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Interview with G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes Novels


Please welcome G.S. Denning back to The Qwillery. The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles (Warlock Holmes 2) was published on May 16th by Titan Books.



Interview with G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes Novels




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles (Warlock Holmes 2), was published on May 16th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote A Study in Brimstone (2016) to The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles?

G.S.:  Well, I’m still stealing time at nights and weekends. Still running off to friendly restaurants who will bring me diet cokes for 3 hours while I write and write. The biggest change is that I have the fan feedback from book 1. Now I can hear what my readers value about the series and include more of that. For example, I had no idea how much people would like Grogsson and Lestrade. I had to sneak a whole Grogsson-centric story into Hell-hound when I realized how much people wanted him and how little I had. (Oh, that’s The Adventure of the Solitary Tricyclist, by the way.)



TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when A Study in Brimstone came out that you know now?

G.S.:  The podcast “Writing Excuses” taught me a lot. Traditional publishing is slow. Be ready, fellow authors. Nothing happens quickly except deadlines.

Yet, I’ve learned to be exceedingly grateful that I went the traditional publishing route. I can go see my books, in book-stores and I didn’t have to drive them there and brow-beat the proprietors into carrying them. There’s an audiobook version and I didn’t have to call all the audio companies and beg. As much as people complain about how slow traditional publishing is and how small the per-book percentage that goes to the author, I know perfectly well that I could never, never, never have gotten Warlock this far on my own. Thanks to the whole team!



TQTell us something about The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles that is not found in the book description.

G.S.:  Part of it was a writing challenge to myself: write an origin story where the reader doesn’t realize they’re reading one. The book hasn’t been out long enough for me to find out if I’m really blindsiding people or they’re seeing through me. Time will tell.



TQWhich character in the Warlock Holmes series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

G.S.:  John Watson surprised me most. As I conceived this series, it was centered around the arcane wellspring that was Holmes. In a way, it still is. Yet every adventure is narrated by John. He filters all the wonder through this veneer of normalcy. He’s the everyman character—he’s an extension of how the reader would feel if they were thrust into a world of monsters. I’m surprised by how much of this story has become about John and what he thinks and feels as the story swirls on.

As far as the hardest: the women. Most geek-readers, most Holmes fans and the bulk of my fan-base are women. But the original stories are from another age. Women are rarely important in the original stories—victims seeking protection, for the most part. Of course, there’s Irene Adler, who bests Holmes, but she is in only one of the 60 stories. I’m trying to build female characters we can relate to and root for. Read the descriptions of Violet Smith in book 2 and Violet Hunter in book 3 and you’ll see how much I’m trying to build in cos-play opportunity and (especially in Hunter’s case) fan-fic launch points.



TQWhat do you think is the ongoing appeal of stories. etc. based on Sherlock Holmes?

G.S.:  Oh man, there’s a bunch. We love the odd-couple friendship of Holmes and Watson—how this super-powered individual needs a tie to normalcy (and that’s true of Warlock and Sherlock in equal measure). We love the pace of the stories and the chance to guess along and match our wits against the greatest detective. We love the language and the exotic-yet-familiar feel of Victorian London. We love the cloying promise that adventure and wonder hide in this everyday doldrum we inhabit. Some of us just like John’s moustache. As much as people can talk about how dated and out-of-touch the stories are, there’s a reason these things have stayed in print in over 150 countries and 125 years.



TQSherlock Holmes has appeared in 60 stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. How do you pick which stories to use?

G.S.:  The horrifying-yet-wonderful thing is: if these books keep doing as well as they are now, I’ll eventually have to use all 60. I’m pacing myself so I don’t use all 4 novels too early (right now, book 3 hasn’t got one). I’ve been trying to start strong by using recognizable favorites like Study in Scarlet, Hound of the Baskervilles and Speckled Band. I chose Baskervilles as the second story I ever wrote, because –duh- there’s a hell-hound in it. There was really no challenge introducing a supernatural element in to that particular story. Then again, I’m saving The Sussex Vampire, for the same reason.

The real hard part is creating an overall arch for the stories—the tale of how Moriarty came back to power from near-ruin and tricked Holmes and Watson into destroying the world. Readers have been very patient with me in book 1 and 2, where the Moriarty element is more in the background. Spoiler-alert: he comes to the fore in book 3.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles.

G.S.:

“No murder! Bad Horse! If you make a habit of it, I shall be cross with you!” –Warlock Holmes to Silver Blaze.

“In a proof that small words can have great import, I am holding a copy of Two Gentlemen In Verona. By this author’s interpretation, Verona is a down-on-her luck servant girl who finds herself sandwiched—quite literally—between the affections of a country squire and a poor groom.” –John Watson presenting an inappropriate gift to Mrs. Hudson.

“Aaaaaaaaaaiiieeah! Tears and wreck and wrack and ruin! The black one has returned! Prince of tatters! Prince of ash!” –Fasoul the Turk to… well… actually not Moriarty, but the person standing beside him.

“You cannot assume an animal’s behavior, based entirely on its breed.” –Warlock Holmes’s questionable advice on pre-judging hell-hounds.



TQWhat's next?

G.S.:  Book 3—My Grave Ritual—is underway and will be released May 15, 2018. It features the return of Moriarty to Holmes and Watson’s world and the growing sense that if Watson keeps meddling in the world of monsters and gods, he’s certain to die. There’s *ahem* a bit more romance, as well.

I’m realizing it would take between 8 and 9 books to finish the entire Holmes canon and I’m planning out my long-game. The Chekhov’s guns for both Holmes and Moriarty are already in place, but there’s a lot of maneuvering to be done before the final confrontation.

We’ve had two nibbles already for adapting Warlock to the big-or-small screen. Nothing really in the works yet, but I’d love to see my Holmes and Watson take their place amongst the other filmed adaptations and I’m doing my best to keep the writing screen-friendly.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

G.S.:  Are you kidding? Thanks for having me back. All authors ever want to do is drone on and on about their work and you’ve provided us with exactly that chance. You’re like super-heroes and therapists, all rolled into one.





The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles
Warlock Holmes 2
Titan Books, May 16, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes Novels
The game’s afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty’s gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell hound, one assumes.



Previously

A Study in Brimstone
Warlock Holmes 1
Titan Books, May 17, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes Novels
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. 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 companion. 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.





About G.S. Denning

Interview with G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes Novels
G.S. Denning is an author, improv comic, and speaker. ​

Before publishing Warlock Holmes, G.S. performed improv comedy for 20 years with Seattle Theatersports and Jet City Improv in Seattle, and SAC Comedy in Florida. He was a writer/performer for live shows at Disney's Epcot Center, wrote comedic reviews for Wizards of the Coast, and worked as a translation editor for Nintendo, ensuring that humor/context translated appropriately from Japanese to English video game scripts.

G.S. is extremely knowledgeable about history and all things pertaining to the geekiverse. He now gives engaging and educational talks to schools, inspiring students to turn their love of comic books and video games into a creative career or enriching hobby. He speaks at conventions, teaching writers improv comedy techiques that will improve their storytelling. He loves chatting on podcasts and is a terribly friendly geek. He has The Best Wife and The Most Beautiful Children and lives in Las Vegas.

Website  ~  Twitter @GS_Denning  ~  Facebook

Interview with G.S. Denning, author of Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone


Please welcome G.S. Denning to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone was published on May 17th by Titan Books.



Interview with G.S. Denning, author of Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone




The QwilleryWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

G.S. Denning:  Well, I started story telling in high school. I got hooked on improv theater, watching Whose Line is it, Anyway. I trained at Seattle Theatersports and Orlando Theatersports. I spent 15 years, making up 8 stories a night, on stage. I didn’t start writing until I moved to Vegas, lost my theaters and had to find some other way of getting it out of my system. So, if this book feels a bit like a big, long improv scene…now you know why.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

GSD:  Ha! For this project, I’ve got the luxury of being neither. The outlines were all done for me, a hundred years ago, by a famous British dead guy. Honestly, if you want to learn to be a plotter, but aren’t good at making outlines, try a farce. Strip all the meat off a piece of classic literature and write on the bones.

But I guess I dodged the question a bit. I’m a hybrid writer, usually. I’ll get my setting, genre, characters and conceit out of the way (often a theme, too). Then I’ll plot a rough story with a definite end, sit in my chair and write. The middle is all pantsing, but since I’ve got so much to go on (and since I know where I’m going to), I’m never lost. Well… Rarely lost.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

GSD:  Making sure I finish. I enjoy coming up with new characters and stories, but nobody wants to read half a book. I realized that, if I wanted to be a professional, I was going to have to see things through. One chilling example: there are 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories and 4 novels. If Warlock Holmes builds a fan base—if people keep buying the books—I realize I’ll probably wind up spoofing all of the originals. I’ve got a rough plot that stretches from Study in Scarlet to His Final Bow, but there’s a heck of a lot of writing in between. Looks like it would take roughly 8 books.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

GSD:  Geek culture. I’m a life-long role playing game fan. I’ve been a console gamer since the original NES. I started loving anime when all we had was bootlegged, fan-subbed Akira. I’m an X-Files junky and a lover of Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Black Adder and Monty Python (so, a bit of an Anglophile, too). The most direct influences on this work would be Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. They showed me that comic Sci-fi/Fantasy could be done and done well.



TQDescribe Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone in 140 characters or less.

GSD:  
Interview with G.S. Denning, author of Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone

Note from TQ: This is an actual tweet!



TQAfter an abundance of mash-ups in 2009-11, the mash-up seems to have nearly gone the way of the dodo. What inspired you to mash up Sherlock Holmes with a bumbling alchemist?

GSD:  The name. Seriously, how has the pun Warlock Holmes been sitting on the table for a hundred years without anybody picking it up?

More directly, I was in a writing group with an author who was having real trouble with her protagonist. He was perfect, infallible, shiny hair, straight teeth and totally unlikeable. I encouraged her to give him flaws as serious as his powers and offered Sherlock Holmes as an example. She said a character like Sherlock could not be done in fantasy. On my drive home, I just started laughing. I’d realized how easy it would be to do a fantasy take on him—everybody thought he was magic, anyway. The writer’s job would simply be to let him be. Then I thought of the name pun. I started writing it that night. The first novella was done in a month and the rest is history.



TQTell us something about Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone that is not found in the book description.

GSD:  Well… Here’s something: It’s built on the relationship of Holmes and Watson. I think all the good adaptations are. Mysteries are fun. Comedies are fun. Supernatural battle is a giggle. But the core of this story is two very different men who need each other and the friendship they form. My Watson is lost in the world. He thinks he’s smarter then everybody else and he’s sort of right, but he’s adrift. He’s hurt. He’s got no money. He’s got no friends. He’s got no purpose, nothing to fight for, nothing to get up in the morning for. Then he meets Holmes. It takes Watson about 2 seconds to figure out something’s really wrong with this guy, but the curiosity drives him closer.

As for Holmes, he’s a really good person—he’s the nicest guy you could ever ask to meet—but he does have problems. He’s riddled with demons. He’s in trouble with the law. He’s got a bunch of supernatural crimes to solve and he’s not a bright guy. He needs a friend to keep him stable, but it’s hard to keep a roommate when your walls are bleeding.

By the end of the first story, Watson has realized, “This guy is barely human, but he’s still a better man than I am. I’ve got to stay and help him.”



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone?

GSD:  Er… Not as much as I should have? Honestly, I’d watched Sherlock and House and some of the Jeremy Brett BBC series and the Robert Downey Jr. movies, but I’d only read a handful of the stories—only the ones I’d parodied in the first book. Then I got that call every author wants. Titan Books said they’d like to buy my novel. Oh, and two sequels. Oh, and an option on the fourth. And surely a Holmes expert like me was prepared to take this as far as it needed to go, yes? I had a vision for each story of the original cannon, didn’t I? Of course I did, I said, then hung up the phone, screamed “shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!” and ran out to buy the collected works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

GSD:  The easiest was Torg Grogsson—my take on Inspector Tobias Gregson. He’s a big, angry battle-ogre and he’s very straight forward. Whenever I find myself at the keyboard thinking, “Hm… What would Grogsson do, here?” the answer is always something like “get mad and kick over a horse.” Well, ok. (Type, type, type.)

The hardest was actually Mrs. Hudson. Anybody doing a modern adaptation knows that Moriarty has got to be way bigger than he was in the originals. Same with Adler. But I was also coming to realize how much the fans loved Mrs. Hudson. And mine was…nothing. As in the originals, she was just there to take care of domestic needs, but she wasn’t much of a character. I was mulling this over and I saw the episode of Sherlock where Holmes says “Shame on you, Watson! Mrs. Hudson, leave Baker Street? England would fall!” To me, that was just a slap in the face. It was Holmes fandom, leaning out of my TV to say, “Wake up, Gabe, and give Hudson her due, or you don’t deserve to be writing this.”

So now, Hudson is their bane. Holmes and Watson face sorcerers, soul-binders, demons, murderers, monsters and replicants, but the thing they fear most is their mean little land-lady. She’s this heartless, withered, romance-novel fan (kind of a Victorian-Era porn-addict, really) and they just can’t deal with her.



TQWhich question about Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

GSD:  I think the question I’d most like to hear is: “Dear Gabe, are you a sell-out? Follow up question: Would you accept this 15 million dollar check, for the film rights?”

Answer: “Yup.”



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone.

GSD:

Holmes: “Watson, if anyone calls and says they are the physical embodiment of Amon-Ra, I am not in!”


Holmes, on how he’s managed to disguise himself as a man with missing teeth: “Ha! The simplest illusion, Watson. I merely knocked them out with an ink blotter. They’re on my desk.”



TQWhat's next?

GSD:  If things go well, I’ll be working on Holmes for quite a while. But I’ve started a series called “Tales from the Shitty Unicorn” about what it would be like to actually be in an RPG. Because seriously, who says, “Yes, I’d like to be a fighter, please. My ideal job description would be to stand up front, getting hit by ogres and chewed on by dragons, while other, smarter people stand back doing damage and trying to keep me alive—basically shielding me from the consequences of my poor life choices—until they can slay the monster. Any job openings?” The first book is a heist with fighter, cleric, wizard in place of con-man, safe-cracker, getaway guy. It’s called Elfheist. The second book, The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Bard of Company B is a World War Two movie, done in a fantasy setting. The third book is a spoof on fairy tales.

Oh, and I’ve got The Ballad of Bucky Deuce. It’s a YA novel—basically Romeo and Juliet, if the Montagues were the Indiana Joneses and the Capulets were mad scientists. Blade-fingered cyborg zombies and melt-o-rays meet high school romance. That one’s already written. Done, baby. In the can. Who wants it?



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

GSD:  Thanks for having me. I’m amazed at the volume and quality of work you guys put out and flattered that you asked me to be involved. I can hardly describe the warm wave of inclusion-fuzzy I am going to feel when I see this on your site. Thank you for taking an interest in me and Warlock Holmes. I’d like to also give my thanks to your readers and to my readers, for their time and fandom.





Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone
Titan Books, May 17, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

Interview with G.S. Denning, author of Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. 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 companion. 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.





About G.S. Denning

Interview with G.S. Denning, author of Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone
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.






Twitter @GS_Denning  ~  Facebook


2016 Debut Author Challenge Udate: Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning


2016 Debut Author Challenge Udate:  Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone by  G.S. Denning


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


G.S. Denning

Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone
Titan Books, May 17, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Udate:  Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone by  G.S. Denning
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. 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 companion. 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.



Interview with G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes NovelsInterview with G.S. Denning, author of Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone2016 Debut Author Challenge Udate:  Warlock Holmes - A Study in Brimstone by  G.S. Denning

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