Saturday, February 6, 2016

Someone Else's Creation

The Sherlock Holmes anthology "An Improbable Truth:  The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" was an entirely new experience for me as a writer, since I'd never done any kind of "fan fiction" before.  The idea of putting my own spin on someone else's character(s), no matter how iconic, just never appealed to me.  I usually like to go in my own direction, follow a thought and see where it leads me.

That anthology attracted me mainly for the atmospheric part of it.  I liked the idea of a cosmic horror set in the grimy dark of Victorian England, and Holmes was the perfect guide for that.  I'd so enjoyed Jeremy Brett's portrayal of the Victorian sleuth, and it was just an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

The trouble with this kind of project though, at least in an anthology, is that you have to operate within the editor's view of the character, not your own.  There's room for interpretation on the part of the writer, of course, but only within the parameters of what the editor considers a proper homage to the character.  Others may want to focus on the cold intellect and almost inhuman distance of Conan Doyle's Holmes, while I might have wanted to explore the brief but endearing glimpses of human warmth I saw peeking out from behind Holmes's mask of erudite detachment when watching Brett portray him on "Mystery."  It was those snatches of vulnerability juxtaposed with the air of cold superiority for which Holmes is famous that made Brett's portrayal my favorite.  The sadness in his eyes, the distant, pensive stare and the low, morose tone of his voice punctuated by the occasional shout in moments of anger gave him an almost pitiable air; the emotionally stunted intellectual giant, trapped in the lonely prison of his own mental superiority, the child within him struggling to emerge.  He displayed moments of compassion, as well, a gentleness in his eyes at the suffering of the innocent.  But, such flaws or hints of sentimentality just didn't seem to fit in with what the editor had in mind.

I like sometimes to jump on the bandwagon of an anthology if it's in a genre I enjoy; it's a challenge that sharpens a writer's skill.  I'm glad I entered that one; it was an enjoyable experience, revisions and all.  In general though, I'm still partial to developing my own characters, even knowing they'll never enjoy the fame of Sherlock Holmes.

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