DEBORAH CROMBIE: It is always such a treat to have the multi-talented author Dana Cameron as one of
our guests on JRW. You know you can count on Dana for something fun and interesting, and when I saw the title of today's post I couldn't wait to read it! So without further ado here is Dana on:
Mycroft Holmes, Spies, and My Fangborn World
Recently, our own Hank Phillippi Ryan mentioned my fascination with all things Sherlockian. Last week, at the Femmes Fatales blog, I wrote about how I came to write my Sherlockian pastiche story, “The Curious Case of Miss Amelia Vernet, ” and the challenges ofcombining Arthur Conan Doyle's world with my Fangborn urban fantasy 'verse. Today, I write about spies and Sherlock Holmes's (arguably) smarter brother and how they might fit into my Fangborn universe of heroic werewolves, vampires, and oracles.
Everyone has a favorite Sherlockian character or story, apart from Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, of course. I personally am most intrigued by the characters that make the biggest impact, but from the shadows. For me, that means Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother and a titan in both brains and body. Sherlock describes him to Watson at first as having a position in the British government but later reveals that “occasionally, [Mycroft] is the British government.” Mycroft is virtually a human computer and and his specialty is “omniscience.” Recently, I was honored to be a part of the inaugural meeting of the
Diogenes Club of Washington, D.C., a scion society devoted to Sherlockian pursuits and named for the private club that Mycroft founded (here I'm sporting my club badge).
My interest in Mycroft also stems from my infatuation with spies and spying. It was the glamorized, mythologized fictions that spoke to me first (most of my Barbie dolls were chemists or spies), but it was a paper I did in high school that sealed the deal from the non-fiction point of view when I wrote about the Special Operations Executive. The SOE was formed at the request of Winston Churchill in 1940 to spy on and sabotage the Axis powers in Europe; the SOE was the foundation of what would eventually become MI6. Because of their irregular and “ungentlemanly” tactics—commando skills, criminal techniques, and all-around dirty fighting were their preferred methods—and their headquarters in Baker Street, the SOE referred to themselves as the Baker Street Irregulars.
They took their name from the original Baker Street Irregulars which, you probably know, were the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes needed a covert network of spies to aid his investigations through the mazes of 19th-century London. He paid homeless children for their information and their ability to move about unseen; they were, sadly, all but invisible in the streets of the capital. Because of these connections—Mycroft's important role as a clearinghouse of information in the government and the children's use of their criminal skills—other fiction writers have suggested that Mycroft was actually the founder of the British Secret Service and that the “M” of James Bond fame refers to his name and was passed down as a title.
In my short story, “The Curious Case of Miss Amelia Vernet,” I combine the world of Sherlock Holmes and my own Fangborn world of superhero vampires, werewolves, and oracles. Their own covert activities—secretly fighting evil and protecting humanity—made that a natural avenue for me to explore while writing about Sherlock's Baker Street Irregulars.
Mycroft's role in the British government made me wonder what Britain's official stance on the Fangborn would be and his “omniscience” made me wonder what he knew about the hidden history of the Fangborn and their powers. Finding those connections offered me endless fun mashing up these two worlds.
So, Reds and readers: who is your favorite Sherlockian character? Favorite story or adaptation for the screen?
Dana Cameron can't help mixing in a little history into her fiction. Drawing from her expertise in archaeology, Dana's work (including traditional mystery, noir, urban fantasy, thriller, and historical tales) has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards and earned an Edgar Award nomination. Her third Fangborn novel, Hellbender, will be published in April 2015 by 47North. Her most recent Fangborn short story is a Sherlockian pastiche; "The Curious Case of Miss Amelia Vernet" was published in October. Her story, "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars," featuring Pam Ravenscroft from Charlaine Harris's acclaimed Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, appears in DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse. Www. danacameron.com
DEBS: Dana, so jealous of the badge! But LOVE the idea of Mycroft being the originator of M!! You can certainly imagine that Mycroft in Mark Gatiss's portrayal in Sherlock. As for favorite characters, I think mine would have to be Watson as he is written in the original Conan Doyle stories, and as he's played--very true to form, I think, by Martin Freeman in Sherlock.
REDS and readers, what about you?