The Immortality of Sherlock: Interview with Leslie Klinger and Laurie R. King
(I had the pleasure of interviewing Leslie Klinger and Laurie R. King in advance of their collection In the Company of Sherlock, an anthology of stories inspired by the Holmes canon.)TSM: Tell us about the challenge of putting together an anthology; what’s the toughest part?
LK: In the case of this anthology, we had a long delay during the pendency of the court case. We ended up telling our contributors to “take your time” and then finally getting them restarted. Along the way, a few ran into unanticipated deadlines and had to drop out, so we got replacements. The good news is that we now hope to do a third volume with some of the stellar “drop-outs”!
LRK: One of the challenges is trying for a balance in the writers—not in the stories, since we have no idea what those will be like, but ideally we’re looking for an interesting mix of contributors: men and women, not just Americans, and people who write from cozy to noir.
TSM: What got you both interested in Sherlock Holmes?
LK: My interest began in law school (back in the Dark Ages) when I got a gift of the Baring-Gould Annotated Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been hooked ever since!
LRK: I came at the Sherlockian canon backwards: I was writing about a young woman with an extraordinary mind for detection—a young, female Sherlock Holmes—and found myself in a new world.
TSM: Who stands as the top television Sherlock?
LK: Jeremy Brett, in my view—fine acting, fine scripts!
LRK: Brett, definitely, for his note-perfect precision of the Holmes character. Although I do love the BBC take on Holmes—Cumberbatch’s energy is great fun.
TSM: What surprised you most about the submissions you received for the anthology?
LK: The variety of the stories—the writers were truly inspired!
LRK: Yes, it is amazing how one prompt—“Tell us a story inspired by Sherlock Holmes”—gives rise to such a diverse range of plots, places, characters, and insight into the human condition.
TSM: Why is the character of Sherlock so popular?
LK: I believe that the iconoclastic, rule-breaking personality of Holmes, the eternal outsider, is appealing to us individually and makes for fascinating stories.
LRK: Holmes is the knight-errant of the new age, armed with a magnifying glass, trained in the latest methods of scientific inquiry and modern criminals.
TSM: Any plans for another anthology?
LK: See above! I love working with Laurie, and my life would be empty without a project together! Laurie is also contributing to a new anthology that I’m co-editing with Laura Caldwell. Anatomy of Innocence (W. W. Norton, 2016) is a collection of true stories about exonerees by the exonerees as told to major writers. This came out of Laura’s work with Life After Innocence, a project at Loyola Law Chicago that she founded.
LRK: Les doesn’t know this yet, but I’m going to propose that our next collection be one in which clever and deserving criminals (preferably female) get the better of a Holmes-like character. We could call it A Scandal in Bohemianism.
TSM: Did you find that every crime writer you contacted was a Sherlockian at heart?
LK: Oh, yes—but it wasn’t random. There are clues. For example, Lee Child has frequently had Reacher reference Holmes, as does Michael Connelly’s Bosch.
LRK: Well, perhaps not every one—but certainly there have been enough to fill a long series of these collections.
TSM: What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes story written by Doyle?
LK: “The Blue Carbuncle,” a perfect combination of great friendship, great detecting, and a clever story set in the Season of Forgiveness.
LRK: I believe I’ve already given this away: Irene Adler’s sole outing, “A Scandal in Bohemia.”