Narrelle M Harris on Katya de Becerra

The Only One in the World: “A Scandalous Case of Poisoning” by Katya de Becerra

Only One publisher, Lindy Cameron, gave me Katya’s name to approach about a Russian-influenced story for the anthology. Katya sent me a great pitch about a female Sherlockian character – Marina Holmesova  – in post-collapse Moscow of the 1990s, featuring her medical student flatmate, Antonina Vatska, a film-maker defector and murder on a film set. You bet I loved it.

Every writer for this anthology has found a different facet of the original stories to work into their submission, and here there was the epistolary approach, similar to Watson’s letters in The Hound of the Baskervilles, though using diaries, reports, letters, transcriptions and other documents to reveal the case and its conclusion.  

The framing story – an exhibition on “The Scandalous Case of Solace Spring Poisoning” – is set in 2051, so the exhibition notes as well as interview transcripts help to tell the story of the 1990s past while giving wonderful glimpses of the ‘present’ (or should that be the future?). WE get a lovely two-for-one then: glimpses of Marina and Antonina’s future together, and the many cases they’ll help to solve, as a delectable layer while the meat of the story is in taking us through their first joint case.

Katya grew up in Russia in the 90s, but it’s also an era a little familiar to me – I was a Cold War kid who was there for the anxieties and changes of the 80s and 90s. I’d lived in Poland for a year in the early 90s as well, and have since seen various Polish and Russian films made at that time, so I was fascinated by the Katya’s Russian-eye-view of the period.

If you’re intrigued, take a look at Katya’s interview about her story on Clan Destine Press, where she answers three questions about writing her story – the most unexpected thing she learned while writing it, her favourite thing about writing it, and what is quintessentially Russian about her Holmes and Watson.

You can buy The Only One in the World at Clan Destine Press right now.

More about Katya:

Russian-born Katya studied in California, USA, before moving to Melbourne where she earned a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Melbourne. She works as a social scientist and higher education lecturer, while writing – she is the author of What the Woods Keep and Oasis. Ever-busy, Katya is also the co-founder and co-host of #SpecLitChat and is a writing mentor with the 1st5pages

Follow Katya on Twitter @KatyaDeBecerra.