Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with Steve Seitz, author of "Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula"

Please join me today for an interview of Steve Seitz, author of "Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula."

Thank you for being on my blog, and agreeing to answer some questions. :)

Please tell prospective readers briefly what your story is about.

I took Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and converted it into a Sherlock Holmes story as if it had been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I also take the opportunity to tell what really happened at the Reichenbach Falls and during the Great Hiatus.

What’s your favorite thing about your story?

I believe I did a little more justice to Watson, and I tried to give Mina Murray her due. She is the smartest character in "Dracula."

Did you find it hard writing Sherlock Holmes as a character? Did you have to do a lot of research?

Answer to the first question: No. I've known Holmes and Watson for more than 40 years. To the second, yes, absolutely. Research is vital if you're going to get the period correct. The readers won't believe your story otherwise.

How long did it take to write your book? How about to edit the story and find your publisher?

The book started as a hobby in high school, but I kept pecking away at it until I discovered I had something like 300 pages. I reworked it into a manageable manuscript, hired Jeanne Cavelos to give it a merciless workover (Jeanne is one of the best editors in the business), and turned to two friends who have their own publishing company. Otherwise, I would probably still be circulating the manuscript.

Do you have any advice to writers of Sherlockiana? (I ask this question from personal interest!) :)

First and foremost, do the research. I must have consulted 200 sources, and I have my own Bradshaw. Second, keep the Canon handy to make sure you have the voice and Victorian-era usage down properly.

How did you discover Sherlock Holmes?

I was a high school freshman and, instead of doing my homework in the library when I was supposed to, browsed the stacks for something interesting and found "The Hound of the Baskervilles." I took it home and finished at about 3 a.m. I've been hooked since.

What did you think of the recent adaptations (the movie, and the BBC TV show “Sherlock”)? If you didn’t like them, are there any adaptations you do like?

I enjoyed both. Downey's Holmes has Canonical support, and it's a refreshing view of Holmes. I enjoy the new BBC series, as well. Nobody complained when Basil Rathbone's Holmes jumped ahead by almost 50 years.

Anything interesting in your past you’d care to share? Like have you ever worked as a rodeo clown, for instance? :)

I am a journalist, happily, so there's a lot to share. I am also my paper's film critic. In that regard, I've interviewed everyone from Jerry Lewis, James Whitmore and James Earl Jones to Matt Lewis ("Neville Longbottom") from the Harry Potter films. I have also interviewed a cast member from every "Star Trek" series, including Marina Sirtis, who shared her memories of Jeremy Brett with me. (Her first appearance as an actress was in the Brett series.)

Can readers contact you?

Best way:, which is pretty much my Holmesian address.

Is there anything else you’d like your prospective readers to know about you or the book?

Mountainside Press is unwilling to keep the book in distribution, but you can get it directly from them, or download it on Amazon Kindle.

Please share a brief excerpt from your book.
(Warning for readers: This is scary!)

In this scene, Holmes and Watson are spending a night in Castle Dracula. Watson has narrowly escaped an encounter with the Weird Sisters, but Holmes is not so fortunate:

The women hissed like cats and shied away as if blinded by a flash. I found strength to hold the icon up and then, down the hall, a door opened. Sherlock Holmes emerged from his bath, clad only in his dressing-gown.

"Holmes!" I cried. "Run! They killed Harker!"

A harsh silvery laugh greeted my sally. The women passed me swiftly and attacked Holmes, shoving him into his room and slamming the door. I heard the lock snap, and groaned; Holmes had the keyring. Inside I heard harsh, crystalline laughter, and thought of what cats must feel on capturing a sparrow.

You know well Holmes' indifference to the charms of the fairer sex, but from the lascivious sounds from behind the door, I could tell he was succumbing. I heard no resistance.

I pounded on the door and bellowed.

"Your crucifix! Holmes, the crucifix!"

More laughter, some frightening sounds of struggle, and then soft murmuring and soon, silence.

Had I been thinking clearly, I would have gone to the woodshed and returned with an axe. But bloody images of what they were doing to Holmes filled my head, and I became a crazed man.

That's when I remembered the south window. If there were handholds for one room, there must be for others. I raced upstairs, to the room above Holmes'. I whipped the window open and a pale yellow beam filled the space, a cold breeze blowing in.

Looking down, there were handholds, unless they were shadowy illusions of the moonlight. Thinking of the horrid fate even now befalling my closest friend, I tentatively dipped a toe to the first hold. It slid in smoothly. I lowered myself to my full body length. Another toehold, then a handhold. The chilly breeze frayed my face as I groped in the shadows, and the castle's stone was rough and mocking as I held my cheek to it, not daring to look down.

Thick, dark clouds blotted the moon. My light vanished, and the breeze became a chilly wind, numbing my face, my fingers, and my sense of touch.

Gingerly now, I found another handhold, another toehold. My foot slipped once and I cried out, but I did not fall. Another step, and then another. Two bats flitted by and seemed to be circling me, waiting for a mistake. They came uncomfortably close and I stopped moving, hoping they would go away.

By now, I could hear the sounds from Holmes' open window more clearly. A cold steady rain began to fall, which was a mixed blessing. Soon I would not be able to feel my fingers at all, but my presence would be harder to detect. Hard droplets pricked my face.

"Please. You must be sated by now," Holmes said in a soft, pleading voice.

"It's been so long, Englisch," said one of the women, and I heard a weak whimper from Holmes. "That child was barely enough, and the Count has abandoned us."

"If we are greedy tonight, then it might be a long time until our next opportunity," said another. "And the other one is still loose."

More chilling laughter.

I almost fell again when I put my foot to what I thought was a toehold and connected with air. The window!


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