The Private Diary of Elizabeth Quatermain, volume V: Author's notes and acknowledgements
It's so strange to know I'm doing this for the last time! (In theory, at least...)
About this whole sordid plot
Why did this volume take more than two years to complete, when you wrote the other four in under a year combined?
Believe me, it wasn't on purpose, and I feel bad about it. There were two main reasons, one of which I mentioned in the author's notes on some chapters. I lost both of my grandparents in 2006, within six months of each other. My grandmother had been sick for a long time, but my grandfather died very suddenly and unexpectedly. I was close to both of them and especially to him, so when he died I was pretty crushed. I was in a depression for a long time; there was a stretch of several months where I no longer took pleasure in many things I once enjoyed, most particularly writing.
The other reason, which I don't talk about much, is that I have a chronic illness and my health sometimes interferes with my ability to spend time on a computer.
Are the places they visited in Germany real?
Most of them, yes. St. Boniface's Abbey, the Bayerischer Hof, and of course Neuschwanstein are all quite real. King Wilhelm and Queen Clothilde's summer palace, not so much.
Have you actually been to Germany/England/Scotland?
I've never left North America, though I desperately want to go to Europe. My information about the places I describe comes from the internet. My description of Elizabeth's feelings when she was at Stonehenge, however, are based on what my late grandfather told me about his experiences when he was there.
What is brain fever?
Brain fever is more commonly known today as encephalitis. However, in the Victorian era, the term 'brain fever' was generally applied to any unknown illness which featured a life-threatening fever and head pain. To my mind, Sherlock Holmes had a form of encephalitis.
What exactly happened to Sherlock Holmes?
After he settled the business concerning the King's relative, he headed back on his intended route home. He's a master of quick travel, and in disguise to boot, so he didn't think much about taking a day or two to detour down into Bavaria and have a look at King Ludwig's dream; I imagine he's seen it before, during the Great Hiatus (see below), but I know I wouldn't consider one visit to be nearly enough. But when he was near the castle, he contracted encephalitis and almost certainly would have died if he hadn't been given into the care of the kindly monks at St. Boniface's. Since they had no idea who their famous patient actually was, they had no way of sending word to his family back in England about what had happened to him.
What is all this about Charlotte and Dr. Watson and...just explain, please.
Right, right. Okay, back when I started volume V, I mentioned that I would also be working on another project which would get explained eventually. That project is/was Charlotte's story. I used to work in an office where I would listen to a lot of books on audio CD, and I have the entire Sherlock Holmes canon; while I would listen to these stories, I somehow came to see Dr. Watson as a woman instead of a man. I think it's because Dr. Watson always uses first-person point of view, and I'm a woman myself; so when I would hear the stories, I would see a female figure in Watson's place. Point is, that's where Charlotte originated. I thought, wouldn't it be a kick to write a Holmes story in which Watson was actually Holmes's wife? And the more I thought about it, the more it actually sort of made sense. If you read the Holmes stories with the view that the character of Watson is actually a pseudonym for the woman Holmes married, it casts a very different and quite interesting shade on many of his actions.
I really had been working very hard on this (ask my proofreaders -- I got to chapter ten), but as with Elizabeth's diary, the Charlotte story suffered drastically following the death of my grandfather. In fact, Charlotte's story was actually hit harder than Elizabeth's, because my grandfather had been a Sherlock Holmes fan too. I'm hoping to still finish it, though, as it's been quite well-received by those who have read it thus far. I would really like to publish it as an actual novel; in fact, it's supposed to be a trilogy, but I'm only committing myself to the first book right now. However, if I end up not finding a publisher willing to print it, you will all get to read it here at FFN as an epic fanfiction.
One way or another, Charlotte's story will be made available to read sooner or later. If you've liked Elizabeth, there is every prospect that you will like Charlotte, so I hope you'll be willing to give her the chance you've so graciously given Bess. In the event that it is published as a book, there will be an announcement in my profile and also on my webpage, which you can access from said profile.
Who's the literary agent she mentions?
Well, players of the Great Game...oh, I'd better explain that first. There are generally two camps of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts. One camp just accepts them at face value, as being the fictional stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The other camp likes to play what's known as the Great Game, and the mindset they adopt is that Dr. Watson was a real person, the stories are true, and Doyle was only his literary agent -- the go-between who took Watson's stories to the publisher. For the purposes of Charlotte's story, I play the game; the rest of the time, I haven't decided if I do or not.
And why did Holmes think Elizabeth was Lucy?
Like Elizabeth, Lucy has dark hair and grey eyes; this was not planned, incidentally, it's just that it turned out that Elizabeth's coloring is similar to that of Sherlock Holmes, and Lucy looks like her father. Elizabeth, to Holmes's weary eyes, certainly could resemble an older version of his little girl, and he'd been so rattled by his illness that it was an easy mistake for him to make at first. The shock achieved the necessary goal of rejuvenating his memory, though. I had originally planned on having Mina present, and Holmes mistaking Mina for Irene Adler; I changed my mind when it occurred to me that this would be a great way to introduce Elizabeth's loyal readers to the other Victorian woman who has rented space in my brain.
Why was Mycroft Holmes acting all suspicious and wary on the subject of Dr. Watson?
Mycroft is very protective of his sister-in-law, even moreso of his niece. He's very tight-lipped about keeping their identities a secret. Also, he still has guilt from when his brother was on the Great Hiatus.
The Great Hiatus is the name many fans have given to the three years when Holmes was believed dead. (Arthur Conan Doyle did mean to kill him off, really, but everyone was begging for Holmes to come back so finally Doyle caved.) When he returns, he explains to Dr. Watson that he was in hiding abroad, and that only his brother Mycroft was aware that he was really still alive. This carries over into my version of things as well, and in my story, Mycroft feels guilty about having let Charlotte mourn her husband for three whole years when he knew that Sherlock was not actually dead.
What was the
business about Sherlock Holmes and Allan Quatermain meeting at the
Crucible of Life?
That is from a book (which I have) entitled The Great Detective at the Crucible of Life, by Thomas Kent Miller. It's a crossover pastiche involving Quatermain, Holmes (who uses an alias), naturalist Thomas Huxley, and another detective character named Sergeant Cuff traveling to Ethiopia in search of the meaning of life. Well, more or less. It's a little chaotic, but fun, and when I discovered this connection between the two men, I simply had to take advantage of it.
Royal Victorian Medal real?
It definitely is. Queen Victoria established the medal in 1894, and it is still used today. It has three classes -- bronze, silver, and gold; the League was awarded silver, which is the most common. As she said in the story, it's usually awarded for "personal service to the Sovereign or the Royal Family." But I thought it was a good choice for her to give to the League for a couple of reasons. One, the recipient doesn't get any kind of designated title, like Sir or Dame, which I didn't want; they do have the right to put the letters R.V.M. after their name, but that's it. Two, one doesn't need to be a British subject in order to be given the medal, which was rather important for Tom and Nemo. The medal still looks just like I describe it in the story, except that the image and monogram are those of the current monarch rather than Victoria.
going to do with the London house, since she's apparently staying on
Oh, she'll keep the house. Most of the time they continue to roam the world in the Nautilus, but now and then a break is welcomed and they head back to London. When Elizabeth has children, the house becomes more important; during more dangerous missions, they and little Jonathan are sometimes sent there for safekeeping. And it does belong to the kids for good and all; if you go on to read the Brink series, you'll find it plays an important role there.
So...is this it? I mean, really? This is the last one?
Like I said in the FAQ of volume IV, this was the last Private Diary of Elizabeth Quatermain.
After all...she's Elizabeth Skinner now.
(Don't you love a good loophole?)
So there really will be
I'm not promising anything right now. But I have a couple of ideas wandering around upstairs, and the time may come when I'm able to flesh them into a further adventure for Elizabeth and company. In the meantime, however, I invite you to turn your attention to Shining Phoenix's "Brink" and its sequels. It will bring you into the 21st century and introduce you to a werewolf, a psychic, an archaeologist, a hydrokinetic, and several other fascinating characters -- including one who is extremely proud to be descended from three members of the original League. I'll meanwhile be wrapping up "Allan Observes" and producing the Alexandra edition of volume V. Also, if there are any particular scenes you would care to read from another character's point of view, mention it in a review and you just might get one of those extra one-shots I've been known to write.
Will the connections between TPDoEQ and Brink be made clear in the context of that story?
Yes, they will. Additionally, Phoenix and I are collaborating on a "wiki" which will showcase lots and lots of details about the characters and the world in which they live, including many details which never actually find their way into the stories. You can read about plot ideas which were abandoned, characters who are mentioned only by name, the authors of the books in which the original League first appeared, recipes for foods that are mentioned in the stories, and even mini-biographies of Phoenix, myself, and the assorted fan artists who have contributed art. This spoiler-laden wiki, which is by no means even close to being complete but is nevertheless available for viewing, can be found at http colon slash slash solomonmanor dot pbwiki dot com. (That's one way around FFN's block on URLs.)
Credit, thanks, and all that jazz
The basic premise of this story series is based upon the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, released in theaters July 11, 2003. The film in turn was based on the series of graphic novels of the same name by Alan Moore. In a general sort of way, everything you read in this series is the property of the much more clever people who were involved in those two projects, and I made absolutely no financial profit from the use thereof. The stories in this series were written out of affection and appreciation for the original works on which they were based.
The characters of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde are from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
The characters of Wilhelmina Harker, Jonathan Harker, Quincey Harker, and Dr. John Seward are from Dracula by Bram Stoker.
The character of Allan Quatermain is from King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain, The Ivory Child, and other stories and novels by H. Rider Haggard.
The character of Captain Nemo and his amazing Nautilus are from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
The character of Rodney Skinner is patterned, loosely, after the original Invisible Man, from the book The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Personally, I prefer Skinner's company, but that's just me.
The character of Tom "Special Agent" Sawyer is from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer Abroad, and Tom Sawyer, Detective, all by Mark Twain.
The characters of Sherlock Holmes, James Moriarty, Mycroft Holmes, King Wilhelm, Queen Clothilde, Dr. John Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Wiggins are all from the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The characters of Charlotte Holmes and Lucy Holmes are from the (tentatively named) novel-in-progress A Study in Charlotte, by, well, me. They are mine. Seriously, no touchy. After the book comes out, you can write fanfic if you want -- it will thrill me to death -- but for now, please no. To give a bit of additional credit where credit is due, it was fanfic writer Melanthios who came up with Charlotte's name.
Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria belonged very much to herself, and to her empire.
The character of Alexandra Skinner, while of my own creation, owes almost the entirety of her personality and a great deal of her dialogue to my best friend Jessica.
Apart from what's already been stated as mine, the only things to which I can lay legitimate claim are the personality of Elizabeth (who says that she is perfectly capable of owning that herself, thank you very much) and a number of other original characters.
Special thanks and intense appreciation are extended to all of the readers and to several people in particular: my husband Kevin, my best friend Jess, all of the friends I have made as a direct result of joining the LXG fandom (and they are legion!), all of my fan artists, Teri the Wonder Beta (whose help on the third and fourth volumes was immeasurable), and the entire cast of LXG, particularly Jason Flemyng for being a sweetheart about those questions.
It has been a long and very curious winding road. But at least for now, Elizabeth's diary has been closed. I thank you all, from the bottom of my fangirly heart, for accompanying me on this strange, wonderful, exasperating, and above all else exhilirating journey. As ever...cheers, my freaky darlings!