Bookish Wednesday: An Interview With James Lovegrove

If you've ever even seen a book, it's likely that you heard of the famed duo: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Through wit, cunning, and observation, Sherlock Holmes manages to solve even the most entangled of mysteries. I recently had the pleasure of reading Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon, written by the Holmesian author James Lovegrove. You can check out my glowing review, or better yet, snag yourself a copy. I had the opportunity to interview the author himself and it was a pleasure to do so! Here's what he had to say,


Her Campus at the University of Puerto Rico: Hello! It’s a pleasure to be interviewing you. I’m fond of Sherlock Holmes myself. He’s one of my favorite characters. How and when did you start writing Holmesian fiction? What’s unique about Sherlock Holmes to you?

James Lovegrove: I started in 2012, when I pitched a couple of ideas for Sherlock Holmes novels to Titan Books. They had just started producing new Holmesian fiction and I wanted a piece of the action! Luckily they liked what I had to offer, and ten books later I’m still writing Sherlock Holmes novels for them. (In fact, I’ve now written more words of Holmes fiction than Conan Doyle himself.) There really is no other character in literature like him: cerebral but humane, curt but kind, determined but compassionate. You just know that when Sherlock Holmes is on the case, everything will work out all right.

HC UPR: From the originals, which one is your favorite Sherlock Holmes novel?

JL: The best of the novels, in my view, has to be The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s the most intricate and the most satisfying. It’s so good, I’ve even taken on the task of writing a sequel, The Beast of the Stapletons, which comes out next year. From the original Conan Doyle short stories, I reckon “The Speckled Band” and “Silver Blaze” are the standouts.


HC UPR: Where do you get inspiration to write novels of Doctor Watson and Sherlock Holmes?

​JL: Basically I just want to write stories that Conan Doyle would approve of but that also appeal to modern readers, who expect pace, action and adventure. I also sometimes throw in a little bit of folklore and the supernatural here and there.


HC UPR: What type of research do you undertake to write something that’s meant to be historically accurate? I imagine you’ve read and reread the original works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle plenty of times, which helps.

​JL: I know the original works backwards which, yes, does help. As for other research, I’m already quite familiar with the history of the period, and anything I don’t know, I simply look up online.


HC UPR: What’s your creative process for writing like?

​JL: I sit down first thing in the morning after breakfast and just hammer through until lunchtime, with maybe a pause for coffee in the middle. I usually manage 2,000 words, on a good day 3,000, on a very good day 5,000. I’ve been a professional writer for over thirty years, and it’s like running marathons. The more you do it, the faster you get. Not that I’ve ever run an actual marathon.


HC UPR: Do you outline at all or just allow yourself to become immersed in the plot and then simply touch-up the areas that don’t quite make sense?

​JL: I used to fly by the seat of my pants when writing, before I started doing Sherlock Holmes tales. You can’t bluff your way through a mystery plot, however. Now I plan things out pretty carefully in advance, although I do allow myself room to make digressions and take diversions. Often ideas suggest themselves as the writing happens, and if they’re good, I’ll incorporate them into the story. If something in the plot comes as a surprise to me, it’s going to come as a surprise to the reader as well, and that’s a good thing.


HC UPR: What’s the hardest part of writing Holmesian fiction?

​JL: Getting the main characters, i.e. Holmes and Watson, just right. Not just their dialogue and behaviour but the relationship between them. I see them more as brothers than friends. Holmes is the older one, leading the way, a bit impatient with his younger sibling, whom he regards as slow on the uptake and sometimes even exasperating. The exasperation works both ways, however, because Watson often finds Holmes offensively rude. Nailing the dynamic between the two is essential to getting the overall tone of a Holmes novel right.


HC UPR: What other genres do you like to write when you’re not immersed in 19th century London?

​JL: I started out as an SF/fantasy/horror writer, and I still work in those genres, but I’ve also written books for children and teenagers, and currently I’m writing books tying in to the much-loved and much-missed “space western” TV show Firefly.


HC UPR: Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

​JL: Read. Write. Keep reading. Keep writing.


HC UPR: Would you like to say anything else to our readers?

​JL: Hola, readers!


HC UPR: And, finally, who do you prefer, Watson or Holmes?

​JL: I think I would get on well with Watson if we met and I would find Holmes overbearing and irritating. Holmes needs Watson to soften his sharp edges. Without Watson, nobody would want to read about a short-tempered detective with poor personal habits.


HC UPR: What are your social media handles?

​JL: On Facebook, I’m just plain James Lovegrove and you can find me on Twitter as well.

HC UPR: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I absolutely loved your book. I always appreciate the chance to ask the authors questions.

​JL: Thank you, Antoinette. I had fun!


A special thanks to James Lovegrove and his publishers at Titan Books! When you read this book, send me a message through Twitter. Here's to hoping you solve the mystery!