There is a real sense of excitement amongst Sherlock Holmes fans as we enter autumn 2011. The filming of the new series of the BBC’s Sherlock promises the next episodes in the spring, and teasers for the new Guy Richie film ‘A Game of Shadows’ get shared almost the instant they are made public.
It is wonderful time to be a Sherlock Holmes publisher as well. The resurgence of Sherlock Holmes through the films and BBC series has created a whole new era of fans, and has meant that we will end up having published around twenty new Holmes related books in 2011, including those from a dozen new authors. To put that into context, in previous years, that would be more books than we would publish in total. We have a host of new books coming out in the next couple of months all of which are listed below, but first a quick summary of what has happened this year so far.
It certainly has been our best year in the Holmes genre. We were privileged in the spring to have two of our books shortlisted for the 2011 Howlett Literary Award (Sherlock Holmes Book of the Year) and for The Norwood Author (Alistair Duncan) to have won it. The other shortlisted MX book, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Devon did Paul, Brian and Sadru proud getting nominated. The book also got nominated for Devon
Book of the Year. Sherlockian history is where we started as a Holmes publisher and remains central to our publishing strategy. Any Sherlockian interested in Conan Doyle will have already added Alistair Duncan’s fourth book An Entirely New Country to their Christmas list. It comes out early December and covers the time ACD spent at Undershaw – the timing being important as Undershaw faces destruction [you can find out more at the excellent website Save Undershaw]. A big thank you in particular to Alistair, Paul and Brian. Having three of the most important Holmes historians in our fold is a very important part of MX’s progress in the field.
History is vital, but as you can imagine it is the new mysteries and pastiches that are proving to be our best-sellers with their wide appeal among Holmes fans old and new. Both short-fiction and novels are proving popular, with short-fiction probably the higher sellers as they are often seen as the most accessible. The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes (Tony Reynolds) is our top seller with more than half of the sales on Amazon’s Kindle. Another new short-fiction collection The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes (Gerry Kelly) came out at the end of May and is starting to get a following as well.
Following the launch of our US office and website our US author base grew significantly this year. Felicia Carparelli’s Murder in the Library is a modern mystery set in Chicago which has just been picked up for translation into Italian, and Kate Workman’s first (of five so far) novel Rendezvous at The Populaire tackled the tough type of pastiche, the cross-over with Holmes taking on The Phantom of The Opera. The next in the series from Kate, I Will Find The Answer sees The Phantom return and the introduction of Dr.Jekyll. A more traditional pastiche, is Keiran McMullen’s excellent Watson’s Afghan Adventure which has drawn a big fan base for the high level of military detail – his blog, and especially his series entitled ‘The Many Watsons‘ has been extremely popular. Molly Carr took a brief break from the Watson and Fanshaw series (The Sign of Fear and A Study in Crimson) to deliver In Search of Dr. Watson a very detailed biography. The next in her female Sherlock Holmes series is due out in the spring.
Tracy Revels from South Carolina pleasantly shocked many Holmes fans with her fantasy pastiche Shadowfall – the dark story surprising many as although it is a fantasy pastiche, it’s quite dark and has already become one of our bestsellers – helped by a very haunting cover. In June we were joined by Dr.Dan Andriacco with a real treat in Baker Street Beat. Not only a book, but a quite wonderful blog [BSB Blog] it’s a collection of in his own words ‘scribblings, ramblings and general Holmes stuff’. The book contains not only a very strong pastiche, but advice on how to write your own. The London Society described reading the book being like “chatting over a drink with a knowledgeable fellow Holmesian.” High praise indeed.
June also saw the most important mystery of all finally put to rest. The Case Of The Grave Accusation tells the story of the real life murder accusation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and undeniably father of all modern crime fiction. Told in the form of a very funny pastiche, where Holmes and Watson travel forward in time to clear the name of their creator, the book also includes all the evidence required to finally refute the terrible charges that ACD committed murder, adultery and plagiarism of his close friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson. A wonderful collaboration between cartoonist Dicky Neely who wrote the original pastiche and esteemed historian Paul R Spiring make for mandatory reading for all Holmes and ACD fans.
So what’s coming up this autumn? Well, a good mix of new authors and new titles from existing authors. First up on the 5th September is A Case of Witchcraft coming from an expert on witchcraft, Joe Revill who weaves a great pastiche in with his specialist subject of the occult. Also in September (20th) is an epic, and we don’t use the term loosely, Barefoot on Baker Street. Charlotte Anne Walter’s debut novel covers the entire life of workhouse orphan Red who, during her tough and crime filled life encounters Holmes while she is working for the criminal mastermind Moriarty. Simply stunning.
October sees the first book with MX from an established Holmes bestselling writer Thomas Wheeler. We are so happy to get this one as its pretty special. See The London of Sherlock Holmes is a mammoth 400 page opus that includes every single London location related to the Holmes stories, as well as a full character listing. The really clever part of the book, is that it includes street level co-ordinates and Googlemap links so that all electronic versions will enable the reader to ‘walk in the steps’ of Holmes at all the locations. Google’s streetview means that you can jump into any of the locations from the stories and see the real life London streets in front of your eyes – understandably this book took Thomas years to put together and will we are sure become an invaluable exploration tool for all Holmes fans.
On the 2nd November a new author arrives called Gerry O’Hara with his debut Holmes novel Sherlock Holmes and The Affair In Transylvania. Calling Gerry ‘new’ is a little misleading as Gerry is a former film producer with literally hundreds of film and TV credits to his name, including episodes of The Avengers. This is one of three books Gerry has out this year including his autobiography entitled ‘She Called Me Mediocre’, the title having come from Joan Collins with whom Gerry worked. You may not be surprised that there is already film company interest in his take on Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. He has a detailed website showing all his projects at GerryOHara.com.
9th November sees Dr.Dan follow up the success of Baker Street Beat with his debut novel – No Police Like Holmes. It’s not a pastiche, but a modern mystery and the introduction of a new hero Sebastian Mcabe. Holmes fans are going to love (or hate) the first outing as it takes place in a Sherlockian event (deerstalkers and pipes abound) where there has been a murder and Dan pulls no punches with the Holmesian stereotypes that are the prime suspects of the foul deed – very, very funny.
A big thankyou to the growing fan base of the Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle Books group on Facebook and the tens of thousands of fans on Twitter. You make us smile every day ladies and gentlemen and we look forward to delivering quality Holmes fiction for decades to come.