Lawler, W.P. Mystery at Saint Andrews. London: MX Publishing, 2013 Author Interview

Note: This interview was originally published on 31 January, 2017.  However, when I went to post a new entry, I found that this was unaccountably missing. I am therefore re-posting it and, well, I guess we’ll see what happens!

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Q:  How did you “meet” Sherlock Holmes?

 A: Like many people, I first came across the extraordinary Sherlock Holmes in school. We read Doyle’s “The Speckled Band.”

Q:    What is your favorite Canon story and why?

A: I would have to say “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I was truly captivated by Irene Adler and the clever storyline.  The Hound of the Baskervilles also merits consideration.  I read it on a yearly basis!

Q: What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes pastiche and why?

  A:  (Aside from my own….ha-ha)  I enjoyed reading David Marcum’s short stories.  I feel that he has done a very commendable job in his portrayals of Holmes and Watson in all of his writings.

Q: What is your favorite movie or television portrayal of Holmes and Watson, and why? Were you inspired by any particular one of them?

 A:  My favorite Holmes will always be Jeremy Brett. He is always in my mind’s eye as Sherlock.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

  A: I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a storyteller.  I’m a retired elementary teacher who loves “words.”  I’ve previously written two golf books, self-published, which consist of many tournament experiences and funny encounters I’ve had playing that infernal sport! As far as my first effort at composing a novel, I suppose that having read and re-read all of the Canon, I decided to try to write a pastiche myself.

Q: Why did you decide you wanted to write about Sherlock Holmes?

  A: That was easy.  I’ve loved reading and watching Holmes and Watson stories all of my life!

Q: What inspired you to write this particular book?

   A: Loving the Canon and the game of golf, I thought it might be fun to try to combine the two just to see what might happen.

Q:  Where did you get the idea for this book?

 A:   I’m not sure, but as previously mentioned I have always loved Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes adventures and have a deep appreciation and love for the game of golf.  Perhaps, it was because golf can be most addicting, much like the chemicals Holmes chose to use from time to time…

Q: How would you categorize your book? Is it mystery, thriller, horror, romance…?

  A:  Definitely a mystery…..

Q: Can you provide a brief synopsis of your book?

 A:  The story takes place during the “Great Hiatus.” Watson is visiting the quaint old village of St Andrews in 1894 on a much-needed holiday.  Still saddened by the loss of his good friend and companion, Sherlock Holmes, he seeks to put his life back in order.  Believing that some golf on the famous “Old Course” might just be the tonic that is needed, travels to the Kingdom of Fife and the Royal Hotel to test his theory.

While there he meets a former adversary(Irene Norton) who can use his sage counsel. Willingly, he agrees to help in all ways possible….There are some twists and turns along the way that serve to challenge the reader’s ability to solve the mystery.

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St. Andrew’s, Scotland, as Watson would have seen it in 1894.

Q:   How closely does your book hew to canon? Why or why not? Was this a conscious decision, or did it just happen?

A: I believe it fits nicely into the missing years and, yes, it was a conscious effort to adhere to the Canon.

Q: Are you using Watson as a narrator?  Why or why not? If so, did you find it difficult to mimic his voice? Did you use any particular “tricks”?

  A: Due to the plotline that I chose to employ, the second half of the book is where the “familiar” Watson  begins to tell his side of the story.  The first half of the book is written from the omniscient perspective.

As far as portraying Watson’s voice is concerned, I believe I actually did a creditable job…

Q: What did you most enjoy about writing your book?

  A: Just about everything. Researching the timeline, trying to stick to Doyle’s descriptions of Holmes and Watson, making every effort possible to try to write in the wonderful manner of ACD….

Q: What was the hardest part about writing your book?

  A: Anxiety, I suppose. I was so eager to put the story in print, I kept coming up with other ideas that had to be reined in…

Q: Did your book require a lot of research? If so, did you uncover any especially interesting facts?

 A:  I spent a great deal of time perusing many of the books which described golf on the fabled course of St Andrews and the history of the town.  I did discover that originally there were only 13 Rules of Golf as established by the Honourble Company of Edinburgh Golfers, as opposed to the many, many rules that now overcomplicate the game these days.

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And here they are!

Q: What is your favorite moment in this book?

  A: My own favorite moment occurs in the last chapter, where all is revealed to Watson.

Q: Who is your favorite character in this book?

  A: My favorite character is Charles Hutchings, known in the story as “The Quiet One”.

Q: Did you find that using Conan Doyle’s characters made this story easier or more difficult to write?

  A: Interesting question….Being so familiar with Doyle’s depictions of the main characters made it easy to write.  On the other hand, I found it most challenging to properly do them justice in my portrayals.

Q: Did you include any original characters? Can you describe them for us?

  A: Well, I created a character named Andy Kirk who plays a major role in the first half of the book.  He was a kind-hearted, cooper who befriended “the Quiet One” when others were very critical of that man. There were some other characters, locals, who played important roles, as well.

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W.P. Lawler (The Author)

Q: Do you have a particular writing process? Would you like to share it with us?

 A:  Lots of brain-storming of ideas, plots, locations…. I then create a story timeline and try to follow it carefully..

Q: What is your writing philosophy?

 A:  Hmm…Everyone has stories to tell. Whether it’s a person’s life story or even some peculiar happening that they’ve enjoyed or witnessed, it will appeal to someone…

Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?

   A: I guess that my suggestion would be to write “something”every day….even if it’s only a paragraph. Make multiple copies and don’t be afraid to “edit” (make that CUT) wherever necessary!

Q: How did you feel when you first saw your book–in actual book form?

   A: Great joy….Pride…..Happiness that the work had been completed!!!!

Q: Are you involved in any Sherlockian groups?

A: Not actively, although I follow Hounds of the Internet and The Well-Read Sherlockian on-line.

Q: Can you share some of the reviews you’ve received for this book? 

  A: My book, Mystery at St Andrews, was originally self-published, but MX Publishing found it interesting enough to publish it.  I was truly touched that such a fine company chose to do so.  I have to admit that I did not make any major effort at promoting my work and so, there were not many reviews.  However, Philip K. Jones and Raven were kind enough to review and comment on my work.  You can find these reviews on Amazon.com

(WRS note: Both Philip K. Jones and Raven are prominent  and prolific Sherlockian reviewers on Amazon)

Q: What sort of reader is most likely to enjoy your book?

   A: Most people who like Doyle’s characterizations of Holmes and Watson will appreciate the book.  However, if I had to select a particular group, I would have to say people who love ACD, the game of golf and twists and turns….

Q: Where can readers get a copy of your book?

  A: It is available on Amazon as well as Audible.  The audible version of Mystery at St Andrews was extremely well done by David Collins. Really a hoot to listen to his rendition!

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