The Only One in the World: “The Problem of the Lying Author” by Lisa Fessler
When Lisa sent me her submission, I was struck at once by how easily Holmes as Holms fit into the world of Wilhelminian Germany in 1893. As the story unfolded, it was also pleasing to see how some canon-esque themes, technology and character quirks slotted in so nicely.
Violet Hunter’s passion for the bicycle (‘The Solitary Cyclist’) becomes Holms’ new cycling passion; we see Watson’s occasional attempts to get ahead of his clever friend – and how well that turns out; we have an occasion where a client tries to be a little sneaky in their approach; and we have the egalitarianism of Holms thinking less of any individual’s social status than of justice for his client.
(I love that the client is Watson’s fellow man of letters, Karl May, is a real figure whose early delinquency forms part of the story.)
Lisa said in the Critical Mass zoom meeting in April that, for her, interpreting Holmes and Watson as a gay couple was canon. I’ve myself explored and written that relationship in the context of Victorian London, and its laws and social implications. As a result, I appreciated the way in which queer life and the social mores of 1893 Berlin played out.
If you’re intrigued, take a look at Lisa’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 German about her Holmes and Watson.
You can buy The Only One in the World at Clan Destine Press right now.
More about Lisa:
Lisa is a German translator, editor, and writing coach (with impeccable English). She grew up in South Germany and now lives in Berlin, and has studied history in the US. Lisa has been active as a Sherlock Holmes fan writer and has reworked all 60 Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle into 60-word microfics. She’s currently writing an alternative history fantasy novel set in the Wilhelminian Era.