Daily Archives: September 7, 2021
Posted by authorcamilson
Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable
by Susanne M. Dutton
The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.
Not for the first time, I felt a surge of gratitude for Holmes’ unspoken understanding that his digs at Bolt Cottage couldn’t suit me. No doubt his cottage fit his needs precisely, but it was no place for a visitor, perhaps purposely so. Some might say it was no place for any inhabitant at all, full as it was with apparatus meant for Holmes’ scientific inquiries, not to mention the maps and almanacs, the world’s newspapers, and of course, his library. Books lined shelves and the stairway to the sleeping loft. Books invaded the corner of the ground floor room usually devoted to meal preparation, too. They filled the unused icebox, the pots that never knew soup, and lined most of the cupboards. Books climbed the walls, stacked and somehow tracked in their positions with ribbons that hung from the center pages in a festive display—red, black, gold, green, purple, blue, white. Holmes claimed his color-coded system was modern and flawless. I never grasped it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Susanne Dutton is the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips: Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling.
Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head. Those stories tend to seat readers within pinching distance of her characters, who, like most of us, slide at times from real life to fantasy and back. A man with Alzheimer’s sets out alone for his childhood home. A girl realizes she’s happier throwing away her meals than eating them. A woman burgles her neighbors in order to stay in the neighborhood.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits.
Facebook https://www.facebook/noguessing (Improbable Holmes)
Publisher bookstore link to book:
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
INTERVIEW WITH …
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
I would apologize to anyone to whom I never said a real good-bye. I hate good-byes and I try duck it, always as if there will be a next time. I should not have counted on that. When I think of those people now, and how grateful I am to have known them, I feel as if I let myself, and them, down. I have resolved to do better.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I’ve only recently learned about Hans the Hedgehog. He’s actually part boy and part hedgehog, rides a rooster and sits in a tree playing magical bagpipe music. I don’t know how he’d take to being a pet, but I have a few nice trees. He’d be welcome. His ability is to help you to find anything you need to find. That could be a place as it is now, in the past, or the future. He can also find people, lost treasures or simply wonderful ideas. Of course, he does ask for something in return. The story I read makes it clear that you must keep your side of the bargain—or else—but that when you do you won’t be sorry.
How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
Writers naturally develop their own voices, as unique as their spoken voices, though it takes years. I believe I do have a writing voice, but I have to take care. Sometimes after reading a lot of someone else’s work, I slip into a bad imitation of that voice, only because I enjoy the work so much. Reading Mark Twain is dangerous for me. Suddenly a Huck Finn type takes possession of one of my characters. As my genre in this case is mystery, but also Sherlock Holmes, it’s a difficult question to face. I want to be true to Holmes and yet address his “myth” in a unique way. I believe I’ve done that.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
Writers are individual. That’s why I enjoy being in their company. You can be headed for the same thing and be going about it very differently. Over three decades, I have had the benefit of extraordinary feedback at the Muse Writing Center in Norfolk, Virginia; Charlotte Writers in North Carolina and Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. Michael Khandelwal in Norfolk says this about taking advice: “Take note of all the feedback you receive and be thankful for all of it. One third you may discard, one third you may keep or not, and one third is serious input. Pay close attention. You decide which is which.”
Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’m not a 19th Century consulting detective and I don’t know one, but certainly I owe a lot to Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes’ creator. Conan Doyle based his character on Joseph Bell, a professor at the Scottish medical school he attended. Holmes’ famous method, having to do with making decisions based on actual hard evidence and not assumptions, was Bell’s method of medical diagnosis. My writing does owe a lot to what I know about relationships, good and bad, as a professional counselor in several settings.
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