Author and former Pennsylvania resident Nancy Springer is having one amazing year.
When we last talked to her in September of 2020, the movie Enola Holmes-The Case of the Missing Marquess, was about to debut on Netflix. Based the first book in her six part series about the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, it’s the first time one of her stories has been made into a movie.
“Before Enola came out, during the course of my career, I had options, I guess, half a dozen or more.” she says. “But options are not movies, options are just the first step. And it never went beyond that.”
The film, starring Millie Bobby Brown in the title role, premiered on September 23rd, 2020.
“The movie was incredibly successful. More so than I would ever have suspected or expected.” says Nancy. “It is on Netflix’s top ten most favorite movies. It was viewed by 76 million households in the first four weeks.”
So, it’s not surprising that Netflix announced a second Enola Holmes is in the works. How much does she know about it?
“I had the whole script and I can’t tell you a thing.” Nancy says with a laugh.
Well, maybe one thing…
“Enola is still very much Enola.”
Interest in the movie is sparking interest in her writings.
“I can not believe the surge in the book sales. Mostly the Enola books, but in general in the book sales, including the first books I ever wrote, that were published in the late seventies and early eighties.”
Nancy wrote the six Enola Holmes books in the early 2000s. Actually, she wrote eight, but two books sat on the shelf-until now. On August 31st one of those unpublished novels goes on sale, Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche. (pronounced br-OOSH.)
“In hindsight, that’s an awkward title, people don’t know what one of those things is,” says Nancy. “It’s a horse drawn vehicle. At the time, it was like ‘Oh, they’re going to take me away in the black barouche.’ Only it was much more sinister back then, because there was no…way…out. And this was largely done to unwanted wives.”
If you can’t wait ’til the end of August to learn what Enola’s up to, a short story, Enola Holmes and the Boy in Buttons, went on sale in June.
Nancy says getting the historical background right in the Enola books takes a lot of work. “Tons of research, more than I’ve ever done for anything else in my life before.” she says. “And it’s not done. I continue to come across stuff that can be used.”
That includes a lot of information about unsavory aspects of Victorian life. Some of them have a pronounced “Ewwwwwww!” factor, like the leech gatherers.
“In Victorian times,” Nancy explains, “country women would go out in the cow ponds, with their skirts up, and they would let the leeches fasten on to their legs, and they would pick them off and put them in a box for the doctors. And they would keep for up to a year.”
Ah, yes, it’s those little details that bring a book to life…
In May of 2022, Nancy will travel from Florida to Maryland to be the Guest of Honor at Balticon, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society annual convention. It will be something of a homecoming.
“Balticon is the first science fiction convention I ever went to. It was after my very, very first book was published, in ’77. And they allowed me to come incognito, because I was shy, I didn’t know what was going to happen. And I discovered they’re great things. Balticons are great things.”
And after a bit of a hiatus, she’s back at her keyboard.
“I unretired.” she says. “I thought I was retired, and, well, my mind was chewing on itself. I just didn’t have anything much to think of, except ‘gee, how am I doing here? Am I holding up all right? So I started writing another novel, to give me something to think about, besides my own arthritis.”
She wants to get what she’s doing done, before she talks about it.
“The more you talk about it, the less you actually get done. It’s as if the creative energy goes out through your mouth and fails to stay in the brain where it belongs.”
To watch the Enola Holmes trailer click here