Read Our Q&A with Dave Warner, Author of Over My Dead Body

Read Our Q&A with Dave Warner, Author of Over My Dead Body

Briefly tell us about your book and what inspired it

Around 2000 I did a series of lighter Whodunnit type novels featuring Andrew `The Lizard’ Zirk, a rock guitarist and his chauffeur Fleur. The idea was a kind of update on Sherlock Holmes with Zirk playing a guitar instead of a violin.  There was also a bit of URST between the two detectives. I was playing around with a screenplay idea for a film of them when it hit me: `Wouldn’t it be great if I could do Holmes and Watson where Watson was a woman?’

I set about writing the screenplay and in 2003 finished the first couple of drafts in  which Georgette Watson, the great-great-grand daughter of John Watson goes looking for his body in a polar ice-field and extracts a corpse who turns out to be Sherlock Holmes, preserved perfectly by the ice. Holmes then `thaws out’ and gives us the delicious idea of Holmes in the 21st century with my female Watson. Later I finessed the idea: Watson herself studies cryonics and cryogenics and consults for NYPD on time of death. She can revive hamsters but is denied a human to `revive’.  She comes across John Watson’s old journals. They mention his friend who had plunged to his death in the icy lake of the Reichenbach Falls. John Watson had for years tried to revive the corpse in secret. Though he failed he kept it frozen. Using her research Georgette revives the corpse. It turns out to be Holmes, not a myth but a real man – albeit now 166 years old but not looking  day over 38. Holmes refuses to go public on his miraculous revival but inserts himself into Georgette’s latest serial killing case in NYC. Holmes and Watson are on the road again!

What was the research process like for the book?

Tricky. The book is in the realm of science fiction but I wanted it to feel real too. I don’t like a lot of science fiction but I love a big story built on a premise that almost could be real. I’d not been to New York for 30 years and wanted to set the story there and didn’t want to make dumb mistakes but it was very difficult using Google etc to get exact answers to things: like what kind of heating would Georgette’s apartment have? How would the various organs of the NYPD interact on the cases I had in mind.

I canvassed people who lived in NYC or who had lived in NYC about a multitude of things and they often contradicted one another.

So, in the end I flew to NYC to see it for myself and to ask direct questions of the beat cops there, and other New Yorkers. I was there in December when it snowed – perfect because that happens in OVER MY DEAD BODY which is set in November. I took the family and we got back to Australia just before Covid went big – New Year’s Day 2020.

What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?

I just want my readers to feel that they enjoyed the book so much they think it would have been a bargain at double the price. With this book I’m not out to mould people’s views or sell them anything politically. I want them to escape from all that for a few hours, to delight in the conceit that Sherlock Holmes comes back in 2020. I want to give them a giggle or two at the idea of Rip Van Holmes surveying life in 2020, I want to have them turning the page in terror to see who survives, I want them trying to outguess Sherlock and me as to the identity of the killer and I want them to steep themselves in the idea as if its real, and to fall in love with Holmes and Watson just as they do with each other.

Who are some of your favourite authors? Or favourite books?

These days I read almost exclusively crime books but as a kid and younger man I read more widely. Nowadays I re-read my favourite literary novels and literary authors and graze over loads of crime writers. For the mix of intellectuality and humour I love Thomas Pynchon and Gunter Grass. I re-read Moby Dick every couple of years for its majesty. Flann O’Brien and PG Wodehouse tickle me with their humour based around our quiet humanity. Crime-wise Henning Mankell for his blend of atmosphere, plot and character while still making a point; earlier James Ellroy for his daring and punch, Elmore Leonard for his craft and characters, Jo Nesbo for thrills, Agatha Christie for plot. And just recently a friend of mine who writes under the name FX Holden for brilliant action-thrillers.

What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?

Six days a week I am up at 6.30 and in the local 50 metre pool (heated) for an hour swim. I start at the desk just after nine and apart from a couple of phone calls work through till lunch. Then I walk for an hour, come back and try and get another couple of hours in but often afternoon gives way to accounts and other stuff.

What am I working on? `Believe’ a biography of the indigenous Aussie Rules player Marlion Pickett who last year became the first player in more than a century to play his debut game in a winning Grand Final.

A new Dan Clement novel – Dan is my Broome based detective. His debut novel (Before It Breaks)  won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction.

A musical In Search of the Suburban Boy which would combine an autobiography with a fun idea of characters from my songs looking for me their creator.

A bunch of audio short stories. I’ve written 12 and recorded and released 2. The idea was to do one per month but Covid kind of put a stop to that.  Most of the stories are crime but not all. I do the narration myself.


Your Preview Verdict: Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

Review | News | Preview

30 September 2020

Your Preview Verdict: Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

    Preview Reviews: Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

    Review | Preview

    22 September 2020

    Preview Reviews: Over My Dead Body by Dave Warner

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            Publisher details

            Over My Dead Body
            Dave Warner
            Fremantle Press
            Crime Fiction
            29 September, 2020


            Cryogenicist Dr Georgette Watson has mastered the art of bringing frozen hamsters back to life. Now what she really needs is a body to confirm her technique can save human lives.Meanwhile, in New York City, winter is closing in and there’s a killer on the loose, slaying strangers who seem to have nothing in common. Is it simple good fortune that Georgette, who freelances for the NYPD, suddenly finds herself in the company of the greatest detective of all time? And will Sherlock Holmes be able to save Dr Watson in a world that has changed drastically in 200 years, even if human nature has not?
            Dave Warner
            About the author

            Dave Warner

            Dave Warner is an author, musician and screenwriter. His first novel City of Light won the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Fiction, and Before it Breaks (2015) the Ned Kelly Award for best Australian crime fiction. His latest novel Clear to the Horizon features the lead characters from both these books. Dave Warner originally came to national prominence with his gold album Mug’s Game, and his band Dave Warner's from the Suburbs. In 2017 he released his tenth album When. He has been named a Western Australian State Living Treasure and has been inducted into the WAMi Rock’n’Roll of Renown.

            Books by Dave Warner


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