Author M. K. Wiseman Answers all our Questions
- Latest Book: Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord
- Can you give us the ‘elevator pitch’ version of your latest book.
Sherlock Holmes faces a crisis of faith—in himself and in his profession—following his return to London, three years after having killed Professor Moriarty.
“I speak of magic, Mr. Holmes.”
Mr. Percy Simmons, leader of London’s Theosophical Order of Odic Forces, is fully aware that his is not a case which Mr. Sherlock Holmes would ordinarily take up.
These are not ordinary times, however.
For something, some unquiet demon within Holmes stirs into discomfiting wakefulness under the occultist’s words. The unassuming Mr. Simmons has spoken of good and evil with the sort of certainty of soul that Sherlock yearns for. A certainty which has eluded Holmes for the three years in which the world thought him dead. While, for all intents, constructions, and purposes, he was dead.
But six months ago, Sherlock Holmes returned to Baker Street, declared himself alive to friend and foe alike, took up his old rooms, his profession, and his partnership with Dr. J. Watson—only to find himself haunted still by questions which had followed him out of the dreadful chasm of Reichenbach Falls:
Why? Why had he survived when his enemy had not? To what end? And had there ever, truly, been such a thing as justice? Such a thing as good or evil?
- Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
Gosh, it’s a bit hard to think of something obscure these days when I have become one of those chronically online people who shares a lot about themself. A lot of folks know that I play with a Croatian folk orchestra and recently switched from brač to prim* (*stringed lute-like instruments in the tamburica family.) But what people may not know (yet, haha) is that I’ve been working to learn accordion. (By now, my neighbors must know… After all, there is no real quiet way to play accordion!)
- Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
I must have silence when I write. That or coffee-shop noise/sfx is best, otherwise my brain follows the music and I’m no longer writing but rather just riding the notes up and down in my head while my pen sits idle in my hand. I *do* however make retroactive playlists for my books once they’re done.(And because it’s a fun question, here are three from my non-book “You can do it” mix that I’ve been listening to while I reorganize my workspace for my next project: Kings & Queens – Ava Max & MOTi; Hold on Tight – Electric Light Orchestra; Nije u šoldima sve – Mladen Grdović & Vinko Coce)
- Are you a plotter or pantser?
Deep, detailed, and annoyingly specific plotter.I am a spreadsheet addict in addition to having a full wall cork-board in my office for pinning up pics (connected by various colored strings, of course) and phrases/half cooked ideas, calendars and maps, and any other ephemera that can be held up with a push pin.
- Have your characters ever ‘gone off-script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
Characters going ‘off script’ on me is very rare as I have a very granular plotting process. Once in a while though, one of them will do or say something unexpected that I know I must follow. Then I take all my careful charts and make careful alterations. Sometimes the characters have better instincts than me. (As well they ought, as it is their lives which hang in the balance.)
- If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
My first, my wonderful wizard Nagarath… and I think we’d probably just go hiking. And he’d likely keep stopping every five feet to look at this or that plant or rock or tree.
- Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
Different wizard from a different series– Laurel Frampton. She’s a part of a wizard spy team and I find her, in particular, intimidating. Probably because she’s not as outspoken as the others, thus making her someone I wouldn’t know how to get on with. I like an obvious/clear verbal sparring partner.
- Do you read your reviews?
Yes and no. I don’t see everything that pops up, particularly once a book has been out for any length of time. And I’m of the ‘reviews are for the reading part of the book world’ camp of thought.
- What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
Admittedly I have found that a few comments about my choice of location for my Bookminder series have stung a bit. I set the series in Croatia since that is a goodly part of my heritage (and one in which I am quite active). Funny thing to be sensitive about, I suppose, but it has hit the heart a bit.
- What is the best compliment you have received?
I had a reader totally just ‘get it’ with what I have been attempting to do with Holmes and Watson. They understood the partnership/friendship/relationship angle I was inspecting with my stories and I was just so pleased I ran around the house going “They got it! They got what the story is really about here!!”
- Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
I actually write full time. (Okay, really some days it feels like I’m glaring at my office ‘murder wall’ and yelling at plot bunnies 90% of my day, running the house 9%, and actually putting words on a page 1% … the perils of a meticulous plotter.)
- Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
Ursula Le Guin. Brian Jacques. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
- What was your favourite book as a child?
Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall. Got that book at a Scholastic Book Fair and proceeded to read it just about annually through college or so. (And then I kept buying copies at used book shops so that I could loan/gift copies when I would inevitably recommend it to others.) Even now, I return to it every few years.
- What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
I have developed in my head an ‘internal editor voice’ comprised of things that my trusted editing team has told me project after project. Thus I have managed to train out of myself some of my cheats, leans, and shortcuts (much of it born of lazy impatience on my part when I just want an idea on the page before it fades from my mind.) One thing I still have a tendency for: pulling punches. I just—ugh!!—hate hurting characters so much!!So, for this book, I had to completely rewrite the ending of an early chapter once we got deep into our edits. We could plainly see all the places I tried to not get into ‘emotional angst territory’. Which meant I had to deal with all of it at once (while under a tight deadline, oops.) So… I made my hard task extra hard.I had to go touch a lot of grass after each major editing session so I could re-center my own mind.
- Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
I recently connected with Sue Rovens, at a steampunk event. And, as I’m a fairly shy person (for someone so ‘wordy’), I will admit it is hard for me to implement her lead-by-example advice of connecting with folks. She very kindly took the time to reach out to each of the authors at that event and connect with us. In the fairly solitary profession of writing (and, again, for someone shy like me) I appreciate that commitment to connection and lifting each other up with what reach we have.
For Bonus Points – Answer our fabulous frivolous questions!
What is your biggest fear?
Maybe not my biggest fear (those all lean towards massive existential and philosophical questions) but: basements. Basements almost always give me the creepy crawlies. I get that ‘something will chase me up out of the dark’ thing that goes with it. I feel the weight of the building above my head. They just … ugh, basements. *shudder*
If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
Shapeshifting really interests me. I feel like it has a versatility and practicality. (And might be less of a hassle to learn and use.) And I could go off and be a sea turtle for a while which, frankly, sounds lovely.
If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?We live to love. It is in loving that we find our way, though the night may be long and the path dark. – Father Phenlick, The Bookminder
If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?The sooner you embrace Being That Nerd, [little MKW], the happier you’ll be. Believe it or not, it’s easier—and more fun!—to accept yourself than to un-dork yourself. 😉
Finally – Who are your latest Cover Crushes?
Swooning over:Arden Powell’s A Thief and a Gentleman
Gabe Cole Novoa’s Most Ardently: A Pride & Prejudice Remix
You can purchase M. K. Wiseman latest book: Sherlock Holmes and the Silver Cord here.
If you would like to hear more about M. K. Wiseman and her books, you can find here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FaublesFables