The web page Random Chatter has a short interview with me today where I discuss Sherlock Holmes, why I don’t like the Star Wars prequels, and the Monkees. ‘Cause, you know, they’re all so similar.
What if Sherlock Holmes was born in a different body in a different time and place? In this new series, New York Times Bestselling Author Jonathan Maberry and I invite others to speculate as to what that might be! It’s officially releasing from Diversion Books on March 21 in paperback, ebook, and an audio book as well. You can pre-order it now on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles or anywhere, really.
Here’s the great Table of Contents:
“’Locked” by Mike Strauss: Sherlock is the host of a reality show
“Identity” by Keith R. A. DeCandido: Sherlock is a young girl in modern New York City
“The Scent of Truth” by Jody Lynn Nye: Sherlock is a doglike alien
“The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective” by Ryk Spoor: Sherlock is not what he thinks he is
“A Scandal in the Bloodline” by Hildy Silverman: Sherlock is a vampire
“The Fabulous Marble” by David Gerrold: Sherlock is a bio-synthed, augmented, 7 percent human, upgraded, unmortal, consulting extrapoloid
“The Scarlet Study” by Jim Avelli: Sherlock is a worker in a dystopian world
“Delta Phi” by Heidi McLaughlin: Sherlock is an eighteen-year-old female college student
“Beethoven’s Baton” by Austin Farmer: Sherlock is a musician in Beethoven’s orchestra
“The Adventure of the Melted Saint” by Gail Z. Martin: Sherlock is a transgender detective in Charleston
“Automatic Sherlock” by Martin Rose: Sherlock is an automaton in a near-future Russia
“The Hammer of God” by Jonathan Maberry: Sherlock is a nun who works as a field investigator for the Office of Miracles
“Code Cracker” by Beth W. Patterson: Sherlock is a parrot
Here’s what Kirkus Reviews says:
When has Sherlock Holmes changed so much that he’s no longer Sherlock Holmes? In this aptly titled collection, 13 new adventures of Holmes and Watson, more or less, push the envelope far beyond Baker Street.
Not surprisingly, fantasy mavens Ventrella and Maberry (who alone published Kill Switch, 2016, etc.) have one and a half eyes out for outlandish, often futuristic incarnations of Holmes, and so do their contributors. Jody Lynn Nye’s Holmes is a doglike alien “a bit addicted to shag”—carpet, that is. Jim Avelli posits a dystopian world in which Holmes is arrested for shooting his ex-wife, Irene Adler. Martin Rose presents a robotic Holmes, a failure as a medical surgeon, who gets a new lease on nonlife as a nosy detective. Editor Maberry’s reimagining of Holmes as Mother Frey, who investigates miracles for the church, drives perhaps the deepest into fantasy territory. Meanwhile, back in the past, Austin Farmer puts Holmes and Watson to work as violinists in Beethoven’s orchestra. In the present, Gail Z. Martin reinvents Sherlock as Shelley Holmes, a transgender Charleston sleuth who works for store credit at an antiques shop; Hildy Silverman reveals that Holmes and Watson (and Irene and Godfrey Norton) are vampires; Heidi McLaughlin makes Holmes an insecure college coed whose first case leads to her first kiss; Mike Strauss imagines Holmes as a particularly annoying reality show host; and Ryk Spoor dramatizes Holmes and Watson’s painful awakening to their status as fictional characters. In the three most successful stories, Beth W. Patterson makes Holmes an unusually reflective parrot, David Gerrold festoons his cyber-Holmes and -Watson with some hilarious acronyms, and Keith R.A. DeCandido scores with a surprisingly faithful update of one of Conan Doyle’s most treasured tales.
Less notable as independent creations than as provocations to think about Holmes and the Sacred Canon in innovative ways bound to lead to next year’s anthologies.
We had the official book release party at the Heliosphere convention and it was quite successful — we almost sold out of the many advance copies the publisher provided.
If you get a copy, please remember to post your review on Amazon and Goodreads and elsewhere!
The game is afoot!
Heliosphere is a brand new convention I will be attending next weekend (March 10th) and is very special because it will be hosting the book release party for my latest: Baker Street Irregulars!
The Guest of Honor at the convention is David Gerrold, who has a story in this new anthology, so this is the perfect place for our release party. Also in attendance will be other contributors to the book, including Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ryk Spoor, Hildy Silverman, and Austin Farmer!
Heliosphere will be held in Tarrytown, New York, just outside of the city. (Also I have to brag a bit: My wife Heidi Hooper is the “Special Guest” artist!)
Here’s my schedule:
Reading (Friday 3:30): I’ll be reading from my work, along with Anthony Balilovsky, Keith DeCandido, Alex Shvartsman, and Grant Carrington.
Books and Brews (Saturday 10:00) Come join me for coffee (no brews at 10 am, unless you want to) and we can talk about anything you want!
Capturing and Changing History in Speculative Fiction (Saturday noon): History is always subjective. Or at least written by the winners. How do you keep it close enough to recognize but different enough to be exciting? Listen to discussions among Pros and Fans. With Charles Gannon and Roberta Rogow.
Baker Street Irregulars book launch party (Saturday 1:30): A celebration for my new book, with prizes!
Elementary, My Dear Watson (Saturday 4:30): Why is Sherlock Holmes still so popular? People are flocking to recent comic releases, films, and plays. Panelists will discuss why Sherlock is still such a popular figure in contemporary culture. With guests Carol Bugge, Elizabeth Crowens, Keith DeCandido, and Marvin Kaye.
Autographing (Sunday 11:15): I’ll be sharing autographing space with David Gerrold and David Harten Watson.
The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers (Sunday 2:00): My solo presentation for new writers.
I’ll be a guest at Mysticon next weekend (February 24-26) in Roanoke, with author Guest of Honor David Weber and media Guest of Honor Jason Carter (best known as Marcus on Babylon 5). (My wife, award-winning artist Heidi Hooper, is also a guest.)
Mysticon is a fun little convention. Here’s where you can find me!
Just the Basics: LARP (Friday 3:00): LARPing? What? Ooh, you mean Live Action Role Playing! Join our panelists for a glimpse into the world of Role Playing and what it means to bring it live! LARPing can be for anyone, and this is just the first step in what could be a wonderful journey! With Bob Flack
Surprisingly OK (Friday 4:00): A panel to discuss all things Sherlock (BBC, and any other incarnation). I’m the moderator. With Alexandria Christian, Jesse Knight, and Spencer Lovell
The Eye of Argon (Friday 10:00): The worst science fiction story ever written gets a reading by our brave panel as they compete to go the longest without tripping over a misspelled word or laughing uncontrollably. Audience members are also encouraged to take a chance. Can you keep a straight face, especially when the panel begins acting out the story? I’m the moderator. With Gail Z. Martin, Peter Prellwitz, and Gray Rinehart
Little Green Men (Friday 11:00): July 1947. Did a UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico? Have we already encountered extra-planetary aliens? If so, what happened to them and their spaceship? These questions have been on the minds of UFO hunters for many years. Our panelists take us back to that first week of July 1947 and dig into the truths and myths of Roswell. I’m the moderator. With Butch Allen, Spencer Lovell, and Christopher Weuve.
Writers Workshop (Saturday 9:00): How to structure your story and write a great opening plus other exercises With Peter Prellwitz, Allen Wold, and Darcy Wold.
Whose Line is it Anyway? (Saturday 8:30): The science fiction and fantasy version of the popular TV show where the points don’t matter. With Gail Z. Martin, Peter Prellwitz, and Gray Rinehart.
Writers Workshop (Sunday 10:00): More of how to structure your story and write a great opening plus other exercises With Peter Prellwitz, Allen Wold, and Darcy Wold
The Last Racebenders/Genderbenders (Sunday 11:00): Changing races, genders, etc. of established characters in movies, comics, and television. It’s been time and time again- how does this impact a series or film? With James Beall, Madalyn McLeod Johnson, Andrew T. Macht, Amanda McGee, and Maya Preisler.
Do AIs Have a Soul? (Sunday 12:00): Artificial Intelligence has long been a topic in many books, movies, and games. Can uploaded personalities possibly have souls? With Michael D. Pederson, Maya Preisler, Abigail Wallace and Christopher Weuve.
Collaborating in a Shared Universe (Sunday 2:00): Collaborating with others can be hard. Collaborating in a shared universe can also be hard. Learn how to do both in this panel! With Rodney Belcher, Tera Fulbright, Kim Headlee, and Christopher Kennedy.
(Schedule subject to change!)
Coming March 21st!
“The antagonist is the hero of his own story.”
This piece of writing advice has been said over and over again, and it’s absolutely true. No matter how evil your Bad Guy, he or she still believes they’re doing the right thing for their own reason. As a writer, you need to get into your antagonist’s mind and know what that reason is in order to make them believable.
Too often, the Bad Guy is a cliche villain, who wants power and is taking the worst possible route to get there. They’re ugly, speak in menacing voices, have no sense of humor, and are in every way unlikable, which does not explain in the slightest how they got where they are in the world. And as such, they often aren’t scary — and instead of hating them like we should, we just shrug and go “Eh, it’s the Bad Guy.”
This is why Umbridge is a better Bad Guy than Voldemort. We know people like Umbridge. She’s believable. She has a goal that she thinks is right, and she is absolutely convinced she is on the side of Good.
So let’s talk politics.
Those of you who read my political blog know my views. There are Bad Guys in the White House right now. Seriously, these people are evil. But I can use them to make the point that they think they’re doing the right thing. In their world, anyone who isn’t a straight white male Christian doesn’t deserve the same rights as them, and so every action they take furthers that goal.
“The ends justify the means” was a major theme in my last novel BLOODSUCKERS: A VAMPIRE RUNS FOR PRESIDENT. The conflict in that novel was that the Presidential candidate wanted to do very good things for the country and didn’t care if he had to kill a few people along the way to get there. The protagonist in that story was the reporter who discovered that the candidate was a vampire but had the moral dilemma whether to still support him when the candidate’s opponent had policies that were much worse and could lead to war and even more deaths.
If I were writing a novel about the Trump Presidency, it’s clear that they have a similar philosophy. They think their ultimate goal is good for the country and they have no problem with violating the Constitution, lying, and abusing our election system to get there, because they believe that these means are needed to get to their ends.
And someone else could just as easily write a book where they’re the good guys and we evil Democrats are destroying America with our insistence on things like, oh I don’t know, justice and equality. (We’re so damned unreasonable.)
Anyway, snarkiness aside, the point of this is to emphasize that you need to make your Bad Guys real. Think about politics as an example. Ultimately, both sides want a strong, prosperous America but have different paths they think will lead us to that goal. Both sides think they’re right and the other is wrong.
Get into the mind of your antagonist. Figure out your antagonist’s goal and what reasonable route the character would take to get there. Write a short story from that person’s point of view, and have it make sense, and your Bad Guy will be a lot more believable and much more threatening to your hero.
Author Tera Fulbright was a guest at a recent convention and gave a reading of an excerpt from her story in the latest Tales of Fortannis collection, A Bard Act to Follow. (edited by me and featuring a story by me!) She then talked about the world of Fortannis and the series.
Someone recorded it and placed it on You Tube!
I was at the very first Arisia convention in Boston way back when it started in the 80s, and started being a guest in the 90s. I haven’t attended in a few years for various reasons (such as attending my wife’s Niche Award ceremonies for art, where she won!), and it will be nice to get back to Boston, where we lived for a dozen years or so and made many friends.
Unfortunately, Arisia only scheduled me for three panels, only one of which is about writing. The other two are about animated films, which apply to me from my days as founder and editor of Animato! magazine. They refused to allow me to do my normal “Eye of Argon” panel because it may be seen as insulting to the dead guy who wrote it. Go figure.
The convention is from January 13 – 16th.
I’ll spend the convention more as a vacation, visiting friends and having a good time, instead of as a programming guest like I usually do (especially since it is a three day convention). I’d like to tell you who they are but the Arisia web page doesn’t list any of us, apparently. We must not be very important.
In any event, if you are going to be there, be sure to say hi! Here’s where you can be sure to find me:
Moana (Sunday 10 am): Disney’s Moana, their latest release, is a huge hit. We’ll discuss what we loved and didn’t love about The Rock’s first major role anchoring a Disney animated flick, as well as their handling of native Hawaiian mythology (and casting), and the use of music by Tony Winner Lin-Manual Miranda. With panelists Hanna Lee Rubin Abramowitz, Konner Jebb, Kate Nepveu, Barbara M Pugliese. I’m the moderator of this one.
Movie Year in Review (Sunday 2:30): Our annual look back at the year in SF, horror, and fantasy film. Our panel of experts will cover every theatrical release of 2015. Find out which ones are worth catching up with. Note: Time for audience participation is reserved for the end of our panel’s high speed review. With panelists Bob Chipman, Deirdre Crimmins, Garen Daly, and me, with moderator Daniel M Kimmel.
Writing a Worthy Adversary (Sunday 8:30): Nothing brings a story to life like a worthy antagonist, but how do you figure out the yang for your protagonist’s yin? What is your villain’s backstory? What are some of the ways they can twist, torment, and temper your main character? And how can a good antagonist act as your protagonist’s mirror? Boo! Hiss! Come learn how to write bad guys your audience will love to hate. With panelists Michael Bailey, D. L. Carter, Alexander Danner, and Leigh Perry. I am moderating this one as well.