Thursday, April 22, 2021

Raiders of the Lost Interview

 I just came across this, which I had almost forgotten about. This was an interview with a site which will remain unnamed, which for reasons unexplained they never published. So, hell--I'll publish it and you can still enjoy it. 



Hello Timothy Miller! As you're a relative newcomer to most readers of historical fiction, please take a few moments to introduce yourself. In particular, tell us about your writing background before you took on your first novel. 
 Well, I took on my first novel the summer after first grade, but I only got as far as ten pages, so perhaps that doesn’t qualify.
      [Note: these were the characters. Weird-O's, they were called.]

 I got serious after college with poetry in traditional forms, which I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn how to write compactly—which, when your favorite writer is Dickens, is something you really need to learn. Then somewhere along the way I drifted into screenwriting, which taught me plot and structure. (In case you’re wondering, I was a theatre major in college, not a creative writing major, which is why I had to teach myself all these basics—slowly and painfully.) Then I felt I was ready to take on a novel—not this novel, but a children’s fantasy novel (sort of The Borrowers on acid), which I still hope may see the light of day. Then I thought I was ready to take on this novel. 

 For years, many writers have created Sherlock Holmes "mash ups" featuring Holmes encountering a wide range of both historical and fictitious figures from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Why did you take the creative leap of having Holmes and Watson working on a mystery featuring the characters George Bernard Shaw created in his play, Pygmalion? And those of Robert Louis Stevenson? 
 My characters first bumped into each by accident other when I was teaching Italian in Milan. I had a young couple who were having trouble with English prepositions. There are something like six prepositions in Italian, and, if I recall rightly, about thirty-five in English, so you can imagine. So I decided to write a little fill-in-the-blank story centered around prepositions, and a detective story suggested itself. So there was Sherlock, well-known to even Italians, and a well-known villain, Hyde, and a well-known setting—27A Wimpole St., the home of Professor Higgins. I think in that one, Eliza murdered Higgins. The next twenty years were spent figuring out why my subconscious had suggested this particular grouping. 

 Tell us about the research you did to prepare for this story. Clearly, you explored a lot of details about London, the minutia of the time period, and, of course, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle canon. 
 This was a little different from your ordinary historical novel, because most—not all—of the characters are fictional. (Although Holmes, due to the fervor of his fans, who play the Great Game, is almost real, like the Great Pumpkin.) Probably the most important thing was simply to read and re-read the Holmes canon for one thing—Watson’s voice. I didn’t want a word out of his mouth that didn’t sound like him. Certainly I had to consult contemporary maps, and currency, and train schedules, and fashions and a thousand details which actually became more important for cementing a fully dimensional world. But I was awfully lucky in my research. Did I need a member of nobility interested in Eliza? I found that the prince of Bavaria’s wife had just died. Did I need something to delay a train? There had been a plane crash near Oxford and both airmen had lost their lives. It was like dealing with a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. 

 Beyond Doyle, Shaw, and Stevenson, Who have been your literary influences? As I mentioned above, Dickens above all. For big hearty scoops of shameless pathos and gut-busting humor, he has no peer. Certainly Nicholas Meyer, whose Seven Per-Cent Solution opened the world of Holmes pastiches to me (and to, I suspect, half the writers working in the genre). And then Italo Calvino, who taught me the virtues of lightness. 

 What is next for Timothy Miller? Clearly, you didn't set us up for a sequel, so we should all expect some non-Holmes surprises down the road? And where can readers go to learn more about your novel and learn more about you?

Actually I have another Holmes pastiche, set earlier, already taken by Seventh Street, and I’ve got a third in the oven—set later. After that, I think I’ll wander afield, although I have a couple of ideas which might include a cameo role for Holmes. Where can people go to learn more about me? Well, I’m a southerner, so I would say to drop by for coffee, but apparently there’s this pandemic thing going on, so that’s out. So I’ll try to keep folks up-to-date on my web page, https://www.thestrangecasesofsherlock.com/, and on Goodreads and Amazon. Thanks for reading!


Monday, April 19, 2021

Reading Club


Lynda Dillon is a woman of impeccable taste.



 

Susanna Clarke

"C. S. Lewis said that all of the Narnia books began with the image of a faun in a snowy wood, carrying parcels. Or I might start with a character about which I know very little, just one or two things (for instance that, as a child, he got lost in some Roman ruins). The important thing is that the idea, whatever it is, has roots, that it goes deep down into the imagination, into the unconscious. Because if it has roots, then it will, with a bit of watering and careful pruning, grow into something quite interesting."

–Susanna Clarke

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Shakedown, shake it up

 I'm instituting a policy of  once a month harassment for my favorite cause: First Book. This is where I attempt to shake you down to help fund what I consider is one of the most essential (and most neglected) needs for poor kids: books. Schoolbooks, school supplies, and books to call their own. First Book seeks equity in education through a network of educators, a market for low and no-cost books, research and most important: action. 


First Book reaches 5 million children annually, counts 500, 000 educators in its membership, and has thus far distributed 200 million books and resources. A good start, but so much more is needed. 


Today's young readers are tomorrow's informed citizens. If you can, consider giving.

To give, and for full information, click here or up on First Book in the navigation menu. Thanks.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Inspiration

I think I've come up with the plot for my next novel.

                                    Thanks to the great B. Kliban.
 

No More Cover-up

  I would like to unveil for you the cover of my second novel due to be released (tentatively) in January of 2022, The Strange Case of the Dutch Painter. I don't want to say too much about it right now. Suffice it to say that Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder of Vincent van Gogh.

That's right--I said murder.
May be an image of text

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Pinteresque

This time for sure!  I've come up with my million dollar idea. I'm going to start a new antisocial networking site I shall call Pinteresque, where everybody posts moody, meaningful silences. 

A Cautionary Tale

New Lagniappe story up, set in my dawlin' New Awlins. Check it out.



A snippet:
 

Pretty soon, though, some disturbing news filters its way down to Ed. The newspapers are full of it. Some society babe, apparently, last year’s queen of Comus, has had her house on St. Charles burglarized. Nothing missing, ma’am, except her shadow. This is a new one, even for New Orleans cops. They sit around scratching their heads and sipping hot coffee even in the heat, because that's what cops do.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Pup


 Something a little different: a great profile of yours truly by Jule Ward at Jule Ward Writes. Jule is an old Chicago friend as well as a formidable writer herself. Check out some of her blog posts while you're over there.

A snippet:

When it comes to writing, however, he likens his mind to a popcorn machine. “I can take a scenario and play a thousand different variations on that. It’s hell for solving real-life problems, but it works pretty well for fiction.”.

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.