Emma Jane Holloway is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a regular series where we ask authors and editors to share five facts about their latest books. Holloway is the author of A Study in Silks:
Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.
In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?
But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.
Emma Jane Holloway:
1. When I was in grade school, I wrote to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street and I received a very nice letter from his secretary.
2. A visual inspiration for A Study in Silks is a collection of antique dance cards that have been in my family for generations. One of my ancestors apparently had a taste for masked balls at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
3. I wrote the bulk of the Baskerville Affair trilogy in a little over a year while working full-time. Let’s just say it was a test of time management. I remember thinking NaNoWriMo would seem easy afterward. We’ll see!
4. I made a research trip to the south of England for the series and discovered scrumpy, which is a kind of thick apple cider brewed there. I decided it was the perfect beverage for pirates or other tough, fearsome customers. I managed a pint and I could feel my organs failing within minutes—I think it could be used to clean engine parts, or perhaps dissolve them. It was at that pub the innkeeper told me a story he claimed was the original tale of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I can’t say if that was true, but the place where Conan Doyle stayed was indeed nearby.
5. Several times while researching the series, I’ve stumbled against roadblocks when museum collections aren’t accessible or (worse) have been decommissioned for lack of funding. I had to change my course a few times because there were factual gaps too wide for me to comfortably gloss over. It’s made me realize how fragile our grasp of history might actually be.