1:45 pm EDT, September 14, 2015

Heather Petty discusses her version of Sherlock Holmes

Lock & Mori is the debut novel from Heather Petty and is a must read for the Fall. The novel focuses on a young Sherlock Holmes and his soon to be nemesis Moriarty.

Lock & Mori is not your traditional young Sherlock Holmes tale. The story creates a new lore about how Sherlock and Moriarty meet and become who they are as adults. With delicious twists and a brilliant plot Lock & Mori introduces us to a modern, teenage Sherlock Holmes that has to struggle with who he is and we see first hand how those around him shape his future.

Author Heather Petty discusses her debut novel with us and gives some insight into why she chose to write about Sherlock Holmes and how she created her unique version of the characters we know and love.

Tell us five random facts about yourself

  1. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice.
  2. The best coffee I’ve ever had in my life was at a café/bakery in Lander, Wyoming.
  3. I am slightly obsessed with all things South Korea. (In this case, “slightly” might actually mean “completely,” but let’s pretend.)
  4. I refuse to swim in the ocean, on account of all the bite-y, sting-y, live-in-unknown-depths-and-may-come-up-to-consume-us-all-y things that live there. But I still think Shark Week is the greatest week of the year. (Despite its recent decline into wrong…)
  5. Singing/music is my second love, but I was never very good at songwriting, so I chose a different path.
  6. Describe your novel in five words.

    When Sherlock was the sidekick.

    When you sit down to write a novel what is the process like?

    For the first draft, I never write in any particular order. I usually have a synopsis for general plot points, and then I write the scenes that seem interesting to me in the moment, or that I think of throughout the day. At some point, I go through and write transitions between the scenes until I have a decent draft. Then I go through and make it into a cohesive story by tweaking and adding the info that I left out in the first run.

    ‘Lock & Mori’ is a contemporary Sherlock Holmes novel. Why did you decide to write about Sherlock Holmes during his teen years?

    Mostly because I’m a YA writer, so I always think of things in association with the teen years.  But the original story idea, that maybe Sherlock Holmes lied to Watson about Moriarty for some reason, leant itself perfectly to an exploration of his younger years and how he might have met his future nemesis way back when.

    ‘Lock & Mori’ is one of the best young Sherlock Holmes stories I have read. How did you come up with the ideas for characterization of the younger characters (Mycroft is one of my favorites!)?

    First, wow! Thank you! As to the characters, I think the part of the story idea that I liked most was that it gave me the opportunity to reverse engineer these characters into who they might have been in their teen years. I thought a lot about the whole Nature/Nurture debate — what kinds of experiences change us and what parts of our personalities stay with us, even when we shift and change. And then I tried to imagine what kind of person might take the path to become a master criminal and why she might make those choices. What kind of person might become a master detective, and how he could still believe in justice and law and order, even after seeing firsthand how flawed those systems can be.

    Mycroft was probably more an amalgam of all the iterations of Mycrofts I’d loved in derivations and canon. He’s always this cool enigma lingering out there and not even Sherlock ever seems to know what he’s really up to.

    This inception of Mori is so fantastic and integrated into Sherlock’s life. How did you come up for the idea of Mori?

    Well, thank you again!

    Honestly, my very first vision of this book was with Moriarty as a boy and best friend/school rival to Sherlock. But the minute the idea of possibly gender-flipping Mori came to me, I couldn’t resist it. I got so excited about creating a female villain who uses her intelligence as a weapon instead of her sexuality. I also couldn’t resist the opportunity to flip the bad boy/good girl trope on its head and explore what that might mean for two hyper-intelligent high school students.

    Beyond that, I mostly just got to create her how I wanted. We actually know very little about Moriarty from the canon, so I had a lot of freedom.

    Tell us a little about your favorite scene to write.

    There’s a scene toward the beginning of the book where Mori and Lock are in a boat out on a lake and Lock asks Mori if she’s a feminist. I wrote that scene pretty early on and really had fun with it. Really, all of their boat rides were fun for me to write, even when they weren’t much fun for Mori.

    What one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

    I know this is cheating, but I think I have three:

    Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, and Valiant by Holly Black.

    What are you working on now?

    There are three books in the Lock and Mori series, so I’m working on the next two books now!

    Fill in the blank

    If I weren’t a writer I would be… probably a lawyer. I really wanted to be a lawyer for a lot of years. Though, I always loved books so much, I might also have found a different job in the publishing/library world just to be connected to them somehow.

    If I could have one supernatural power it would be… to control time. I would pause things at random so I could take naps. I would have the supernatural power of Naps. (I miss sleep…)

    My Hollywood crush is… Lucy Liu and Idris Elba. You can’t make me choose. They are both gorgeous perfection. But my real crushes come more from Seoul than Hollywood these days. ;)

    ‘Lock & Mori’ releases on September 15

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