Story: Red Sunset
1) When did you first encounter Sherlock Holmes?
Oddly enough, I first encountered Sherlock Holmes on radio. Though I am way too young to have been part of the old time radio generation, when I was a boy of 10 or so, a local radio station rebroadcast the Norman Shelley/Carleton Hobbs Sherlock Holmes radio show. I was hooked. Very soon after that, I came across the Basil Rathbone Holmes films on television – and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be Holmes or Rathbone when I grew up.
I devoured the stories at a rapid clip, and had the openings of many of them memorized while still in grade school. I was doubly-fortunate as it turned out the Chris Steinbrunner, a great Sherlockian and historian of the mystery genre in general, was a very near neighbor of mine. He was the author of The Films of Sherlock Holmes, so you could say I learned at the feet of two Masters. We were working on The Films of Charlie Chan shortly before Chris became unwell and died – sadly, the project was never completed.
2) Do you have a favorite story from the canon?
Without a doubt, my favorite story in the Canon is The Sign of Four. Holmes is at the absolute top of his game, Watson is at his most active, the boat chase is a wonder, and … well, who can resist pygmies and blowguns and unknown poisons? Also, it has the Baker Street Irregulars, touches upon Holmes’ drug addiction and it all seems fresh and new; you could tell Doyle was having a great time and not slogging on to meet demand (see Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, most of which are execrable).
If I can pick multiples, I would have to say Scandal in Bohemia, Second Stain, Illustrious Client, Thor Bridge, Creeping Man, Yellow Face, Devil’s Foot and Copper Beaches are all top-notch.
Valley of Fear is interesting without being particularly good; I think Hound is vastly over-rated.
3) Are you active in any Sherlockian societies?
I was the youngest-ever member of the Priory Scholars, and New York-based scion started by Chris Steinbrunner and others, but have not really been active for many years. I am still slavishly devoted to Holmes, but my interests broadened and I could either continue to write books or take painting and drawing lessons (some of my work has been displayed at the Arts Students League), or continue on with Sherlockiana. (Which reminds me, many years ago, I illustrated the souvenir book for a Sherlockian cruise to Bermuda!)
4) Are you involved with any other Sherlock Holmes projects?
I am currently developing a script for a one-shot Sherlock Holmes radio play for WBAI in New York.
5) Any other of your projects you’d like to tell our readers about?
I am currently shopping around a historical novel about Buffalo Bill Cody, called Buffalo Bill’s Last Interview.