INTERVIEW: Bobby Nash, Writer SHERLOCK HOLMES/DOMINO LADY

How can anyone not love the work of Bobby Nash?

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Bobby Nash, writer

He is an award-winning author of novels, comic books, short stories, novellas, graphic novels, and the occasional screenplay for a number of publishers and production companies including IDW Publishing, Sequential Pulp Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Moonstone Books, Airship 27 Productions, Pro Se Productions, Raven’s Head Press, Stark Raving Press, Farragut Films, Dark Oak Press, Avatar Press, Fight Card Books, Radio Archives, BEN Books, and more!

Mr. Nash is a member in good standing of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers and he was named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards. Rick Ruby, a character co-created by Bobby and author Sean Taylor also snagged a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Pulp Character of 2013. Bobby has also been nominated for the 2014 New Pulp Awards and Pulp Factory Awards for his work. In 2015, Bobby’s novel, Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt won a Paranormal Literary Award in the 2015 Paranormal Awards.

And he has written a wonderful story about Sherlock Holmes teaming up with the pulp hero, the Domino Lady.

We talked with him about his story and he was kind enough to answer!

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DLSHtpb100First, can you give us a little history of the Domino Lady? Where did she come from (character and creation wise) and how much fun is it to write her?

The Domino Lady appeared in 6 stories in 1936 that were all written under the house name of Lars Anderson. The true identity of who wrote those original stories has been lost to time. When I was first hired to write a Domino Lady story for the anthology that became Moonstone’s Domino Lady: Sex As A Weapon, I picked up a reprint edition and read those stories. They are quite good and I really connected with the character of crusading socialite, Ellen Patrick and her alter ego, Domino Lady. I wrote my story and figured that would be the end of it, but I was wrong.

After the book came out, Moonstone announced that New York Times Best Selling Author Nancy Holder, who also has a story in the anthology, was going to continue Domino Lady’s adventures in comic books for the publisher. I congratulated Nancy on the gig and we talked a bit about comics and the character. Fast forward a bit and I was still working for Moonstone on other projects when I was asked if I had time to script one of Nancy’s Domino Lady plots because she had a deadline creep up, something I understand all too well. I agreed and was back in the swing with Domino Lady. I assumed it would be another one and done, but I was wrong.

I ended up working on some other comics with Nancy, including a team up with legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, and even have some coming out that I am writing solo this year. Then, Joe Gentile, my editor and publisher asked if I would be interested in writing a political thriller novel with Domino lady. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

I absolutely love Ellen Patrick and her domino masked alter ego and, as you probably guessed, she is a lot of fun to write. I get a big thrill every time I get the chance to write her again. We have more stories on deck for this year including a Sherlock Holes/Domino Lady trade collection that includes a new team up story by me, the Domino Lady Threesome team-up comic book series, and a new Domino Lady anthology in also in the works. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to do another novel. I’d be up for that.

Second, Domino Lady is a throwback to pulp stories and the Golden Age of Comic DLmsHCxBooks, what is different about the characters of then as opposed to the characters now?  
We try very hard to keep Ellen and Domino Lady in their original timeframe of the 1930’s, although we’re probably into the late 30’s at this point. It is very important to me that she remains the Domino Lady, not Bobby Nash’s Domino Lady. I want her to remain the same character as in those original 6 stories. Sure, Nancy and I have put our individual touches on the character and have added new members to her supporting cast, but at the end of the day, I want to stay true to the character I fell in love with after reading those original stories.

That said, there are differences in how stories are told. I do not try to mimic the writing style of other pulp writers from the era. I still write in my style, but try to stay true to the period. Sometimes that means characters smoking, which we have been called to task on once or twice. I don’t have her smoke often, but when she does, it’s because that’s who the character is and I try to stay true to that. Ellen Patrick was a very progressive woman. She was not shy about her enjoyment of smoking, drinking, or sex. All of that is right there in those original stories. She was also damned smart and most of the time she won by outsmarting and outwitting her enemies. Having her write letters to the bad guys explaining exactly what she was going to do to them and then doing it even though said bad guys were on guard for it, was a great idea and one I’m thrilled to continue.

You use a very Basil Rathbone influenced Sherlock, in this story, was his portrayal of the great detective a favorite?  

I like Basil Rathbone a good deal, but in my head, Sherlock Holmes is Jeremy Brett. He was my first introduction to Holmes on film. I also rather enjoy the modern day versions of Holmes, although each is completely different in their own way. The Sherlock Holmes I write is a bit of an amalgamation, I suppose, the best of each version of Holmes.

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When writing a story with Sherlock Holmes, can you write by the “seat of your pants” or do you have to plot it out?  

I’m usually somewhere in the middle. I do very loose plots and then just start writing. For the comic book in the new trade, it was easy as Nancy had already written the plot. From there, it was pacing, character, and dialogue I focused on. In my new prose story for the trade, I came up with a simple mystery (it’s a short story) that fit the idea that started the story, which was “Holmes and Ellen board a train to London after an adventure together…” and then set about writing. The tricky part is making the mystery make sense and work.

Was it intimidating writing Sherlock? I mean sure we talk about the many actors who have played the detective, but what about falling in line behind the many writers who have written him?  

It was a little bit, sure. Several years back a publisher was starting a new Sherlock Holmes anthology and invited me to be involved. They were writing in the Doyle style and I passed on the project because I did not feel I was the right writer for that kind of story. I still feel that way about writing that type of story. With the Moonstone stories, I’m telling a story with Holmes, but not in the Holmes format/style of the originals so it’s still my style. That was freeing for me. There are a lot of Sherlock Holmes fans out there and I am conscious of trying to write the character as truthfully as possible.

For you, is it easier to write your own characters or is it easier to write established characters?  

I’m not sure if one is easier than the other or not, but they are a bit different. When I create characters on my own, I am there from the beginning and can shape their development and I have a lot of freedom to do whatever I want so long as it fits the story I’m trying to tell. They’re my toys and I can break them.

With characters I don’t own, some of that work has already been done for me by virtue of the fact that the character(s) have been around for some time and had other adventures and their characterization is already in place. I then go in and tell a story within those parameters as laid down by the right’s holders. When writing Green Hornet, for example, I can’t have the hero’s hand get cut off… unless I have a plausible way to make sure it’s back in place by the end of the story. These are not my toys and if I break them I won’t get to play with them again.

Finally, would you ever consider writing your own Sherlock comic book series?

Absolutely. If I have a story to tell and the right opportunity presented itself, I would definitely be interested in writing a Sherlock Holmes comic book.

Thanks, Don. This was fun.

Thank you, Bobby! It was our pleasure here!

***

Before we ended the interview, Bobby offered to share an excerpt from the Sherlock Holmes/Lady Domino trade!

Enjoy!

“All Aboard!”

Train guard James Potter stood at the bottom step where he placed a small wooden box to offer an extra step to those who needed it. “Final boarding call!” he announced as passengers climbed on board. He kept one eye on the baggage car as his crew worked feverishly to load the overweight crates they had been hired on to ferry on the long ride to London. It had taken four men to get the last of the crates, this one roughly 3 meters tall, up the ramp and into the car. It had only slipped once. Poor Frederick was going to be wearing a cast on his crushed foot for weeks.

“Final boarding call!”

It was cold on the platform and Guard Potter was ready to depart with five minutes to spare before the final whistle blew its shrill cry. Winter had gotten off to a frigid start and the icy rain that had been falling for days was soon to be replaced by snow and actual ice. He was not a fan of winter, but despite his wish that it could be otherwise, he still had a job to do.

He tipped his hat when the polished older gentleman with a cane and his much younger companion arrived fashionably late.

“Just in time, sir,” he told the man while trying hard not to stare at the beautiful woman hanging on his arm. Her low cut top and slit dress made the task difficult. This woman was no stranger to turning heads and the cold did not seem to bother her as much as it did him because, unlike her companion, she was not dressed for the elements.

“Nonsense,” the older man said in a deep baritone. “This railway is quite well-known for their adherence to schedules. We still have a good…” he fished a pocket watch from his pocket and popped open the cover. “…four solid minutes,” he said matter of fact before snapping the cover closed and returning it to his breast pocket. He withdrew an envelope carrying two tickets from inside his jacket.

“Of course, sir,” the guard said. “You must be Mr. Holmes. I’ve read stories of your exploits in The Strand.”

“At your service, although you should never believe everything you read,” Sherlock Holmes said, handing over both of their tickets with a slight nod. “Allow me to present Miss Ellen Patrick from the United States of America.”

“A pleasure, sir,” Miss Patrick said with a voice as silk as honey.

All images courtesy of Bobby Nash & Moonstone Comics.

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