As of the Twenty-second of June, A Knife in the Fog, AND Queen's Gambit will be published by Seventh Street Press, a subsidiary of Penguin which deals in crime and mystery fiction. The thing is, Queen's Gambit isn't even finished! The editor wanted a two book deal, and after a dashed off synopsis, well, there you are. (Guess I have to finish it now.)
Estimated release date for Fog is October of 2018. I will shortly begin responding to the editor's comments, and polish it until it shines. It is going to happen.
Yesterday Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow agreed to read and blurb Fog. He and I have been in correspondence for about two years, in fact he helped me write my first Query Letter. Poe Shadow gave me an idea on how to construct my book, so it has some of his literary DNA.
I am excited beyond words, which is painful for a writer, but I look forward to signing my book and handing it to enthusiastic readers.
Life is good.
Late breaking news my loyal readers! (Yeah, both of you!) I have an offer of representation from the Dykstra Agency in LA for the book. I will post more when my feet touch the ground, but things are about to get really interesting!
Thank you for coming along.
It appears I have been remiss in my research in one crucial area: how the heck did my heroes get around London? I have them universally using a hansom carriage. Turns out the hansom was the sports car of its day. Two-wheeled, it used one horse, driver seated behind, and only seated two passengers. When Miss Harkness accompanies my two gentlemen, especially when in feminine attire, they would have taken a Clarence, commonly called a Growler, for the sound its wheels made as it went over cobblestones.
Below is an informative article with pictures. Enjoy!
Images of the two major types of cab are in the Gallery.
My first contest, ever!
I am looking for a logo/design I can put on T-Shirts or other swag to help promote my book.
Anyone interested, please post your proposal on my FB page BHarper, or below!
Make it suspenseful! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Contest open until I find one I love.
Winner gets a 25 dollar gift card to either Game Stop or Barnes and Noble, and I will credit them in any or all marketing material.
Get to it, the Game's Afoot!
The agent, (still not technically MY agent, until we have a contract,) has suggested Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a possible author to read and blurb my book. Turns out he has two novels to his credit starring Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older and smarter brother. I would love to meet him in person.
I have decided to become more active on my blog, posting things I have discovered that didn't make it into the book, books I am reading now to improve my writing, or to feature the latest on authors who have helped me. Right now they can help me FAR more than I they, but it seems only fair. It also may give you the insight into how my current book came into being, as these will all be authors who have influenced me.
Below is the link to Kareem's book site. A rather large repertoire, I should say eclectic, much as the man himself. I have ordered the first Mycroft book, and will let you know my impressions once I have read it.
First draft of my Author Bio
Bradley Harper is a retired Army Pathologist with over 200 autopsies to his credit, including several real-life Forensic Investigations. A life-long fan of Sherlock Holmes, he read the entire body of work the summer he turned thirteen, and has been craving the whiff of London fog ever since.
Shortly after his retirement from the Army after 37 years of service, he returned to the love of his youth, and began researching Arthur Conan Doyle. After noticing a four year gap between the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, and the next one, The Sign of Four, he dug deeper.
Harper was surprised to learn that Doyle nearly turned away from Holmes due to his meager pay for the first story, and general disdain for the crime genre. Noting the Ripper murders occurred in the gap between the first and second story, he saw a way to incorporate the unsolved serial homicides in the East End, Doyle’s return to Holmes, and the sudden, unexplained halt to the Ripper’s labor.
After intensive research into the society and politics of the era, the geography of Whitechapel, and his own Forensic experience and training, he fashioned a tale that places the reader into those dimly lit and fog enshrouded alleyways where the streetwalkers would take their customers for a “four penny knee trembler,” only to find, too late, that this one had something else in mind.
Walking the East End at night with noted Ripper historian Richard Jones, Harper learned of many small details not mentioned in the history books, giving his tale the feel of authenticity.
So, grab your deerstalker, polish your lens, and “Take Precautions,” as you join him in the hunt for the man wielding, A Knife in the Fog.
Recent excellent article on Alphonse Bertillon, the man who created crime scene photography as well as standard facial recognition patterns used by sketch artists still today.
In other news, an agent at a major agency in LA said she is interested, and would send me some notes this week.
That doesn't mean she is my agent. That does mean if I show a willingness to take her advice, and ability to make the revisions to her satisfaction, she could become so. Fingers crossed!
Had a successful pitch session to an agent last weekend in Richmond. He usually requests the first five pages of a pitched work, but asked for my first chapter. He was interested in y concept, and said that if I could write convincingly in Doyle's voice, we might have a deal. Completed a round of edits from a service called Scribendi. The ditor said it was the strongest manuscript he had seen in his two years working for the company. Too bad he's not an agent. I will post more soon, as the responses from the agents should start coming in pretty soon now. I hope.
I entered my first 50 pages in a mystery writer's conference and just learned yesterday that I was a strong contender to win it. Below is the critique that just came back. I'm thrilled!
Claymore Feedback Form
Title: __Murder by Gaslight__________
Overall, I find this story fascinating. It’s an original premise that builds on a well-loved character – or in this case, the creator of the character – and it’s very well written. I would suggest the author do another read-through of the manuscript for typos (misspelled words, missing punctuation, etc.). In my opinion, this sample demonstrates that this manuscript is nearly ready for submission/publication.
I was intrigued from the very beginning of the manuscript. I think the “story” of how the manuscript came to be shared is fascinating. The author does a great job of setting up the story that is to come, and then makes a smooth transition into the story.
The characterization in this sample is excellent! The author has done a great job of drawing Doyle as a somewhat timid man who is open for “adventure,” even if he doesn’t fully trust himself to be competent. Professor Bell, Mr. Wilkins, Ms. Harkness, and the chief inspector are all well-drawn, and while not all of them are likeable, I don’t believe that they need to be. The reader gets an immediate sense of each character’s role in the story.
As with the characters, the setting is well-drawn. I get a sense for London during the time period the story is set in. I can see the contrasts of the West End with the East End. The only suggestion that I might make here, is that as Doyle and Ms. Harkness are “touring” the East End, the poverty of the area might be more starkly represented with a few minor details. In particular, I liked the detail about the blood on the feet of the children playing in the seat. I think one or two more microdetails like these during the street tours with Ms. Harkness would help to contrast the polished gentlemen with the impoverished area they’re looking at.
The language of the period is very well represented in this story. The dialog shines with the differences in the more formal style of language than what is used in current time. It does have the effect of making the reader slow down and read more closely, which makes it better, I think for the experience that the reader has as they’re getting into the story. The dialog in this story really pulls the reader and for the most part, I believe all of the dialog used is absolutely necessary. I did find myself glossing over a couple of times at lists in dialog, but I believe they were essential to telling the tale.
In the sample that I have, the plot is holding together well. It makes sense, it seems to be progressing naturally. I would caution that because you started the story as a story within a story that you be sure to tie up BOTH when you reach the end. I believe that readers will want to know how the Doyle Case ends, but they will probably also want some closure on the person who found the manuscript in the first place.
For the type of mystery that this is, I believe that the pacing, conflict, suspense, and tension are right on target for the sample that I have. I expect that the suspense/tension will be ratcheting up as the story goes on. In the beginning, the pacing is a rather slow slide into the story – which is NOT to say that it’s boring. It feels like a natural pacing for this type of character-driven story. I think as the story progresses, however, the author is going to need to keep the conflicts coming so the reader reaches a point where they story – or rather the characters’ reactions to the story – draw the reader forward at an ever-quickening pace.
Grammar and Mechanics/Correctness of Sentence Structure & Syntax
I love the language of this story. It’s reflective of the time period, and the author makes great use of voice – both narrator and character voice – to set the feel for the story. However, I would caution the author to read through the manuscript at a slow pace to catch typos and missing punctuation as I noticed a number of places where both were a problem.
The author’s voice is perfect for this particular story. It is reminiscent of what I would imagine that Doyle’s voice actually would be and it establishes from the beginning what the reader can expect to hear throughout the story. I didn’t find any places where the voice slips. The author has done an excellent job of staying inside the voice the reader would expect to find.
Overall, this is an excellent story. The 50-page sample that I had served only to make me wish I could read more of the story. It’s an interesting twist on something that’s been done and on a character that the world loves. I believe the manuscript itself is nearly ready for publication/submission, just read-through it again for typos and punctuation errors. Can’t wait to see this one published. Good luck with it!
Current status: One agent looking at full manuscript. She read my first two pages at the Writer's Conference in Nashville, said to drop the Prologue, and send it to her. She has had it now about ten days. Same for another who wanted 25 pages, and one who was a referral from an agent's assistant who worked for both the one who turned me down, and the one she referred me to. One great blurb from my editor. I am off to Spain in a few days, and won't be back until the 5th of October. Look for FB posts, but given the low band-width in the bar next to the hostel I will be working at, Weebly connectivity is doubtful. For my loyal fans, I have a little something I added in my last revision, in the Afterword. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, new photo of yours truly. Hopefully I look sufficiently professorial. Smile.
In answer to Margaret’s query regarding Holmes, “Wherever did you get that name?” Fans of the Great Detective will be surprised to know that the original name was Sherrinford Holmes and the loyal companion and narrator of his adventures was Ormond Sacker. The name Holmes is thought to be in homage to Oliver Wendell Holmes, a writer and philosopher Doyle greatly admired. The name Sherlock is less certain, though he did have a school classmate named Patrick Sherlock. The name of Watson most likely was chosen from a fellow physician named Jack Watson who had recently returned from service in China and lived nearby. I for one, am glad how things turned out, and I think most readers would agree.