Writing The Watches of the Night was about really getting back into the canon of Sherlock Holmes and picking it apart at the seams, trying to sort out where I could elbow my own way in.
Conan Doyle's writing is really such a joy to read, and comparing the original stories to some of the academia that has sprouted up around it – both the traditionally-accepted and the more creative lines of thinking – to decide how I wanted to follow it along was a really fascinating job.
As with any writing, there was a ton of research that went into it, and a lot that didn't even make it in in a meaningful way. That said, I especially enjoyed getting into the mundane details of Victorian life – what restaurants might they have gone to (Simpson's on the Strand makes an appearance), how were mosaic tile floors put down, what was it like inside a Turkish bathhouse at the time (and who was having scandals there), what was the hierarchy of household staff, what would Victorian farmers have made of ancient barrow structures (sheds, mostly).
I find that writing historical fiction is a fiddly balance between accurate details and interesting storylines, and it was brilliant to do the research.
Why Do Sherlock Holmes Stories Endure?
I think you could write a whole book on this subject alone, and people have tried.
For me I think it's that Holmes and Watson have an element of magic in them - the stories are so transporting, the language woven so beautifully, the relationship between them so intoxicating. You want to see more of them as soon as you've closed the story, and Conan Doyle's style leaves so many beautiful gaps for us that you just instantly want to try and fill. It makes the audience part of the story, to a certain extent, and with every new audience there's a new voice exploring those spaces, creating and blooming out of them. It's as beautiful as the original stories are themselves.
What's next? Right now I'm elbow deep in the Good Omens fandom and trying to adapt my day job to the demands of the pandemic. I don't know yet what might come next as far as long-form writing, but I know there are more stories in me that want to be told!