Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bringing Sherlock Holmes Back to Life: An Interview with Guy Adams

This week marked the release of Guy Adams' new novel Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau.  Mark Schelske reviewed the novel for us earlier this week, and today, we are excited to be able to feature Mark's interview with Guy.  Enjoy!

Mark Schelske: Sherlock Holmes is the beloved character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  What inspired you to blend this character with H.G. Wells storyline from The Island of Doctor Moreau?

Guy Adams: When I first discussed the idea of writing original Holmes stories with Titan, they were very keen that each book should feature something or someone else that was well known, be it a historical or fictional character. That's why The Breath of God featured a host of supernatural characters such as Carnacki, Dr. Silence, Julian Karswell and the Great Beast himself Aleister Crowley. For the second book I wanted to look to another favourite of Victorian fiction: the scientific romance. Moreau was a perfect fit.

MS: Have Doyle and Wells influenced other creative endeavors?

GA: I've written a number of books that feature a strong male partnership at the centre, the Deadbeat novels and my forthcoming espionage series The Clown Service for example. I dare say that hails from the bond between Holmes and Watson. Writers are magpies, we always pocket shiny things we stumble across and build something out of them.

MS: The “Department,” created by Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes, seems to be like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  There is Professor Lindenbrook from Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Abner Perry from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core.  Their help is needed to battle The Army of Dr. Moreau.  How did you decide upon the Department’s membership and will you use them in future Sherlock Holmes novels?

GA: As much as I love Moore and O'Neil's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the decision to create The Department was more a way to bring in extra characters I wanted to play with (including Roger Carruthers who appears in my novels The World House and Restoration). Also to create some lighter moments in what could otherwise have been a fairly grim book.

I also had Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in mind, where the Diogenes Club is an extension of the secret service rather than simply a place for unsociable old men to drink brandy in silence.

As for whether they return, that depends on whether I write any more. I hope to, and if so then it's always a possibility.

They do feature in a Professor Challenger short story I've co-written for a forthcoming anthology.

MS: A fun ending to the book is when Carruthers, Johnson, Inspector Mann, etc. are given short chapters to share their point of view of the climax.  Did you intend to use all the minor characters like this when you began writing your novel? 

GA: No, it was a last minute decision. I hit a bit of a wall with the book and it wasn't working the way I wanted it to. I scrapped a big section of it and decided to let Holmes speak for a while. Doyle had tried this a couple of times with limited success because Holmes is not a natural narrator; I wondered if I could change that weakness into something positive and was pleased with the effect. Having liked that I then realised it was the perfect way to bring the climax to life.

MS: Survival of the fittest seems to be a theme in your book.  Does Holmes’ intellect make him the fittest even though he has terrible mood swings and is unable to have friends beyond Watson?

GA: He is certainly a survivor! But Holmes could not progress without Watson--his friendship with the good doctor is the catalyst for change that he needed. Who knows what he would have become without him? They are two halves of one perfect whole.

MS: Given that hybrids are created by the villain via vivisection, is this a greater feat of intellect than Holmes’ deduction?

GA: No, I don't think so. It's arguably a great feat within that limited -- and questionable -- field. But I think the reader becomes aware of Moreau's limits as the book progresses. He suffers from a failure shared by many scientists, in order to achieve what they do they have to be utterly single-minded. Holmes is focused but also something of a polymath, he is a thinker, a musician, an actor and a chemist. His potential is far greater than Moreau's.

MS: Just for fun, who did you think is the greater evil genius: Doyle’s Professor Moriarty or Wells’ Doctor Moreau?

GA: Moriarty, for the same reason as mentioned above. Moriarty was a spider at the centre of a great web, he could turn his attention to multiple problems. They both possess the sociopathy that a villain needs to excel but Moreau is too obsessed to achieve much outside his field.