Today we talk to Brett Fawcett who appears in Part Part XL: 1877-1887 currently on Kickstarter as part of the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories XL to XLII campaign.
What’s the name of your story in the collection?
My story is titled "The True Account of the Dorrington Ruby Affair."
How did the story come about?
As a child, I wondered what Watson was talking about in The Valley of Fear when he mentioned how famous Inspector MacDonald had become. As an adult, when I read the stories of the gentleman burglar Arthur J. Raffles (written, or at least edited, by Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, E.W. Hornung), I immediately recognized the intrepid Scottish detective Inspector Mackenzie as being the same person as Inspector MacDonald. I also read John Kendrick Bangs' R. Holmes & Co., in which Raffles, disguised as a clergyman named Tattersby, steals the Dorrington ruby seal; Raffles' daughter Marjorie sends a fan letter to Holmes sealed with the Dorrington ruby seal, so Holmes is able to identify Raffles as the thief, but he falls in love with Marjorie and lets Raffles go in exchange for her hand. Their son, "Raffles Holmes," grows up to be a detective and a thief. This clearly fictionalized story always annoyed me and I wanted to rewrite it to make it less...well, stupid. So this story had many origins: It was me wanting to write a story which establishes MacDonald as being the same person as Mackenzie, of me wanting to write a prequel to the Raffles stories (particularly "Gentlemen and Players" and "The Return Match"), and me wanting to retell chapter 2 of R. Holmes & Co. to make it fit with the canons of both Holmes and Raffles. (Readers of Raffles stories and of R. Holmes & Co. will notice that I have filled the story with details taken from Hornung and Bangs, including things that only received a passing mention in the original stories, such as Lord Dorrington's cigars and his dachshund, Nicholas, not to mention the Armagh emeralds, Golden Gem cigarettes, and the drug called somnol, all of which are from the Raffles tales. Several other details about MacDonald/Mackenzie are taken from movie or TV adaptations of the Raffles stories or of The Valley of Fear.)
Have you contributed to anthologies before?
I have previously contributed to Volume XXXVII, "The Adventure of the Downing Street Demise." That story was based on the real-life death of Stafford Northcote, but, out of respect for the historical figures involved, I changed some names, so Northcote's secretary, Eric Barrington, became Trelawney Hope's secretary, Arthur Dorrington. In revisiting R. Holmes & Co., I remembered that Lord Dorrington was a character in that story, so I have made a point of mentioning that Arthur was his cousin. (I should also note that both are relations of Constance Dorrington, the second wife of Dr. Lyndon Parker, companion and biographer of Holmes' successor, Solar Pons.) I also contributed the opening story, "The Adventure of the Uncommitted Murder," to the Sherlock Holmes/Father Brown anthology, The Detective and the Clergyman. Inspector Sam Brown, brother of Father Brown and a minor character in The Sign of Four, played an important role in that story, and he makes a cameo in "The True Account of the Dorrington Ruby Affair."
Do you write on any other subjects?
As a classical Catholic educator, I also write on topics of theology and education as well as Canadian law and history. I have written policy documents for the Cardus think tank and co-host the Ex Umbris podcast with my Chesterton Academy headmaster.