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.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Finding the "Essence" of Sherlock Holmes

Another of the great speakers at Holmes, Doyle, & Friends is Liese Sherwood-Fabre, who has written both pastiches an many essays on Victorian topics. Let's ask her a few questions:

How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?

I can’t truly pinpoint when I first met Sherlock Holmes. I know I used to watch the old black and white Basil Rathbone movies after school, and a lot of cartoon characters sport a deerstalker hat when “investigating” some incident. I distinctly remember reading “The Captain of the Polestar” in high school and learning Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote more than just Sherlock Holmes stories.


I re-read all the Sherlock Holmes tales as part of my research into his background for my own books, and now as a member of a scion, I’m re-reading cases at least once a month.

What keeps you coming back to Baker Street?

I find something new each time I re-read a story, and meeting discussions always provide even more insight than I gained on my own. Finding new tidbits keeps me returning to the cases all the time.

How and when did you become a Sherlockian, as opposed to a reader and fan of the tales?

I distinctly recall when I publicly declared myself a Sherlockian. I was at a mystery writers conference in 2018 and playing a trivia game at a conference icebreaker. When a question appeared about Arthur Conan Doyle, I was the first to raise my hand and gave a much more detailed answer than they were expecting. When the moderator remarked on my response, I said, “I’m a Sherlockian. Of course, I know that.”

You write a lot of articles about Victorian culture and history that appear in Sherlockian publications and then are collected in books. You also write pastiches. Which gets the strongest response?

I’ve sold more copies of the first case of young Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife, than I have of any other book, but the first volume of my essays comes in second (although it’s been out longer).

What is your philosophy of writing a pastiche?

I once was on a panel at 221BCon focused on writing about Sherlock Holmes where I argued there is an “essence” to the Sherlock character that must be observed when writing a pastiche. In addition to Watson’s list in A Study in Scarlet where he enumerates some of Sherlock’s characteristics, there is also his application of logic and science to solving mysteries—an innovative concept when these cases first appeared. Such traits keep the character true for the pastiche reader.

Beyond Sherlock and the other characters, there is also the time and place. Unless Sherlock is in an alternate universe or another time, appropriate language and manners must be observed. I spend a lot of time researching the Victorian period to provide the appropriate setting and feel.

After that, I have fun. I enjoy putting the characters into new places and situations in an effort to explore how they would react to them.

Beyond Holmes, what do you like to read?   

I’m a pretty eclectic reader, although I don’t do as much as I like. Certain authors, however, I will turn to when I come across one of their books. Jodi Picoult and Steve Berry are two. I have also been seeking to expand my reading to authors providing a different perspective of the world. Walter Mosley and Harlan Corben are examples of this. If I were to pick genres, I would say mystery and women’s fiction are my “go-to” categories.

To what Sherlockian groups do you belong?

Beyond the Crew of the Barque Lone Star, I am also involved in the Studious Scarlet Society, and have had an opportunity—thanks to the pandemic—to participate in Zoom meetings with several scions, including The Hansom Wheels, the Sherlockians of Baltimore, and The Sydney Passengers. I also contribute articles about Holmes and Victorian England to the newsletters of the following scions:

Sherlock Holmes Society of South Australia

Stormy Petrels of British Columbia

The Six Napoleons of Baltimore

Chester Baskerville Society

Sound of the Baskervilles

Barque of the Lone Star

The Hudson Valley Sciontists

The Hansom Wheels

Canadian Holmes

Passengers Log

Proceedings of the Pondicherry Lodge

Sherlockian-Sherlock.com (Hungary)

What does it mean to you to be part of the Sherlockian community?

I’ve found my “tribe.”

What’s something interesting about yourself that most people may not know?

I have been playing handbells since I was in middle school—not alone, but in a choir. It is one of the joys of my life. Most choirs are associated with churches, and I have been fortunate enough to usually have one in my home church. In college, I joined a choir in another denomination just so that I could continue to play.

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  1. Hello to my good friend, Liese! I don't delve much into Sherlock. However, her stories are wonderful, and her essays are superb.

    1. Thanks, Vicki! I love your sassy romantic suspense books, too!