Author Interview | Notes from when Jorie spoke with Mr Harper IRL about “A Knife in the Fog”!

Posted Wednesday, 14 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I personally feel as if Crime Fiction has a soft spot in my heart and mind; for as long as I can remember I’ve been claiming Mysteries, Suspense and Thrillers as being my most keenly interested section of television teleplays and dramas of interest. Counter to that pursuit, are the novels – spilt between the Cosies I personally adore and have a deep affection for devouring and the more intriguingly brilliant and layered Cosy Historical Mysteries which have passionately become a favourite pursuit of my readerly life since I became a book blogger.

Adjacent to those inclinations, I am also most intrigued with the Historical Suspense and/or Thriller – there are a few of my interests in these kinds of stories which are on the ‘outer edge’ of my tolerance levels for visuals and/or inclusive scenes which are relevant to the story/series itself. Those I happily refer and reference as “Hard Boiled” entries for a point of reference here on my blog as well as a marker of interest in my own pursuit of the stories themselves.

When it comes to chasing down television dramas in Crime Fiction as much as Fictional series of the same nature, I have a profound affection for those writers who give keen insight into Forensic Science, Forensic Pathology and Forensic Investigative Techniques or the Psychology of the Crime through Forensic applications on the psyche.  What is interesting about studying Forensics through Fiction is how crafty writers have to become to keep us not only invested in their stories but for giving us a truism of realism within the boundaries of their stories. When they go to infer a step into their worlds – a world they are illuminating to become the mainstay of interest for a series in development for the new reader whose found their words – they are giving us a prime example of what is become expected of their collective works in future volumes.

This is why if a writer of Crime Fiction can capture me straight out of the gate – by their voice, their style or their world – over and beyond their lead character(s), supporting cast and the delivery of the suspenseful bits interwoven into the back-stories – they will have found a loyal reader in me for the life of their series*. (*) co-dependent on the fact they do not disappoint my palette of interest in future installments.

When it comes to Sherlock Holmes and the after canons of his stories – I have a very, short list of interest – at which you will find the Mary Russell stories at the very top as Laurie R. King was the first author I had discovered in 2009 who was writing a level of intuitive intention regarding Holmes which felt naturally intrinsic of the character I had remembered. Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer arrived a bit lateron but was a bit of a harder sell for me being that Enola’s story-lines were slightly a hit/miss for me but the character of Enola was intriguing enough to where I wanted to read more of her adventures. With Mary Russell – I was immediately smitten by her and Holmes at this junction in his life and thereby, wooed immediately into the world King had set out for us to discover.

I am quite critical about after canons, stories inspired by classical novelists and sequel authors – notwithstanding my interests in Conan Doyle, there are my inquisitive pursuits of chasing down stories of this nature within the embodiment of Jane Austen and the re-tellings of Jane Eyre.

What I am constantly seeking out is a certain layer of conveyance of presence, of loyalty to the authentic voice of the inspirational character in question and a purposeful dedication of not just honouring the past but of elevating the tone of the new incantation against the old. I love finding authors who have their own unique approach to re-writing a familiar character and giving us a newfound way of appreciating them through their new variant of interest in the here and now. Thus, what captured my attention with the Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle Mysteries was simply this – how a pathologist was motivated to write these stories based on his own interest in Holmes and the writer behind Holmes (Conan Doyle) led him into a portal which granted us an immersive look at how Doyle himself might have approached investigative interests which re-lead us to appreciate how he created Holmes and Watson.

Overall, what I love most about Holmes and Watson in the traditional sense is the camaraderie of their relationship – their zest for intellectual dissection of the facts and their pursuit of uncovering the sociological implications of what is fuelling the crimes in which they investigate. They are uniquely timeless in how they inter-relate to one another but also how they approached their techniques – leaning on the intellect and the divisiveness of their research talents, they uncovered the criminology of their cases because of how they approached their ability to sleuth.

My love and appreciation for Holmes and Watson inspired me to take a chance on this new entry into a Holmesian niche of after canon story-lines. Not that this is a traditional after canon in the sense that there is an influence of Holmesian styling but it is not effectively a re-telling or a reincarnation of that canon per se but as you read or listen to A Knife in the Fog you’ll find Holmes and Watson have materalised anew in a different vehicle of interest altogether.

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Author Interview | Notes from when Jorie spoke with Mr Harper IRL about “A Knife in the Fog”!A Knife in the Fog (Interview)
Subtitle: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle
by Bradley Harper
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another "crime story." Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.

Once there, he is offered one month's employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a "consultant" in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell--Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes--agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.

Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches.

Genres: After Canons, Amateur Detective, Classic Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Suspense

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633884861


Also by this author: A Knife in the Fog, Queen's Gambit

Also in this series: A Knife in the Fog, Queen's Gambit

Setting: London, England, UK

Published by Seventh Street Books

on 2nd October, 2018

Format: Audiobook | mp3, Trade Paperback

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley HarperA Knife in the Fog (audiobook) by Bradley Harper

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

As an aside, despite the fact Seventh Street Books has been bought out by Smart Publishing – all links to their website and social accounts have remained active and use the same urls. The new publisher has maintained all their sites and thereby, the transition was seamless for readers who wanted to keep in touch with the authors and the series they come to love by Seventh Street Books & Pyr!

Converse via: #AKnifeInTheFog, #HistNov and #HistFic OR #HistoricalMystery
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

A Knife in the Fog was nominated for
an Edgar Award in 2019 for “Best First Novel”

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on what i loved about “a knife in the fog”:

The delivery of this story is in diary-format – a technique I have oft enjoyed in Mysteries, Suspense and Thrillers – as well as other genres, as it gives an interpersonal accounting of the events as they were once lived or observed. It becomes a vehicle of interpretation as well – seeing a bit more directly into the heart and the pulsing of thoughts of the lead character whilst seeing externally a concise impression of the supporting cast. In this way, Harper drew us intimately close to Conan Doyle whilst also embarking on an personal odyssey backwards in time to where Doyle himself was drawing closer to Holmes and how Holmes in a fashion of artist and creation was inspiring Doyle to create Holmes himself. I oft mused that Holmes was fashioned out of a love and respect of the genre Doyle once wrote inside – of drawing out a persona of interest others could relate to themselves and then, using Holmes and Watson as a foreshadow of IRL curiosities and conversations which in effect could have become lived through the adventures Holmes took with Watson. In effect, which occurred first? The stories or the experiences and of the two, which held the greater fodder of interest in Doyle to recollect?

As you delve into this narrative through Harper’s vision for it – you start to see how those thin lines of interest start to double-cross and weave back through your own mind. Of where the lines blur between the writer and the character but also, of where a contemporary writer can re-trace the inspirational points of a classical writer and develop his own vision of an authentic voice of the previous writer’s canon with his own bent on rooting out the hidden truths and insights of an era long secluded in the past.

From the very first moment we lock eyes on Conan Doyle, we denote how his intuitiveness for observation is not just present in his personal life but how he could have readily augmented this deductive reasoning into his writings as easily as he breathed ink onto his pages of thoughtful repose. It is through this keenly intuitive introduction we see where the markings of a fictional plot could have taken root out of this gentleman’s life’s work and in so doing, it not only humanised Doyle to the reader but gave a brilliant lead-in to the series Harper was intending on developing to capitalise on this character trait within Doyle. It also speaks well of Harper’s intentional plottings to give the reader much to contemplate whilst they are reading his story.

One of the key reasons I felt as connected within the first installment of this series is the winsome connection Harper developed between his characters of Arthur Conan Doyle, Professor Bell and Margaret Harkness. Of the three, uniquely – despite the fact I reference Conan Doyle quite a heap – as he is the overseeing narrator of this story as it is through his journalled notes and observations we are peering into their lives – it is interesting to mention it was Harkness and Bell I felt myself drawing a closeness towards in regards to the characters who intrigued me to see where their future stories might develop further as the series finds it’s footing in future installments.

Being privy of where the next few stories in the Harkness/Doyle series are being directed, I was given a bit of insight during my conversation with Harper how their interconnective partnership will ebb and flow as the stories continue to shift forward after this first meeting of the minds. Knowing what I do, I was quite thankful to learn that there is much more in store for this trio of sleuths – as despite having a slight preferential leaning towards Bell/Harkness it is the ensemble of them together which is what illuminates the fuller joy of reading A Knife in the Fog.

If you separate in your mind this is not a direct after canon sequelling of Sherlock Holmes but rather a Historical Biological Fiction narrative wherein Conan Doyle, Bell and Harkness are inserted into the background of the series itself – re-establishing their lives with a purpose they had not actually lived it is quite easy to see how this series has developed its own self-identity within the plausible realities of a Holmesian universe.

For that reason directly, it is a readerly joy to disappear into the 19th Century Harper is developing – not just to see where the early practices of Forensic Science were first gaining traction (especially in this installment to focus on Forensic Photography) but to where Criminology and Forensic Science were co-merging in developing a better approach to crime solving techniques used by law enforcement. I can’t wait to see what comes next and to see where the technological advances continue to interweave into the series.

-quoted from my review on behalf of A Knife in the Fog

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Conversing with Mr Harper about “A Knife in the Fog”:

I had the opportunity to speak to the author on the telephone which was a rare treat for me, as I have only had the chance to do this twice before wherein it allows you to have a different kind of conversation than one you would have by email. The conversation naturally ebbed & flowed; my notes were taking whilst the conversation was in-progress and I am thankful I now have a chance to share what was revealled out of our conversation for the blog tour!

It should be noted – although I tried my best to write his responses down as we talked, there is a measure of error on my part for perhaps not getting his replies word for word the way they were first given but the essence of our conversation remains.

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How did you develop the authentic tone and pacing of “A Knife in the Fog” which fits nicely within the canon of Doyle but also has a similar voicing to the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries?

Harper responds: The question became could he write authentically as a Victorian British gentleman? At the age of 13 I read the whole Sherlock Holmes – my minster read a rough draft of the story and he was from England – wherein the question resurfaced if in fact am I writing convincingly as a British gentleman. The response was very real and did not sound like an American. The style of crafting a story like this is hardwired into my head and it just naturally came out.

How did you find your work as a pathologist aided you in developing the science inside your story and what were the limitations you had to work against as this is a Historical Thriller?

Harper responds: Because Bell was a Professor of surgery – he had knowledge about the postmodern on patients who died and as a teaching professor he would have dealt with patients who came to the hospital. I could have him perform examinations a general practitioner or policeman would not have become exposed too. In my medical school I had a very robust course in History of Medicine.

I read about the forensics of the time and would not express something that was not yet developed. Fingerprints was still being developed til 1895 and there is a book which explained it. Not in use at the time this story takes place.

Crime photography was just coming into its own – a Frenchman ahead of the River murders developed crime scene photography. Police took pictures of the Ripper murder victims as a result. These were commercial photographers and there wasn’t the same kind of professionalism in the quality. What you can infer by careful observation and what would require technology which was not available at the time.

An example of ‘careful observations’:

* Staff College wrote a research paper on Doc Gorgis about the Panama Canal – who was a general practitioner with Walter Reed after the Spanish American War. Reed showed mosquitoes carried yellow fever; Gorgis didn’t believe him because of the 17 days between bite to the disease. Gorgis organised civilian labour drains and drained all the water to do a study against the theory. Retraced where people were bitten and eliminated mosquitoes in Havana. Most uniquely qualified to be there and the guys on the job didn’t want him there. More physicals appealed to Roosevelt (Theodore) to keep him on the job – Gorgis died of yellow fever. The only clue towards what happened was the mosquito in inkwell of the physician’s desk.

Doyle takes his responsibilities seriously – almost as if he is now proving whether or not he was as good of a deducer of truth as his inventively inquisitive Holmes – how did you etch out portions of Holmes into Doyle and how did you want readers to feel about your representation of Doyle from other variants of his person?

Harper responds: Bell is Holmes, Doyle is Watson. To highlight the differences between the character and the person – kinder, engaging – well beloved by his students would go out of his way to help them. Dry sense of humour. Joke in medical school – pointed out the importance of observation.

Doyle was an intelligent man though he was not a brilliant man but he had certain talents. I read in his biography once he was about to go on a trip and a coachman was going to take him to Southhampton. He was saying is that all for you Mr Doyle. How did you know my name? It was on his bag. He wasn’t superman – he was a consulting detective. One gentleman was accused of mutilation and Doyle met with him – knew he was innocent as the crime was at night and the man’s thick glasses with nearsightedness could not pull off the crime.

He has his failings like anyone else. One thing interested me Sherlock Holmes had the epitome of rationality and Doyle liked spirituality and when Agatha went missing for a week to have a medium sleuth for it and she was found a week later. He was a contradiction.

How did you first decide to develop this series by having Professor Bell and Conan Doyle as your key developing characters who fuell the central arc of the series? Was your life as a pathologist inspiring this entry?

 Harper responds: Originally it was going to be those two – and one day I was going through Wikipedia as I’m a real nerd. I didn’t know about the four year gap – between the two stories – he had cheated on his first Holmes story and was embittered he would never write again. Then the Ripper murders happen – there is a story here.

Harkness was meant to be a minor character to highlight women in society – a Ripper (a person who researches the topic and is an authoritative voice generally) Richard Jones introduced me to Harkness – living in WhiteChapel at the time. She was really there at that time – I added her on the page and the interactions between the other two raised the level of the story. She was such an intriguing character, I knew she needed to be a full fledged character of the story.

To my surprise this is my first book and can I write as an Englishman as well as I can I write as a woman – yet the question was can I write it engagingly and honestly? She was the easiest to write – of all my characters. I realised after the fact I was this smart to begin with – after the fact between the three – I had Doyle the ego – everything had to be just right – Bell super ego – respect the rules but you can break them as he can see the big picture – whilst Harkness is pure id – she thinks and speaks her mind. Those three characters and aspects made the story greater than the sum of its parts and juggling the three personalities in conversation became my best writing.

What were your first thoughts and reactions when you first heard your narrator bringing your story to life? How did you react to his instincts for voicing Doyle, Bell and Harkness?

Harper responds: Very generous – I could select the narrator. I found an interview with Conan Doyle about the time I have him writing the memoir. I sent an interview and of the three blokes who auditioned this is the only one who had listened to it. To my surprise as I listened to Doyle’s voice he had a slight Scottish brogue and his family is Irish and grew up in England but he went to school in Scotland that it (the accent) had held over. He respected Professor Bell. He chose his words and did not rush how he spoke Doyle. That is the voice I had in my head for the last five years and it put a chill down my spine – I think I wrote a good book and his narration raised it to a new bar of intention. He doesn’t read the book, he performed and I was so blessed to have him.

I teared up a bit – had some real highs and the audiobook has the headphones award for mystery and suspense for 2019.

Who were your favourite characters – either lead or supporting whom the narrator voiced you felt was as accurately close to how you envisioned them sounding?

 Harper responds: Mr Davies is very kind – emailed a few times – before narration – usually he has questions about characters but mine were clearly drawn and since I have different characters from different places of the British empire. Asked about the Welsh accent – soft spoken – not real distinctive. Sgt Hicks with Bell and Doyle interviewing – speaking between mouthfuls – he did a great job with all the characters. His Mark Twain – Missouri / Arkansas accent wasn’t the best but overall it was delightful. An Englishman’s take on the Ozarks. It is all fair.

What do you feel is so captivating about forensics, criminology and mysteries set within the Victorian era? What led you to choose this as your own setting?

Harper responds: The time period – Jack Ripper / Doyle – now the Victorian era the Queen for 60 years that expands a huge time period for human history – science, technology, philosophy and advancements – by the time of her Diamond Jubilee – moving pictures were out and were added into the second book. Telephones in the 1897 streets of London were electrified. Surgeons were washing their hands – thank goodness for that – vaccinations – public sanitation – all sorts of advancements – evolution of species was out – man and God and man’s place in the universe – common fodder – intellectual stimulation and reevaluation. Exciting time to be a person in western society at that time.

I know you spent a lot of time developing your characters – getting inside their heads and understanding their quirks, motivations and how they evolved through their experiences whilst also understanding how they interact with each other – specifically focusing on Bell, Doyle and Harkness. Of the three, did you find developing one of their personalities was easier over the other or were they all equally enjoyable to develop for the series? What fascinated you the most once you started to see their personalities come forward and start to project the ways in which you had envisioned them?

Harper responds: I found Doyle the most difficult because so much is known about him – I wanted to remain as true as possible to him and his values to how he lived his life. Had conflicting emotions about Doyle – loved Holmes and the world he created and for the most part Holmes was honourable – Dr Doyle had some – wife died of TB – 7 years – during that time his lover moved into his house while his wife died of TB; hard to reconcile with his paragram of virtues.

Helped falsely accused persons – had sharp elbows – very competitive as a writer – he was certainly was a person who wanted to have credit for things he did – wrote a play with Berry – Peter Pan – William Gillette – man of many talents – screenplays, he was involved on the Holmes stories – or consulted on them – had his foils like everyone else. Want to portray him as a human being – full of strengths, weaknesses and self doubt. He grew up in a family who was genteel and comfortable but not wealthy – shock and revolution to what he was exposed to in the East End – Dickens abyss to the East End and it didn’t improve by Ripper era where the bodies were dumped.

This is a man who comes from a comfortable background where he has to confront this part of society – going to Harknesses apartment and he didn’t want to go there as she was by herself. Very proper man and yet over time he adjusts to White Chapel.

Good example is when Harkness is taking him to the scene of the first murder – the Ripper is not a very large or scary person or the ladies would not meet in the alley – common reference to commercial sex – Doyle is over his feet how a lady of proper upbringing would say that – wanted to use that for who Harkness was and who Doyle was at that time in the story.

Harkness was the easiest – woman of this era who was in the Victorian era – she didn’t want to accept the limitations of her gender or generation. Not far from the mark based on research.

Website of Harkness – two Phds in Eng Lit who run this website about her travels and the book she wrote in Australia. She was in Australia twice and so I’m using some of that information for book two “The Queen’s Gambit”.

I’ve been an appreciator of Mysteries, Suspense and Thrillers throughout my life – what fascinates me the most is the process of how writers develop the construction of their mystery. What can you share about your process to delve into the components which became the backbone of the criminal mind who was cause havoc in “A Knife in the Fog”?

Harper responds: History book by Richard Jones – walking tour of London – Ripper and other historical places – answered emails for background and then I went on the walking tour and bought out the 3hr tour to have exclusive time with him. Found on the tour (not in the book) Mary‘s body was found – the mayor was being installed and thousands of people in Sunday’s best was there as the body was found. Stood outside whilst her body was brought out – contracting these two scenes together to show the humble plain wooden box – the crowed outside of Mary Shelley’s apartment stood silent and I like to imagine that those two were close enough to hear the band and cheers for the mayor whilst her body came out.

Learnt in my second book – but find out what is happening to society in general and what Richard Jones eludes too – various antisemitism at the time and how people thought Ripper was a jew and not a Christian. A window into society at the time and didn’t want to just talk about murder but how it impacted society and how it fit into other events at the time.

The second book delves into a second assassination of Queen Victoria – wherein the assassin is from Germany. During that time there was a lot of tension between Germany and England due to South Africa and I play upon that where there is going to be a war between the two countries – if someone from Germany took out the Queen it was due to wanting to start a war. Interplay within the larger context adds depth and authenticity.

Why do you think you were more keen on presenting the characters to live inside this world you’ve created than the piecing of the puzzle behind the riddle of your mystery? Is it because you have a keener interest in sociological examinations behind mysteries and of human nature itself? Or was it because of your personal history in pathology – the psychological and sociological examinations of person who investigate crimes was a more interesting perspective to examine than to redirect back to the criminology of the crimes themselves? Interpersonal with the characters.

Harper responds: I wanted to be more interpersonal with the characters. Not a cardboard cutout and make this unique for the readers. You can see yourself in the London streets – you can see you evading the bad guys and understand their motivations and the world they lived in and why they acted the way they did. A lot of books about Ripper and did not want to glorify the cruelty of the man but portray the monster they were and the terrible living conditions these people went through on a daily basis and what they did as they lived and have more depth on the cruelty.

As a pathologist I was the last voice of the deceased and so in a way that was my motivation to tell the story of those who died and leave the reader with a sense of hope that a sense of justice is possible for everyone. 

I love your dedication to characterisations and the development of characters – as if they were bonefide persons who were living in our world. They have their own natures, their own past experiences and their own conceptions of the world in which they live – and yet, you have to pierce through that kind of data of developing them in order to find a lens of purpose to bridge us into their ‘current timeline’. In developing this series – how did you project how your lead characters will change and evolve as we move forward in the series? What do you hope for their lives and what makes you smile the most about how far they’ve come from your first renderings of sketching out their biographies?

 Harper responds: Self grow through the series – Harkness is my main character, Doyle is brief but more Margaret‘s POV – shifting perspectives – she will grow a bit and she will lose – lose and gain in the next story. Mentor to young ladies who Margaret can be a mentor and who she wants to be when she grows up – how to act and she’s trying to teach her to act like a man – women says about the male gender – don’t ask me how I did that – the next book is entirely centred on Margaret.

By the time of the third book – the three come together again.

She had to earn her way in the first book and Doyle is more busy being rich and famous and less able to participate in these shenanigans and his involvement is less whilst Bell’s is more of a lead-in to get Harkness involved. By the third book – the German government solved a problem for them.

They have to evolve and can’t stay in status. By book fourth all together yet again and the fifth will be centred on Harkness entirely. She lived in India – when I looked into that I know nothing about India – today or early 20th century – so I couldn’t give it the same sense of time and place as White Chapel and I’d rather not write a book I can’t write the best of what I can. This will be a five book series.

Final years Harkness died in Italy – Florence – final story set there – to resolve the series. A ways off yet. Three books between now and then and I need to get through Queen’s Gambit. I didn’t choose it carelessly – the name for the first book – Murder by Gaslight – my agent said gaslighting has a bad cogitation – the second one was a better fit – I love the title and I think it really immediately gives the image it gave was automatic. More lucky than smart but it turnt out well.

For readers who are unfamiliar what the differences are between pathology and forensics what would you tell them about what separates the two and what unites them?

Harper responds: In regards to Pathology – pathos means suffering – thereby it is the study of causes of physical human suffering.

In regards to Forensics – Aristotle had three arguments – values, choice and brain – ex. The Music Man Professor Harry Hill “we have trouble here in river city” – he’s saying the current situation doesn’t meet our current values of a community band to bring the young people to bring path of righteousness. Who is to blame for something that was an evil act or metathesis. Rhetoric is forensic arguing. Not just limited to medicine, ballistics, psychological – forensic medicine is a branch of pathology – sub-specialised branch that goes into ballistics, gun powder – two types of guy powder – ball and disc. Two people shoot someone and a person dies – pathologist can determine the kind of ammunition – and which gun fired the fatal shot – non-lethal testifies against the fatal shot. Fatal shot gets murder charge.

This is how those determinations are done.  We can estimate time of death – not exact science as tv – if a body is moved for hours after death – pattern of blood deposits in definitive areas – we help determine those factors and that kind of evidence.

Values pertain to the present – arguments are present tense.

Forensics in the past did or did not arguments about values and choices are future tense and forensics in the past if a couple is not arguing in same tense they are not having the same argument.

The key differences in scope for pathology vs forensics I’ve found were in two separate tv series “Rizzoli and Isles” focused a lot on the pathology and life of a medical examiner whereas a lot of what fuelled the investigations on “NCIS” were equally divided by the forensics (ie. from Abby’s lab) and the pathology (ie. from Duckie the medical examiner) – have you found other examples either in tv, film or books which also delve into these differences?

Harper responds: Can’t think of a book which touched on that – can’t think of another pathologist who writes – first one who writes mysteries and this kind of thing. Haven’t heard of one – living authors I have a unique perspective and background if others have – treat these subjects the way that I do.

Patricia Cornwell – read one of her books – the forensics she had in it was solid. Not as a pathologist but a clerk she knows her business. Having read about it and having done it – she properly writes at the same level of detail as I do.

When it came to showcasing your villain in “A Knife in the Fog” – how did you prepare to show the psychological insight into this person? As it almost felt like part of the investigation was to seek a way to see a motive rather than just to deal with the aftermath of the crimes themselves. This felt a purpose of Doyle and Bell; moreso than Harkness, who wanted to ensure they had the right person of interest rather than to lose sight of the reason behind why they had taken the case.

Harper responds: Tough to do – why does he do what he does – knew there was a lot of conjecture that the royal family could have been involved. Researched descendants of Victoria – something like 32 aristocrats were either friend or grandchild the Czar in Russia – grandmother of Europe – more children – I found one of her grandsons to heir in Germany and his younger brother who had hemophilia – internal hemorrhage – great justification for why the Ripper hated women in general and in fact that investigation why the women loses their body parts – really tough – found this descendant of hers could work – once I found his motivation I found it was easier to write in his voice – I think there is a dark side to me I don’t go to very often.

The letters flowed and scarily easy for me to write.

Once I had a clear idea – how he justified this to himself – after that it was very easy.

As all writers evolve in their writing voice and style as they progressively write more stories – can you note any personal growth you’ve already observed as a writer between “A Knife in the Fog” and “Queen’s Gambit”? Any specific areas of the two stories which would point towards this growth?

Harper responds: Book two came together quicker – two reasons – I’m a lot more confident now and don’t spend time self doubting and my grammar is better. My mother was an English teacher – edited my first book – after a week it was marked up – son didn’t I teach you anything? Yes Mom you told me to love the written word. Assoc. Creative Writing – world building asked the Professor as my second novel as my project – a month of construction which I applied to building the world of the second novel – by the time I wrote it – it went very quickly – less than six weeks.

The first book revised 30 times; the second books 6 times. Not perfect – still have some work to do but closer to being finalised. Then what I sent to Seventh Street the first time around. The most important thing is my confidence without second guessing.

Which authors who are writing in your niche of interest do you personally enjoy reading who have also captured the heart and sophistication of Holmes or Doyle?

Harper responds: Personal favourites – there are two —

Joe Ide – LA writer – writes Sherlock Holmes character in current time called IQ – read two of his three books about IQ – read the first and third – the third had an opening that just grabbed me – he is a consummate writer – if I think I know what I”m doing I read his books and know I have a lot to learn. He writes Holmes based on Holmes in modern times.

Lindsay Say – Sherlock short stories – The Art of Detection – she is the best living writer who writes Holmes stories this time – NY actress on Broadway – hand to mouth – love about it – each story stands alone and is a gem of itself but they also build upon about Doyle and Holmes – a story within a story – an excellent writer. 

Love Laruie R King – Island of the Mad – highly skilled writer – The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – 100 best mysteries – ever written. Laurie was kind enough to read A Knife in the Fog – blurbed my novel. She has her own spin on it – Lindsay Say in voice of Doyle and Joey modern – Mary Russell I love and her and Harkness would be good friends. Good laugh at it. Wonderful as well.

Anthony Horowitz The house of Silk – excellent Holmes story – second best Sherlock Holmes not written by Doyle – The Seventh Baker Street Irregulars Meeting – a thrill for me and a real hero – hadn’t read Holmes in 15 years or maybe 12 years when that book came out – reignited my love of Holmes – read the canon and moved on but when this one came out I was back in that universe with a new discovered love of it

Moriarty – I enjoyed until the end – betrayed the reader’s trust.

The Magpie Murders – complicated and a great writer but not for movies,

Karem Adul Jabber – Mycroft Holmes – ghost writer – my agent almost represented him blurb Knife in the Fog – gatekeepers – admire him very much and would like to meet him someday – having a Mycroft Holmes series is a good idea. Mycroft was only four stories – he’s kind – want to know more about him – different directions to go into – Doyle is a master of hinting there is more there than what is pulled behind the curtain.

One writes modern, one goes Victorian – they honour Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.

When your not researching and writing your stories what uplifts your spirit the most?

Harper responds: I love to go for walks – the Japanese forest – a small lake and/or big pond a mile away and I can walk down there with land and a bench – bald eagles fly around or osprey over the lake for fish – blue herons and waves ripple turtles do their thing and I’m perfectly – you know great Italian expression in dulce the sweetness of doing nothing – everyday you put 20 to 30 minutes where you are not obligated to do anything – no phone with me – experience nature and the wind on my face and just be out there for 30 to 40 minutes to be there – walk back – an hour and a half I’m gone – being one with nature and that’s perfectly fine.

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By the time our conversation ended it felt like we had spent half an age discussing the topic and the novel as there was a lot of interaction between us both. What I don’t have to share are my secondary responses and how we interjected throughout the conversation more insight and cross-sharing between us. I was thankful I had this much to share as I was typing as quickly as I could whilst we were speaking in real-time. I was trying to transcribe his responses as best as I could whilst also thinking about my next response, carrying the conversation forward and/or taking a segue to response to something he might have said whilst that inspired another question or a follow-up about something else as well.

As this was a phone interview, the joy for me was being able to speak directly to Mr Harper and have a personal conversation about a topic we both are passionately dedicated too whilst we both found that we each enjoy a wicked good conversation!

I am hoping the notes I was able to save from that conversation give everyone on the blog tour and my readers in general a keen insight into how he approaches writing this series but also, his love of writing, research and of taking personal time away from both pursuits. As a full life is best spent in balance of our passions rather than in devotion of them without downtime.

His final takeaway on behalf of this conversation was the following:

I’m impressed with your preparation and your insight
– very insightful questions –

To which I was blessed and thankful for the opportunity to interview him whilst finding a proper sense of closure for any curiosity I might previously have had for Jack the Ripper. I was both humbled and full of gratitude to have this interview and now that I can share it with everyone it brings everything back to centre.

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About Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate's Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and has been nominated for an 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author.

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Paste Creative logo provided by Paste Creative and is used with permission.This interview is conjuction with working with stephanie @ paste creative to bring an interview with Bradley harper to – i am in full gratitude to being working with her on this guest author feature. do check out her authorly services to see if you as an author might wish to hire her – I highly recommend her professionalism & dedication to both her clients (authors) and the outreach she does on their behalf with book bloggers (like me) who are social readers (on the social of their choice – for me it is Twitter). i hope to work with her again as this experience has been a wicked joy this Spring & sumer 2019.

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A Knife in the Fog blog tour via Paste Creative

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Be sure to leave your takeaways, questions & after thoughts on behalf of this interview in the comment threads as I will let the author know your comments have been left for him after the tour concludes.

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. This also extends to Book Spotlights & Book Blitzes which I choose to highlight which might have content inclusive to the post materials which I did not directly add a contribution but had the choice whether or not to feature those materials on my blog.

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{SOURCES: Book cover “A Knife in the Fog”, book synopsis, author photograph of Bradley Harper, author biography and the promo banners were all provided by Paste Creative and are used with permission. Paste Creative logo banner provided by Paste Creative and is used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Conversations with the Bookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 14 August, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, After the Canon, Amateur Detective, Arthur Conan Doyle, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Margaret Harkness, Paste Creative, Realistic Fiction, the Victorian era

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