Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch and Emma Watson to team up to write YA novel about Sherlock Holmes and Amelia Earhart

So I was talking with a children's author who I met last year at a conference -- and he was telling me that he had some inside information he wanted to pass on.  It turns out that his agent, the well-known former editor for Houghton Mifflin, S. Loo Flirpa, was recently involved in a transatlantic deal in which the acclaimed actor Benedict Cumberbatch (known for his roles in The Imitation Game and the BBC series Sherlock) has agreed to team up with Emma Watson (best known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies) to write a novel for young adults.  The book, tentatively titled Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Foolish Woman, would be published by Warnerbooks' new British imprint, InSence which has been desperately looking for a young adult blockbuster.

The children's author I was talking to (who doesn't wish to be identified because he had promised to keep this quiet until the publisher makes its announcement at a press conference scheduled for three days from now, on Friday, April 3) reported that the book will pair up the great detective and no less a personage than Amelia Earhart.  He explained that although neither Cumberbatch nor Watson have ever written a book before, they are both voracious readers and have been wanting to try this for some time.  Apparently, Cumberbatch will write half the chapters, from the perspective of Sherlock Holmes, and Watson will write alternating chapters from the perspective of Amelia Earhart, who becomes involved when some underworld figures hide stolen jewels in her plane and she is soon on the run.  Sherlock Holmes, independently investigating the jewel theft, finds Earhart, and contrives to hide her while both of them pursue the truth.  The story allegedly has a remarkable twist toward the end.

My source said that he partly wants to break the news early because he is angry at Warnerbooks, which apparently is going to bill the co-authors as "Holmes and Watson" which my source thinks is unfair to both authors.  In an email he sent me late yesterday he said, "That's just stupid.  I think Cumberbatch is a smart guy and will be a good writer.  It is a cheesy gimmick to fail to distinguish between the actor and the character he plays.  And worse still, just because her last name is Watson, they make it out like she has some connection to Dr. John Watson, Sherlock's friend?  As far as I know, they don't even intend to include John Watson in the story. Emma Watson cares deeply for the story of Amelia Earhart and is really excited about being able to write about her.  Like I said, it is just stupid."

My source says Warnerbooks has committed to paying each author an unheard-of advance of 1.7 million.  Actually, this doesn't surprise me much since YA literature has become a remarkably successful business.  After all, the Harry Potter books reportedly grossed over 15 billion dollars.  It is reasonable to expect, given Cumberbatch and Watson's followings, that their book would be quite successful indeed.  Warnerbooks expects to release the book before Christmas of this year.

Bear in mind this is only a rumor at this point, but I have to say, I am excited about the possibilities.