All Things Guy Adams Sherlock Holmes, all the time
by Prof. Jenn
Well nearly all. Thanks to Titan Press for this opportunity to review Guy Adams’ Sherlockian goodness, and for the interview “in.” Also, this appeared first over at my blog.
First of all, can I just express my extreme nerdy jealousy that Mr. Guy Adams gets to write all these? I mean, how do you get that gig?
Well, I got a chance to ask the man himself. Before we get to that, though, take a gander at my reviews of his many Sherlockian books.
Sherlock Holmes: the Breath of God
What happens when Holmes is faced with the supernatural? Not the faux supernatural, like in The Hound of the Baskervilles, but the actually unexplainable?
Or is it?
The Breath of God is a novel that fits right in with the Doyle canon and the best of the non-Doyle canon (I’m thinking Nicholas Meyer in particular). What it does well is maintain that Watson-centered narrative which is so essential to a powerful Holmesian story, in my professional opinion. The thing is, Holmes is such an extraordinary creature, that to be inside his head diminishes the astonishingness of him. Having the story told from outside him gives us the opportunity to marvel at his prowess and be mystified by his flaws. Knowing his flaws personally would be too wearing for a story, though it could make for a fascinating character sketch. But I digress…
The great thing about the plot of Breath of God is that you really don’t know what to think of the magical things that go on, just like Watson. Even up till the end there are certain threads that don’t end up tied up neatly. That’s not to say Holmes doesn’t figure it all out in the end, but… Man, I’m about to spoil things. Okay, I’ll stop. I’ll just say this: it’s mysterious, exciting, slightly meta (love the moment when Holmes says he needs to pull a Hound of Baskerville move), and the end is quite dramatic. Plus there’s philosophical dilemmas and some mashups of historical and fictional characters from that time period, which you all know I love when done well.
Bottom line: Sherlock Holmes: the Breath of God is a rollicking good time, and a book I’m happy to shelve next to the canon.
Sherlock Holmes: the Army of Dr. Moreau
I actually reviewed this one in depth before, it’s what made me want to do a big ol’ review on all of them once I realized Adams wrote the Sherlock Case Book too. Here it is on my site, and on Nerds in Babeland.
As you can see, I kinda liked The Breath of God better.
Sherlock: the Case Book
As a giant fan of the BBC series Sherlock, I had to add this companion book into my collection. It covers anything and everything about the first two seasons of Sherlock. It includes story synopses from the point of view of John Watson’s scrapbook, complete with his notes, photos and police reports, even phone call logs. But the highlight of the synopses is the post-it note conversation between Sherlock and John, plastered all over the scrapbook pages. Oh, and Mycroft makes a brief post-it note appearance as well. At its best, the conversation is charmingly contentious, as one would imagine it would be between those two. It does, though, get a bit old. Sherlock may be impatient with an intellect lesser than his (as anyone’s is), but he isn’t incessantly whiny and bitchy. The bitchiness factor tends to take away from his massive intellect as a character, and is just wearing after a while.
The documentary type bits are great (although I did find a couple inaccuracies), like a nicely done DVD extra. And of course one of my favorite parts is the By the Book sections. I’m wondering why there isn’t a By the Book section for each episode, but I guess I’ll just let my More You Holmes blog posts supplement them. (Wow, did I just shamelessly plug myself? :sigh: Sorry Mr. Adams, I couldn’t resist. And thank you for the compliment and bookmark. Squee!)
Bottom line: if you’re Sher-locked, you absolutely need this book.
And now… (drum roll…) here it is: the MinInterview with Guy Adams himself.
5 questions: Guy Adams
interviewed by: Prof. Jenn
1) What choices do you make in your novels re: references/adherence to Doyle and your own original departures, and why? Have you created a backstory for Holmes that helps you in writing him through novel length stories?
A lot of it is instinctive to be honest. Everyone views stories and characters differently as they can’t help but bring their subjective viewpoint into things. I have therefore written what I think is a completely accurate version of Holmes and Watson. Other people will disagree as MY Holmes and Watson won’t be the same as THEIR Holmes and Watson.
I suppose I bring a little more humour into their relationship but that seems natural to me between two men who have been so close for that long. They’re a marriage.
I’ve also chosen to let Watson grieve over a dead wife. Doyle was — rightly — too busy building stories to dwell on the emotions of his characters but I wanted Watson to have that. We’ve all loved and the idea of losing someone precious would cling to you, it plays a fair part in the action of The Breath of God.
The backstory is all Doyle though, I’ve read the stories many times over the years and that’s always the history I bring with me.
I have included favourite characters from other Holmes stories, such as Mycroft, Shinwell Johnson and Langdale Pike. Purely because those characters seemed helpful to the stories I wanted to tell.
As both novels blend Holmes with other fictional characters there is a natural inclination to bring the flavour of those works in too.
2) We share an acting background, so I have to ask–how does your acting training inform your writing, and vice versa?
It informs me hugely when it comes to character and dialogue. I played Holmes a couple of times too so that has hung over the whole process as I already feel close to the character.
Hopefully, having been an actor I can feel my way through stories. I can think in terms of the characters, bring them to life a little more.
3) What’s your favorite Sherlock Holmes story? What’s your favorite media adaptation?
I’m terrible at picking favourites because mood always gets in the way. Probably The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.
Media adaptation is even more difficult somehow because there’s such a wide variation, all of which bring something interesting.
I adore Jeremy Brett in the role (especially with Edward Harwicke, a gentle, wise Watson).
The relationship between Downey Jr. and Jude Law is lovely too though, whatever you may think of the action movie bells and whistles the two of them spark beautifully off one another.
But how can we ignore SHERLOCK? We simply can’t… it’s glorious and a flawless version of Holmes and Watson.
Sigh… who knows which of them I like the most?
I’m not a great fan of Rathbone. No… let me be clearer, I love the films but he and Bruce are not MY Holmes and Watson, they are some other pair entirely who I enjoy spending time with but don’t recognise as the same people.
4) Tell us the story of how you got the Sherlock Casebook gig. How closely did you consult with Moffat and Gatiss, or did they set you free? Did you interview the actors, creators, etc. yourself for those non-fic bits?
I’ve worked with BBC Books on a number of projects and, knowing that I was a fan of Holmes, I think I was just the safe choice for them. It wasn’t something I had to pitch or fight for. They just dropped me a line explaining that they’d got the rights and would I like to do the book.
Hartswood were heavily involved. Steven, Mark and Sue Vertue all chipped in on the material as I was writing it, correcting things and ensuring I didn’t contradict anything they might want to do in the future.
I attended the commentary recordings for the DVD and Blu-ray and did some interviews then. That was excruciating actually as my dictaphone packed up. Benedict was loveliness itself, working his way through a cup of soup while I got more and more stressed trying to get the thing to record. “We really are going to have to get on,” he said softly as I began to consider just crawling under one of the microphone stands and dying of embarrassment.
I had an absolutely wonderful chat with Andrew Scott on the phone. We gassed on for over an hour with me deciding I’d like to be his best friend. No doubt he has already been in touch with his lawyers to discuss restraining orders. A lovely, clever, brilliant actor.
Everyone was a joy, it was great fun to do.
5) Any more Holmesian projects on the horizon?
I hope to write more Holmes novels but that’s up in the air at the moment depending on Titan’s future plans. I have a lot of other novels I’m working on at the moment but I’d always go back, I could happily write Holmes stories forever!
5a) How do you get to write using these already-created characters? Is there some kind of copyright process you have to go through? (I’m asking for a friend…:) )
This is a tricky one! Strictly speaking, Holmes is out of copyright so you can do what you like with him (as is the case with all the other characters I used). That hasn’t stopped a few attempts on the part of the Doyle Estate to insist otherwise.
Copyright law is different all over the world so your friend would have to check the specific terms for where they wish to publish. It all comes down to either how long ago the original author died or how long since first publication of the original work.
Thanks again for your time and input, Mr. Adams! ~Prof. Jenn