Doing the Write Thing: A.J. Low
Six years ago, a young boy was called to work the case when Auntie Kim Lian’s precious Peranakan cookbook disappears. Now, many adventures later, Sherlock Sam, his robot Watson and his friends (who make up the Supper Club) are back to solve another mystery.
Sherlock Sam and the Burgled Book in Kampong Glam is the 14th instalment in the series, and this time Sherlock Sam and his Supper Club must hunt down the culprits after a rare manuscript is stolen. The problem? Nazhar’s dad is the main suspect! Officer Siva tells the Supper Club they can’t investigate, but that’s never stopped Sherlock and his friends before. Will they be able to prove Nazhar’s dad’s innocence and catch the true crooks?
We're not telling, but we got the creators of Sherlock Sam, A.J. Low—aka the husband-and-wife writing team Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez—to spill the beans (or at least, we tried).
Why did you decide to take Sherlock Sam back to Singapore (and in Kampong Glam too) after his adventures in Seoul and London? We go where the mysteries are, guys. Haha! But seriously, we're always struggling to decide where to set a book because when we learn about something new and fun that interests us, we immediately want to write about it. This time we decided to set it in Singapore because something piqued our interest here! There's still tonnes to discover back home.
What was the inspiration behind this book? We led a bookstore tour during the 2016 Singapore Writers Festival, and one of the bookstores that we visited was Wardah Books at Bussorah Street. We got to know Mr Ibrahim, the owner of the store, and he was telling us about the neighbourhood's rich history, and we were really intrigued. We've been planning this story for over two years and couldn't wait to write it.
What was your biggest takeaway from writing this book or the series? When we first started writing for kids, we were told not to use difficult words and to use simple plots. However, the more stories we wrote, the more kids we met, we realised that there's absolutely no reason to condescend to children. They're intuitive, funny, and far more insightful than adults give them credit for. We've learnt a lot from kids writing for them, and that has made us very conscious of how important it is to do our best every single time.
What has your experience been like writing the Sherlock Sam series? It has been pretty amazing! When Epigram pitched the idea of a boy detective and his sister running around Singapore solving mysteries, we were really excited to sign on. However, when we started writing, we realised that we didn't just want a traditional Sherlock Holmes and Watson duo set-up, we wanted a goofy gang of kids who became lifelong friends and who complemented (and antagonised) each other.
So we added a grumpy robot and a Scooby Gang to the cast of characters, plus we've spun off into alternate realities where each character is a hero in their own story. One of the biggest challenges we're facing right now is how to outsmart our readers because, after 15 books, we're running out of plot twists!
So Sherlock Sam #15 currently in the works? What can readers look forward to? But ... we've just finished this one! 😫 Haha! We are planning the next book in the series. It's called Sherlock Sam and the Seafaring Scourge on Sentosa (if you want to find out why; you have to read Sherlock Sam and the Burgled Book in Kampong Glam). However, it won't be set entirely on Sentosa. We're planning to hire a guide and take a speed boat out to explore the neighbouring islands to do research. We're very excited. We're already planning what snacks to bring.