I am afraid that I, Sherlock Holmes, must act as my own chronicler in this singular case, that of the Whitechapel murders of 1888. For the way in which the affair was dropped upon my doorstep left me with little choice as to the contrary. Not twelve months prior, the siren’s call of quiet domesticity and married life had robbed me of Watson’s assistance as both partner and recorder of my cases. Thus, when detective inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard required a lead—any lead—I found myself forced to pursue Jack the Ripper alone and without the aid of my faithful friend. And all for the most damnedable of reasons:
Early on in my investigations, Dr. John H. Watson, formerly of 221b Baker Street, emerged as my prime suspect.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I am a morning person and so tend to do my best writing (sharpest thoughts, etc) first thing. For that I usually take over the kitchen table and lean heavily upon the assistance of a little, old espresso machine which makes the most delicious decaf cubano shots (espresso sweetened with raw sugar during the brewing process). I later move my restless self to anywhere that will have me.
Editing I reserve for night-time and “tired brain”. And that process comes fortified by tea.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I suppose that the closest thing I have to a writing ritual is having two modes of writing: complete and utter silence OR white noise. There is no in-between for me.
For the latter, my brain tends to be a noisy place and I must drown it out in order to work. But on the days where my synapses aren’t buzzing at me, any organized sounds (even instrumental music) start to worm into my head and wear grooves into my thought process.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
There are the aforementioned espressos and teas, but I have to avoid caffeine. In the pre-Covid times, I would walk to local coffee shops for a change of pace (and varied white noise) and so would buy a lot of coffee to earn my keep. Mainly, I think that having a (oft neglected) cup at my side acts as both cheerleader and clock, without which I would founder and stare off into space over my blank page. Once I’ve formally paid admission into a writing session, I then strive to make it as productive as possible. Silly? Perhaps. But it works and I find coffee/tea utterly delicious. 🙂
– What is your favourite book?
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams may forever claim the honour of my favourite book. It has just about everything I love in a book and is a tale well told.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Technically, Sherlock Holmes & the Ripper of Whitechapel is my different genre. 😉 Before now, I’ve stuck to historical fantasy or steampunk. That said, there is a fair bit of Venn diagram-style overlap amongst the genres in which I’ve dabbled.
For something wholly different, I’ve a sci-fi adventure which has been kicking around in my brain for a few years. But that one is several projects back in my queue.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Never. Well, not consciously, at any rate. I think I would shrivel up in embarassment if I were to attempt that and somebody found out. That said, I’ve had folks ask me if I am my characters. To some extent, there is some of them in me and me in them. Yes, even the not-so-nice ones.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I do have a closet full of little yellow legal pads and often will take a supply of writing materials on my adventures. (“Adventures” being anything from a vacation to a simple walk about town.) But for expediency’s sake, I have begun to rely upon the technology which I almost always have at hand: my phone. My “notes” app has received from me all sorts of mistyped, hastily expressed phrases and thoughts.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I do not seek out things which are designed to scare me. Horror, psychological thrillers, tales of suspense . . . The way in which I absorb things when I read has taught me that it is best if I leave these genres on the shelf for others to enjoy.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
My husband. I think it would be an absolute blast to co-write with him, but I haven’t the foggiest idea how it would work. We’ve different styles, different interests as readers . . .
To that end, as a reader I prefer to read things I could never ever have come up with myself. It’s a treat for the brain. So, perhaps, co-writing would prove an interesting exercise. Probably end up with something unpublishable in the end (or a terribly large marital argument) but who knows?
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Having traveled to (and performed in) Croatia back in 1997, I would love to return there, of course. But the first trilogy in that series is wrapping up and I’ve really done what I need to do on that account. At this point my eye is turned, most obviously, to London. (Both for Sherlock Holmes & the Ripper of Whitechapel and for my next piece, the details of which are under wraps.) That said, if I keep to the historical angle, there really is not easy way for me to see, firsthand, the worlds in which I am penning my tales.
Thank you, M. K. Wiseman and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Wisconsin home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.