Charles Veley has loved Sherlock Holmes since boyhood. As a father, he read the entire canon to his then-ten-year-old daughter at evening story time. Now this very same daughter, grown up to become acclaimed historical novelist Anna Elliott, has worked with him to develop new adventures in the Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery Series ! Charles is also a fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, and wrote The Pirates of Finance , a new musical in the G&S tradition that won an award at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2013. Other than the Sherlock & Lucy series, all of the books on his Amazon Author Page were written when he was a full-time author during the late Seventies and early Eighties. He currently works for United Technologies Corporation, where his main focus is on creating sustainability and value for the company’s large real estate development projects.
Charles, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I am impressed by your drive and accomplishments in the creative world. What sparked your interest in music, theatre, and writing?
My mother was a child prodigy in piano, with a degree from Curtis Institute at an early age and her own radio show in New York. That was an inspiration for me, although I have no performance abilities for music at all. When she tried to teach me piano, I disappointed her year after year after year because I wanted to be outside playing instead of inside practicing. Writing, on the other hand, has been easier, since I’m making up things on my own. As Mark Twain said, “It’s no more trouble to write than it is to lie.”
Your musical, The Pirates of Finance, has performed in Los Angeles and New York. What inspired this whimsical Wall Street love story? What messages do you hope readers leave the theatre contemplating?
I’ve always loved Gilbert & Sullivan, and Pirates was my attempt to recapture some of their magical comedy in a twenty-first century setting. Having no musical performance abilities of my own (see above), I adapted a number of Sullivan’s melodies to the songs that carry the story. One of the highlights of my experience with the show was hearing audience comments afterward. People said they loved the experience and couldn’t stop smiling – that was just wonderful for me to hear. Another highlight is that the members of the cast really liked each other and many of them still stay in touch. Does the show have a message? Probably that even people in finance can surprise you — in a good way. And that love conquers all.
The Last Moriarty takes a spin from the typical Sherlock Holmes story. Could you give us a brief synopsis of the story?
Sure. TLM is like The Hound of the Baskervilles, in that we’re not just trying to solve the mystery of a past murder but trying to prevent another. In the Baskerville story, Holmes is trying to prevent the attack of a spectral hound on the heir to a Dartmoor estate. But in TLM, the stakes are higher – the financial and political leaders of England and America may go out in a blaze of terror unless Holmes and Watson can stop them.
Another big difference is in the heart of the story. In typical Holmes, there’s the mystery to be solved and Holmes solves it and moves on to the next case. In TLM, however, Holmes learns something he didn’t know about his own past, and that something turns out to be very important, both to him and to Watson and to the others involved.
Rather than spoiling too much of the plot, let’s just say that the title character Moriarty refers to an evil adversary who is very much alive and who has a very, very wicked plan. He gets what’s coming to him at the end, in a big and very conclusive way.
Your writing has been compared to the talented Conan Doyle, so it is no surprise that you have spun stories in the same vein. Though, writing the tales with your daughter and historical novelist, Anna Elliott, is impressive! Did you foster her love for writing during the younger years or did she surprisingly follow her father’s passion for the written word?
I read the entire Holmes Canon to Anna at evening story time when she was about ten years old, so that must have had some effect. I also encouraged her writing – as did all of her English instructors up to and through college, I might add. So this wasn’t just me being a stage mother. She has been coming up with beautiful, memorable phrases since she was two years old. She is far, far more talented than her father.
The Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James stories have several works completed in the collection. Where should readers begin? Do you have a favorite among them?
I would just start with The Last Moriarty and take them in order, though some people like to begin with the prequel, The Crown Jewel Mystery. The events in that story occur only a few days before The Last Moriarty begins. Personally, I think The Crown Jewel Mystery resonates more if you’ve read the earlier books. My favorite is always the one we’re working on.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
Anna and I have an ambitious idea to take the series forward. Partly we’re following in the footsteps of Conan Doyle, who went from novel-length tales to short stories. We’re doing that, but we’re connecting the stories with an overarching theme, the way today’s TV series programs (including Sherlock and Elementary). And the overarching theme will be delving into Holmes’s past and how it connects with the present. By the end of 2019, we hope to have several of the stories done and available on Amazon.
And if anyone wants to learn more about The Pirates of Finance, that’s on my Amazon Author Page. As are the other books!
It has been a pleasure, Charles! Please tell us where fans can find you online.