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24 January 2017

This is the variant Sherlock Holmes that I write. I started writing very much in ‘old canon’ Holmes. (REPEAT BUSINESS, BEASTLY MYSTERIES, POISONOUS PEOPLE, FAMILIAR CRIMES) But while what I call the ‘Mandalay Variations” are still solidly old canon, they have something else – a cat. I’ve always considered, that were Holmes and Watson real, Watson would like and understand dogs, while also being an animal lover in general. Holmes on the other hand would like and understand cats, while regarding all other animals as ‘okay.’ And cats too would accept both, while knowing themselves understood by Holmes.
And that was where Emily Jackson (26, modest inherited personal income, esteemed freelance secretary) and her much loved brown Burmese cat, Mandalay, came in. Emily has a suite in a large old house, run by a widowed landlady, Mrs. Jane Knox. Emily was well educated, works because she does not appreciate being idle, and much of her work is the typing (and checking terminology, spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and producing work that an editor can read and make notes between the double spaced lines of) manuscripts at the author’s home.
Where the author is a cat lover and has a house, Mandalay may be permitted to accompany his mistress. Sonmething increasingly common as authors find he is a sensible animal, and that they can get more work done than if his owner must travel to and from her rooms each day. However Mandalay is a cat burglar. As are many cats, (particularly those of the Oriental breeds) he is prone to bring his mistress odd items he has found, as gifts for her.
Some of these are so odd or questionable that Emily calls on Holmes and Watson with them, having met the duo when she was kidnapped by a spy who believed she was in possession of unformation he required. That short story, A MISTRESS – MISSING, appeared in 2015, in a hardcover anthology trilopy out from the Uk, of new Holmes and Watson short stories. I loved Emily and Mandalay and didn’t want that to be the only story about them – and so it isn’t.
Since then I have written three novellas (SOMETHING THE CAT DRAGGED IN, CAT WITH A VESTED INTEREST, CAT WITH ENOUGH ROPE) and another story, (PINNED TO A CRIME) all of which appear in CATALYST. And, still enjoying the duo, I am working on another set, which, if my publishers likes them too, will appear, firstly one by one as three e-chapbooks, then as a book (working title CATACLYSM) which contains the novellas and a new short story too.
Mandalay is based primarily on my Octicat, Thunder, but also on my previous Ocicat Tiger, and on the siamese cats of several author friends. Not that the habit of hauling home strange things is confined to Oriental cats either. A year or so ago the major newspaper where I live printed a photo of a very smug-looking black and white feline posed behind a whole long line of items he’d hauled home, and I know of others. It seems that sometimes a mere dead mouse just won’t do. And so we have Emily Jackson and Mandalay. May you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy the writing.

1 Comment »

  1. You have been busy.

    Comment by Rodney Marsden — 24 January 2017 @ 19:33

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