Our latest guest blog comes from journalist and podcast producer, Paula Berinstein of The Writing Show. Also California-based, Paula talks to us about the first book in her Young Adult detective series, which introduces us to Sherlock Holmes, the next-next-next-next-next-next generation…
…or to be more accurate, G. Lestrade the next-next-next-next-next generation.
Amanda Lester, the twelve-year-old protagonist of my book Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy, is descended from Inspector Lestrade and couldn’t be more embarrassed. The man was a twit and everyone except her parents knows it. They think Lestrade is the bee’s knees and want their daughter to follow in his footsteps, but she wouldn’t be caught dead being a detective. She is a filmmaker extraordinaire. So when they send her to a secret school for the descendants of famous detectives in the English Lake District, it’s no wonder she freaks out.
Now you wouldn’t think an idiot like Lestrade would make for the most dynamic reading, but here is my secret: buffoon or no, he exerts way more influence than he should, and that is what Amanda fights against. Her greatest fear is that people will find out they have the same genes and she’ll never be taken seriously. And of course, when she goes to the school where everyone is related to a great man or woman, her fear nearly becomes hysteria. Now that’s an obstacle for a protagonist to contend with!
Of course Amanda isn’t the only modern descendant of a Doyle character I torment, er, bring to life. Despite the fact that Professor Moriarty assumes a major role in just two Holmes stories, he looms large with fans. So of course Amanda will have to tangle with his progeny. Oh, did I say Holmes? My bad. There is no Holmes in this story, only the shadow of the great man, which drives Amanda nuts. It isn’t until the next book in the Amanda Lester, Detective series, Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis, that we meet his descendant, and boy, does she hate him. Anything to do with Holmes reminds her how her parents keep shoving her ancestry down her throat. It doesn’t even matter whether the kid is nice, competent, or intelligent–she hates him and doesn’t care who knows it.
You may want to know why I made Amanda a kid. The truth is that at first I didn’t. She was supposed to be a young woman rebelling against her upbringing. Despite her family’s academic bent, she’d be a plumber, and she’d become enmeshed in a mystery when she found a body under a house where she was working. Alas, I couldn’t make her interesting enough. Even I was bored with her. But when I lit on the idea of making her a tween, a whole world opened up and I couldn’t stop writing.
But is that the real reason I made Amanda a kid? Not really. Amanda is a kid because I am–at heart. I started reading mysteries when I was a wee bairn, with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and the Bobbsey twins, and yes, Holmes, for I did read him as a child. And I loved him and he got into my blood and he’s still running around in there, strong as ever. I love him so much that I want others to love him too. He’s just so much fun! So if I can make that happen by writing stories about a tween who hates him, and if I can do just one tiny thing to get kids reading, I will be a happy woman.
Oh, and if you will indulge me, I’d like to make one last point before I go. There has been much speculation about what the G in G. Lestrade stands for. It should be obvious that it’s George, for after all, George is the name of kings. Greg indeed. Who came up with that one anyway?
Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis, the second book in the Amanda Lester, Detective series, will be out on September 15, 2015.
Author, the Amanda Lester, Detective series, www.amazon.com/Amanda-Lester-Pink-Sugar-Conspiracy/dp/0986030481/ref=sr_1_1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pberinstein (@pberinstein)