Ann Kimbrough, one of the speakers at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton, OH, on March 25 (with a reception the previous evening), has produced three Sherlock Holmes books that . . . well, let’s let her explain:
You adapted three Holmes short stories for middle-schoolers in a unique way. Describe your books.
The graphic novels are a mash-up of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic short stories and a modern retelling with four teenagers helping solve the mystery. Through some kind of digital mix-up, past and present align and are able to communicate in the strangest way—by text message! Cheese, Bizzy, Kyndra, and Jett end up in a group chat with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. They are welcomed as a new group of Irregulars to help solve the cases.
What gave you the idea to do that?
It was during lockdown and I heard Doyle’s work was in public domain. Having never read the original stories, I thought it was high time that I did. I first found The Adventure of Devil’s Foot and wanted to see if I could create something that would bring kids to the material, with the goal of teaching kids to think like Sherlock Holmes. Of course, reading isn’t always something that interests kids, so I decided to put it in a format that they liked—text messages. I experimented with that layout, and really liked the outcome.
How did you pick which stories to adapt, and why them rather better-known stories often used in middle school, such as “The Red-Headed League” or “The Speckled Band”?
I’m actually glad to hear that I haven’t picked well-known stories. I’d like to say that was a conscious choice, but it’s because I’m new to the Sherlockian world. I am trying to educate myself in that area, but I’ll continue to mix it up. I plan to get to all the ones that can be adapted for kids. Obviously, there are a few that won’t work because the topics are a bit too adult. So far, I’ve used The Adventure of Devils Foot, which is a classic mysterious death story; The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plan, about a spy and a secret submarine; and The Adventure of Silver Blaze, about a missing race horse. Those all seemed fun for readers age 10 to 14.
What was the biggest challenge?
Frankly, adapting any writer’s work would give me pause, but someone like Doyle makes it extra challenging. He is a master and I respect his writing and his success. I want to do right by him and his fans. Thing is, short stories are a unique form of writing. Going in, I knew that would require some editing and changes to adapt it into a graphic novel. Also, I’d have to make changes for the younger audience. As you know, some of Sherlock’s habits don’t translate well. So, I set some rules to follow, the main one being to honor the original text as much as possible.
The image of Holmes is rather unusual—he has a beard! How did that happen?
Yes, the Sherlock avatar has a little bit of beard. Perhaps he’s just going through a stage? The thing with avatars is how little is used to create the image. No eyes, no mouth. It relies on hats, hair, glasses, and things like that. If the book wasn’t for kids, I’d have given him a pipe instead of a little bit of beard, to define the lower part of the face. But I didn’t want to promote smoking. The top hat, however, really said Sherlock to me, so I went with it, not realizing longtime fans would have an issue with a beard.
How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?
Sherlock Holmes just seems to have always been there in my realm of knowledge. I can’t pick a moment. I’m sure I knew of the character long before I saw a movie or TV show. I became a huge fan due to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
Do you consider yourself a Sherlockian?
I consider myself a very green Sherlockian, but there’s no going back now!
Are you involved in any organized Sherlockian activities or groups?
My Sherlockian journey has just started, but there is not a local group in my city. Thanks to Zoom, I’ve been welcomed by the Shaka Sherlockians and the Nashville Scholars.
What question haven’t I asked you that you would like to answer?
Thanks to writing these books, I’ve found a whole world that I didn’t know existed. It’s a welcoming and engaging community! I’m honored to be a part of it and have started a blog/podcast to document my journey, as well as promote all things Sherlockian that I find along the way. If anyone wants to check it out, the website is https://www.travelswithsherlock.com.
Although Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Seven, March 24-25, 2023, is closed out for vendors, participants can still register here.
We love Ann Kimbrough here at the Nashville Scholars. I look forward to being one of the guest presenters along with Ann.ReplyDelete