Friday, December 11, 2015

What We're Writing-Debs' Bits and Bobs and a Hint of Heather

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Like Hallie and Hank, I've just finished a short story for an upcoming Sherlock-themed anthology edited by Sherlockian experts Leslie Klinger and Laurie R. King. Need great ideas for the Sherlock fans on your list? Here's the first anthology edited by Les and Laurie, A STUDY IN SHERLOCK


They are enormously entertaining and inventive, so I was very flattered to be asked to contribute to the third volume, which will be out in September 2016. 

It was a big departure for me. My story, called THE CASE OF THE SPECKLED TROUT, is told in first person, something I don't usually write in the Kincaid/James novels. It reminded me of how I felt when I was just starting out writing, trying different voices to see what worked and felt comfortable. I still don't think I'd do it in a novel (and hats off to all the writers who do it so well, because it's much harder than it seems!) but I had a great time with this story.

It's set in the Scottish Highlands, where the heather is a' bloomin'. (I've been really homesick for Scotland lately...)

Here's the very beginning:

     My name is Sherry Watson. It’s a crap name, Sherry, I know. But what can you do? It’s not like I had a say in the matter. My parents, to give them credit, were trying to do the right thing—a sentimental gesture I wondered if they were sorry for after. 

     They named me after my godfather, who is—or was, before he vanished a year ago—a famous detective. All I have to say is it’s a good thing I wasn’t a boy, or I would really have something to be pissed off with him about.  Actually, he’s responsible for a lot of things I should be pissed off about, my godfather, not the least of which was me standing in a freezing Scottish kitchen, up to my elbows in fish guts...

I'm also working hard on finishing up the new Kincaid/James, GARDEN OF LAMENTATIONS, but I couldn't find a single thing to share that wasn't a spoiler.

So here are some Duncan and Gemma stocking-stuffer suggestions!
For my fave Christmas novel in the series, WATER LIKE A STONE, set at Christmas in the beautiful Cheshire market town of Nantwich. 

Then, for a bit more Scottish atmosphere, NOW MAY YOU WEEP. Gemma and her friend Hazel take a much needed break in the Scottish Highlands, but Hazel's complicated past catches up to her and it takes all of Gemma's and Duncan's effort to save her from a dire fate.

I'll give away a stocking-size copy of each--just put your email in a comment to be entered. 
So, REDS and dear readers, where would you spend your fantasy Christmas? I think the Highlands would be fabulous--at least as long as you had plenty of firewood and good Scottish whisky...


  1. Debs, I love your Speckled Trout voice! So different from your Gemma & Duncan voice yet equally engaging!

    Anthologies always seem to be welcome gifts for my friends at holiday time, and I think these will make a fun addition to my own growing collection. Christmas is getting too close, too fast!

  2. I love this, Debs! Going to make sure to get the new book.

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  4. I am so looking forward to reading this Sherlock-themed anthology. Thanks for the glimpse into "The Case of the Speckled Trout" . . . you've managed to whet my reader appetite; I want to read the rest of Sherry's story!

    As for the fantasy Christmas . . . anywhere the whole family could be together would be just fine with me.

  5. My ideal Christmas would be in London. As a Dickensian, I want to see the Pantos that have survived two centuries and are still performed in and around London and the "provinces" during the holidays. Pantomimes are stylized forms of theatre (not at all what we think of when we think of "mimes" but more like live Punch and Judy shows) were great favorites of Dickens, and his early novels were heavily influenced by tropes and themes of the pantomime and theatrical traditions of his early exposure to live performing. He might have been an actor if a cold hadn't prevented him from making it to an audition; so he ended up as a court and Parlimentary reporter instead before he began writing his little "Sketches by Boz," and, eventually, "The Pickwick Papers." But his fondness of theatre shines in "Nicholas Nickleby," the waxworks of "The Old Curiosity Shop," poor Mr. Wopsle's failed Hamlet in "Great Expectations, and the many Shakespearean images that pepper his novels, particularly in the unfinished "Mystery of Edwin Drood." In any case, I think London with its cold weather, Dickensian atmosphere, and old-fashioned theatre, would be the perfect place...followed by Scotch whisky (I'm not a purist).

    Oh, and if anyone made my goulash recipe from a few weeks ago, please let me know at I'm always looking for ways to make it even better!

  6. Agree with Reine, anthologies are great gifts. And I'm looking forward to this new one!

    I would spend Christmas wherever my sons were gathered. Really. For me that's all that counts. Right here at home, or on a beach somewhere, in a mountain cabin, anywhere. But Scotch whiskey is always a nice addition!

  7. "The Case of the Speckled Trout"? You had me at the title! And I love the voice. So much. Can't wait to read the rest.

    My fantasy Christmas? Somewhere warm. Maybe Florida's Sanibel Island where every day is a bird walk.

  8. The story sounds fabulous--and the anthologies will make perfect reading over the holidays--sometimes I want to read, especially before bed, but I know if I'm reading something by a favorite author that I'll stay up way too late. So, short stories satisfy the itch admirably!

    Fantasy Christmas? I would love to take the boys to London--with some live shows/music, dream on!

  9. My ideal Christmas would be right here with friends and family, a fire in the fireplace and lots of tasty food and drink. For me there could be nothing better.

  10. SO great, Debs! And so fascinating how different all of ours are--love that. (does he trout slither down the bell pull and…?)

    Fantasy Christmas. Hmmm. HOme, I guess. But gee, that's timid. How about--Montreal? We've never been there, and it seems like it wold be wonderful. Or maybe--the lodge at Glacier National Park. It is SO fabulous. (And it would have to be cozy and deluxe,…:-))

  11. I'm going to have to pick up this anthology. What a great snippet.

    Ideal Christmas? Home, in front of a roaring fire. With no place to go. Family around me. This year, it might actually happen (well, if it stops being 70 degrees).

  12. Yes, yes, love that title and snippet Debs! quite a few years ago, John and I used to go to the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod during the holiday season. They do a beautiful job with decorating and tons of special touches...that would be a fun place to take the whole gang for Christmas!

  13. Homesick for Scotland, too! Can't wait to read....

  14. I'd love to spend Christmas in the Highlands, but it would have to be at one of those castle/manor houses that's been converted to central heating and all mod cons, as they say.

    I've long thought it would be amazing to be able to spend one Christmas each in some of my favorite cities: New York, London, Paris, Vienna. Now all I have to do is persuade Ross. And board the dogs and children.

  15. I visited Scotland in September a couple of years ago. I loved it. Do you know how you feel comfortable and fit right in in some places? That is Scotland for me. I could happily move there. And the whisky is a bonus!

  16. I love the idea of Christmas in London, too, and I'd love to see a traditional Panto. That's something I haven't experienced. I'd be up for London, Paris, and Vienna, too.

    Of course with Christmas in Scotland, (with all mod cons, Julia!) would include the family, the fire, the good food and drinks, and plenty of nice long walks. But we couldn't take the dogs so I don't think I could sell Rick on that one...

    And, yes, Pat D, I've always felt very comfortable in Scotland. The Scots are usually very friendly and welcoming. I am still, however, somewhat accent-challenged, although find Highland Scots easier to understand than Lowland Scots.

  17. My fantasy Christmas would be in a village in the Alps. No commercialism. Simple, natural, home made gifts, carols around the fire, mulled wine....especially mulled wine

  18. Debs, I have the first two Laurie and Les/Klinger and King anthologies, and I am so excited about the one for next year, with the Red authors who will be in it. And, I love that your story is set in Scotland with a character I already am drawn to. Sherry Watson is a great name. Of course, I'm especially looking forward to Garden of Lamentations. I so miss Gemma and Duncan, and seeing two of the amazing books I've read here makes me want to read the whole series all over again. Someday, I hope to do that. I'm trying to go back and collect the hardbacks in the earlier books, and I've managed to purchase a few at Bouchercon.

    Oh, a dream Christmas would be a large cabin, modern large with all the amenities, located somewhere with lots of snow and a near-by village with authentic shops and a lovely eatery of some sort. (I may be describing Three Pines, for those of you who are Louise Penny fans like me.) All the family would be there, and we would cherish the time together. Or, then I could go with the whole family in Key West, like we were one Christmas. Hahaha!

  19. A rough around the edges Sherry Watson...brilliant! I'm definitely looking forward to this anthology, even as I frown on anything that takes you away from Duncan and Gemma.
    Fantasy Christmas week (see how I managed to stretch it out to a week?) would be a few days in London then back to a lovely grade two barn conversion large enough to house all my favorite people who have magically appeared at my door on Christmas Eve. In the real world, Christmas Day will be a big family breakfast followed by stockings, board games, a jigsaw puzzle, and a long walk to work off some of that breakfast. All my chicks in the nest...ideal Christmas, wherever we are.

    Fingers crossed!

  20. My great dream Christmas would be an extended stay at the magnificent Château Frontenac inside the 400-year-old walled Québec City. My first activity would be to venture out to join a small-group Christmas gourmet food tour! Then I would quickly return to the warmth of the fire, restful music, a view of the St. Lawrence, a drink, and a good mystery in my hands.

  21. Intriguing, and "up to my elbows in fish guts..." will definitely serve to make any holiday mishap seem tame by comparison.
    Sharing in dreams of book-filled gourmet celebrations, though I'll admit to preferring Quebec in the summer . . . maybe Key West for a winter holiday? Hugs! ;-) from mgarrett at mail dot win dot org