Poe and Conan Doyle -- A 2022 Retrospective
We launched the Tea, Tonic & Toxin podcast and book club in 2022. And what a year it was! We read Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins and Fergus Hume. We made our way from 1841 through to 1910 and watched the mystery and detective story genre evolve.
Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins ... and More!
Here’s a transcript of our 2022 retrospective.
Sarah Harrison 0:24
Welcome to Tea, Tonic and Toxin, a book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries and thrillers ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison,
Carolyn Daughters 0:36
and I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a tea, or a gin and tonic,
Sarah Harrison 0:42
… but not a toxin …
Carolyn Daughters 0:44
And join us on the journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every one of them a game changer. Sarah …
Sarah Harrison 0:57
Carolyn Daughters 0:59
We’ve had an amazing year.
Sarah Harrison 1:01
I’m so excited about our episode today.
Carolyn Daughters 1:05
We get to talk a little bit about what we loved and what we learned. We get to talk about Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins …
Sarah Harrison 1:11
We’ll talk about what we talked about. What’s better than that? And then we’re going to talk about what we’re going to talk about.
Carolyn Daughters 1:18
Yeah, we’re like a public speaking class here.
Sarah Harrison 1:21
Like a mirror within a mirror.
Carolyn Daughters 1:24
Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.
Sarah Harrison 1:28
Yeah. That’s what we did. That’s what we’re gonna do. But not before we introduce our sponsor for this episode.
Carolyn Daughters 1:37
Who is our sponsor?
Sarah Harrison 1:39
Our sponsor is the fabulous Carolyn Daughters. She runs a brand building and communications consultancy. She leads brand therapy sessions, teaches marketing courses for startups and small businesses and leads daylong persuasive writing workshops. Carolyn and her small team empower startups, small businesses, enterprises, and government agencies to win hearts, minds, deals, and dollars. Learn more at carolyndaughters.com.
Carolyn Daughters 2:10
That sounds amazing.
Sarah Harrison 2:11
it is amazing. In fact, Grace Sigma recently hired Carolyn Daughters for some of these services.
Carolyn Daughters 2:30
So, where should we start? We want to talk a bit about what we’ve done this past year before we talk about where we’re going.
Sarah Harrison 2:38
I just want to say that Carolyn put together these questionnaires. She called them a pop quiz, but I think I can’t fail it. Or maybe I can. Listeners, you decide. She put together these questionnaires that really made me think about the last year cumulatively. I thought it was cool and fun to come up with answers.
Carolyn Daughters 3:10
I changed my answers a little bit.
Sarah Harrison 3:11
Did you? After reading mine?
Carolyn Daughters 3:15
No. Well, there’s one thing I changed after reading yours.
Sarah Harrison 3:17
What was it?
Carolyn Daughters 3:18
One of the questions is which characters would we invite to a dinner party? I invited eight people, and I swapped one of them out for somebody else.
Sarah Harrison 3:37
Who did you swap?
Carolyn Daughters 3:38
I swapped Alan Woodcourt from Bleak House with Inspector Bucket from Bleak House.
Sarah Harrison 3:45
Oh, yeah. I was surprised you didn’t put Bucket on there. And I’m like, that guy’s gotta be at every dinner party.
Carolyn Daughters 3:50
Yeah, he’s super entertaining.
Sarah Harrison 3:52
But I tried not to look at your answers while I was writing my answers. I read yours after I finished writing mine.
Carolyn Daughters 3:58
Yeah. And then I changed a couple other answers, not based on your answers, Sarah, but on just thinking about it. And putting some things to the test. I love writing something or answering something one day and then coming back to it a different day. Because sometimes it’s had time to germinate.
Sarah Harrison 4:19
Absolutely. I’m like that. I used to be in photojournalism. I loved doing interviews. And I would always send my questions out ahead of time, and I absolutely don’t appreciate journalists who are trying to surprise answers out of people. Because I know if you try and surprise an answer out of me, it’s going to be mostly fumbling and partially wrong. And not wrong in an objective sense, but wrong in the sense that if I think about this a little more and a little longer, I can give you an answer that’s more reflective of what I’m thinking. I totally agree. I like having stuff to think about ahead of time.
Carolyn Daughters 5:06
So we each had a favorite book from this past year. Which was …
Sarah Harrison 5:12
I said Bleak House. You also said Bleak House.
Carolyn Daughters 5:17
Sarah Harrison 5:17
That was cool.
Carolyn Daughters 5:20
Bleak House always and forever. It’s the Victorian love of my life.
Sarah Harrison 5:25
Yeah, you already have a history with Bleak House.
Carolyn Daughters 5:27
Yes, we’ve had a very long relationship.
Sarah Harrison 5:29
And this was my first reading of it. But I remembered everything I love about Dickens. I started reading Dickens, like many people probably, in junior high. And I was like, “this is great!” I think within this list it stands out for so many reasons. It’s a great list of books, but man, Bleak House has everything. It’s so complex, you’re laughing, you’re crying, you’re sympathizing, you’re angry. Dickens, I guess, he’s easy to rag on and he gets ragged on a lot for writing really long books. That’s always a criticism. You hear, “oh, he got paid by the word.” But it’s not fluff at all.
Carolyn Daughters 6:24
No, this is Dickens at his maturity as a writer. I think it’s a brilliant book.
Sarah Harrison 6:35
It goes so deep, and it’s so complex. There are some characters that maybe could be better developed, for sure. But man, he does a good job.
Carolyn Daughters 6:51
I felt like he was in full possession of the story, the characters, what he wanted to do, and what he wanted readers to feel.
Sarah Harrison 6:57
I really liked it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Readers, if you’re going to pick one book, I’d say pick Bleak House.
Carolyn Daughters 7:07
What are your backups? You had a couple runners up.
Sarah Harrison 7:14
Oh, yeah. Lady Molly and The Hound of the Baskervilles. I’m definitely a sucker for a page turner, and both of those were super enjoyable. Sometimes you read old books and they’re valuable for many reasons, but you might not call them page turners. For me, Poe, who I love, I’ve read all of his works, is not a page turner. I’m a re-reader. Like, what did he say? What am I missing? Oh, I missed that page. Let me reread it.
Carolyn Daughters 7:48
Poe is dense. Poe and Conan Doyle are very different writers.
Sarah Harrison 7:52
Yeah. With Poe, I’m looking up every other word.
Carolyn Daughters 7:53
The texts are dense. Poe was a genius. Wow, that came out wrong.
Sarah Harrison 8:01
He packs a lot into a few pages. But, yeah, The Hound of the Baskervilles and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard are both just like exciting and interesting. And I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I enjoyed Poe and Conan Doyle, but they may be not at the level of Bleak House in terms of just all of the things that they do. What were your runners up?
Carolyn Daughters 8:27
The Hound of the Baskervilles as well. I really enjoyed that. I had read it. I don’t know when, years and years ago. And I loved it. I came to it and it felt fresh and new, even though I had read it before. It’s just a really good story. I really haven’t read much Poe or Conan Doyle, and I had never before read Wilkie Collins. Which brings me to another book I love, The Woman in White.
Sarah Harrison 8:47
I remember you really felt strongly about that one.
Carolyn Daughters 8:51
I felt strongly about two of the characters, Marian Halcombe and Count Fosco. And I was fascinated by these two characters, Marian in particular, and I hadn’t seen her on the page before. I hadn’t seen that character before, and I thought it was really original and interesting.
Sarah Harrison 9:11
Yeah, that’s cool. And I hadn’t read any Wilkie Collins so we have these two Wilkie Collins books, and I thought that he was a really interesting addition.
Carolyn Daughters 9:20
I liked The Moonstone as well. There’s two parts in The Moonstone. I really enjoyed part one. To me that was a big time page turner because you know the moonstone is going to be stolen. It’s gripping. But of the two, The Woman in White is the one that I prefer.
Sarah Harrison 9:46
I thought it was cool that we got introduced to Sherlock Holmes in this early Victorian list. We read Poe and Conan Doyle and lots of authors I had never heard of before. The development of the mystery genre, and he’s right there at the beginning. So that was cool.
Carolyn Daughters 10:04
So we’re going to have this dinner party. Who’s coming to your dinner party?
Sarah Harrison 10:08
A dinner party is a really specific thing. In my mind, it’s a different question than just “who would you like to talk to?” There are a lot of people that I would like to talk to. To just dig into their heads. But at dinner party, everyone’s talking to everyone else. So I went a few different directions. At first, I thought it would be fun to have a sidekick-based dinner party with these supporting characters. And then I wanted charming characters that can get on well in groups. So I picked Lady Molly, queen of charming characters. And Mary Granville.
Carolyn Daughters 11:06
Who’s Mary Granville?
Sarah Harrison 11:08
Did I say your name wrong?
Carolyn Daughters 11:10
Sarah Harrison 11:14
Yes! I only get half the letters correct in my head and then rearrange them, apparently. Mary Granard. Watson, who I think is charming and friendly. Inspector Bucket, who can apparently charm the pants off total strangers. Although I do think he’s maybe emotionally cruel. Esther.
Carolyn Daughters 11:41
Esther Summerson from Bleak House.
Sarah Harrison 11:41
Yes. Also from Bleak House, who was the mom that had all the kids and was like the best friend’s mom.
Carolyn Daughters 11:52
I’m drawing a blank, but I know who you’re saying.
Sarah Harrison 11:54
And she had her raincoat and her umbrella and she ate the chicken even though she hated it. Yeah, her name is blanked out in my mind. Which is a shame because she was awesome. And I also liked the rich lady in The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.
Carolyn Daughters 12:18
We need to carry with us a character list.
Sarah Harrison 12:20
Okay, improvement from next year, a running character list. She was good. She was charming and sweet. She was smart and kind. And so I thought all of these people with their charm and their kindness and their ability to put people at ease socially would make it a really nice dinner party. Like I wouldn’t feel nervous at this dinner party. I could just chill and listen to them.
Carolyn Daughters 12:48
I think with that group Bucket might be the one exception, but he would make you feel comfortable.
Sarah Harrison 12:56
Right. He would do well at a dinner party. He might arrest me for something right afterwards.
Carolyn Daughters 13:00
Probably you’d be in handcuffs minutes after the party ended.
Sarah Harrison 13:04
But he would do really well during the party. And he’s another one, like Lady Molly who does a lot by understanding a person’s character. So I think that’s always an interesting aspect to a party. Though I love Sherlock, and I would love to talk to him, I feel like he could ruin a nice party.
Carolyn Daughters 13:29
Yes, but you’d be entertained the whole time. But definitely he could ruin it.
Sarah Harrison 13:34
Maybe. I have had parties where certain folks who were not good at being polite were rude to my other guests. And as a hostess, I take it hard if you insult another guest of mine. Oh, Madge Frettlby. That’s right. Carolyn looked it up for me. Madge Frettlby from The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. She was cool. I thought she’d be really good party member. In fact, the Frettlbys were known for their parties and having the right mix of people.
Carolyn Daughters 14:09
I think Madge and Lady Molly and Mary Granard would get along.
Sarah Harrison 14:14
Yeah, for sure.
Carolyn Daughters 14:17
My dinner party would have many of the same people. I would have invited Sherlock Holmes and probably regretted it.
Sarah Harrison 14:25
Count Fosco would have murdered everybody.
Carolyn Daughters 14:28
After the party, not during. He would have been as gracious as a person could be during the party. And then Marian Halcombe is a strong, not independent, but strong woman who fights for what she believes in and cares about.
Sarah Harrison 14:45
That’s true. I would like to observe your party.
Carolyn Daughters 14:49
But not be part of it.
Sarah Harrison 14:49
No. I’d like to see Fosco and Sherlock go at it. Or Dupin and Sherlock.
Carolyn Daughters 14:53
Poe and Conan Doyle — or Dupin and Sherlock Holmes — can have a war of words. I’m gonna have one of those little dividing curtains that we’ve seen in many of these books and you can stand on the other side of the curtain and watch the party.
Sarah Harrison 15:01
So I can eavesdrop secretly.
Carolyn Daughters 15:05
It’s what they did before people put all nanny cams in every room in their house. They had these weird curtains, and somebody would always be peering through the curtain.
Sarah Harrison 15:17
Yeah, curtains can really backfire. The great thing about Fosco, though, is that he is this weird sidekick to Marian, so he would be there adoring her through the party, which would be interesting.
Carolyn Daughters 15:31
And Mary would be adoring Molly.
Sarah Harrison 15:33
And Sherlock adores no one.
Carolyn Daughters 15:35
Watson would be adoring Sherlock. Watson would be making excuses for Sherlock Holmes the entire time. Look, he’s a genius.
Sarah Harrison 15:44
He’s fine, really, he just sometimes doesn’t speak for weeks.
Carolyn Daughters 15:48
Yeah, that’s his only flaw.
Sarah Harrison 15:52
Ask him to play the violin. If it’s not terrible, it’s really good.
Carolyn Daughters 16:00
So what did you learn about Victorian mysteries? Detective stories? Poe and Conan Doyle? What did you learn this past year?
Sarah Harrison 16:18
Sorry. I was reading an order. But, Carolyn, she thinks organically, and I thought it’s beautiful. She points it out, readers.
Carolyn Daughters 16:27
We can discuss anything you like.
Sarah Harrison 16:30
No, I liked that question. And I liked how our ideas were really different. Like, it was phrased as three biggest takeaways. And one of my takeaways, which is always at the forefront of my mind right now, is household help. Just how commonplace household help was. And I know it’s like nothing about mysteries at all, but it is kind of this insight. And that’s one reason I like to read old books, because I feel like you’d get secondhand these insights into how people worked, what the culture was like, and everybody had help around their house. And I find that super enlightening.
Carolyn Daughters 17:16
Everybody we read about, but to be fair, that’s a particular class of people. Somebody is providing the help in those houses.
Sarah Harrison 17:25
Yes, they are. They are for sure. But you didn’t have to have a wealthy mansion in a castle to have household help. You could be middle class, and you didn’t have to do your own laundry. You sent out for the laundry, and you paid for the laundry. Or you had somebody. It could just be a bachelor renting a room, but somebody’s cooking your food for you. The landlady’s making the food. You didn’t have to be rich for that. You just had to rent a room. It was part of it. And I just think about how it’s such a different mentality right now in our culture, where it’s like household help is almost unattainable. And sometimes I think it’s really looked down upon in a classist way. And I’ve heard people say, weird to my mind, things like, I can do all my own laundry. I don’t need somebody doing this, and I’m like, really? I can’t get to it. I think we need to embrace this idea of needing a lot of support in order not to be a drudge the drudge of our own lives. And maybe it’s just because I have a three year old and a one year old right now where I’m just like, “Oh, my goodness, I need so much help.” So that was one takeaway.
Another thing that came up for me was how often the narrator is tying beauty to survivability here. We saw that in a few places, and it just started really sticking with me. I think one of the first places it struck me was in The Moonstone, where they kept referring to the beautiful beach and the English countryside as like this horrible place. Like, “this is the ugliest beach Why do you keep coming here to look at the ocean?” I guess I hadn’t thought about it before but there’s a few physical landscapes that I think are always objectively beautiful. Like beach, mountains. But that’s not what the narrators think. You know, they describe the whole state of Utah as just horrible. It’s like, desolate.
Carolyn Daughters 19:55
It’s this place you hike into from somewhere sane, and you almost die. Poe and Conan Doyle definitely seem to prefer urban life.
Sarah Harrison 20:02
Yeah. Or like the English moors, this horrible. dark, foreboding place. I mean, it’s now this beautiful national park. I noticed that it kept coming up. When a place was physically harsh and hard to survive, it was also considered ugly for some reason.
Carolyn Daughters 20:22
Yeah. So perspectives change and not everybody’s perspective is going to be the same. I was thinking you meant a person’s physical beauty, but you meant physical Iandscape.
Sarah Harrison 20:42
I meant landscape, although you could say similar things. Although it doesn’t always play out, but the assumption is often in the books that when someone is good looking, they are also innocent. How could somebody so good looking be suspected of a crime? Sometimes they are guilty, but often they are innocent.
Carolyn Daughters 21:06
I think that’s one reason I really like Marian Halcombe from The Woman and White by Wilkie Collins. She’s not a physically beautiful woman, yet she’s a heartfelt, daring, powerhouse. I mean, there are startlingly few women characters in Poe and Conan Doyle …
Sarah Harrison 21:22
Yes. Marian is loved. And she loves others.
Carolyn Daughters 21:24
She loves and she is beloved.
Sarah Harrison 21:27
I wanted to stop hearing about how unbeautiful she was. I think actually, except for the mustache, she had a great body. That’s what I’m led to believe by the author.
Carolyn Daughters 21:37
Yeah, except for the mustache.
Sarah Harrison 21:40
Walter Hartright saw her from behind and was in love with her. And then she turned around, and he was like, whoops. It was so awful to read the narration of Marian. I struggled with that. But yeah, that relates to my third takeaway: It’s tough to catch a break as a lady in this time period. You’re either having a brain fever, or you’re incompetent, or even when you do something right it’s played down. Really, until we got up to Lady Molly. And even so, in one way Lady Molly is amazing. And in another way she’s a bit of a prisoner to the idea of the feminine. Now, she wields it like a weapon, her femininity. She controls a room, she controls a situation. But you have to do it in a certain accepted way so people will accept your control.
Carolyn Daughters 22:51
She works within her societal constraints.
Sarah Harrison 22:54
And she wins. But there are societal constraints. But I guess we all have those. How about you?
Carolyn Daughters 23:06
Well, I love the whodunit. It’s in its early stages in the stories and books we’re reading. We start with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe and move to “The Purloined Letter,” and then work our way up to 1910 with Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. So, we’re watching the progression of the mystery/detective story and the form and how the detective or detectives work and how they solve crimes. We’re seeing how Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins and other authors are similar, and how they differ. The authors are playing with questions about whether the reader can solve this crime, or would the reader simply be in awe of what the detective is able to do? Because many of the clues and details are off the page.
Sarah Harrison 23:52
Yeah, I feel that maybe they had to learn that the reader has an interest in being able to solve the crime and have some empathy with the detective.
Carolyn Daughters 24:05
Yeah. Like Dupin and the Edgar Allan Poe stories. There’s no way readers are gonna figure out who committed the murders or who stole this letter. But “The Purloined Letter” in particular for me is a fun story. What is it to hide in plain sight? Well, the idea of something hiding in plain sight is common now, but Poe is coming up with this idea. In The Big Bow Mystery, Israel Zangwill is coming up with the idea of, in a locked room how does the murder occur? There’s actually only one way.
Sarah Harrison 24:57
You’re not going figure out who the murderer is in Poe and Conan Doyle. But you maybe could in The Big Bow Mystery.
Carolyn Daughters 25:12
Right. All of these writers are pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. Poe and Conan Doyle are creating the amateur detective. And with Lady Molly, Baroness Orczy is giving a woman a profession with Scotland Yard, and she’s respected by the detectives at Scotland Yard. Each of these writers in their own way are pushing boundaries and really elevating the form. At times it can feel dated. It’s not contemporary, and it can feel sometimes a little clunky. Yet I have so much respect for what they were doing, and in many cases achieving, and in some cases just attempting to do and not always successful. But they’re out there doing it.
Sarah Harrison 25:37
Yeah, that’s pretty cool to think about the birth of a genre in this time period, where previously there was none. And now there is one, and they form this detective club and have detective magazines. It’s pretty neat.
Carolyn Daughters 25:53
Yeah. And then I had some of the same feelings about the way women are presented in the stories that you did. It can be hard to read some of the female characters, but the stories are situated in a place and time and you try to understand it for what it is. So, I thought it was fun to start with Poe and Conan Doyle and work our way to Baroness Orczy. I thought it was particularly fun to end with Lady Molly this year.
And then what are our podcasting? What is this book club and podcasts that we’ve launched? Like, what’s that experience been like for you?
Sarah Harrison 26:26
Well, this year, I’m so excited we did this. And it was a super time constrained year for me. Besides the little kids, and the house construction disaster, I just enjoy this so much, and I wanted so much more time. Every time we’re reading a book, I’m coming up with these side trails about books that are mentioned in the book or books that are mentioned now by listeners commenting. Or I want to make some kind of diagram or create some side episode. There’s so many percolating ideas that I think we were just constrained by time, and I just, I hope I can carve out more time to dig into some of these.
Carolyn Daughters 27:20
In year two.
Sarah Harrison 27:20
The other thing I was so excited about, I have to say, was our listeners. And even if you’re not listening, if you’re like commenting, or something, it’s kind of amazing. This is really, I would say, for me, at least, a labor of love. Like this is a thing that, we thought would be fun to do for ourselves in trying to keep that element paramount in it. So it’s not a drudge, it’s a fun thing we look forward to. And so then to actually have listeners, and people we don’t know, that want to come along and interact. I mean, that was always the goal, but it’s really exciting when it happens. You send those little feelers out there and be like, “Hey, is anyone interested in this obscure mystery novel?” And some people are, so I was totally blown away every time. We’re a small podcast, and every time we can get listener interaction it is exciting and cool. I know, I totally love it. I say “we” a lot. But I mean me, for sure.
Carolyn Daughters 28:41
Sarah Harrison 28:44
I really enjoyed the selection of books and watching this genre evolve with Poe and Conan Doyle and all the others. Which I guess is not about the podcast, it’s about the process and getting to read all these great books and talk about them. And that’s what I always wanted in a book club. You know, you read a book, and you have a lot of thoughts about the book. And who do you say your thoughts to if no one else has read the book.
Carolyn Daughters 29:16
The way Sarah says it is, “I’m thinking lots of thoughts, and I want to think my thoughts with other people.”
Sarah Harrison 29:25
I don’t even know that I can fully form a thought until I’m trying to talk it out. And as you’re talking, it’s like your thought is congealing. And it’s sometimes the wrong thought. And you’re like, no, wait, not that one. But that’s okay. Because then I really enjoy the process. I made a bonus thing, which I just figured out this week, which can be like Sarah, you’re slow! But I just realized I can schedule a podcast. We were driving for Christmas, and I was like, but couldn’t I just schedule this instead of always releasing immediately? Turns out you can. Breakthrough moment.
Carolyn Daughters 30:13
The technology is there.
Sarah Harrison 30:16
Big breakthrough? How about you? How’s your podcasting going?
Carolyn Daughters 30:21
Good. It’s hard work. It takes more time than I think I envisioned that it would. But I enjoy it. I do it because I enjoy it. I do it because I think it matters. It matters to us. But it also matters to people who are interested in the book club idea and in the podcast. And it’s doable, as hard as it is, when you have a partner in crime, when you have somebody to do it with. If I were just trying to figure this out on my own, first of all, there would be no live episodes because technology is not my friend.
Sarah Harrison 31:07
Oh, you’re really good at technology. You made our website.
Carolyn Daughters 31:11
I did make the website. So I’m very niched. I know how to do various things, and I have a pretty good awareness of the things that are outside my wheelhouse. And something I learned about myself this year is that hard work is okay. It can be fun, so long as you love what you’re doing. And so it’s really important, for me, this is something I’ve been working on for a while now. But in this year, I’ve been working on tapping into the question: am I enjoying this, or am I slogging through this? Because hard work can fit into either of those two categories, but really knowing the difference. One is sort of feeding you from the inside and you keep on keeping on, and the other can be very heavy and weigh you down. And I don’t always do a good job of differentiating. It’s just like, okay, let me hit the next item on my to do list. And then when everything is translated into another task on the to do list, it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate the effort and the accomplishment for the things that you felt joyful about or that actually boosted your energy even though you had to put time and effort into it.
Sarah Harrison 32:34
Yeah, for sure. I think we both agreed that we want to keep the fun paramount. Because otherwise, why are we killing ourselves? I completely agree about the partnership. Oh, my goodness, maybe we would have had some boring episodes released of me talking to myself. But there would be no website or really any of the great kind of style and literary aspect that Carolyn brings to this. That’s so funny. I always think back. I was thinking back to when I had this idea about having a podcast, and I thought, let me try ask Carolyn to be my cohost. And I did such a botched job of asking you to be a cohost.
Carolyn Daughters 33:29
I don’t remember this botched request.
Sarah Harrison 33:30
Carolyn Daughters 33:31
Sarah Harrison 33:31
You didn’t even know that I was asking. That’s how bad it was.
Carolyn Daughters 33:34
I do remember that.
Sarah Harrison 33:35
You though I was asking you to listen to my podcast. I mean, why am I even having a podcast? I’m so bad at talking.
Carolyn Daughters 33:46
I think you’re being harsh on yourself by saying it was a botched attempt. It just wasn’t clear. So I was like, sure, I’ll listen to your podcast. That sounds great. And you’re like, “No!”
Sarah Harrison 34:00
Like, what a weird thing to ask. Think about this, listeners. How do you ask somebody to be a cohost? It’s not like you’re asking them on a date or you’re asking them to marry you. But you are asking for an interesting relationship with a friend. Do you want to be my cohost? I mean, they could reject you.
Carolyn Daughters 34:30
You can get the acceptance or rejection out of the way by actually asking. Listen, this is what you would say. You would say, “hey, the book club I’ve been leading for all these years in person is wrapping up, and I’d really like to explore doing an online podcast book club combo deal. I’d like to host it, but I would like a cohost, and if you’re interested I would like it to be you.
Sarah Harrison 35:01
You try that, listener, and comment and tell me how it goes.
Carolyn Daughters 35:07
It’s one way to do it.
Sarah Harrison 35:08
Tell me how it goes. Because this turns out to feel like a weird thing. It feels like you’re asking someone on a date is what it feels like, I think. That’s how I felt when I was buying a house. I started by house, and I didn’t expect this to feel like trying to marry somebody.
Carolyn Daughters 35:29
So it feels big.
Sarah Harrison 35:31
It does. It feels like there’s a little level of vulnerability and, like, projecting future things together. And you’re like, that’s surprising. No, I got her so surprised that I asked weird.
Carolyn Daughters 35:54
Well, I don’t have a whole lot of memory of it. I do remember not understanding. But I wouldn’t have said that you botched it. It just wasn’t clear at first.
Sarah Harrison 36:09
Good. I mean, a lot of people are getting podcasts now. There are a lot of solo attempts. But if you’re thinking about starting one, ask for a cohost. Tell me how it goes. I want to know your feelings because I might just be a total weirdo.
Carolyn Daughters 36:25
I just gave them the script.
Sarah Harrison 36:27
I know. Use Carolyn’s script. But tell me how it goes.
Carolyn Daughters 36:34
So what have you learned about yourself this year?
Sarah Harrison 36:48
I had to lead with my own performance anxiety, which you might say, well, why are you hosting a podcast, you dummy? And I would say, I don’t know, all these reasons. But it’s something I’ve always struggled with. It’s the same thing when I was, I was a tour guide up in Alaska. And I got physically sick every single day on that train before my 15-hour tour guiding sessions. You might say why were you a tour guide talking in front of people? I would say, there were other reasons.
Carolyn Daughters 37:33
You wanted to tackle it.
Sarah Harrison 37:35
Yeah. And so it seems to apply here. So I love talking to Carolyn. I love talking to listeners I can’t see. But honestly, when it comes to promoting the podcast I suck at it. I’m terrible. If my husband hasn’t told you that I do a podcast, you probably don’t know.
Carolyn Daughters 37:59
My friends know.
Sarah Harrison 38:03
They all know.
Carolyn Daughters 38:04
My friends, many of them also know Sarah. And Sarah is sometimes surprised when they mention our podcast when we’re at a party or something.
Sarah Harrison 38:16
Carolyn’s like, “listen to our podcast,” and I’m like “look how smooth she said that.” Look at her telling people to their face to listen to the words we say.
Carolyn Daughters 38:28
When you have a podcast, you might say to people, “Hey, I have this really cool podcast. And it’s a book club as well. We’re covering the best mysteries and detective stories ever written starting at the beginning in the 19th century with Edgar Allan Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins. It’s awesome. You should listen.”
Sarah Harrison 38:45
You might say that if you were in a good emotional place, I guess.
Carolyn Daughters 38:52
Or you might keep it secret from everyone you know.
Sarah Harrison 38:56
You might do that if you have a problem with people looking at you or hearing you talk, then you might do that one, too. So, that’s an option. So I’m gonna work on that and get a little more therapy, probably.
Carolyn Daughters 39:11
We’re gonna work on that in year two, because the more people who know about this amazing book club and podcast, the better.
Sarah Harrison 39:21
For sure. I don’t disagree at all. That’s not the issue. The way I thought about it was it’s okay to ask for a little indulgence. What I mean by that is I’m not just working all the time. My husband and I are great partners. We’re always focused on what’s the next thing we have to work on? We’re always house focused, child focused, mutual life together focused. So for me to say, “Can I go into a room by myself and do this other thing while you watch the kids” — it felt a little weird. But it’s been good. He’s been great. And he even listens to the podcast.
Carolyn Daughters 40:14
He does. And he has great questions about the podcast. He’s really engaged in this whole process.
Sarah Harrison 40:21
Yeah. So that’s been a cool aspect. And then finally, I was thinking about, even though I’m a lifetime lover of reading, I’ve been really surprised by my extreme ignorance in terms of like, literary things. All this is just really new ground for me. And, again, that’s why it’s nice to have a cohost who can kind of supplement those things.
How about you? What did you learn about yourself?
Carolyn Daughters 40:57
Oh, about hard work, mainly. It was nice to have a side project that I was into that wasn’t just trying to accomplish yet another professional goal. So maybe this is indirectly related to a professional goal. Like, I’ve wanted to do a podcast, and I love books. But, really, reading and talking about Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins is a labor of love for me. So I think that’s my main takeaway.
And really just embracing the mystery/detective story form. I really love mysteries. My whole life. As a child I read, like many of us, all the Nancy Drews all the Dana Girls, all the Hardy Boys. I read all the Agatha Christies. I mean, I would just plow through series after series. I couldn’t get enough. And then I’d finish a series and feel this loss, like a friend had just moved away or something like that. And I’ve always loved the mystery form. And I think for a long while, especially in graduate school and directly after, I wrote off the form to some degree as a sort of escapism, as if the act of reading a mystery made me lesser than or less. I don’t know. Less. I don’t know, less intelligent or less …
Sarah Harrison 42:31
Like they’re not serious.
Carolyn Daughters 42:33
It’s something you take to a beach, but I don’t go to too many beaches. I feel like denigrating the form is, was, problematic, and really diminishes great storytelling, and that desire to solve the mystery and figure out whodunit, I really enjoy that. Pushing that onto a backburner and making it seem lesser than, I don’t think that served me in any way. So I really feel like this podcast has helped me re-embrace a form that I’ve loved my entire life.
Sarah Harrison 43:17
Carolyn Daughters 43:21
So Sarah, we have a whole next year of books.
Sarah Harrison 43:25
I know. It’s incredible. Again, the amazing Carolyn has done some work to figure out sort of the story arc of our list. So this first year was this Victorian Edwardian era, where we covered Poe and Conan Doyle all the way to Baroness Orczy. What’s the next year?
Carolyn Daughters 43:44
We’re gonna get into the golden age of mysteries.
Carolyn Daughters 43:59
We’re going to start in 1911, one year after Lady Molly with The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton. That is our very first book coming up in 2023.
Carolyn Daughters 44:35
We’re going to run from 1911 through 1934. Again, chronologically, because we’re, together, all of us, you listener as well, we’re building this history, this chronology of the form and watching how one story helps to inform another and how authors are taking the depth and breadth of what has been done with the form and making it new with their own story with their own novel.
Sarah Harrison 45:03
I’m pretty excited just even saying “this is the golden age of mystery” gets me excited because I know it’s gonna be good.
Carolyn Daughters 45:10
Yeah, we’ve got we’ve got a couple Agatha Christie’s here. We have Dorothy Sayers. We have two Dashiell Hammetts. Ah, no, we’ve got two Dorothy Sayers. We’ve got some serious big guns here for mystery writing.
Sarah Harrison 45:27
Carolyn Daughters 45:28
I’m very excited. Check out the list on our website, teatonicandtoxin.com.
Carolyn Daughters 45:35
Start reading! The books to start with are The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, Trent’s Last Case by E. C. Bentley, and The 39 Steps by John Buchan. Those are the first three, then check out our list online. And I’ve noticed, I have some of the books here, several of them are quite slim novels. So they’re going to be packing some serious big stories in a fairly small space, which I think it’s going to be amazing.
Sarah Harrison 46:20
I like to get my old used copies off eBay, so I’ve got some sweet little old editions lately with really cool cover art.
Carolyn Daughters 46:30
Yeah. Better than your copy of Lady Molly.
Sarah Harrison 46:36
Oh my goodness, which is upside down and backwards, folks.
Carolyn Daughters 46:42
It’s the strangest book.
Sarah Harrison 46:44
It was really hard. I’m lucky I didn’t read the end at the beginning because it tried to trick me into doing that.
Carolyn Daughters 46:51
Yeah, one of the other copies of a book I’ve ever seen.
Sarah Harrison 46:56
If this this is on video, don’t ever buy this copy.
Carolyn Daughters 47:01
No, it’s not a good one. Well, Sarah, I have enjoyed this year.
Sarah Harrison 47:07
I have too, Carolyn.
Carolyn Daughters 47:08
Yes. Tea, Tonic and Toxin. I mean, what a fun concept, and we look forward to expanding our readership and our listenership in 2023. We’ll also see how Poe and Conan Doyle in particular influenced the writers whose books we’ll be reading.
Sarah Harrison 47:22
Yeah. And maybe even a guest ship.
Carolyn Daughters 47:25
I think we’re gonna have some guests on a few of our episodes.
Sarah Harrison 47:35
Yeah, we’re pretty excited. Get some extra ideas into the mix, some more people reading these awesome books. Take a look at the list. If you think there’s anything missing. If you strongly disagree or agree. Go ahead and comment.
Carolyn Daughters 47:51
And you know what happens when you comment?
Sarah Harrison 47:53
Stickers arrive in the mail. They rain down from heaven.
Carolyn Daughters 47:56
They are beautiful stickers. You put it on your cooler, on your water bottle, wherever you like. Plastered on the back of your car. You know, your brand new expensive car.
Sarah Harrison 48:05
Put it on your Tesla windshield.
Carolyn Daughters 48:07
On the windshield. That’s perfect. Well, listeners, thank you for listening to our podcast episode about Poe and Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins all all our 2022 authors. We really appreciate you.
Sarah Harrison 48:17
Yeah, thank you. Stay mysterious.
February 11, 2024
Barbara Nickless is a Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling crime novelist who joined Sarah and Carolyn in their makeshift studio for a heartfelt discussion about her writing and research process, her travels, and her latest book, Play of Shadows. Amazing woman, amazing writer. You’ll love her.Listen →
January 29, 2024
Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter Julie Rivett joins us on a second episode to discuss The Thin Man, Nick and Nora Charles, and all things Dashiell Hammett. Color us honored, which I envision as pleurigloss with a hint of alpha plaid. What a DELIGHTFUL conversation. Folks, you want to hear what Julie has to say. Trust me.Listen →
January 21, 2024
We could have interviewed Julie M. Rivett for days on end. She’s fascinating in her own right, and she shared AMAZING information about her grandfather, Dashiell Hammett. This one’s a must-listen, folks. Well, they’re all must-listens in our biased opinions, but this one belongs at the top of the must-listen list.Listen →