Lyndsay Faye: Cap Off to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

photo: Gabriel Lehner

Lyndsay Faye is the author of five novels, including Dust and Shadow, featuring the inimitable Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. She returns to these beloved characters in the 15 stories in The Whole Art of Detection (Mysterious Press).

Lyndsay Faye has been reading Sherlock stories since she was 10. "I loved them," she says, "and then I never actually stopped reading them. Lacking the Internet, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I discovered there was such a thing as pastiches and fan fiction out there. Then I read as much of the non-canonical material as I could find--probably thousands of stories at this point, no joke.

All that absorption of matters Holmesian means I can tell within about two paragraphs whether a new story's voice is going to work for me. I wasn't trained as a writer--I was a professional actress. So I studied how to mimic syntax and accents and characterizations. At a certain point, I picked up a fresh new Sherlock Holmes paperback at Borders and thought, 'I could do that.' "

Her experience writing Holmes material gave her new sympathy for Arthur Conan Doyle "for occasionally being a bit repetitive." She explains: "Coming up with solvable but grotesque circumstances in which to land Holmes, over and over again, is extremely challenging. Doyle famously hated it. I've only done 15, not 60, and my cap is entirely off to him."

She's still writing in the genre, though, despite the challenges. "But," she notes, "I've started branching out into narrators other than Watson and Holmes--peripheral characters who knew them to varying degrees and offer a fresh point of view. It's the perfect way to challenge myself without leaving Victorian London. I'll never tire of the Great Detective and the Good Doctor." --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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