first name he mentions is Florence; no doubt he continued on to Rome. Then he treks to Lhasa, to meet with the Dalai Lama. From there he goes on to Mecca, no easy task for a city forbidden to unbelievers. If he followed in the path of Sir Richard Burton. he must have spoken at least passable Arabic. Then he pays "a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum." This would have been Abdullahi ibn Muhammad, the Sudanese ruler who had taken up the mantle of Mahdi, the Islamic messiah, upon the death of the original Mahdi, Muhammad Ahnad.

Can there be any doubt that Holmes was seeking solace in a variety of what were (to him) a series of exotic religions? 

As for his "several months "studying coal-tar derivatives" in Montpellier, I think Holmes was withholding the truth, that he in fact had unfinished business in Montpellier with a French cousin. (For more about this cousin and the reason he mentions coal-tar derivatives, you'll have to wait for my next novel, The Strange Case of the Dutch Painter.)

But none of these ploys offer the peace he seeks, and he finally decides, as he counsels Watson, that "work is the best antidote for sorrow." and turns his face toward home. Yet he has not given up on his spiritual quest entirely. What book does he drop in front of Watson? The Origins of Tree Worship-- seeking answers in his native British Druidism? This, for a man who'd espoused his admiration for the writings of William Winwoode Reade, an avowed atheist, was quite a journey.

But would he have been able to reveal himself to Watson, if not for his accidental meeting with his associate that morning at Park Lane? Perhaps not--not because his affection for Watson had lessened, but because of Watson's role as his public chronicler. He no longer wants the public's eye upon him. He forbids Watson from publishing any new reports, and lays this injunction upon him for a full ten years before he relents.

Did Holmes ever come to terms with the death of Moriarty? In The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle, I introduce a pet raven to Holmes's retirement--a raven named Moriarty.


But you'll have to wait for my third book (in the works now) The Strange Case of the Pharaoh's Heart, to see whether Holmes at last comes to terms with the blood of Moriarty on his hands. 

Until then.


Sunday, April 04, 2021

Missed Opportunity?

 Let me get this out of the way: I hate to criticize, so let me just say after one episode that Netflix's The Irregulars is not my cup of tea. It's not your cup of tea. It's not a cup of tea at all. More like a cup of treacle, if I had ever tasted treacle, which I haven't, and I do not intend to test my simile.

But among its many apostasies from the Canon, one struck me. 


Girls

Girls in the Baker St. Irregulars.

And why not? Although Doyle only mentions boys, that doesn't actually preclude the possibility of girls in the group. He mainly refers to them as street arabs (a term which I suspect has fallen out of favor in our more enlightened times). And even if Holmes specifically required boys, who's to say that a young girl dressed as a boy wouldn't have escaped his notice? He wouldn't have strip-searched them. I think he left recruiting details up to Wiggins.

So why, pray tell, couldn't a motherless, nearly fatherless, ragamuffin girl of the streets been a member? 

A girl named Doolittle.

Eliza Doolittle.

Now, if this possibility had occurred to me when writing The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle, would I have incorporated it into the book? Very possibly. It would be hard to resist. How much or how little would it have changed the telling? I'd hate to speculate here, because even speculation would require innumerable spoilers. I'll let you rewrite in your minds, as you're reading or re-reading the novel. And let you mull over the road not taken.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Sly Homage

 By the way, there are two vehicles which figure prominently in The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle: Morello's Moreau-Lepton, and the Widgeon Seven which Holmes commandeers late in the action. If you are a stickler for historical detail, you might try to get a peek at one of these autos online. Alas, you will find no pictures of either. They never existed. Well, they did exist. But only in literature.

arsene lupin

"Ah! I must confess that in rolling over the boulevards that surrounded the old Norman city, in my swift thirty-five horse-power Moreau-Lepton, I experienced a deep feeling of pride, and the motor responded, sympathetically to my desires."



"Well, you may say that sacking, considered in the light of a bed, isn't everybody's money, and in saying so you would be perfectly correct. But after half an hour in the seat of a Widgeon Seven, even sacking begins to look pretty good to you."
thank you jeeves

You see, the Moreau Lepton was the car of famed burglar Arsene Lupin, while the Widgeon Seven was the two-seater so beloved of famed fat-head Bertie Wooster. The two cars existed only in the imaginations of authors Maurice LeBlanc and P.G. Wodehouse, whom I wanted to give a nod to, and so continue the proud tradition of fictional automobiles.



Sunday, March 21, 2021

"What a Fool I Was"

 If you're looking for the magical happy ending from My Fair Lady, you won't find it in my novel. Nor will you find it in Shaw's original play, Pygmalion. Instead you will find this:


"This is where the play gets interesting. Once Higgins wins his bet and completes Eliza’s transformation, she is stuck between two worlds. She can’t to go back to selling flowers and she doesn’t want to be Higgins’ secretary — or worse, his wife. At the end of the play, after an enormous battle of wills, Eliza decides to strike out on her own. “If I can’t have kindness, I’ll have independence,” she declares.

Then, according to Shaw’s final stage directions, Eliza "sweeps out."

This is from an excellent article from The Worldwhich I link to here, because it explains far better than I can. But think of Pygmalion as Shaw's version of Ibsen's A Doll's House. At the end of that play, Nora slams out the door: the slam heard round the world. Now imagine that Nora had come back in the door and given Torvald a big romantic kiss. You'd have never heard of A Doll's House.

But in Shaw's case, everyone conspired against him. The actors, the director of the movie version, and certainly the producers of My Fair Lady, to soften the blow. Think of Eliza's last words in the film before the ending:

"Goodbye, Professor Higgins. You shall not be seeing me again."

Now that is Shaw's sentiment. But Lerner and Loewe had a killer song up there sleeve and a shlocky, if winning, romantic ending to tag on, which directly denies Shaw.

Now, in the ending of my novel...you don't really think I'm going to tell you the ending, do you? To paraphrase Eliza, 

"What a fool, I'be, what an addle-pated fool."



Friday, March 19, 2021

Suffragette Prison

 Holloway Prison, the largest women's prison in Western Europe until its closure in 2016, was famous for housing prominent suffragettes.




                                                                          --The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Brunswick Wharf

 


                                                                       --The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle



Monday, February 01, 2021

Dancing Men


 I decided I should give you a little sample of my novel, The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle, to whet your appetite. This is from the first paragraph. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

An Excerpt from Doolittle

Here's a quibble with Amazon for Kindle. If you want a little taste of the writing. you can download 20 or 30 pages, the beginning of the book, which is cool. Except that's not the way I pick out a book. I open a book to a random page and read a little snippet. Then I open it to another random page, further along in the book, and dip down again. And so on. That way I can be sure all the good parts aren't stuffed into the first chapter.
So I'm going to give you the chance to check out my book in that same way. i'm going to give you some random snippets. I hope they'll whet your curiosity.
"And there were certain cases, no more than a handful, of such bizarre aspect and puckered logic that he simply could not resist the temptation to wade back into the black cesspools of London’s vast criminal underworld."
"Holmes and Pickering were alone in the dining room when I arrived, but no revelations were forthcoming. “Still expecting conjuror’s tricks after all these years, Watson?” Holmes scolded. “I’m not a calculating chicken."
“I’m a detective is what I am,” said Wiggins proudly. “But the kind of detectin’ I do, Mrs. Brown is as valuable to me as Mr. Holmes’ magnifying glass were to him.” He opened up his bag and produced a small leather case, which held a Brownie camera. "
“Ah! You’re unaware of the case of Susan Wallace?” asked Newcomen, glad to have news to share. “We’ve just laid our hands on her. Murdered four men in a pub down by the docks, she did. Middle of the afternoon.”

“Of course he’s mad. Most aristocrats are mad. In the German states it’s practically a prerequisite. I was Freddy’s second." 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Three dates, three sites, three murders.

Three dates, three sites, three murders:
1890, Auvers-Sur-Oise, France
1912, London, England
1923, Cairo. Egypt 

(Actually, there are plenty more murders)

Three of Sherlock Holmes's most puzzling cases, unearthed for the very first time. 
 
The first, coming in January, 2021, is 
The Strange Case 
of Eliza Doolittle 
from Seventh Street Books.


Two will die

But who? Or whom?

Could it be one of these familiar names?

 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Who Gets Offed? (Part 2)

Now where was I? Oh, yeah could it be one of these stalwarts who loses his life?



                 Or is that really their names?