The M stands for “Manda.” Or sometimes “Mandy.” And to my college friends, “Methos.”
I grew up in a house filled with Sherlock Holmes. You know, everything goes in cycles, and as I was around eight years old, Sherlock Holmes was back in rotation. My favorite movie was Young Sherlock Holmes, and my dad and I would watch the Granada series that starred Jeremy Brett. My dad was a big fan of Holmes, had not only a collection of the Doyle stories but a number of other books. The Nicholas Meyer books, of course, and then just random others. And I devoured all this, and watched the Basil Rathbone movies, and things like Without a Clue indiscriminately. So I guess it makes sense that I would later become the author of Sherlock Holmes stories.
I wrote Mystery of the Last Line in 1999 as part of my entrance application to grad school. Years later I dug it up again and thought, “Why not?” Self-publishing was sort of this novel thing, and Amazon had made it relatively easy. So with my husband’s help, we tossed the story onto Amazon, and to my surprise it did fairly well. Well enough that my husband encouraged me to write more.
Ichabod Reed did not come as easily as Last Line had done. It had been a long time since I’d written a Sherlock Holmes story for one thing. And there was also that pressure of expectation. I’d had no expectations when I’d put Last Line up. But I struggled through and wrote it, and it also did all right.
Holmes, you know, has a built-in audience. There are so many fans and readers (and writers). So while I like to think I’m good at writing Sherlock Holmes stories, it doesn’t hurt that there is a fan base that I didn’t have to raise alone.
Meanwhile, in January of 2012 I began work on a new project that at the time was titled St. Peter in Chains. It had started life as a Sherlock Holmes story, but only in my head. By the time I started writing, it was something else entirely, the story of a gay British spy in 1960s London. The result was a novella that came pouring out of me inside of three weeks. It was as if a dam had broken and this whole life and world was revealed to me as the waters drained away. After writing the novella, I also adapted St. Peter in Chains into a short screenplay, and that script won an award. An indie director was interested in it, but he wanted a feature. At the same time, readers of the novella wanted to know what happened next. So I spent a couple more years getting the rest of Peter’s story out. Then I shopped it around and, despite really encouraging feedback, found no takers. I was on the brink of self-publishing again when Tirgearr Publishing in Ireland offered me a contract for the manuscript.
The resulting book, The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, came out in January 2016.
I’ve also since added a third Sherlock Holmes story to my oeuvre. Monumental Horror was easier to write than Ichabod Reed. Who know why some come easier than others? In any case, I hope to eventually have enough stories to collect into a print anthology. I’m also actively revising a YA fantasy novel, first in a trilogy, that I hope to get an agent for.
I see it all as progress. From that first little self-published story to landing a small publisher. From winning a screenwriting award to having my first film short premiere in San Diego. Though I find myself anxious to gain bigger prizes, I have to admit I’ve come a long way. And I’m eager to keep going.
You can find me online in the following places: