Friday, April 8, 2011

Interview of Ann Margaret Lewis, author of "Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes"

Please join me today for an interview of Ann Margaret Lewis, author of Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. Thank you for being on my blog, and agreeing to answer some questions. :)

Thank you for having me!

Please tell prospective readers briefly what your story is about.

Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of three stories (novellas) that tell “untold tales” from the Sherlock Holmes canon. “Untold tales” are stories that Dr. Watson mentions, but never details for us. With this book, Watson alluded to three Church-related cases, two of which deal directly with the Pope of his time, Pope Leo XIII. I thought I’d tie them all together in one neat little package. =)

What’s your favorite thing about your book?

I loved writing the pope. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love writing Holmes no matter what. But I discovered what a terrific character Pope Leo was, and he was a joy to put on paper. His voice was just so noble, sweet and gentle I fell in love with him….in a platonic, fatherly sense, of course.

Do you consider this a religious book? Or a book with some religious elements? Do readers have to be Catholic to enjoy it?

This is a book with religious settings and characters, and you definitely do not have to be Catholic to enjoy it. I’ve had many friends read it who are not religious at all, and they liked it. One such friend gave me the honor of reading it twice—and he doesn’t even like pastiches! So that was a good sign.

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

I did a good deal of research, and I liked using primary sources if possible. Especially when it comes to writing Pope Leo. The difficulty in writing Holmes is imitating the voice of Watson telling the story. If I don’t have that right, I can convince no one that it is really Watson and really a Holmes story. So that had to be done correctly otherwise the book would fail. That and avoiding anachronism were my two biggest concerns.

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

It took me a year writing on and off to finish this book. That process was extended by the fact that I had another book idea in the middle of writing this one – so I took off and wrote that. Then I came back to this one and finished it. After that, it took me two more years to find someone to publish it. Books sometimes do take a while to be born, I’m afraid.

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

If you’re doing a pastiche, read and re-read the canon। Scrutinize your words, and how you form your sentences. Spend a lot of time getting the language right, or you will convince no one that this is a Holmes story. I did pretty exhaustive work and I still have things that don’t work. Don’t rush through that part of the writing. Also, study Doyle’s story structure. If you change the formula, at least know why you are changing it or your audience will not accept it.

How did you discover Sherlock Holmes?

When I was in high school I read through all of my mother’s Agatha Christie’s and I really wanted to read more mysteries. They seemed to involve me more than any other reading I’d done. My mom suggested picking up Hound of the Baskervilles and I was hooked. Thanks, Mom!

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 was pleasantly surprised by the BBC Sherlock. I was ready to not like it—but wanted to like it—and I did. I think Mr. Cumberhatch is a perfect Sherlock, and I do adore his Dr. Watson (but I’m a softie for Watson). It makes me crazy that they only made three episodes. The cliffhanger about sent me…well…over the edge! I also loved Jeremy Brett, Holmes, too, and my (other) favorite Dr. Watson was David Burke. In fact, when I write Watson that’s whose voice I hear and whose face I see in my head.

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

I am a classical singer (soprano), and I’m singing with the chorus of the Indianapolis Opera in La Traviata this Spring. On top of that I’m teaching high school composition, directing a school play, writing another novel and raising a 7-year-old boy. Thank goodness I have my husband’s help or I’d be locked away in a looney bin.

Can readers contact you? Absolutely! They can contact me through my website:

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

That I hope they have a blast reading it. That’s why I wrote it.

Please share a brief excerpt from your book. You bet. You can read an excerpt from the first story on my web site:

Links: To buy the book:

(Amazon is having problems for some reason…)

daily hits Computer Coupon


Karina Fabian said...

Thanks for posting this interview, Alice! Ann, I've heard that they are working on 3 more Sherlock episodes.


Lum said...

Thanks for your comment, Karina! :D

Ann Margaret Lewis said...

Thanks for posting the interview. Sorry I'm late - I've been so swamped I'm only now getting around to saying thank you! Hope you have a terrific Easter season!

Lum said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Ann!! :) I enjoyed reading your answers very much. :)