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John Allen was born in Long Beach, CA. An engineer “by education, training, and experience,” he describes himself as “a recovering engineer.”  He left engineering to become the junior partner in Allen & Allen Semiotics Inc., a corporation that his wife, Lynn, launched for their diversified home business. Their projects include designing databases for mid-sized companies. John Allen holds a BS from the United States Air Force Academy, an MS from the University of Southern California, and an MA from the University of California, Riverside.

You can visit his website at http://louiseconandoyle.com/.

About the Book:

Author John Allen has a theory about the creator of Sherlock Holmes:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not create Holmes. It was Doyle’s wife, Louise Hawkins Conan Doyle, who gave birth to the beloved sleuth.

Allen has put his beliefs to the test, writing and publishing the first of a projected 12-novel series of Holmes mysteries titled BRIMSTONE. His detective is Louise Hawkins Conan Doyle, and Allen names her as the author of the tale he presents, set in 1879 Bristol, England.

In a previous book, SHADOW WOMAN, Allen set out to prove that Louise was the true creator of Sherlock Holmes. The inspiration for his startling and controversial theory of authorship was a 1980s essay by Martin Gardner called “The Irrelevance of Arthur Conan Doyle.” Gardner claimed that Arthur was “too gullible and to easily duped to have created Sherlock Holmes.”

Allen determined that Gardner was correct, but Gardner identified no alternative author. Allen continues, “So I decided to give it a try. I came to suspect Louise as the actual author, but I lacked the knowledge and tools to make a solid case.”

Then the Internet came along, giving Allen a valuable research tool. He became convinced that Louise did in fact create Sherlock Holmes. Allen presented his case in SHADOW WOMAN, which was published in 2017. To further advance Louise as Holmes’s creator, to give her the credit he believes she is due, he is now featuring her in a series of mystery novels, the first of which is BRIMSTONE.

As if Allen hadn’t set the bar too high already, he has added a subtext to BRIMSTONE that explores contemporary wrongful convictions through his Victorian thrillers.

BRIMSTONE brims with appeal to multiple audiences, from lovers of detective stories to those interested in justice for the wrongfully convicted. Sherlock Holmes would be proud.

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Definitely not, particularly with respect to fiction. Though I have written five non-fiction works, I was ill prepared for writing fiction. My initial efforts were pretty pathetic, but I kept working at it. Encouraged by Lynn, my wife and a voracious reader of mysteries, I worked on my dialogue, scene description, and character development. I took an online class to improve my sentence structure. I kept devising new openings that were more and more grabbing. Most importantly, I learned that I should never ever kill the dog. Some things, I now know, are simply unforgiveable. People yes, dogs no.

Mostly I wrote and subjected my work to the withering fire of constructive criticism. And I rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote. Jerry Pournelle, the late science fiction writer and one of the earliest bloggers, explained that anyone could be a good writer; all that was necessary was to write a million words. My rewrites of Brimstone put me over that limit.

I’m quite proud of the result.

What was your inspiration for Brimstone?

In 2017, I wrote and Lynn published Shadow Woman: The True Creator of Sherlock Holmes. In that non-fictional work, I make my case that Sherlock Holmes flowed from the mind and pen of Louise Conan Doyle, Arthur’s first wife. With respect to Louise’s character, I was severely limited to the successful efforts of Arthur’s second wife, Jean, to obliterate all records of his first wife, Louise. The Louise Conan Doyle Mystery Series allows me to portray Louise’s character as I perceiver her, based upon what I infer of her from her writing.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

In Brimstone, I meld two of my avocations, two of my passions. First and most obviously, I Louise Conan Doyle to readers of fictions, hoping that she finally receive the credit she has long deserved for her Sherlock Holmes adventures. Secondly, I hope to shine some light on our country’s problem with wrongful convictions. In each book within the mystery series, Louise somehow ends up involved in a case that shares elements from actual wrongful convictions of today. In the Author’s Note at the end of each book, I summarize the parallels in the case and I refer the readers to where they might learn more about either Louise and/or the wrongfully convicted.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

 

Brimstone was just recently published. That book began as Ghost Writer back in 2013, so Brimstone has been five years in the making. Along the way, I began and completed Shadow Woman, my non-fictional work about Louise.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am absolutely disciplined but, unfortunately, I have many projects demanding my discipline. My work on the Louise books too frequently takes a back seat. On a typical idealized day, my fingers are on the keyboard by 8, and remain there until noon. During lunch, I research or relax. After lunch, I work on wrongful convictions or I earn the necessary tender by programming custom database systems for intermediate size companies. I then walk and think about my work. I feed the cat while thinking about my work. I spend the evenings with Lynn and give her my attention. (Lynn and I also have a date every Wednesday and one day each weekend.) I think about my work as I fall asleep, and I’m thinking about it when I wake up.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

As already described, I found it challenging to write fiction, particularly Victorian fiction, even more so Victorian fiction featuring a woman. I was a bit out of my league. With persistence and Lynn’s help, I believe I have been successful.

What do you love most about being an author?

It turns out I prefer writing fiction over non-fiction. On occasion, when working on the Louise mysteries, the story takes charge and leads me to places I had never imagined. The story becomes the master and my fingers are at its beck and call. When I’m done with the segment, and I read it, I’m surprised and pleased. When I come back considerably later and read it, I almost can’t believe I wrote it.

Those out-of-body writing experiences are pretty special.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

All my books have been published by Allen & Allen Semiotics, Inc. That is the home business that Lynn launched while I was still working for the man. We make most of our money designing custom database systems. After I failed to find a publisher for my first book, Lynn expanded our company’s offerings to include publishing, then she taught herself publishing just as she taught herself to design databases. Her publishing skills have improved as my writing skills have improved, and out latest work, Brimstone, is beautiful in every respect. It has been hard work for both of us, but I have a feeling it is all going to pay off soon.

Where can we find you on the web?

For all matters relating to Louise Conan Doyle, you can find us at http://www.louiseconandoyle.com. We are fortunate and pleased to own that URL. For all matters relating to wrongful conviction, check my Skeptical Juror blog at http://www.skepticaljuror.com.

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