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?
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
Proceedings of the Pondicherry Lodge
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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