People often ask me what inspired me to write a female Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I actually got the idea while walking across the street from my office job to lunch one day. It was a typical rainy day in Portland, and I was thinking about lunch, when bam! The idea hit me right in the middle of the street. I came to a dead stop until someone honked. Here’s the thing: I’ve always loved detective novels. And crime. And I’m a woman. I loved Nancy Drew, but I didn’t start with her. I started with Sherlock Holmes.
As a kid, we had a small library of books in one bookcase. Most of the books had come from the town dump (we recycled even then). One of those books was The Complete Sherlock Holmes. I read every one of those stories and novels. More than once. I fancied myself a young, female Sherlock. I looked for clues everywhere. I solved mysteries around the house (what happened to the last piece of cheese? Where did my one sock go? It was a mystery because we didn’t have a dryer.) Mom had a pipe collection, including a Meerschaum, so I sometimes stuck that in my mouth as I paced the floor.
Sherlock Holmes, although fictional, was based on a professor A. Conan Doyle had at university. Sherlock’s amazing powers of observation led him to solve all sorts of mysteries. Today, New Scotland Yard even has a computer system called HOLMES, and a training program called “Elementary” after Sherlock’s well-known statement to Dr. Watson.
I have other favorite detectives in crime novels today, including Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, Val McDermid’s Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford, Ellen Hart’s Jane Lawless. Who are your favorite detectives? Your favorite mystery authors?