Friday by Gaslight

So this week I got to see the fulfillment of a (nearly) lifelong ambition.

The only reason I say "nearly" is because I didn't know there were such things as Sherlock Holmes pastiches until Nicholas Meyer's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution showed up on my local spinner rack (the paperback one, that is, next to the comics one) back in 1975.

Once I knew they existed, though, I was ALL OVER that action. Within a few months I had a whole shelf of the things. I had discovered Nicholas Meyer's bestselling version of the Great Detective just in time for the little Holmes-revival boomlet that book started in the seventies. The older pastiche versions of Sherlock all came back into print and new ones were popping up like mushrooms.

Around that same time, I had discovered Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton series of books and Holmes was a major figure there as well.

Holmes was even showing up on the comics rack and I generally scooped those up too.

I'd been a fan of the Holmes stories since my mother had brought the Educator Classics Library collection home for me when I was eight. I loved that book; not just the stories, but also Don Irwin's wonderfully moody illustrations. Those drawings hit me so hard that to this day that is still how I see Holmes and Watson in my head when I'm reading.

That book was a gateway drug for me and by the time I was in junior high school in the early seventies I had read all of the originals. (I still have that book, though today it's surrounded by some eighty other Holmes-related volumes in our home library.)

The above is just a partial view. It covers about half of the Sherlock Holmes books here, I think; I've been accumulating them since I was fourteen. Between Nicholas Meyer and Phil Farmer, my inner Baker Street nerd was reawakened with renewed vigor in the summer of 1975 and it's been that way ever since. Finding all those OTHER Holmes books in the mid-seventies... it was a whole new voyage of discovery that's still going on for me, both in prose and comics. Right now I'm working my way through James Lovegrove's two new Holmes novels, The Stuff of Nightmares and Gods of War, both courtesy of Titan Books.

Enjoying them quite a bit so far. Mr. Lovegrove's narrative take on the 'voice' of Watson is a little off, but not nearly as much as some other attempts I have here on the Sherlock Holmes shelf, and the swashbuckling adventure Lovegrove has crafted for these books carries you over it.

I keep up with the various Sherlock Holmes comics, too... most recently it was Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London from Dark Horse.

It's set during the Hiatus when Holmes was presumed dead at the hands of Professor Moriarty. The script from Sylvain Cordurié was just okay, but Laci's art raised it a couple of notches. And I am a sucker for Holmes vs. vampires, have been ever since Scarlet in Gaslight back in the 1980s (which is still my favorite take on the idea.)

So all of this is by way of telling you I really dig Sherlock Holmes and I love the sort of Holmes pastiche industry that's blossomed over the last couple of decades. And naturally, as immersed in the stuff as I have been, I've played with a couple of story ideas myself.

Well, guess what? All that finally paid off.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Volume 6 came out just this last Wednesday, with stories by I.A. Watson, Michael A. Black, Alan J. Porter... and ME!

The one about the ghost of Moriarty mentioned on the back cover is my "The Adventure of the Infernal Inheritance." It's not really a ghost story, but rather a pretty direct sequel to Doyle's "The Empty House," pitting Holmes against a new organization rising from the ashes of the Moriarty empire and showcasing the villainy of Colonel Sebastian Moran. It's set about a year after The Return, for you Irregulars playing along at home. The interior illustrations are by Rob Davis, and that amazing cover painting up above is by Brazil's Pat Carbajal.

Yes, this is another 'new pulp' paperback from Airship 27 Productions. I've done several different projects with them that will be appearing over the next few months but I think this one may be my favorite, just because getting to write a real Sherlock Holmes story is such a bucket-list thing for me. The editorial dictate on these is "Don't re-invent the wheel, we're just looking for plain Sherlock Holmes stories in the classic style"-- which is to say, no vampires, no time travel, no meeting Jack the Ripper or Oscar Wilde or Sarah Bernhardt or whoever-- but I did sneak in a little bit of Wold Newtonry anyway. I can't tell you what it is because it'd spoil the ending, but it was the hell of a lot of fun to write and weaves together two Sherlock Holmes ideas I've been nursing since sometime in the early 1980s. The other guys did good stuff too-- I didn't get to see everyone else's until the galley proofs arrived a couple of weeks ago, but I really dug them, especially Alan's.

I hope you'll check it out. You can find the ebook version of it here for a mere $3.00, or you can shell out for the hard copy version at Amazon, here. And if you like it, tell your friends, leave a review on Amazon, spread the word on Twitter and Facebook or wherever. We're small-press so we don't really get into bookstores, it's all internet and word of mouth.

You might even want to look into volumes one through five, too, if you're a Holmes person. I have four and five here already; bought them just as a reader, long before I ever thought I'd get to contribute to the series myself. It's good stuff.

I gotta tell you, I'm grinning like an idiot typing this news; I love getting to be a published Sherlock Holmes writer. My only regret is that, although I love what Rob and Pat did... my inner eight-year-old is irrationally disappointed that Don Irwin isn't around to illustrate it. But that's just being petty.

See you next week.

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