Poetry Leaks and Imaginary Friends Stick Around

My friend Gina, back when she was partly imaginary, and me.

 From Reviews and Interviews

 by Blogger and Author

Lisa Haselton

(with a couple expanded answers)

Do you ever read your stories out loud?

Always. I favor sentences that sound good, and sound good next to one another, though mine don’t always measure up. It’s only a goal leaking over from my poetry, or the poetry I enjoy, anyway. Stories are composed, just like music, as are sentences and paragraphs. This has nothing to do with “rose” and “toes.” Also, it’s absolutely the best way to catch mistakes.

Can you tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her?

My main character was invented by Arthur Conan Doyle based on Joseph Bell, a professor at the Edinburgh medical school Conan Doyle attended. Of course, that’s only part of it because hundreds of writers and many actors have contributed to the Holmes mythology. It would be fair to say that my inspiration was a piece of the Holmes story that seems missing to me and that I haven’t seen anywhere else. So I wrote it. I was ambushed by the idea as I walked around a Philly art museum and into a room full of 18th C French art. Although my Holmes is the classic guy, I knew this idea could bring something new to Conan Doyle’s stories, though it’s not mentioned in the official Holmes biography by William Baring-Gold. (Yes, Holmes has an official biography. I suppose Holmes authorized Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street—in so far as a made-up fellow can authorize anything.)

Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

I listen to the sounds on the street, like the garbage truck and the sanitation workers kidding each other. I hear the regional rail go by, squirrels scrambling over the tile roof, wind, and dogs barking.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
Not in the sense that I had to leave extra space on the subway bench or save half my sandwich. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that all of my friends have been imaginary–but only at first and only partly. After all, my best friend is someone I got to know slowly over time. If we are to stay friends I have to let go of some of what I initially imagined about that person. Then the imaginary parts change into the reality and the realities morph into new realities. That’s a good question for a friend. What did you imagine about me when we met?

Do you have any phobias?
For a long time I had just one phobia: very large crowds. I left town when the Pope came to Philly and found myself sitting at a hotel bar in San Diego, watching it on television, thrilled at a distance. The second phobia came about when I was served a spinach salad at a tiny little restaurant near my home. I suffered for hours that night. I go back to the pub, no problem, but I hold all spinach responsible, forever.

Tell us about your latest release.
Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable* is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but the game is not afoot. WWI has ended. The glory days the 1890’s are gone. No one believes any longer that the world is “getting better in every way, every day.” In response to the rise in cocaine addiction, the Dangerous Drugs Act has made the drug illegal and Holmes aims to quit. He fills out entry papers at a rundown clinic on the coast of Normandy. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, realizing his real goal far exceeds anything any clinic could do for him. His scribbled answer, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” strikes his doctor as more a vow than a goal—and the doctor is right. Very soon the little phrase churns up a far-reaching, desperate, interlocking mystery that changes the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Link to Propertius Press: