Tell us about your latest
book, who is the main character(s) and what can we expect when we pick it up?
Because this book is nonfiction, there aren’t any characters in the conventional sense. These essays, however, focus on various aspects of Victorian England that are mentioned or appear in the original Sherlock Holmes tales. This book (and its predecessors) are full of interesting tidbits and trivia. For example, Holmes makes a reference to a monograph he recently completed on “segregation of the queen bee” in one case. I share about what this means and why it was important in beekeeping. Want to know more? Go to the next question.
Give us an out of context
quote from your book to warm our hearts:
“Segregating the queen to only one section, however, caused the rest of the hive to create more honey than required for the bee population. This separation was accomplished by putting a screen over the “brood comb” where the queen laid the eggs. The barrier’s holes were large enough to allow worker bees to pass, but too small for the larger queen.”
(Not sure how much it warms your hearts, but it certainly puts some trivia in your head.)
are some authors that you look for inspiration?
This is a hard one. For mystery/thriller writers, I enjoy Steve Berry, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, and Tess Gerritsen. Agatha Christie also does a great mystery with a host of suspects. I also discovered S.A. Cosby after hearing him speak at Bouchercon. I recently completed Razorblade Tears. The only word I have for it is “gripping.” I drove right past my exit while listening to it one day.
down below! What’s the first object you save?
This one’s easy! My computer! It has all my writing in it. (Really should back it up….)
Advice for newly sparking writers in three sentences or less:
1) Finish the manuscript. You can’t edit what’s not written down.
2) Find a writers’ group. Advice from others can be very insightful.
3) Keep reading, writing, and studying. Writing is a craft that can be learned and honed.
Which of your characters would you want to share a campfire with, and why?
Because this is nonfiction, I really don’t have any characters for the campfire. Sherlock Holmes would be a rather entertaining addition to campfire talk if you could get him started on one of his cases—especially one that was mentioned but never appeared in any of the volumes. “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” is always intrigued me. Just how giant was it? What did it do? Did Holmes have to kill it? And, when was he in Sumatra?
Tell us about what you are reading at the moment or anticipate reading in the future? Any new books you are looking forward to?
I’m about halfway through A Three-Book Problem. Ms. Delaney does a good job of creating a number of possible suspects who might have reason to murder the victim, and I keep wavering between them as to whodunnit.
Can you briefly describe your writing process for us?
When it comes to fiction, most writers will tell you they are either a “plotter” or a “pantser.” That is, some writers will develop extensive outlines before they begin writing. They know exactly where the story is going and how the characters will move through the plot—from beginning to end. I’ve even read of some who, given this approach, will be able to identify specific areas that need to be researched and complete that as well before writing the first draft.
I admire and envy such writers because I’m a complete pantser—someone who writes by the seat of her pants. I have no idea where I’m going until I get there, letting the characters lead me through the journey. I do know the end in a vague way. A mystery will have a solution. A romance, its happy ending. The world is saved in a thriller. I tend to write linearly—I start at the beginning and keep going. When I get stuck, I consider possible plot complications—the more perilous, the better. This requires me to stop at times to research something I never knew I needed to know about until then. At this point, I have to be disciplined to avoid the rabbit hole I mentioned earlier.
In the end, I have a hot mess (plot holes, too much/too little description, a plot thread that goes nowhere) that I have to organize into a coherent story—that’s where outlining and other techniques come in handy. But for me, the unexpected directions are just part of the joy of writing.
When it comes to nonfiction, I probably have a somewhat similar approach. Once I settle on a topic for the essay, I first describe where it appears in the original Sherlock Holmes mysteries. My next step is to research the subject, pulling out anything I think is relevant for the essay. Finally, I put this information in some sort of order. A few more revisions occur before the essay is to the point I think it is publishable.
What is next on your writerly horizon?
I am currently working on a new series set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. It’s going slowly because I’m still feeling out the characters. Once a draft is done, I’ll start on the fifth book in my “Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes” series. I have an idea in the back of my mind, but not ready to share it until it solidifies more.
Each month, I also prepare an essay (like the ones just published) for Sherlockian society newsletters. The last one was on hats. (Did you know men used to wear their hats in the office because it was considered a “public” place?)
Please share your links for readers to check out your books, social medias, etc. as well.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Liese-Sherwood-Fabre/e/B00810INE6
If you follow me on Bookbub and email me (email@example.com), I’ll send you a FREE Sherlock Holmes short story duet.
Bookbub link: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/liese-sherwood-fabre
The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 4
by Liese A Sherwood-Fabre
Be as smart as Sherlock Holmes!
Arthur Conan Doyle's original tales include many references to everyday Victorian life that are no longer part of current readers’ world. What Holmes would have eaten from a can while searching for the hound of the Baskervilles, Watson's enjoyment of a yellow-back novel, or the proper use of a gasogene would have been common knowledge to the Victorian contemporary but compels modern readers to run to the nearest reference book. These twenty-five short essays pull such items from the past and expand on their significance in the story. As an additional bonus, this book contains an essay on the role of scandal in Holmes; cases, originally appearing in a collected volume of essays on feminism and agency. After enjoying these concise treatises on Holmes’ world, readers will have a deeper understanding and appreciation of both the times and the life of the world’s greatest consulting detective.
Transgressions: Scandal in the Canon
The threat of scandal appears in almost a quarter of the tales in the Canon. In four of these cases, clients seek Holmes’ assistance to avoid exposure of a Victorian norm violation: three involve letters to previous lovers; the fourth, an attempted theft of an item entrusted to a banker. In the other ten, as Holmes solves the mystery, he uncovers evidence that, if revealed, would cause a scandal for someone entangled in the case. In many of these tales, the mere threat of such publicity is enough to force them to do another’s bidding (such as paying blackmail or changing a will). That committing murder is considered a better solution than suffering the negative public reaction to such revelations indicates the power certain Victorian social norms carried (and still do) within certain social strata.
While many behaviors may be unacceptable (stealing, for example), not all are scandalous, and even disreputable behavior can be tolerated under certain circumstances. Ari Adut in On Scandal: Moral Disturbances in Society, Politics, and Art defines the public experience of scandal as “an event of varying duration that starts with the publicization of a real, apparent, or alleged transgression to a negatively oriented audience . . .” Three basic elements must exist to form a scandal: the transgression, someone to publicize the offense, and a public who cares or is interested in the offense.
The danger of scandal played an important role in
maintaining proper Victorian social conduct, and in several of Holmes’ cases,
was suffcient to force some to break the law themselves—including murder.
Understanding what makes a scandal and why avoiding such exposure in Victorian
times provides greater depth and understanding of the motivation behind the
crimes Sherlock is called in to solve or prevent.
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Liese Sherwood-Fabre knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ in the second grade for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD, she joined the federal government and worked and lived abroad for more than fifteen years. Returning to the states, she seriously pursued her writing career, garnering such awards as a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest and a Pushcart Prize nomination. A recognized Sherlockian scholar, her essays have appeared in scion newsletters, the Baker Street Journal, and Canadian Holmes. These have been gathered into The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes essay collection series. She has recently turned this passion into an origin story series on Sherlock Holmes. The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife, the first book in The Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes series, was the CIBA Mystery and Mayhem 2020 winner.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Liese-Sherwood-Fabre/e/B00810INE6