Mark Valentine, Author of “The Adventure of the Green Skull”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

A macabre figure in the streets of London, two mysterious deaths with the same singular sign.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

An old cutting from a Victorian trade directory listing lucifer (match) makers in London caught my imagination and it suddenly seemed obvious that Holmes, an expert on tobacco ash, would also have studied matches, which are equally likely to be carelessly left behind.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

No–it unfolded quite readily and I really enjoyed writing it.

Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

All forms of injustice stir me up, and even after a hundred years the story of the treatment of Victorian matchworkers seemed to demand retelling.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I reminded myself of key Holmes dates, and read somewhat in the history of the match factory trade disputes.

What are some of your favorite examples of Sherlock Holmes fiction (either original Doyle works or contemporary works), and what makes them your favorites?

I’ve been a lifelong admirer of the work of Arthur Machen, whose amateur detective Mr. Dyson (in “The Three Impostors,” 1895, and in other stories) works upon the basis of an ingenious improbability theory. Conan Doyle praised his nightmarish tales to Jerome K. Jerome — “your pal Machen may be a genius all right, but I don’t take him to bed with me again.”