August 2015 Peschel Press Newsletter #3

Each month is a time of transition in Hershey. August starts out in high summer vacation mode. It’s hot. It’s humid. Rain comes as an optional afterthought near the end of the day. A time when I can work in the basement office all day, come up at 8 p.m., and it’s still clear light outside. By the end of the month, the first day of school comes and the first chilly morning sets in.

Can you believe were seven months into the year?


Another volume in the 223B Casebook Series is out! “Sherlock Holmes Edwardian Parodies and Pastiches I: 1900-1904” is available as a trade paperback and Kindle ebook.

The major pieces that appeared during this time are here (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, P.G. Wodehouse), but there are plenty of interesting smaller pieces as well. There are two by schoolboys at Groton boarding school who went on to become architects (one of them designed a national landmark building in Philadelphia). There’s one set in Prescott, Arizona, that poked fun at the Democratic Party’s defeats in the election of 1904. There’s a cartoon in which Holmes makes fun of the Coal Trust (the first time he’s portrayed as a social commentator). The collection rounds out with a story in which Holmes is murdered by his creator!

There’s also “The Adventure of the Jersey Girl,” a TwainLock story without Sherlock, but featuring an appearance by Irene Adler!

I also made the ebook version available through the MatchBook program, so if you buy the trade paperback, you can get the ebook version for free (I did this for the other books available from Peschel Press as well).

Next: “Sherlock Holmes Parodies and Pastiches II: 1905-1909!


Last month, I talked a bit about my writing process. This time, I’ll throw in some stuff from the notebooks about potential future TwainLock stories.

I prefer a process called “writing by file folder.” Whenever I come across interesting stuff, I file it away. Ideas, scraps of dialog, historical articles, whatever. In my house, there’s no such thing as writer’s block, because anything could spark a story.

Here are some examples that’ll give you an idea of how my mind works. I came across the initial idea, and then imagined possibilities:

* In 1889, Mark Twain was one of the co-founders of the Players Club in New York City. Edwin Booth was the driving force behind the project, and in fact he spent the rest of his life living at the club. Edwin was John Wilkes Booth’s brother. Is there a story there?

* One way Twain and Holmes could work together involved Holmes running some kind of con. Twain saw a lot of chicanery during the post-Gold Rush era. Land would be “salted” with gold and silver and sold at high prices. A brisk trade in owning “feet” in a mine was going on; journalists (such as Twain) would be given shares in return for promoting them in the newspaper. Books such as “The Big Con” provided described cons using the telegraph that could be adapted to a TwainLock story.

* A Smithsonian story about vampire scares in New England brought to mind an image of Twain and Holmes on a walking tour of, say, Rhode Island. They discover the natives digging up a coffin to stake the victim. Twain wrote a number of sketches involving cemeteries and skeletons, and the notion of locals panicking over diseases and desecrating corpses gave me the feeling of a Lovecraftian-type story of terror (at least to Twain; Sherlock, of course, would keep his level head).

I don’t know if I’ll write about these, but they’re waiting in a file folder if I want them.


July was also a big month because Mysterious Bookshop ordered copies of both “The Early Punch Parodies of Sherlock Holmes” and “Sherlock Holmes Victorian Parodies and Pastiches: 1888-1899.” (UPDATE: They also picked up the Edwardian book, too!). The Punch and Edwardian copies are signed as well! This is the first bookshop that approached me about carrying the press’ books, and I was happy to oblige. I was so thrilled that I added a page to the Peschel Press website for booksellers with the terms.


No appearances in August, but in September I’ll be at “Murder As You Like It,” the 1-day mystery conference sponsored by Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop, at Eagle Village Middle School (6746 Carlisle Pike). I probably won’t be doing any panels, but I’ll be hanging around and be happy to sign any books you buy.


miss fisher murder mysteries DVD box cover season 1We’ve been watching the “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” on DVD. This is an Australian TV show based on the Phryne (pronounced “fry-knee”) Fisher books by Kerry Greenwood. Living in Melbourne of 1928, Phryne is a liberated woman, with an English title and plenty of money, and she sets herself up as a private detective. The stories are somewhat lighthearted, although some of them have a substantial body count (up to three in some shows), and there’s also a relaxed attitude toward nudity, both male and female. One story revolves around a nude painting Phryne modeled for in Paris just after the war. It’s nothing more explicit than anything I’ve seen in a museum, but it does make one thoughtful about the weirdness of American television censorship.

I also burned through “A Question of Death: An Illustrated Phryne Fisher Treasury,” a collection of short stories with wonderful illustrations and page designs. It’s a book designed as a keepsake, and if you’re a fan it’s well worth checking out.

I also read “Doughnut” by Tim Holt. If you liked Douglas Adams, then you must check out Holt.


Because I have this on my desktop and don’t know what else to do with it, here’s a photo of Emile Zola flashing gang signs.

Emile Zola flashes gang signs

Emile Zola has a posse.

Because I love you all and am happy you’re here.

Keep reading!