In The Only One in the World, Jayantika Ganguly's story "The Adventure of the Fated Homecoming" takes place in India. We asked Jay about the joys of writing a tale of Sherlock in her native home, and what she loved the most about it.
What is the most unexpected tidbit you learned while writing your story?
I was looking for an appropriate equivalent for Mycroft Holmes (basically I wanted a grand, super-smart, powerful big brother for my Indian Sherlock), so I was digging into the origin and meaning of "Mycroft," and stumbled upon the tidbit that there's an AI voice assistant software called Mycroft!
Also, apparently, "Mycroft" in old English means a small field by the stream! That amused me a fair bit, after all, Dr. Watson mentions Mycroft's girth several times in the Canon...and it definitely isn't small!
Anyway, Mycroft is one of my absolute favourites in the Canon (and in most adaptations as well), so his Indian equivalent had to be equally magnificent! However, since Sherlock's parents in my story have a penchant for naming their kids after famous people, I couldn't use "Mycroft", thus big bro ended up being named after a certain ancient philosopher, and the baddie even sends our Sherlock a clue based on this!
What was your favourite thing about writing for The Only One in the World?
I could let my imagination run wild! Even if they're in a different avatar, I could bring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (and Mycroft Holmes) to my country, have them sample some of my favourite food, do some sleuthing around here...it's something I've always wanted to do.
As everyone who attended the Baker Street Irregulars 2020 Dinner, and the Gaslight Gala 2020 this January, would know from the little tale in the picture book memento, my Sherlock-addled brain creates delusions of bringing Mr. Holmes to my country and showing him around. There are several pastiches which have brought Mr. Holmes to India, of course, but well, I'd want to keep him here for as long as I could, right?
So, this was a great chance to do that. In fact, I've had a head canon since I was a teen (before I even knew the phrase 'head canon') that Holmes would definitely have come to India during the Great Hiatus, and maybe even left a descendant. In fact, I cooked up a whole story about how some Indian admirer of Holmes preserved a bit of cloth with a drop or two of Holmes' blood, and that became a family heirloom for them until modern times, when a scientist extracted Holmes' DNA from that and brought up the baby as his own son. "Grow your own Holmes" and all...speaking of which, I should probably try and dig out the notebook where my 14/15-year-old self put down these ideas.
What is quintessentially Indian about your Holmes and/or Watson?
Well, they're Indian (although one has just landed in India), they're working (and running around) in Mumbai...and even moving in together! There's tons of exotic stuff – after all, this is India!
The story is set in Mumbai – not really one of my favourite cities, but it is categorically stated in the Canon that Dr. Watson landed in Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) and I've lived in Mumbai, so I'm familiar with the place. And one of my favourite restaurants of all time is in Mumbai (yes, it makes an appearance in the story, too!) – and it's generally a happening city (yes, that's where Bollywood is, too) – so that's our seat of action.
So, Indian heroes, Indian venue...doesn't get more Indian than that, does it?
More about Jay:
Along with her story in The Only One in the World, Jay is the author of The Holmes Sutra (MX Publishing) and A Continuum of Sherlock Holmes, due out in 2021, is her first Sherlock Holmes novel. Jay is the General Secretary of the Sherlock Holmes Society of India and Editor of their magazine, Proceedings of the Pondicherry Lodge, and in real life, Jay is a corporate lawyer.