The last few years have been big for the world’s greatest detective. No, not Batman! I’m talking about Sherlock Holmes of course! There’s been a great set of movies starring The Iron Man, a BBC television drama featuring the hobbit, and now Titan Books has published a fantastic mystery featuring Mr. Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson. Sherlock Holmes and the Army of Dr. Moreau is the second book by author Guy Adams that continues the adventures of Holmes and Watson as they scour London’s dark streets in search of a madman who has a special knack for sewing pieces of critter onto unsuspecting folk. I can’t say as to how much this book is like the classic Holmes stories, as written by Sir Author Conan Doyle (I read a few of the stories in college and I’m pretty sure none of them had Holmes and Watson facing off against giant man horses) but The Army of Dr. Moreau will give you a story packed with adventure and entertaining characters. I enjoyed the style of Adams’s writing and the humor he brought to the characters, some of which come from other literary fiction classics like Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Lost World. Adams did a great job of writing Holmes’s wit and arrogance as well as Watson’s frustrations as they continue their friendship in an unusual adventure. I don’t doubt readers will enjoy this book, as I did, however there was one part towards the end that “irked” me. I won’t spoil anything too much (which probably means a lot) but; come on Adams!? he throws a ball!? Still, I liked this book so much I went and got a copy of Adam’s first Holmes story published by Titan, The Breath of God. Go get a copy of Sherlock Holmes; The Army of Dr. Moreau at Titan Books Website or at Amazon.com. Also, Mr. Adams was very cool to take some time to answer questions about his book for our site and you can check out the Q&A with him below!
Q&A with Guy Adams
Q: Are you a fan of early 20th century fiction and pulp stories?
A: I certainly am, Holmes obviously but also a good deal of other work. There’s something so evocative about the period and I think those years straddling the dawn of the twentieth century is when writers finally let themselves rip. We start to see stories and novels that are shameless in their attempts to thrill. Plots and characters become wilder, leading to the great Sci-fi and pulp crime boom of the last century. Was it perhaps because the Victorians were so repressed in public that the books on their nightstands became so shocking?
Q: What inspired you to mix a Sherlock Holmes novel with H.G. Wells’s story and do you have any plans for future classic fiction “mash ups?”
A: I can’t tell the full credit because the idea of doing a mash up was part of the brief. When I agreed to write a couple of brand-new novels for Titan they were happy to give me a free reign but they were particularly interested in novels that would see Holmes meet someone else famous from literature or history. That’s why my first novel The Breath of God, features Aleister Crowley and a veritable who’s who of supernatural detectives. I was determined to try and pick some fresh “team-ups” though, Holmes is a literary tart, he’s met virtually everyone! As for the future, I really don’t know. I hope I will be writing more but it’s up in the air at the moment.
Q: How much research did you do in preparation for this story?
A: I re-read The Island of Dr Moreau and topped up my Holmes bank (I read Holmes a lot anyway but always get myself in the mood just so he and Watson are fresh in my mind). Outside that it’s just checking on detail really, trying to make sure I’m right in the historical detail. I like things to be accurate if possible though story is king, I cheated with the Underground during the climax to the last book as no reader will ever thank you for dampening the excitement by sticking to facts!
Q: I read online that you performed as Sherlock Holmes, what was that experience like, and did it influence your writing of the character?
A: I did it a couple of times, first in a set of comedy sketches (which I also wrote). That was actually great fun, though I beat myself up one night during a particularly stupid scene where a drug-addled Holmes believes he is under attack from tiny creatures that inhabit a corpse. Watson is addressing the gathered police/audience while behind him I am doing back flips and fighting a dead body, getting more and more covered in grue. The second time I was playing it straight and that was a distinctly mixed experience. Playing the part was a dream come true but I don’t think I did it very well. The handful of reviews were pleasant enough but the show was stressful and I know I could have done better. On the last night though I did go skinny-dipping in the River Avon, battling shopping trolleys and theatre students while my Watson — true to character — looked on in dismay. I suppose it all went to inform how I see the characters in my mind. But then I always write like that, I approach the characters as I would an actor then write my dialogue etc. with that in mind. It’s just the way that comes easiest to me.
Q: One of my favorite parts of your book is the introduction of Professor Challenger and the characters that make up Mycroft Holmes’s science club. Any chance we’ll see a separate adventure for these characters?
A: Yes! Well… ish. I’ve co-written a story that’s due to appear in an anthology of new Professor Challenger stories edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec. I wrote it with the splendid author (and friend) James Goss and it’s utterly absurd. It features a later version of The Department in passing but is mostly a selection of letters between Challenger and his wife as they combat an alien invasion together.
Q: How does your version of Watson and Holmes differ from that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?
A: I suppose mine may be slightly more humorous. Characters are always subjective, we colour them with our own attitudes and habits as we read. This is how I see them but I don’t think it’s far off the original. Some readers think I’ve nailed them completely, others aren’t so sure, that will always be the case.
Q: Towards the end of the novel the narrative switches away from Dr. Watson to some of the other main characters. Was this a writing style used by Sir Author Conan Doyle or H.G. Wells, and if not why did you decide to tell the story through the point of view of Holmes, Challenger, or some of the other characters?
A: Doyle wrote two short stories from Holmes perspective and they really don’t work because Holmes doesn’t make a good narrator. I wondered if I could take all his failings in that regard and make them positives. That’s where a good chunk of humour comes in I think, he makes a funny narrator when forced to discuss action and excitement as he really has no interest in it!
It just seemed like a fun way of rounding out the novel, looking at the climax from everyone’s perspective, it kept the pace fast and the action shifting.
Q: You said you based the character of Abner Perry on Peter Cushing, but whom did you envision as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as you wrote your story?
A: I just really like his performance as Perry in the movie AT THE EARTH’S CORE and couldn’t help it infecting the way I wrote his dialogue.
Holmes and Watson aren’t played by anyone in particular though, they’re not actors, they’re real!
Q: In your opinion what makes a good villain?
A: Unpredictability. A good villain can be the most delicate, gentle creature right before he cuts your face off and wears it like a mask.
Q: Was there any special research of late 19th century/ early 20th century speech that you had to do?
A: Nothing beyond reading the books, which means I’ve probably made countless mistakes.
Q: Do you hope your story will inspire your readers to read the original works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, or other works of fiction you refer to in the book?
A: Absolutely, I see myself as a gateway drug to finer writing!