To take on the revival of such an iconic character as Sherlock Holmes, particularly one so embedded in the British culture, is always a tentative game, under which one must be careful not to get caught in the shadow of one’s predecessor.
Kieran Lyne, who graduated from UEA with a BA in History in June 2013, is one such writer who has recently taken on this immense legacy with the publication of The Last Confession of Sherlock Holmes, a text claiming to be the revelation by Dr Watson of how he and Sherlock Holmes deceived the world. I caught up with Kieran to find out what led him to delve into the mind of Mr Holmes, and how he found himself going through the stages of being published.
When was it that you first started writing and why did it appeal to you as a creative outlet?
I first started writing in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining UEA to study for a degree in History, I first attended the Royal Northern College of Music where I specialised in playing the bass guitar. However, I dropped out soon after as I realised I didn’t want a hobby to become a profession. It took away part of the joy of playing. Whilst studying in my second year at UEA, I decided to put pen to paper. I felt that I needed a creative outlet, and writing seemed to be something to fill the creative void. I was a complete novice at the time, and kept my written words very close to my chest, but over time I began to realise it was something I could potentially make a profession out of.
Why did you decide to continue the legacy of Sherlock Holmes, as opposed to writing something completely fresh?
When first starting out, I would produce mainly short stories; and so as a Holmes fan, it was a natural progression to start toying with the idea of writing a Holmes story myself. In particular, it was the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle that I found greatly appealing. Despite the fact that in continuing with Holmes’ story I would be writing within the genre of crime fiction, it is the characters who remain primary to my writing, whilst the plot, though important, remains secondary. Due to the reinvigorated and global popularity of Sherlock Holmes I felt my story had the potential to slot into this market nicely, and it was therefore worth trying to get published.
You initially planned to go on to do an MA after graduation. What made you decide to stick with writing instead?
I decided to stick to writing the story instead of studying for an MA because every time something Holmes or Jack the Ripper-related came up I panicked and had to frantically check the internet to make sure there was nothing encroaching on my idea, which got a bit tedious after a while! That, and as I had already developed the main plot outline, it was simply a case of writing it and I thought with no real commitments or responsibilities and Holmes once again so popular, what better time than now?
You are the youngest writer ever to be endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate. How has this helped you in the process of getting published?
It was actually the Conan Doyle Estate who recommended me to MX Publishing. Initially I had very little success in finding an agent, so then decided instead to go through the process of self-publishing the text as an eBook. Before going through this process I contacted the Conan Doyle Estate, as I wanted to avoid any tricky legal situations regarding the copyright of Holmes. So it was after approaching the estate that my story was endorsed and I was then brought to the attention of MX. Essentially, if you’re thinking of getting published, you need to just go for it. It’s a great feeling when you finally have your name on a piece of work you’ve slaved over for months on end.