This afternoon I’m handing over the reins at CTG HQ to screen-writer and novelist Paul Cornell who’s popped by to tell us all about his latest book WHO KILLED SHERLOCK HOLMES?
Over to Paul …
Crime writing is quite like writing SF and fantasy, in that both audiences are used to looking for specific things, moment by moment, during their reading experience. Crime audiences seek clues and red herrings, often hoping to play along in a ‘pure whodunit’, but at least hoping the text will convince them of its plausibility. SFF audiences look for the cues of world building, the slow release of information that will tell them what the rules are. They seek a suspension of disbelief. I generalise, of course.
The lovely thing about combining those genres, as I do in my Shadow Police books, is that I can swap one set of expectations for the other. A point of how my London is set-up may also turn out to be a clue. My characters, five modern Metropolitan Police officers who have been cursed with ‘the Sight’, the ability to see the magic and the monsters, use their Ops Board to dissect the nature of the world they’ve found themselves in, as much as they use it to break down a crime. I’m proud that they use only their training and techniques, and have no occult mentor, and not much knowledge of how magic works (though, three books in, Detective Constable Kev Sefton is just about to attempt a small spell).
I’ve really enjoyed, as I got into writing these books, meeting crime fans, at gatherings like Crimefest and the big convention in Harrogate. Lovely people, surprisingly few serial killers. And now, because of what the new books is about (and also because I just wrote an episode of Elementary) I’m encountering a whole new and equally terrific fandom…
The new novel, Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? is a pure whodunit about the death of a ghost. That is, in my London, ghosts are the memories of all Londoners, living and dead, and include not only the deceased, but also fictional and mythological characters. My heroes find the ghost of Sherlock Holmes, face down in the Museum at 221b Baker Street, flickering between every version of himself ever imagined, intangible, but with a dagger in his back. What does it mean to kill a ghost? Is this anything to do with the crimes from the Conan Doyle stories being re-enacted in order in their original locations? Is it a result of the three different productions of Holmes all being filmed in the city at once?
It’s also designed as a jumping-on point for the series, with the back story of what’s going on filled in for new readers very easily. Whether or not you’ve come for the Holmes, the ghost or the mystery, we hope you’ll join in and play along.
Big thanks to Paul for coming by and telling us all about his latest book and the similarities between crime fiction, SF and fantasy.
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? is published by TOR UK and is out this week. You can buy in here from Waterstones or from Amazon here
Paul Cornell has been Hugo-nominated for his work in TV, comics and prose, and is a BSFA award-winner for short fiction. He has also written some of Doctor Who’s best-loved episodes for the BBC, and has more recently written for the Sherlock-inspired TV show Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. He lives in Gloucestershire.
Find out more about Paul at http://www.paulcornell.com and @paul_cornell.