Welcome back to another Teaser Tuesday featuring the authors of An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Please welcome to the stage Robert Perret, author of The Canaries of Clee Hills Mine.
THE IMPROBABLE AUTHORS: ROBERT PERRET
1. What drew you to submit to this particular anthology?
Sherlock Holmes and the supernatural are just such a great fit. The hyper-rationalist facing off against the irrational is charged by a natural frisson. I am also a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, and I come at the Canon and the character from the perspective that they are fun mystery adventure stories, and the call for submissions from Lexx Christian definitely had that vibe. There is a major vein of Sherlockian fiction that is focused on historical accuracy and period verisimilitude and that’s a perfectly fine field of endeavor for those it appeals to, but it wasn’t what Arthur Conan Doyle was doing. He was writing awesome, amazing stories with this perfect archetype of a character that just happened to be in Victorian London because that is where and when Conan Doyle himself happened to be. He was very much writing pulpy entertainment, and for me, it is more interesting and fun and true to maintain that spirit of what he was doing rather than myopically focusing on the form of what he was doing.
2. Tell us a little about your story.
I live in north Idaho, where there are actually very few potatoes but lots and lots of mines. One bit of history that looms large over the area is the Sunshine Mine disaster in 1972, in which 91 miners died from suffocation as the air in the mine was slowly replaced by carbon monoxide and other poisonous fumes as an underground fire raged. Basically, the people of north Idaho are well aware that mines are places where truly awful, terrible things can happen. For me personally, claustrophobia is probably my greatest mortal fear, so when I set about thinking of a horror story, a mine was a natural setting to me. I feel like I can’t say too much more without giving away the story, but I will note that I am more of a fan of retro and vintage horror than modern horror, so my story probably nostalgic in that respect.
3. Who’s your favorite Sherlock?
Besides the original literary character as written by ACD, I assume? If you mean actors I love all the Sherlocks, yes including Robert Downey Jr, and Johnny Lee Miller. However, the Sherlock who lives in my head is probably closest to Basil Rathbone. I think most people latch onto their first Sherlock and for whatever reason Rathbone was mine. As a Sherlockian writer I think there are elements that can be gleaned and utilized from all of the major depictions of the character.
4. What else (if anything) have you written?
Recently I had a Robert Ludlum parody, “The Dewey Code”, appear in Two-Fisted Librarians. I also have a bunch of Sherlockian pieces out to various places that I have high hopes for and a few other odds and ends. After a long, unintentional sabbatical from creating I’m basically rebooting myself as a writer again, so I am on the lookout for great opportunities. Gentle readers, if you are looking for Sherlock Holmes or pulp adventure type stories for your anthology/website/etc., hit me up!
5. Where can we find you online?
THE IMPROBABLE TRUTH: THE CANARIES OF CLEE HILLS MINE
Perhaps it is the time of year. It could be that persistent chill that compels me to throw more coal in the brazier. Or perhaps the brittle, ashy feel in my hands reawakening those memories that I had thought mercifully dormant, but I hear my friend Sherlock chiding me from across the years even as my shaky hand puts pen to paper. “You mustn’t, Watson. There are horrible truths. Immutable, unfathomable truths that can only serve to destroy mankind. There is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost.” The voice is but a dull ache in my heart, and I know that if I cannot expunge these memories onto paper and thus finally give my fevered mind blissful rest I shall certainly go mad. None need ever see this account. I shall set it down, bury these papers at the bottom of some long disused trunk in the attic, and then I can rest easy. The icy wind outside rattles the windows of my study, the gas light gutters for just a second, the howling gust subsides, and I feel the story fall from me.
It was the autumn of 1901 and a new century had found the same old Holmes up to the same old tricks. We had just recently returned from the Priory School up north where a bicycle tire patch and some novelty horse shoes had allowed Holmes to solve a will dispute, a kidnapping, and a murder all at once. I was reclined upon the couch, my former bedroom long since appropriated for more arcane uses by Holmes. My head was muzzy from too much brandy the evening prior and I was still waiting for the room to cease spinning. I stared in vain at the coffee pot steaming on the range in the kitchen. A cup or two and I’d be all right, I thought, if only I could convince Holmes to bring me a cup. Instead I pursued the more likely course of willing the pot to levitate across the room. “Holmes,” I wheezed. “I don’t suppose…” I waved feebly across the room. Holmes chuckled.
“Now, now, dear boy. When you have put one foot in front of another, traversed the room, poured a cup and lifted that warm porcelain to your lips you will know that you have earned it. I wouldn’t dare take that away from you.”
“Nonsense. You simply bristle at the very idea of service. And what eye-opener has left you so chipper? Did you earn that little pick-me-up?”
“However I may have opened my eyes this morning I managed it myself. A man who is not master of his own destiny is not a man.” I was reprieved from replying to this peevish sleight by a swift rapping at the door.
“Ach! I find a moment of rest and here comes some new devilry,” we heard Mrs. Hudson lament from the bottom of the stairs. “Sherlock, you get poor John a cup of coffee or I shan’t be bothered to ever put another kettle on for you.” A moment later she ascended in a whoosh of starched skirts with a letter in her hand. “For Mr. Holmes, naturally.” She held it up to the light momentarily before stiffly holding it out at Holmes. He took it with a slight smirk and held it up to the light himself. Then he carefully examined the front and back of the envelope…