Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Mortality to Reichenbach

As you FF.N readers will know, the last chapter of Mortality has been uploaded. Even with the climax past, there was enough room for some treats in the final chapter, particularly one face-off that I just have not seen in fanfiction. (Yes, you will have to go read the chapter to find out who the players are.)

And I’ve actually had the epilogue sitting on my hard drive for a few days now (muchas gracias to Riandra for her encouragement to go ahead with the rather different style!). The title is simply “War,” regarding The War That Never Was between Scotland Yard and Moriarty’s empire (or family, as it would have been called at the time). The whole thing is written looking towards what is inevitable—or, in the terminology of the piece, “Reichenbach.” I’ll be uploading it soon, and I am so excited.

As a side note, the epilogue rounds the current total word count off to 80,000 words. Officially, the longest work of fiction I’ve ever written. And with all the bonus material coming, I think I can look forward to a final total of 90,000, at least.

Now for a shout-out. I started out last week with definite depression, for a variety of reasons and no reason at all. (I am an artist; this, sadly, is my definition of “normal”.) Someone on FF.N helped not only to pull me out of depression but also to pull me back in to Sherlockiana, in general. Azolean. Azolean started off my week by reviewing a couple of my Sherlockian fics and going so far as to buy AMM off of Amazon.


Now, if it had ended right there, it would have been really cool. But this person went further than that, going on to pick up Mortality and review the entire thing chapter-by-chapter.

Yes. Seriously.

In one week.

It was fantastic. It was one of the best things that had happened to me in a long time (alongside finding out that a certain idol of mine was actually reading the book, as well). Let’s rate it up there right below being introduced to Doctor Who (as far as great things this summer go). Yes, really!

I was practically living from review to review, and I truly missed the reviews when Azolean had gotten to the last chapter. But what an uplifting experience! Everyone loves getting praise on their stories, and even something simple, along the lines of “I loved this!” can be encouraging. But Azolean, despite reading the entire thing in a week, took the time to praise details (and sometimes criticize, and even that was very respectful and very welcome).

It was absolutely magnificent.

So borne up on a wave of glorious feedback, I actually went on to type out the prologue for The Road to Reichenbach. In fact, I’ve even started the first chapter! As I told Ria in answer to a question on the prologue, 90% of the dialogue is Canon, most of the body language is Granada or Granada-based, and then all the introspection is me.

Mortality is the book that I’ve been wanting to do since halfway through AMM… and Road is the book that I’ve been wanting to do since halfway through Mortality.

Road has also been, by far, the most difficult book of the three to plan. AMM was so easy—short, character-centric pieces. Quite often, I was churning out two or three in a day. From beginning to end, half a year… and only four months were actually spent in intensive writing and editing. Mortality, on the other hand, has always had a pretty loose outline, with plenty of room for improvisation. I knew the general direction I wanted the story to go, and I kind of gave the characters free rein.

In fact, the one time that I didn’t was the time that the entire thing had ground to a halt smack-dab in the middle. I then backed up and rewrote a few chapters, and moved on. The epiphany, the element that kept the book going from that point on, was Watson. Watson wanted to be the hero, and, seriously, who was I to deny him? The rest you readers know: Watson’s search-and-rescue operations make up Act II of the story.

Anyway, Mortality is a fairly-straightforward story. It needed more plotting than I’ve tried to give a story in a long time, but, even so, it’s not very complex. Its real strength lies less in plot (surprise, surprise) and more in characterization, not merely of Holmes and Watson, but of Lestrade, Mycroft, Wiggins, Moriarty, Moran…

And while I’ve been excited about The Road to Reichenbach, I’ve also been frustrated and worried. Think about it: Holmes has an ostensible plethora of cases that keep him in France from early January to late April. Plus, in FINA, he describes the past few months thus:

“[I]f a detailed account of that silent contest could be written, it would take its place as the most brilliant bit of thrust-and-parry work in the history of detection.”

You do see my problem, right? I still can’t write a mystery to save my life, and Mortality was hard enough for me to figure out, at times. How in the name of all that’s wonderful was I supposed to try to match that kind of genius vs. genius?

Bottom line: I couldn’t. I don’t have the mindset required for that kind of story. Which was what I knew all along, and I was trying to force myself to do something I knew I couldn’t manage. Well, that’s pretty self-destructive, isn’t it? So I stopped. I stopped and remembered my strength.


January to April 1891 needs someone who can really do that “silent contest” justice. That person is not me. However. However, I can do the characters justice. Yes, we’ll still see Holmes in France. We’ll get to see some of what he’s doing. And we will indeed be seeing the build-up to the infamous Monday mass-arrest.

Honestly, I think the Yarders are going to be much stronger characters in Road. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Bradstreet, Hopkins, and MacDonald—and, of course, more of Gregson. Morton, I can’t speak for just yet. But I expect we’ll see him, however large or small his role is.

Thus far, my chapter outline has seven chapters to detail events that Doyle depicted in one short story. It will probably grow as I reach that point. Honestly, the entire thing is really even more open for improvisation than Mortality, and it’s both scary and exciting. I’m not entirely sure where this road will take me, but I can’t wait to find out.

And now that I’ve gotten you all excited for The Road to Reichenbach, let me just remind you… Mortality still isn’t finished. There’s a lot of editing to be done. And that’s my first priority, up until I submit it for publication.

Next up, a review of Daniel Smith’s Sherlock Holmes Companion. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


As I said in my very first post on the aforementioned site, I have fallen to the Dark Side. Oh well. I do consider it something of a sister site to this blog, as they share their name. It will mostly be Sherlockian stuff, but don't be surprised at the random cute or pretty pic, or Tolkien, or Doctor Who. Or Star Wars...

Don't worry, it will still be mostly Sherlockian, I promise.

By the way, just out of curiosity... is anybody still reading this thing? I know I had a terribly long hiatus, and for that, I sincerely apologize. But, seriously, is anybody out there?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Infernal Device: The Professor, the Detective, and the American

First off, just let me apologize for the massive delay in updates. It's shameful, I know. I can attribute some of the causes to stress and preparation for college, but the sad fact is that a good chunk of the delay is sheer procrastination. And I am so sorry. Here's hoping that I can keep up blogging when I start college in September, eh?

Ahem. About two months ago (more delays, yes), my grandma took me, my cousin, and my cousin's friend out to see a stage adaptation of Michael Kurland's The Infernal Device. I can't tell you how excited I was. My first Sherlock Holmes play, and Michael Kurland to boot! I still have not yet read his Moriarty novels, but I'd known about them, and now more than ever I'm eager to get my hands on the series.

Unfortunately, the time given on the website was not when the play actually opened. Fortunately, we were only ten to fifteen minutes late. Unfortunately, the play was only an hour long. Fortunately, we were still able to pick up the story quickly.

And unfortunately - did I mention my tongue is in my cheek right now? - I didn't have the chance to look at the program before we got to our seats. Which was why I didn't realize that there were only five actors, and, no, that goon with the bad guy wasn't actually Holmes in disguise - it was only Holmes's actor. It got pretty obvious, though, that there were only five actors when the same redheaded actress kept popping up: she played several different women in the play.

I really enjoyed the artistic side of the production. The lighting, steam, and sound effects were quite, well, effective, and I could go on a rant about how they handled props and background. Specifically, the background was pure black. No painted scenery. I loved it. Because then the actors brought in the props - a desk, a streetlamp, a bed, the helm of a boat - whatever was necessary for the scene, and removed them at the end of each scene. Except for an attic-style pile of items which remained onstage the pretty much entire time, if I recall correctly, and they typically completed the image. Your imagination was allowed to fill in the blanks, and I love that.

As for the story itself, well... here be spoilers.

Holmes is getting obsessive with Moriarty. Let's get that out of the way right now. And this is not actually a story about Holmes, nor is it entirely a story about Moriarty. Let's get that out of the way right now, too.

In fact, an American journalist and a Russian anarchist really steal the show, the former with his competency and wittiness and the latter with his deliciously over-the-top psychopathy. Benjamin Barnett, the aforementioned American, is not the type of man you'd expect to hook up with Moriarty, but neither is Moriarty exactly the cold, frightening villain of "The Final Problem," either of the Canon or of Granada. (Yes, I'm sorry, I had to say that.)

Moriarty is still the Napoleon of Crime, but he does have a sense of honor and patriotism. And he's really quite long-suffering of Holmes's not-always-justified persecution in this story. So much so that they end up working together to foil an assassination attempt on Victoria. Oops, major spoilers. Oh, well, I didn't tell you how it ended, did I?

I think I'm developing a snarky blogging style here. Fun. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, off on a tangent.

Did I mention that the villain of the story was deliciously over-the-top? Well, it bears repeating. He was delightfully insane. My grandma and I were later, for lack of a better word, gushing over how funny he was and how brilliantly the actor pulled it off.

And I really enjoyed Barnett. He was solid, dependable, honorable, and more than willing to help Moriarty out in working against their Russian antagonist. Wonderful character.

I'm afraid that two months have really blurred my memories and impressions, and I apologize for not blogging about this sooner. Really. But at least I can finally get my thoughts out now. It was fantastic fun, and I really hope The Acting Ensemble will perform this play again. It was a different and wonderful look at the Great Detective and the Napoleon of Crime.

Next time, some updates on Mortality and its sequel, The Road to Reichenbach. Stay tuned!