The Amateur Executioner: Enoch Hale Meets Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes fans seems to find one another much easier than locating that missing sock from the laundry pile. Author and Holmes fan, Dan Andriacco, and I connected with one another via the social network a couple of years ago. Dan writes two mystery series, both with Holmes focusses: the Jeff Cody/Sebastian McCabe series and now, with fellow author Kieran McMullen,  the Enoch Hale and Sherlock Holmes series. You don't have to be a
Holmes or a mystery fan to enjoy Dan and Kieran's first Hale/Holmes book The Amateur Executioner: Enoch Hale Meets Sherlock Holmes. I ask Dan to tell me about the development of this new mystery and what it was like to collaborate with another writer.

1.  How did The Amateur Executioner: Enoch Hale Meets Sherlock Holmes come about? I know you’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan since you were nine. Has this story been brewing for a while?
Not since I was nine! It’s been long enough that I’m not sure how long, but I may have written the outline between two of my Sebastian McCabe – Jeff Cody mysteries, or maybe even before the first was published.  I kept thinking: I like this plot, but I don’t want to do all the research that would be needed. Then I thought of asking Kieran if he would be interested in collaborating with me. He’d already been incredibly helpful in answering all my ballistics and police procedure questions for the McCabe – Cody books. So I sent him the outline. He said, “Let’s give it a shot.” He made some helpful plot suggestions as well as doing wonderful research.   

2.  What was it like collaborating with another writer?
For me, it was wonderful! Every time I hit a research question I couldn’t get answered with a quick
Dan Andriacco and Kieran McCullen
internet search, I put Kieran on it by sending him an e-mail or a Facebook message. He always gave me a detailed answer very quickly. That speeded up the writing. This was on top of the initial research in the planning stage, when he provided me with biographies of historical characters and detailed descriptions of real locations used in the book. We’ve only met once, but I’m looking forward to seeing him again in Maryland in June at Sherlock Holmes event, A Scintillation of Scions.

3. One of the things I enjoyed about the book was the presence of so many real people like Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock, and T.S. Eliot, and famous fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Mycroft Holmes. Was it a conscious decision to include these characters or did they come along as the story progressed?
It was a conscious decision, but we tried to create a plot that they fit into naturally. I’m glad that you think it worked! The first historical character to make it into the book was T.S. Eliot. I knew that he would be the hero’s sidekick before I even knew the hero’s name.

4.  Are there any incidents in the story based on actual happenings?
No major plot elements are real based on real life, but there are a lot of references to historical happenings as background – thanks to Kieran. To the best of our ability, everything in the book could have happened: Ezra Pound was in London during the time of the story. Alfred Hitchcock really did work at that time for that particular movie studio, which looked just as we describe it. George Bernard Shaw was known to dine at Simpson’s. Murray’s night club and Arthur’s were real.

5.  If you went back in time, what question would you ask Sherlock Holmes; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?
I would have to ask Holmes what his retirement was like. I’ve always suspected that his Sussex years weren’t all that retiring -- as happens in The Amateur Executioner. I would like to ask Sir Arthur why he didn’t write more stories about Professor Challenger, a wonderful character with too few adventures.

6.  Besides Holmes and his gang and Hale, are there any characters in the book, that captured your interest enough to have them appear in the next mystery?
Tom Eliot will be back, though probably not as prominently. At this point, I don’t think any of the other historical characters will reprise their appearances because we’re going to introduce different ones.

7. What’s next for Enoch Hale and Sherlock Holmes?
In their next joint venture, The Poisoned Penman, they will investigate the murder of a major character in The Amateur Executioner with the help of Dorothy L. Sayers and one or two other mystery writers of the period. That book is in the plotting stages now. And we plan at least one more book after that.

Check out Dan's blog The Baker Street Beat for what is happening in Dan's world of Sherlock Holmes.