I think you all pretty much know my affinity for Sherlock Holmes stories. I suspect that’s how most people found my blog, so I couldn’t pass up on being part of TheWriteRead’s blog tour for 5 Adventure of Sherlock Holmes by Maurice Barkley. The stories certainly did not disappoint.
As you scroll through, make sure to check out the synopsis, my interview with the author, Maurice Barkley, and the author bio. Alright, let’s get started!
5 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Maurice Barkley
Published: February 20, 2018
Page count: 154 pages
The Holborn Toy Shop: Extreme danger. Children’s lives are at risk.
The Legacy of Doctor Carus: Holmes prevents an injustice and triumphs over a greedy family.
The Train from Plymouth: A train arrives 3 years late. Only Holmes can solve this one.
The Whitehall Papers: Holmes battles blundering politicians and a master criminal.
The Grosvenor Square Furniture Van: An elaborate crime with a strange motive.
BR: How did you first begin writing? What drew you to writing versus something else?
MB: I am a non-confrontational introvert—think Walter Mitty. This was a real problem when I was very young. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a non-confrontational introvert. If you don’t know there is a problem, you can’t fix it. I had little control over external events and so spent much of my time alone in my bedroom, which was where I began to write. When I was writing I was in control of everything in that universe—master of my domain. The hero was often me with a different name.
A few years later the real world gave me a swift kick in the pants. One of my first jobs was at a local bank. They advertised for an adjuster. I applied without knowing the duties of an adjuster. When the paperwork was finished, I sat down with the manager of the Adjustment Division and learned that I was to be a bill collector. (Shrink back in utter dismay.) Since I had already completed the paperwork I was committed. How could I say no to someone who just hired me? After two awful years I managed to escape to another job. Meanwhile my escape from the reality I was living, was writing. I could say more, but I’m still shrinking back from those memories.
Eventually I managed to become a commercial artist, a career that lasted until I retired. All the while I would write and draw cartoons in my spare time. Rarely did I consider publishing. I did make a few sporadic efforts, but in those days every submission manuscript had to be typed with two carbons. I sent the cartoon art to Collier’s magazine, but nothing came of it.
BR: What drew you to writing about Sherlock Holmes?
MB: I read them. Someone, whose name I can’t remember, gave me a huge book that contained all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. If, on a particular page, Holmes and Watson were traveling down a dark foggy lane, the words on the page dissolved and I was right there with them. I was enthralled by this strange new world and was dismayed when I finished the last page. At that long ago time I didn’t think to write a Sherlock Holmes story. Instead I wrote some really bad mystery stuff—stuff the world will never see.
BR: What’s your writing process?
MB: It is questionable, but one goes with what works. There are windows in my garage doors. Behind one window there is an old office chair. That is where I go to sit and look out on the world. Somehow this liberates up my mind and I can concentrate on the task at hand. I have to do it this way because I start most stories with just one idea—no beginning, very little middle and no end. Somehow the story grows as I write. For example I began my SF series Lost and Forgotten having nothing other than a short scene where my soon to be protagonist meets two young men in a diner. So, I wrote the scene and the ideas started to bubble up. At first a significant character in the story was a man, but due to my constant editing he became a she. At approximately the halfway point, the entire plot had surfaced and I knew where I was going.
Thanks to my Walter Mitty personality I can mentally extract a block of copy from my manuscript and make a video in my mind. While in that chair in my garage I can replay and edit to my heart’s content. This is not good—I know, but I have tried a structured schedule with negative results.
So, dear reader, I am sure by now you can understand why I couldn’t and shouldn’t teach this method to anyone other than perhaps another non-confrontational introvert.
BR: How much research do you do before you begin writing a story?
MB: For my Science Fiction, practically none, but for Sherlock Holmes, quite a bit indeed. I have maps of English railways in that time period. I managed to get my hands on a London travel guide published in 1889. All of this research is to make sure the stories do not contain things or places that did not exist at the time. In my current work I will bring in a long-dead historical figure. A quick web search displayed volumes of information, so my task is more one of sorting to pick out what I need. I must say that I am not too fond of this part of the experience.
BR: There are so many retellings and adaptations of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. What do you think makes your stories different or unique?
MB: I don’t know about different or unique because I avoid reading the newer stories. I don’t want any other author’s ideas to accidentally sneak in to my manuscripts. My stories try to be canonical—true to the style of the originals. Thus you will never see Watson time travel, etc. As I see it, the only difference is the mystery they are attempting to solve, the place they visit and the clues they discover.
BR: Do you have a favorite Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle?” What is it and why?
MB: The blue ribbon goes to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. As well as an interesting and clever plot, Holmes displays his powers of observation and deduction in a most entertaining way. From the close examination of an old hat, he is able to describe the owner quite accurately. I remember reading each evening until I fell asleep. The story was unlike anything I had read and I went so far as to hide the book against the slight chance some miscreant (my brother) might (borrow) it. But those are other tales for some other time.
I still have the book. It’s somewhere in my rather cluttered room. Only a master detective could find it.
BR: Do you have any projects in the works for readers to look forward to?
MB: Well, yes I do. I am about 10K into book 4 of my Lost & Forgotten science fiction series. However I have set it aside for a while because it is the Sherlock Holmes adventures that provide a modest but steady income. I am currently writing book 3 of the Casablanca series. The work is tentatively titled The Secrets of Fetherston Castle.
About the Author
Maurice Barkley lives with his wife Marie in a suburb of Rochester, New York. Retired from a career as a commercial artist and builder of tree houses, he is WRITING and busy reinforcing the stereotype of a pesky househusband. Favorite relaxation is throwing peanuts to squirrels, blue jays, cardinals and chipmunks from his porch. Once he built a doll hair-making machine using an old sewing machine. It worked, but his wife got tired of making Raggedy Ann dolls, so it sits in the garage.