“From the time I was a child, I thought Sherlock Holmes was the greatest detective who ever lived.”
When I read that the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leader scorer and an accomplished author, was a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan and had penned a new mystery called Mycroft Holmes along with Anna Waterhouse, I was intrigued.
Mycroft is such an elusive, shadowy presence in Sherlock’s life — and the clues Arthur Conan Doyle drops about him are so few, yet so tantalizing. We know that he works for the British government and that he’s reputedly even more brilliant than his younger brother — but little more. So, the field was wide open: Why not flesh out Mycroft by building a novel around him while adding to the Holmes canon by giving us more of Sherlock’s back story? Why not, indeed?
What an inventive idea! I’m always inspired by the pluck and panache authors bring to their craft and love hearing them talk about their writing journeys. So when I saw that Kareem and Anna were appearing at my favorite Barnes & Noble, I hopped on a train to catch them.
What a fun evening! Who knew that one of the world’s most fabled basketball players harbored a lifelong obsession with Sherlock Holmes — a passion so powerful that it eventually spilled out into a book which may even become a series? Or that reading about Sherlock and his powers of deduction while he was a rookie made Kareem a better basketball player? Or that Mycroft Holmes appears only in seven of Sherlock’s stories?
When Kareem was asked what quality he brought from his career as an athlete to the craft of writing, the answer was “discipline.” “We’re only aspiring until we get it done,” he observed. And so he and his co-author Anna Waterhouse worked together steadily for months, brainstorming ideas and writing, then trading chapters and rewriting until they felt happy with the results. The reason they collaborated so well said Kareem was that there was “no ego involved” — it was all about creating a satisfying experience for readers, including avid Sherlockians.
It’s always so refreshing to hear writers talk about the fun they have dreaming up their worlds — just the sheer pleasure they take in creating their characters and seeing what happens to them. Since Mycroft was virtually unmined, Kareem and Anna plunged him into a mystery that reveals and defines him. I’m looking forward to dipping into my shiny new signed copy of Mycroft Holmes — check it out on Amazon. And write on!