Sorry, No Posts for a Month

23 Jul

I’m off to London on Monday for three weeks. :)

I hope to have lots of interesting experiences to blog about when I return.

Will be going to Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Hamlet” so you may see a review of that.  Hoping to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum as well.

Look forward to posting interesting things when I return.

Take care and be good. ;)

Introducing Improbable Press…

20 Jul

There is a new kid on the Sherlock Holmes publishing block, “Improbable Press” which specializes in romantic and erotic Sherlock Holmes fiction.  I got a chance to have an online chat with two of the authors, Atlin Merrick and Narrelle Harris, about the new publisher and the first books.

Q: What can readers expect to see from the new publishing company?  ATLIN: If you already read Narrelle M. Harris, Verity Burns, and Atlin Merrick…you can expect to see more of the same. Gleefully told mystery stories featuring John Watson and Sherlock Holmes — with the lovely addition that the boys are partners in all senses of the word, in bed and out. All the romance! All the erotica! And mysteries! And adventure! Also I need to cut back on the caffeine!  Q: Will the books appeal to traditional Sherlock Holmes fans as well as enthusiastic Johnlockers? NARRELLE: That might depend on how interested they are in the idea of Holmes and Watson as a couple. If they just don’t read the characters that way, probably not, but if they, too, have viewed the Conan Doyle stories has having queer subtext, or are open to the idea, I think so. The mysteries and crime solving are still a huge part of the books we’re each writing, whether they’re set in the modern day or, like mine, in the Victorian era. ATLIN: Do the books have to appeal to them? It’ll be great if they do — again, these are mystery tales for the most part, adventure stories — they also have romance. If folks like any of those things they should like these stories. Narrelle, Verity, and I already know that many, many traditional Holmesian enthusiasts also read romantic/erotic stories about these men!  Q: You all started out as fan fiction writers (I’ve read some of each of your Sherlock fiction BTW and enjoyed it) was it difficult to make a style switch from short stories to novels? NARRELLE: I think it may be a bit more complicated than that. I’ve been writing stories ever since I was little, but I first wrote fanfic about 35 years ago, in Blake’s 7 and Star Trek, mainly, but then I began to work on original stories. I’ve had six books published in the interim, a number of short stories and even a play. I also make a crust doing corporate writing. Atlin comes from a background of corporate writing too. I don’t know about Verity, but I imagine we’ve all come from a really varied background of what and how we write. I came back to fanfic in 2012 because of Sherlock, in part to find fun again, because I was having a debilitating round of writer’s block on a novel I haven’t actually finished yet, though it’s now fully plotted. I have written a LOT of stuff since then though, so it seems to have worked… As for the switch from short to long form – when I first wrote novels, that was a big change from the short works I’d been doing. Then I got into that stride and my attempt to write shorter works for publication was a challenge. But by then, the internet had happened and my husband and I were running an online theatre review site called Stage Left. I learned a lot about concise writing, and that helped with short story technique a lot. Now I switch fairly easily between short and long form, because it’s all about the idea I’m exploring and how much room it needs to unfold. Just recently I submitted a new novel to my usual publisher, Clan Destine Press, but also three short stories to three different anthologies. I’ve had one acceptance so far (though they’re still working through submissions so I’m not allowed to say which one yet) and I really hope at least one of the other two makes it, as I’m really proud of the story. I’m delighted you enjoy the Sherlock fic though. It’s been a fertile ground in which other projects have been growing. ATLIN: I’ve been writing professionally long before writing fan fiction, which is the case with many of us I think. I know quite a number of fandom writers who make a living with their writing—articles, books, business features, every sort of pen to paper. I think we all of us end up writing the fan fiction for the sheer joy of it. And if you wonder why so much of it is sexual, well there’s not yet enough sexually explicit anything geared toward women. Some of us can fix that! Q: What came first for you, BBC Sherlock or the original Sherlock Holmes stories? NARRELLE: Actually, Jeremy Brett’s Granada series came first for me. Until then, I was aware of Holmes – of course I was – but I thought the avuncular detective and a stupid sidekick were uninspiring. Along comes Brett and David Burke (and later Edward Hardwicke) and they were so sharp and fascinating, so textured and amazing. I went to ACD from there. I wasn’t sure I’d like a modern version, but I thought it was a great idea to try – and my husband and I both loved the first and second seasons. ATLIN: I read the stories when I was a little girl—I appear to be the only one who doesn’t love “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”—then saw the Granada series, but was subsumed under a tidal wave of adoration for all things Sherlock when I saw the BBC’s Sherlock. Q: What appeals to you about the Sherlock Holmes/John Watson relationship (with or without Johnlock goggles)? NARRELLE: With or without the romantic aspect, they have a great friendship and huge respect and loyalty towards each other. You sometimes wouldn’t think that Holmes respects Watson all that much, but if you read canon you can see how much stick they give each other. Watson takes opportunities to point out Holmes’s flaws as well as his genius. I like that they can have their deep friendship without having to agree on all things or like the same things. They are two individuals, but they fit together, they complement each other with their skills and qualities. When you go back to the stories, you see how playful and humorous they are in their discussions. They tease each other a lot, and laugh together all the time. It’s right down there in print. They have an easy friendship, and whether or not it’s spoken out loud, a very obvious affection for each other. They argue of course, and Holmes can be quite rude, but Watson rarely takes it very personally – and he lets Holmes know when he’s gone too far. Holmes invariably apologises if he’s caused Watson genuine distress. People tend to think of Watson as the conventional one, and he is more conventional than Holmes, but Watson himself comments on the Bohemian life they live – he was reading La Vie de la Boheme in A Study in Scarlet, and he also often notes that they both have a love of the bizarre. They have such a strong bond, and Watson is never jealous of or offended by Holmes’s intellectual superiority, and I think that’s a great lesson for people in self esteem and confidence. You don’t have to be just like someone else to be their great friend, or to love them. All you have to do is respect each other, and your differences, and see how well you can make those differences as well as the shared things work together. ATLIN: The canon is 600,000 words about a rare friendship. About two men who have crazy adventures together, sit by the fire, and who, though wildly different fit, fit, fit one another. Q: Can you give us a hint about the plots of the first few books to be released? NARRELLE: I can give you the idea of mine, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy. It’s set in 1893, and Watson is in mourning because not only his great friend has died, but Mary has just died in childbirth. He’s shocked to receive a telegram, apparently from Holmes, summoning him to Australia. It’s not a happy reunion. Watson is enraged and hurt beyond measure, but Holmes has his own unhappiness which had prompted him to leave in such a fashion. They’ll have to put their anger aside to solve the case and save lives, as they chase one of Moriarty’s surviving lieutenants through Melbourne and across Victoria. The identity of the ‘Colonial Boy’ is multifaceted, but I’ll leave that for the book. ATLIN: The Night They Met, like The Day They Met, will be stories of other ways the boys could have met, only these tales will have romantic twists and moody midnight settings. The Six Secret Loves of Sherlock Holmes will be John Watson’s narrative rectification of likening Sherlock Holmes to a machine—which he does in canon as well as in Sherlock. John will do this by sharing the story of six very different loves in Sherlock’s life (and yes, John is at the heart of this) showing not only Sherlock’s humanity, but how love made him the man he is. Q: Where and when will readers be able to purchase the books? NARRELLE: Mine is due out in 2016. I’m still writing it, so the exact date isn’t available yet.  ATLIN: The Night They Met will be available September or October 2015, with The Six Secret Loves of Sherlock Holmes following a few months later and any online purveyor will sell them—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookdepository. You can also buy them from the publisher directly, or the authors directly. Q: Will they be available in both paper and electronic versions?  NARRELLE and ATLIN: Yes, they will!

Great Australian Ghost Stories

30 Jun

Excellent book of Australian ghost stories, written by Richard Davis and published by ABC books.  Some of the stories are rather sweet, and others are downright bloody terrifying!

Where possible the writer has researched the background thoroughly, and several well known ghost stories are pretty much proved to be that, just stories.  On the other hand, others are not so easily explained.

The story of a Sydney medical student’s possessed laptop was particularly horrifying.  I actually had real difficulty settling down to sleep after reading it.

It was also scary, but not really a surprise, to discover there is a genuine haunted house only a couple of blocks from where I live.  The writer gave the street but not the number, but he didn’t need too.  I knew EXACTLY which house it is.  I’ve loathed going near the place since I shifted into the area.  It always makes me uneasy and uncomfortable.

Well written, and well leavened with humour, I cannot recommend this book to highly to those with an interest in this subject.

Might be a little hard to get for non-Australian readers, but for Aussies, Dymocks is currently selling it cheap, which is where I picked up my copy at the weekend.

Nights Out in London

24 Jun

It’s getting closer… in just over a month my London trip will be a reality.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I have a ticket for this year’s hottest London show: “Hamlet” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  However, in the last month my theatre going in London has gone from one show to three.

I am now fortunate enough to be attending “Constellations” starring Loo Brealey that is transferring to the West End for a run.

Then, to put the icing on the cake of my trip, I will also be attending the Proms concert at the Albert Hall – “Sherlock Holmes – Music of the Mind”.  To place a metaphorical cherry on top of this, Mark Gatiss is reading excerpts from the original Sherlock Holmes stories at this.

I know I had said to friends that one can’t go to London without going at least once to the theatre, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to go three times.

I would like to see Mark Gatiss in “Three Days in the Country”, but I think that would be stretching my budget just a little too far.

This trip is going to be magical.  I expect to come home with lots to blog about.

The Opposite of Life

17 Jun

“The Opposite of Life” is a fantastic dark urban fantasy/horror novel from talented author Narrelle M. Harris.

Lissa Martin is an intelligent, sassy librarian living in Melbourne, Australia.  After a break up with her boyfriend, her friend Evie takes her out clubbing.  Lissa finds two dead women in the toilets, the room awash with their blood.  Her nightmare is only just beginning, as it become apparent that there are vampires in Melbourne, and the body count is rising.

The main character of Lissa is sharp tongued, quirky, and genuinely likeable.  The other characters are well rounded and believable.  Lissa’s sister Kate is definitely worth a mention.  She’s the opposite of Lissa in so many ways, but it’s also easy to spot that they are sisters.

The vampires Narrelle has created are not sparkly Twilightesque annoyances.  These guys mean business and it’s a distinctly unpleasant business at that.

“The Opposite of Life” is loaded with dark humour, but, has moments of genuine horror that leave you wavering between deeply unsettled and totally creeped out.

No longer available new in paperback, “The Opposite of Life” is still available for Kindle via Amazon.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough.

Vale Sir Christopher Lee

11 Jun

I freely admit that I wept this morning when I came online to the news that Sir Christopher Lee had passed away.

As a young adult in New Zealand one of the television channels had what they called “The Friday Night Frights” where they screened classic Hammer horror movies.  I think I saw just about all of Sir Christopher Lee’s body of work for Hammer.  But his horror movie work was never my favourite.

There are three roles of his, however, that I will always love.

The first is Lord Summerisle in “The Wicker Man”.  The movie was chopped to hell and back by the editors, but you do get a better sense of the character from the book adaptation.  A strong man who is rapidly losing control of the situation.

The second is Rochefort in the 1973 adaptation of “The Three Musketeers”.  As Cardinal Richelieu’s henchman, Christopher Lee shone.  The movie itself is a star studded vehicle.  Sir Christopher himself, Charlton Heston, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Michael York, Roy Kinnear, Raquel Welsh, and Spike Milligan.

The third one is the one that will always remain close to my heart.  Mycroft Holmes in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.  This Mycroft was a departure from canon in that 1) He was skinny; and 2) He was not a minor functionary of the British Government… he WAS the British Government.

His Mycroft was sophisticated, urbane, witty, sarcastic, and acidic in equal measures.  His role with Sherlock is adversarial and he is always one step ahead of him.

Christopher Lee’s Mycroft captured my imagination in a way the canon version never managed too.  And not just my imagination, his wonderful portrayal was the inspiration for the modern Mycroft as played by Mark Gatiss in the BBC drama “Sherlock”.  I have to admit, I kept hoping Sir Christopher would have a cameo in “Sherlock”.  In my head cannon he was Mycroft and Sherlock’s grandfather.

I read Sir Christopher’s autobiography last year.  He lead a wonderful, exciting, and adventurous life.  I am glad that he chose to share it with us… in both his autobiography and onscreen.

Vale, Sir Christopher, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Sherlock in Love

24 May

“Sherlock in Love” by Sena Jeter Naslund is supposed to be the story of Holmes’ one great love and how he obtained his Stradivarius violin.

Nice idea, reasonable plot, but it would have helped if the author had actually read ACD’s original stories. In the story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, Arthur Conan Doyle himself stated that Holmes brought his stradivarius from a pawnbroker in the Edgeware Road.  That failure to keep to canon gave the book a major strike against it before I even began to read it.

I also found it hard to believe the great man of mind and intellect could be so swayed by emotion.

However, the plot fairly bounced along and was an enjoyable read in its own right.

The second stroke against it was, for me, the lack of chemistry between Holmes and Watson.  The characters felt more like polite friends than the tight bond of friendship seen in the books.

A non Sherlockian will no doubt enjoy it, but there are too many small niggles for a devotee to be entirely happy with the book.

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