Q & A with Sherry Thomas, author of MISS MORIARTY, I PRESUME?

Q & A with Sherry Thomas, author of MISS MORIARTY, I PRESUME?

Sherry Thomas’s sixth installment in her Lady Sherlock series, Miss Moriarty, I Presume?, publishes on November 2, 2021. Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed historical romance authors writing today. Readers of Deanna Raybourn and C. S. Harris, and fans of Netflix’s Enola Holmes will be delighted by Thomas’s next Victorian-set mystery, complete with murder, intrigue, and plenty of romantic chemistry between a brilliant sleuth and the gentleman who helps her solve crime.  Visit her at https://www.sherrythomas.com.

Synopsis of Miss Moriarty, I Presume? from the publisher:

In Miss Moriarty, I Presume?, a most unexpected client turns up on Charlotte’s doorstep: Moriarty himself. Charlotte is not normally in the practice of assisting her enemies. But when Moriarty appears at Baker Street concerned that tragedy has befallen his daughter, Charlotte takes the case. Moriarty needs Charlotte to find his missing daughter, and to uncover the truth behind her recent whereabouts.  

Charlotte and Mrs. Watson travel together to a community of occult practitioners, where Moriarty’s daughter was last seen. Despite their best efforts to carve out the truth and to locate the missing woman, they seem to be surrounded by lies. The deeper Charlotte digs into the case, the more she wonders: why would Moriarty enlist her help? Could this investigation be a trap?

All the while, Charlotte’s will-they-or-won’t they relationship with her longtime friend and investigative partner, Lord Ingram, seems to be turning back on again… can Charlotte keep her focus on this perplexing investigation when her head is swimming with distractions?

Sherry answers some questions that I posed to her about Miss Moriarty, I Presume:

1.  How did you come up with the plot for Miss Moriarty, I Presume?

The plot for Miss Moriarty, I Presume?, which has Moriarty coming to Charlotte asking for her help to find out what happened to his daughter, is a natural development in the greater story arc of the series.

Even though Moriarty seldom came up in the original canon, in popular culture, he has become Sherlock Holmes’s great antagonist and one cannot write a Sherlockian series without keeping Moriarty in mind.

I was a great admirer of the BBC Sherlock when it first made its bow, but thought the series began to lose steam toward its later seasons. I was struck by how quickly the series got rid of Moriarty and didn’t understand why. So from the beginning of the Lady Sherlock series, I’d decided to keep my Moriarty around for a good bit longer.

In fact, for five books, Moriarty has been lurking in the background. I figured it was time readers at last met him up close. But I wanted to introduce him in a way that surprised my characters, and so the idea came to me of Moriarty knocking on Charlotte’s door like any other supplicant, hoping for Sherlock Holmes’s help.


2.  Did you have to do any research for this one?

People of the late Victorian era were fascinated by the occult. Yet, other than an occasional reference to séances that play no part in the story, the Lady Sherlock series has not touched on that quintessential Victorian preoccupation at all. So I thought I might as well have Moriarty’s daughter be a member of a remote community of occult practitioners.

For that I needed to do some research as to exactly what flavor of occult was this community. I eventually made them followers of Hermes Trismegistus, a pre-Christian pagan figure.


3.  What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes story?

I’m going to be a heretic here and confess that as much as I enjoyed the Arthur Conan Doyle original canon stories, I’ve always been more impressed by stories from the pastiche, or rather, Sherlock Holmes stories created by people who aren’t Arthur Conan Doyle.

And my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories from the pastiche are The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, “The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman, and these three episodes from BBC Sherlock, “The Great Game”, “A Scandal in Belgravia”, and “The Sign of Three”.


4.  How have the series and Charlotte Holmes evolved over time?

The series obviously has introduced more characters since book 1, and just about every subsequent book has seen at least one new character that I want to get to know better in a future book. The series has also become more geographically diverse, with stories set outside London, then outside England.

As for Charlotte Holmes, I think she has come to understand her own emotions better. Other than that, she hasn’t changed too much. She’s obtained various things that she’s always wanted before, but now she’s also facing greater enemies and bigger pressure.


5.  Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I am really good at assembling furniture, but I wouldn’t mind if I never assembled any more furniture. 😊


6.  What are you reading now and what have you recently read and loved?

I’ve been reading in my native language lately, a lot of Chinese web novels. The last English-language book I read—listened to, rather—was probably Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. The last English language novel I was blow away by was Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion.


You can purchase Miss Moriarty, I Presume from Bookshop.org here.