Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery 1881 & 1882 by Derrick Belanger » Author Interviews with Katy Darby and Mike Adamson on Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery 1881 & 1882 —

Hi everyone,

We are in the final stretch for the Kickstarter campaign for Sherlock Holmes: a Year of Mystery 1881 & 1882. Just a few more backers are all we need to reach the stretch goal. If you haven’t backed the campaign yet, please do so by CLICKING HERE.

In this update, we have two excellent author interviews. Katy Darby has an excellent adventure in the 1881 book. Mike Adamson has an incredible tale in both volumes. Read more about their wonderful adventures below.

Author Interview with Katy Darby  

Katy Darby’s short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, published in magazines including Slice, Mslexia and The London Magazine, and won prizes in several international fiction competitions. Her Victorian novel The Unpierced Heart – partly inspired by the Holmes/Watson relationship – is published by Penguin. Co-founder and director of the award-winning, internationally-franchised live fiction event Liars’ League (, she has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, where she won the David Higham Award. She first read Holmes on a school trip aged 13, and never stopped.

Author Katy Darby

Please tell us a little bit about your story without giving too much away.

Katy Darby (KD): Holmes makes an explosive discovery which involves an Irish innocent, his clever and charming fiancée, an international conspiracy, an exclusive photographer’s studio, a box of clocks, three birdcages and seven sticks of dynamite. Oh, and the real-life criminal barrister Edward Marshall Hall.

Why did you want to participate in this project?

KD: I’ve been a fan of the Holmes stories since I first read them aged 13. As a historical fiction writer, I am a demon for research, and when this project offered the opportunity to explore the real historical events of 1881 (such as the Fenian bombing campaign), and feature contemporary figures (Marshall Hall), as well as a legitimate excuse to reread the entire Holmes canon, how could I refuse?

What surprised you about writing an adventure with such a young Holmes and Watson?

KD: One of the most enjoyable things about it was remembering that they’ve only known each other ten months, meaning Watson doesn’t yet feel entirely secure in the new friendship. Bringing in Edward Marshall Hall – a sharp young lawyer who misses nothing and has an eye for the ladies – meant I could have some fun with Watson’s jealousy and fear of usurpation. I also loved having the chance to include Holmes’s chemical expertise (which tends to feature less, if at all, in the later stories) in the unravelling of the mystery. It even provides an extra twistin the denouement – you’ll see how.

What are your current and upcoming projects?

KD: I’m in the final throes of drafting a Massachusetts-set historical novel in the Gothic-horror vein – unlike my first one, this has definite elements of the supernatural, which I’ve really enjoyed delving into and playing around with. I’m pitching it as Bronte meets Lovecraft and the working title is The Hand: (this will almost certainly change).

Any last thoughts?

KD: I genuinely can’t wait to read all the new stories by the other authors in the collection. November will feel like Christmas!

Author Interview with Mike Adamson

Mike Adamson holds a Doctoral degree from Flinders University of South Australia. After early aspirations in art and writing, Mike returned to study and secured qualifications in both marine biology and archaeology. Mike has been a university educator since 2006, has worked in the replication of convincing ancient fossils, is a passionate photographer, a master-level hobbyist, and a journalist for international magazines. Short fiction sales include to The Strand, Little Blue Marble, Weird Tales, Abyss and Apex, Daily Science Fiction, Compelling Science Fiction and Nature Futures. Mike has placed over 150 stories to date, totaling more than 700, 000 words in print. You can catch up with his writing career at ‘The View From the Keyboard,’

Author Mike Adamson

Please tell us a little bit about your stories without giving too much away.

MA: With “His Wonders to perform,” I was looking for a historical, pivotal event in London society upon which to base a story, as early in the relationship of Holmes and Watson as possible. Being an aficionado of natural history and having an interest in the early history of the field, I saw an opportunity to derive drama from the great 19th century conflict between religion and science, here embodied in controversy over the founding of London’s famous Natural History Museum, which opened in April, 1881. I doubt I’ll ever write anything earlier for the young Holmes and Watson!

For “The Price of a Life,” I was looking for a thoroughly canonical tale which never the less hinged upon the real events of the time. In 1882, the British Parliament further refined the laws governing the treatment of suicide cases, stripping something of the social stigma and overriding elements of church law. Suicide was not a subject Conan Doyle foregrounded, so it was a doubly worthy topic to tackle, presenting Holmes with one element of a much wider picture. A suicide that is not suicide at all would be, to Holmes, like a red rag to a bull.

Why did you want to participate in this project?

MA: The Sherlock Holmes: A Year of Mystery series is a wonderful idea for fleshing out the thinly-detailed years of the canon, and the chance to take part was a thrill. It offered realms of possibility that were, and are, irresistible!

What surprised you about writing an adventure with such a young Holmes and Watson?

MA: The energy Holmes brings to his exploits—he can afford to be both mentally focused as sharp as a razor and physically energetic to a remarkable degree. This contrasts with the young Watson, still struggling to rebuild his health after returning from military service. This was quite unlike the more comfortable, more mature Holmes and Watson of several years hence, and indeed later, bringing an extra sense of spontaneity to the narrative.

For “The Price of a Life” less was surprising in this outing than in that for the 1881 volume—the characters had now taken on their “early opus” forms—Holmes in tack-sharp form both mentally and physically, and the solid, dependable Watson regathering his strengths and absorbing the “Holmesian method.” They make an interesting contrast to the characters of later years.

What are your current and upcoming projects?

MA: In addition to short story work in a wide range of genres and styles, I’m working on a near-future urban fantasy novel, and have ideas in play for two Sherlock Holmes full-length projects. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to commit to writing, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.

You can read these wonderful early Holmes adventures by Clicking Here. Don’t forget to back our other Sherlock Holmes project on Kickstarter, The Essential Sherlock Holmes.

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