For The Only One in the World author Lisa Fessler wrote "The Problem of the Lying Author," and here Lisa tells Clan Destine Press about her story, set in Berlin.
What is the most unexpected tidbit you learned while writing your story?
That would be the 1893 Long Distance Bicycle Race from Vienna to Berlin. It was not something I expected to see in the late 19th century. I learned that back then, cycling was considered a crazy new fad for the rich.
Military officers were forbidden to ride on bicycles, and the Long Distance Bicycle Race was organised to prove that bicyclists were a faster means of travel than mounted officers on horses. It was the biggest cycling race in Austria and Germany before WWI. Only men were allowed to participate, there was an entry fee of ten marks. The route was 582.5 kilometers long. One of the favorites allegedly used 16 "pacemakers" to keep at top speed. The winner was Josef Fischer from Munich. It took him just over 31 hours, compared to the 72 hours a horse-rider would have needed.
What was your favourite thing about writing for The Only One in the World?
I loved coming up with German equivalents for the British things that shape Sherlock Holmes' world: London, 221b Baker Street, Mrs Hudson, the Deerstalker – they have become Berlin, 21 Sophien-Strasse, Frau Huber, a Tyrolean hat (image below).
What is quintessentially German about your Holmes and/or Watson?
My German Holmes – Holms – is pretty much modelled to his British counterpart. But Johann Watson's love and admiration for the works of Karl May is quintessentially German.
Karl May is one of the most popular 19th century authors in Germany. May wrote mostly imaginary travel adventures, set in North America and the Near East, with a first-person narrator called "Karl May."
May's books can be seen as the origin of genre literature in Germany. Not everybody in Germany likes Karl May; some consider his works juvenile literature with little literary worth. I disagree, emphatically, and it was a whole lot of fun to have an author so quintessentially German like Karl May bring a case to a German Sherlock Holms.
More about Lisa:
Lisa Fessler is a German translator, editor, and writing coach. She grew up in Southern Germany and studied American History in Tübingen and Eugene, Oregon. The city of Berlin is her adopted home. One of her current writing projects is an alternative history fantasy novel set in the Wilhelminian Era.