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SHERLOCK HOLMES & SANDMAN Scholar Leslie S. Klinger Interview

A few years ago, the Guinness Book of World Records declared that Sherlock Holmes was the most adapted character of all-time, having been the subject of various plays, films, TV shows and so on since his debut in 1888. Over 100 years later, there’s still a remarkable amount of new Holmes stories and books that come out every year. At the heart of it all is Leslie S. Klinger.

Klinger, a practicing lawyer from California, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes. A member of the Baker Street Irregulars and the current editor of the BSI’s History Series and Biography Series, Klinger is also the author of the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes–which chronologically organized and annotated the original 56 Holmes short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle–and The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library, a 10-volume collection of Sherlockian criticism throughout the decades.

Klinger, along with fellow Sherlockian and famed mystery author Laurie R. King, is also the co-editor of several anthologies of original Holmes stories, the newest of which, In The Company Of Sherlock Holmes, finally hits physical and digital bookstores after a 2-year delay brought about by a lawsuit levied against the editors by the Conan Doyle estate and a legal battle that ultimately resulted in Holmes and his world being declared public domain material in the United States. With the book out at long last, readers can see that it’s a fine anthology full of a variety of Holmes and Holmes-inspired tales from some of today’s finest writers including Cornelia Funke, Jeffery Deever, and Harlan Ellison.

Ahead of a lengthy book tour to promote In The Company and two other books (the 3rd volume of The Annotated Sandman, released on October 28, and The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, released October 13) that began October 18, I spoke to Klinger about all things Sherlockian, the court case that’s consumed much of his past two years, and his longtime personal and professional relationship with fantasy icon Neil Gaiman.

TS: How did you discover Sherlock Holmes?

LSK: When I was in law school, I was given a copy of William S. Baring-Gould’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes, and I was immediately hooked—by the footnotes! It was an amazing discovery that (a) the stories were brilliant and (b) there was a community of fans who, for 100 years, had passionately considered the stories. I wanted in!

TS: We’ve had a plethora of Holmes TV & film versions in the last few years with Elementary, Sherlock and the Robert Downey Jr. films [both of which Klinger consulted on, albeit with no credit on the first]. Before I forget to bring up, If you have a bad credit rating and are abroad you need to understand that prior to you start looking for a quick loan without Upplysningscentralen at låna-pengar.biz/utan-uc When you compare any kind of loan company, it is best to understand your exact score and be upfront with it. That method if they are going to turn you down, you know immediately without squandering any more time – and without having rejected applications appearing on your credit report, pushing your score even lower. Why do you think Holmes has such a modern resurgence?

LSK: Interest in Holmes seems to go in cycles, and I think that the first Downey film gets the credit (or perhaps my 2004 book [The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes]!) for kicking off the current wave of interest. So, all thanks to Lionel Wigram, the producer of the film, who decided that the time had come and worked his tail off to sell WB on the idea.

TS: What is your favorite Holmes adaptation?

LSK:My favorite adaptation is the film A Study in Terror [A 1935 film pitting Holmes against Jack the Ripper–TS].

TS: In The Company of Sherlock Holmes was, of course, the center of a two-year long legal case that eventually saw Sherlock Holmes ruled as being in the public domain. As a lawyer yourself, did you consult on your own defense? How do you feel about the case now that it’s all said and done?

LSK: Of course I was deeply involved in the strategizing, but the heavy lifting was done by a brilliant team, my long-time friend and counsel Jonathan Kirsch, Scott Gilbert, our local counsel in Illinois, and two volunteers, my pals Betsy Rosenblatt and Darlene Cypser, who are superb intellectual property lawyers and long-time Sherlockians.

TS: You tell the story of how this anthology came to be in the preface, but you also have a story in there you wrote, “The Closing,” a fine, bittersweet story. Where did the inspiration for that come about?

LSK: The core of a story was based on a dream about the hero. My dear friend, the wonderful writer Laura Caldwell, helped me turn it into a readable story, but it took Laurie King, however, to see how to draw out the Sherlockian elements.

TS: You also recently released The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft and both you and Alan Moore, who wrote the introduction, spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the complications that can arise for the reader when encountering Lovecraft’s work and worldview. What was the impetus for this project, and how did your feelings evolve towards Lovecraft as the project progressed?

LSK: I love doing annotated books, and Lovecraft’s work seemed to cry out for a fuller annotation than was given in other versions. Also, there is an enormously passionate fan base, and that is always important to me and the publisher. I had no idea of the depth of his work when I began the project. I knew only that many other writers claimed to have been inspired or influenced by his work, but it didn’t take long to see why!

TS: In addition to the Lovecraft book and your previous works, you’re also the author of The Annotated Sandman. With the 3rd of 4 planned volumes out, how do you feel about the project so far in? What has it been like consulting with Neil Gaiman on this? What has it been like having him not just as a client [Klinger is Gaiman’s personal lawyer], but as a collaborator?

LSK: Our relationship began as friendship long before the attorney-client thing, and we often joked about doing this book together. Finally, the time was ripe. It was tremendous fun to work with Neil, to stimulate him to think back to the creation of Sandman and to check my theories! The amount of research that Neil did for each issue is truly amazing when you consider the monthly deadlines!

TS: You’re also going on tour to promote the book. Can you talk about what the average tour stop will be like?

LSK: For some audiences, it will be my chance to introduce them to Lovecraft; for others, it will be a conversation about one of our favorite authors. I expect to see many Sherlockian friends along the way. I’m ecstatic about the chance to share a stage with pals Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, and S. T. Joshi—I could talk with them for hours without an audience, so doing it in front of an audience will be even more fun! I am realistic enough, however, to know that for the dates on my own, the audiences will be small, but I love meeting independent booksellers and stoking our mutual passion for beautiful books!

________________________

Leslie S. Klinger will be appearing on stage in conversation with Neil Gaiman and signing New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft and The Annotated Sandman at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis, MN, on November 9 and on stage in conservation with S.T. Joshi and signing at University Bookstore in Seattle, WA  on Nov. 11. A full tour schedule is available on his official website.

Cover image via

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Categories: Books, Interviews

Author:Tom Speelman

A lifetime of reading comics and watching television has left Tom with an inexhaustible supply of pop culture knowledge from the obvious to the obscure. Rather than keep it all in his brain for use at parties, Tom turned to writing a few years ago to help him share that knowledge with as many people as are remotely interested. Tom writes for several websites including The Mary Sue, Strange Horizons, Loser City and others. For even further rambling, follow him on Twitter @tomtificate.

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2 Comments on “SHERLOCK HOLMES & SANDMAN Scholar Leslie S. Klinger Interview”

  1. 11/05/2014 at 11:24 AM #

    Reblogged this on tomtificate and commented:
    My interview with the awesome Leslie S. Klinger whose long awaited new Holmes anthology comes out at the end of the month and you should buy. Also, this interview was retweeted by Neil Gaiman. Yes as in my personal hero and all-around good guy and great writer Neil Gaiman. I’m still a little dazed.

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  1. Best of 2014 Year End Review: Tom | Another Castle - 12/23/2014

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