Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The New Adventure of the Two Collaborators

Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote the libretto for a comic opera with his friend James M. Barrie. The result was a disaster. Audiences stayed away in droves. Barrie satirized the situation in a Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Two Collaborators," which Conan Doyle considered the best of all the Holmes parodies.

Undaunted by this discouraging precedent in Doylean history, Kieran McMullen and I joined forces to produce our new Sherlockian novel, The Amateur Executioner. Here's how it came about:

In plotting novels, I first write a chapter by chapter outline. This gives me a road map and assures me that I have enough material for a novel, even though I adjust it as I go along. Sometime in the past few years, probably before my first Sebastian McCabe - Jeff Cody novel was published, I wrote the outline for The Amateur Executioner. I think I started with that intriguing title and made up a story to fit it.

As I went forward with the McCabe - Cody series, I kept revisiting my outline for a very different kind of book -- one including the older Sherlock Holmes as a character but not the main character. I kept thinking two things: that it was a good plot,and that I didn't want to do all the research. Then I thought of Kieran.

From Holmes Sweet Holmes onward, Kieran has been my go-to guy for any questions involving guns and police procedure. As a retired army officer, law enforcement official, and fire fighter, his breadth of knowledge on these subjects is encyclopedic. Once when I asked him a ballistics question he tested out the answer on the firing range in his basement!

Kieren also loves history and research, which is quite obvious in his own three novels that have now been collected in a single volume as Holmes and Watson: The War Years. So I sent him my outline and asked if he'd like to collaborate. He responded with a laconic "Let's give it a shot."

We did. It worked wonderfully. Whenever I asked a question that would help make the story more authentic ("What brand of cigarettes did T.S. Eliot smoke?"), Kieran usually came up with the answer in less than a day. He also did great work filling me in on the biographies of historical characters in the books, as well as the locations. He even helped me dress the female characters.

Kieran and I have met only once so far. We did all of our collaboration by e-mail and Facebook. I did about 95 percent of the plotting and about 95 percent of the writing, while he did about 95 percent of the research. He also supplied the wonderful photos that begin each chapter. 

The resulting book is very different from the ones that each of us has written before, and a book that neither of us could have written alone. And unlike the Conan Doyle - Barrie disaster, I think it was a successful venture that will be repeated.

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