Tim Lebbon, Author of “The Horror of the Many Faces”

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

In “The Horror of the Many Faces,” Watson witnesses Holmes butchering a man in the gutter and then cutting out his heart. Stunned by what he’s seen, yet always one to trust his own eyes, Watson learns of more murders… and he fears that his friend and mentor has gone mad and become a mass murderer.

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

It was written for an anthology combining Holmes with Lovecraftian fiction. The thing I love about Lovecraft is the sense of utter alienness, and intelligences so different and superior to ours that we’re little more than bugs to them. And as we examine bugs, I wanted to tell a story where human beings are being dissected and examined. There’s something very spooky about that.

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

It was a real challenge because I adore Doyle’s writing, and I wanted to produce something that would — in my eyes, and others’ — be a fitting addition to Holmes’ world. It was difficult to begin with, but then the story really kicked in and I found it more enjoyable than challlenging as I worked through it. A lot of fun, and I’m delighted with how the story turned out.

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

I read a load of the Holmes short stories again. I’d hardly even call that research, because ‘research’ implies work. And it wasn’t work at all.

What is the appeal of Sherlock Holmes fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?

I think it’s all about the characters. Holmes is such a wonderful creation — mysterious, bewitching, infuriating, intelligent, flawed, compelling — and seeing him through Watson’s eyes is a stroke of genius.

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

Blimey… been a while since I read any. I suppose The Hound of the Baskervilles, because when I read it at the age of ten or eleven it spooked me so damn much. That one still sticks in my mind now.