Thursday, December 18, 2014

No S*#t, Sherlock: Publishers Clue Us In About the New Public Domain Detective

Last week writers talked about Holmes, but this week I wanted to continue the discussion from the other side of the editorial desk -- the publishers -- and see what they think the recent decision means for the future stories. So, with that in mind...

Is the move to the public domain for Sherlock Holmes and related characters a good thing ultimately? Or will it forever change (or perhaps mar) all that we know about Holmes that made us love him in the first place? Will the new stuff dilute the core of who Holmes and his cast are?
Ron Fortier (Airship 27 Productions): The thing to understand is that we considered Holmes public domain long before this court ruling and were publishing new stories for almost seven years now.  Note, we were threatened several times by unscrupulous agents claiming rights they clearly did not own but we called their bluff and kept publishing.   Now as to the second part of your question, all the court ruling does is opens the floodgates for all those other publishers we were too afraid to do Holmes stories.  We imagine the number of new Holmes and Watson tales is going to grow being imagining in the coming months.   But we don't see that as having any diluting affect on the property.  Why?  Because, after a hundred years of sustained popularity, it is clearly obvious the appeal of these characters is both universal and eternal.  You simply can never have too many Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson adventures.

Allan Gilbreath (Dark Oak Press): In an earlier time I believe that I would have said it was a good thing. In today's market place with no restraints on the usage of a character, I am not so sure. While, I am sure that there will be some very good work produced that will add the canon of the original, sadly, there will be a lot more work produced that will fall short of the original standards.

Some characters were developed to grow into a universe all their own (i.e. Lovecraft) while others are the way they are because they are the creation of a single mind. As we have seen from movies, the same script read by different actors makes for very different movies. Additional stories from additional minds will diverge from the original standards.

My fear is that a powerful media company such as Disney could actually bury the original by producing a series of products over years in the image that they want.

Lida E. Quillen (Twilight Times Books): I do have concerns that new stories will mar the Sherlock Holmes lore. But then, perhaps readers in general, and Holmes fans in particular, will not purchase, review or otherwise support works that do not carry on the best of the Holmes tradition.

Tommy Hancock (Pro Se Press): I'm not sure that the recent activity concerning Holmes changes anything.  For the most part, everyone was already functioning as if he were in the Public Domain and if any of the recent decisions had altered that, it would be years, if ever, that the uses of Holmes would have been addressed.  And you can't mar Holmes any more (if you assume he has been marred) than he has been in not only some of the 'unofficial' Holmes works, but also a lot of the allowed projects.  Remember that futuristic Holmes cartoon... uh..yeah.   And no, I don't think there's a chance of anything anyone does with Holmes diluting or overshadowing Doyle's work.  Hasn't happened yet.

Do you have plans to embark on new Holmes tales? What criteria do you have to ensure those new tales are true to the Sherlock mythos or is that even an issue for you?

Ron Fortier: Again, nothing has changed with Airship 27 Productions.  We plan on continuing our highly popular series - SHERLOCK HOLMES - CONSULTING DETECTIVE and volume # 7 should be out at the start of 2015.  At the same time, quite a few of our regular writers have come to us with ideas for full length novels and as of today we have three of these in the works.  So there is no end in sight for our doing Holmes & Watson.

It is important to note, the success of the Consulting Detective series is due in large part due to our demanding all stories be done in the traditional Conan Doyle format.  We did not want outlandish fantasy tales with Holmes battling Martians or Vampires etc.  So for the most part, people who pick up any Airship 27 Productions Sherlock Holmes title know they are going to get classic mysteries.  Its a formula that has worked and we've no intention of changing it any time soon.

Lida E. Quillen: New stories should adhere to the Sherlock Holmes canon. That is very important to me.

The manuscripts Stephanie Osborn submitted for the books in the Displaced Detective series are exceptionally well-written, rigorously researched and scientifically plausible. The manner in which Stephanie brought Sherlock Holmes up to speed in a future setting is entirely believable. I would be open to additional works of a similar nature.

Allan Gilbreath: Not at this time. It would take something completely amazing to move me into the storytelling secondary market place. I far prefer original characters or characterizations told by a clear voice. I prefer depth and development to trying to hit a past standard.

Tommy Hancock: We just threw our fedora into the ring with THE ASTONISHING TALES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES imprint from Pro Se Productions.  The first volume is THE SHRIEKING PITS by Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.  And as far as our criteria, we want authors to write new stories that can easily fit in the Doyle canon.  Doesn't have to be in the style of Doyle necessarily, but as far as events, happenings, crimes, etc., they need to be an easy fit into canon, as if Doyle himself could have written them.