When you’ve tried your literary hand at comic-book scripts, screenplays, verse, prose poems, short stories, novellas, and novels, what do you turn to next?
For many years, I’ve marveled at the genre of children’s fiction. I grew up on Curious George, Hardy Boys, Maurice Sendak, Beatrix Potter, J.M. Barrie. Something about children’s fiction — whether it’s ultra young like Dick and Jane or more modern and mature like Harry Potter — still enchants me, even though I’m a middle-aged man with no kids.
Many people I know are parents of young kids, from newborn to 5 or 6. That’s gotten me thinking about what I would write if I wanted to entertain older young’uns, whom I’ll define as the 7-to-10 crowd. Those were critical reading years for me, a cross section of Superman comics and books like Red Planet, by Robert Heinlein.
But before I made the leap to Heinlein, John Christopher, Verne, and Wells, there were the books with lots of pictures and big words. Where the Wild Things Are is emblematic of that experience, although there were no doubt dozens of less memorable but equally fascinating fictions of the time. Many of them I can’t recall, other than their impressions: the large eyes and fantastic creatures, the sense of suspense and joy with each new page of discovery.
So, I come in my life to a place where I can write The Adventures of Darwin & Dr. Watson. The premise is simple. Take Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, make him a Beagle called Darwin, outfit him with a scrappy little brother named Dr. Watson, and moor them in a world shared with two 9-year-olds. What about Lastrade? And Moriarty? The Hounds of the Baskervilles? I’ll get to all that soon enough.
I’m so looking forward to this. The first story — or case — is called The Beagle Knows. I’m putting out a call to illustrators who will collaborate with me. By jove.