We are delighted to present the exclusive cover reveal of Warlock Holmes! In the world of hundreds of Holmes inspired stories and pastiches, finding something new in the pile is always a joy. Warlock Holmes: A Study In Brimstone may just be that…
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes.
Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.
An imaginative, irreverent and addictive reimagining of the world’s favourite detective, Warlock Holmes retains the charm, tone and feel of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while finally giving the flat at 221b Baker Street what it’s been missing for all these years: an alchemy table.
We wanted to learn more about the man behind this alchemy driven Holmes, and G.S. Denning obliged our curious minds by answering a few questions. Now here’s your chance to learn about this demon-summoning goofball of a Sherlock Holmes. Warlock Holmes is being published by Titan Books and will be available next May. You can pre-order on Amazon here.
BSB: What’s your history with Sherlock Holmes? How’d you first come across the stories and why did you decide to write your own version?
GSD: My first Holmes memory is of my Dad, who would pretend to be him. Mom and Dad were watching the Grenada series after my sister and I were in bed, so I saw snippets of it. But mostly, Dad would come by my room some nights and pretend he’d been caught by me in the course of an investigation. “I say, lad, I’m hot on the trail of some little boy or girl who didn’t brush their teeth, as they were supposed to have. I don’t suppose you’d know anything about that, would you?” He was Zorro whenever he wanted to be suave, Superman when he wanted to be unbeatable and Holmes whenever he wanted to be smart.
As to why I wanted to write my own version, it started with a challenge from a girl in my writing class. She’d written a Mary Sue protagonist in her story and I encouraged her to look at Holmes as someone whose powers were balanced by his flaws. She countered that Holmes could never work in fantasy and asked how I’d even try to write that. On the way home, I started laughing, because I realized: everyone thought Holmes was magical, anyway. All I had to do was let him be. Then I had the face-smack moment when I realized that the “Warlock Holmes” pun had been sitting around unused for a hundred years. The rest is history.
BSB: Holmes was always a man of innovative science, so Warlock Holmes’ interest in alchemy doesn’t seem too far off. Still, why alchemy?
GSD: Well, alchemy is in the book, but the most important aspect of Holmes’s magic is in demon summoning. Yup, the poor bugger is just swarming with them. Sometimes he sends Watson out for a walk in the park, if he realizes he’s going to have to fight one in the sitting room.
BSB: Is this a parallel Victorian London or is it historical London, just with alchemy? What did you enjoy about creating this new world?
GSD: Um… Both? Can I say both? It starts as historical London, but by the end of the second book, Holmes’s magic has begun to make permanent changes to it.
And that’s one of the things that I liked best about creating this world: the realization that I could change it. Since I am writing straight through the cannon, spoofing every story, I can let London slowly degrade into a post-magical-apocalypse dystopia, as the stories progress.
But I think my very favorite thing about this project has been poking loving fun at the originals. Sometimes I’ve had to stop typing for a minute, to just sit down and have a giggle. That’s been the best part.
BSB: Your Watson seems reminiscent of Ben Kingsley’s in Without A Clue, being the smarter one. How’d you go about changing and creating this new relationship?
GSD: Well, I’m an x-ray tech, so I work with a lot of doctors. They need to be practicing observation and deduction all the time, to figure out what’s wrong with their patients. Why can’t Watson? He is a doctor, after all. And my Watson needs to be particularly brainy—he’s got his hands full, trying to stop Scotland Yard from burning Holmes for witchcraft.
BSB: Has your prior experience with Disney and writing for video games assisted you in any way in writing Warlock Holmes?
GSD: Ha! It sure has. Both Disney and Nintendo have to be super careful not to offend anybody. I started writing in their style, but partway through, realized I could do whatever I wanted. I was free to say horrible things about good people in the name of fun. Some of them are mild. For example, Holmes tells Watson he wears his envy like a Texan wears his hat: it’s a monstrous thing that would uglify anyone, but he seems almost proud of it. And yeah, you could probably say that at Disney. But you know what you can’t do? You can’t have a story where someone hunts down and murders two men because Mormons stole his donut. Yup, try getting that one past the legal department—I dare you.
BSB: And finally, what do you think of the cover?!
GSD: I just hope you all like it as much as I do. As a few of you Baker Street Babes probably know, one of the scary things about traditional publishing is how much power you give away. Titan had to show me the cover but, if I didn’t like it, they didn’t have to do a thing. Luckily for me, they came up with a good one and listened to my feedback and generally behaved like all-around decent folk. They never even complained about an American stealing British culture, goofing it all up and then selling it back. Very mature of them, I thought.
My favorite part about the cover is how much it looks like an old mystery novel. It’s got that classic marquee font, it’s nearly monochromatic, it’s going to have that cool, raised print. It might almost be mistaken for an old edition of the original, until you see the upside-down pipe, the glowing green eye and the ogre in his underwear. That’s the other thing I like about the cover: that it insulates me from blame. If anybody reads it and doesn’t like that I made their beloved Holmes the object of fun, well, there’s a mostly-naked ogre, right on the cover. Dude. Seriously. You were warned.
G.S.Denning was born in Seattle, Washington. He has published articles for games company Wizards of the Coast, worked as an editor, written a video-game script for Nintendo, and written and performed shows at the Epcot Center, Walt Disney World. With a background in improv, Gabe has performed with Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady, and he currently has a play running in Seattle. He now lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children.