I’m going to write a novel. Not an easy job. I’ve written other things, but never a novel. I think I’ve done a bit of a body swerve around it up to now. Probably because I couldn’t think of a good enough plot, something original, something that people would want to read. Well, I think I may have come up with it now. Came to me like a bolt from the blue, you might say. And yet, as soon as I had the idea, I thought ‘why didn’t I think of this before?’ Take two of the twentieth century’s greatest icons and put them together in a mystery, a case that’s never been satisfactorily solved for over 100 years.
My great uncle, Herbert Lightoller, was the only senior officer to survive the sinking of the Titanic. He was therefore the most important witness in both the US and the British enquires into the event. In 2011 I was commissioned to write a book about Great Uncle Herbert and his connection to the Titanic and its loss. The book came out in May 2012, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking. But that was an actual, factual book. However, in researching it, I came across a number of mysteries. I’ve always been a Sherlock Holmes fan and I thought maybe he would have been the very man to get to the bottom of the great Titanic mystery, which people, including myself, have been fascinated by for much of our life.
But writing is a lonely job. Do you find that if you’re writing a report, a presentation or just a tricky e-mail, you keep breaking off to make yet another cup of coffee, check on the latest weather forecast or see who’s just posted on Face Book? So, I need some help here. If I keep closely in touch with you, and let you know how fast, or how slow, a particular chapter is going, will you let me know what you think, and maybe chip in with some helpful suggestions, if you feel like it?
Right. Here we go then. What are the essential ingredients I need for a thriller about Sherlock and the Titanic? The ship, obviously. Although it’s not actually the leading player in this drama. The evil Professor Moriarty, Sherlock’s arch-enemy? Definitely. They say your thriller is only as good as your villain. But we need another villain. Someone so ruthless that they hardly pause in their pursuit of power, when over 1,500 innocent souls plunge to a watery grave in the Titanic. I definitely have someone in mind. Now, what about Dr Watson, Holmes constant companion, biographer and the butt of Sherlock’s intellectual wit? By 1912, according to the accepted Holmesian chronicles, Sherlock is nearing sixty, while Watson is several years older. Couldn’t there be a younger man, early twenties say, involved as Sherlock’s companion in this particular case? Better than two old duffers bumbling through an action-packed adventure.