Thanks to Keith Sawyer over at the Creativity and Inspiration blog who chased down this quote from T.S. Eliot:
“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal”
In other words, Good writers borrow, great writers steal.
This is one of those fine-line, grey area parts of writing I find, especially when you are writing a series that spins off from another author’s work – in my case the great Arthur Conan Doyle.
So, when I decided it was time in Book 7 for Portia Adams to have a slightly more prominent client, I remembered of course The Adventure of the Illustrious Client from the original canon.
I reread it today because the only part of the story I was planning to emulate was Portia taking on a case with someone ‘illustrious,’ not the premise for the mystery or the solution of the crime — in fact I want to head in an opposite direction from that.
Holmes is hired in the Illustrious Client to convince young Violet not to marry a murderous Baron (who has not been successfully linked to his previous crimes) which he does with the help of the Baron’s former lover.
No problem, I’m planning for Book 7 to be about a client who is blackmailed for political information.
Hopefully, this formula (see image above) I just came up with holds true:
The original idea (an illustrious client) + my respect for Conan Doyle’s work + a new take (blackmail) = an effective homage.