I’m pleased to announce that my short story, “The Adventure of the Cursed Ruin,” will appear this December in Belanger Books‘ In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson, now available for pre-order on IndieGoGo. In the Footsteps is “a collection of seventeen all new Sherlock Holmes stories written specifically for young adults. The anthology contains some of the best known Sherlockian authors as well as first time young adult authors.”
“The Cursed Ruin” is not, strictly speaking, a Sherlock Holmes story. It’s a sword-and-sorcery tale with characters and a narrative style inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories: when an orc falls victim to a curse and loses his prized sword, he turns to Escott Sigerson, the famous consulting detective, to break the curse and recover the sword.
“Make yourself comfortable and listen to the intriguing tale our new friend Bonecrusher Bloodhelm has come to share.”
Sigerson gestured at the chair opposite his by the fireplace, and there sat an orc. Green-skinned, a wooden helm atop his head above his pointed ears, oversized eye teeth jutting from his lower lip, a bronze breastplate on his chest, his orcish bulk somehow fit comfortably within the human-sized chair. It has been some weeks since I had last seen an orc, not since the recovery of the duchess’ purloined necklace from the wizard’s keep, and while I would not have expected to see one here, Sigerson vouching for him put me at ease.
The orc looked at me, and I felt I was being scrutinized. “Who is this?”
“Winter,” said Sigerson. “My friend and companion through many adventures. You may rely on her discretion in these matters.”
“A healer,” I said quickly.
The orc’s face contorted in a grimace.
I was reading Sherlock Holmes stories at a young age — among my early experiences were The Boys’ Sherlock Holmes, a collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales, and Elementary BASIC, a book on computer programming told through Sherlock Holmes pastiches by Henry Ledgard and Andrew Singer — and I would like to think “The Cursed Ruin” is a story I would have enjoyed when I was ten.
I’ve been toying with the characters and setting of “The Cursed Ruin” for about a year and a half. “The Cursed Ruin” is the first work in the setting that I’ve submitted for publication. A chance remark by the novelist David Mack led to a hastily scrawled single page outline, which I promptly lost in a pile of papers at home. When cleaning my back office in March to make it suitable as a workspace when my company went work-from-home I rediscovered the outline and gave the idea more thought. I wrote then wrote the story over an April weekend, seeing it as a “proof of concept,” in a way. Some people took up baking during the COVID lockdown. I wrote some fiction.
The book, which is available as an ebook, in paperback, and in hardcover, is available for preorder through IndieGoGo, and proceeds from the funding campaign will be donated to The Beacon Society, a Sherlock Holmes Scion Society which gives grants to teachers, libraries, and Sherlock Holmes organizations to help introduce students to Sherlock Holmes.
I’m very happy with the way “The Cursed Ruin” turned out, the book is filled with other, fine stories, and I hope you’ll check out the IndieGoGo campaign and order a copy.
Header photo Ruïnes del Castell d’Urquhart by Teresa Grau Ros, licensed Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0.