I was ten years old when I met the world’s greatest consulting detective. It was at a discount store, in the book section. I found an illustrated copy of three stories aimed for young readers and sped through it practically overnight. Then I moved on to a large red book containing “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and “The Return of Sherlock Holmes.” Those short stories, the same unabridged text published in “The Strand” magazine, took me most of fifth grade to finish. And I loved every minute spent within those pages.
For the next few years, I lived, breathed, and slept Sherlock Holmes. I shopped bookstores for titles with even the mention of Holmes, sat glued to the television when I discovered the Granada television series featuring Jeremy Brett, and even added a Holmes-inspired character to my very first piece of fiction.
I’m not sure exactly what drew me to Holmes, but whatever it was hooked me good.
Maybe it was the mystery genre that kept me coming back. I did move on from Holmes to Nancy Drew and Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series. Jeremy Brett gave way to CSI and “The A-team.” Even today, I gravitate toward the mystery section of the bookstore and curse that BBC’s “Sherlock” has only three episodes per season.
Or maybe Holmes himself wouldn’t let me ignore the stories. He did present as a unique character. A bachelor who kept his tobacco in the toe of a Persian slipper and played the violin at odd hours, he didn’t fit into the mold for a typical character. Plus he solved crimes that stumped Scotland Yard. I never figured out the culprit before him and often felt as clueless as Watson until he explained his reasoning.
My writing today owes a lot to him. While I’ve dabbled in both horror and romance, my fingers feel most comfortable typing out a mystery. My protagonists operate outside the traditional law-enforcement agencies, and they use deductive reasoning to solve crimes (or try to at least). I’d like to think that the mysteries themselves will puzzle my readers as much as the ones Holmes solved puzzled me.
I’d like to pen my own Sherlock Holmes novel one day. I’ve hesitated to do more than daydream about it, though. I’m afraid that whatever I write will pale in comparison to what’s come before me. I want to do justice to Holmes and am nervous that my character will be only a shadow of the man I’ve built up on my mind.
Was there a character who influenced you as a writer? Who were they? And where did you first meet them?