Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Tale of a Book: Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century

Ideas for potential books constantly tease me, and I seldom wake up each morning without an outline for an article or a chapter nagging me. Much of the time that first coffee of the morning will convince me that either I don't have the time or experience to leap into another writing project that day, but some ideas hit hard and refuse to go away.

So it was with my latest book "baby," Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century: Essays on New Adaptations, which has just been published by McFarland. (Inserting shameless plugs for the book's McFarland, Amazon, and Amazon UK pages here.) I first heard of the BBC's Sherlock during a trip to Cardiff, when friends asked if I'd seen the series yet and then explained just how much I was missing. When PBS broadcast the episodes a few months later, I was hooked, and since then I admit I've become something of a Sherlockoholic.

During the Popular Culture Association's conference in San Antonio a year ago April, I stalked presenters talking about any adaptation of Holmes and, in the process, learned a great deal about ACD canon. I still pity the McFarland representatives who listened to me discuss a potential book more than once during that conference and who encouraged me to submit a proposal.

In the week after the conference, I received enough abstracts from the enthusiastic presenters I'd accosted during the conference and, by then, had developed ideas for four chapters and written an introduction for the proposal. McFarland reviewed the proposal and, after a bit of discussion and modification, approved it.

Although I don't want to minimize the many hours that went into the making of this book--from research to writing to revising to editing to proofing to indexing--I still have to say that "Sherlock" has been my easiest book "child" so far; "he" is my lucky 13th. During my research, I took a wonderful tour of Holmes' London, thanks to Brit Movie Tours, and I talked to fan/scholars at Holmes-themed restaurants, museum exhibits, and, especially, at 221B Baker itself (the Sherlock Holmes Museum). For about a year, Sherlock Holmes has been a big part of my daily life. However, as is true of any child, I can't take full credit; I certainly couldn't have done it on my own. I can only hope this book brings enjoyment and, ideally, some insights to those who read it.

Carlen Lavigne, Anissa Graham, Jennifer Garlen, Kayley Thomas, April Toadvine, Francesca Marinaro, Ana La Paz, Rhonda Harris Taylor, Svetlana Bochman, and I cover a wide range of topics and adaptations. The book's back cover describes the chapters as evidence why "Holmes and Watson are more popular than ever" and "destined to be with us for years to come." The adaptations we analyze include the Guy Ritchie films, BBC's Sherlock, the novel The House of Silk, and Neil Gaiman's stories, but we also discuss the nature of television and fandom, cinematic tourism, science and technology in canon and adaptations, and recent pastiches.

So today I announce the book's release, but that doesn't release us--as writers or Holmes fans--from the spell of Sherlock. We look forward to seeing the next chapters in the Great Detective's development, and we suspect that more adaptations will give us even more to "talk about" in print.

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