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Elementary, My Dear Enola

Featured Photo from Elementary, My Dear Enola

An Oviedo author’s unique take on the world of Sherlock Holmes is now a hit movie on Netflix

Nancy Springer’s imagination is a good one.

The Oviedo resident has published more than 40 books, many of which are in the fantasy genre, but not even Nancy could have imagined that her most popular series of stories would eventually become a Netflix movie.

Nancy began writing The Enola Holmes Mysteries series back in 2006. The six-book, young-adult series centers around Enola, the mystery-solving younger sister of classic detective Sherlock Holmes. The books reimagine Sherlock’s late-19th-century England and its many mysteries from a clever young woman’s perspective.

The books were quite popular, and among their fans was young actress Millie Bobby Brown, best known for her role in the hit Netflix original drama Stranger Things.

“Her father called my literary agent to discuss it as a film project,” says Nancy. “Millie had already been in Stranger Things, so that gave her the clout.”

What followed was a whirlwind adventure that brought the books to life, but not quite in the way everyone expected.
Millie stars as Enola and actually serves as the film’s producer, and it was originally planned as a theatrical release in 2020 by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Then, COVID-19 hit.

Rather than heading out to the movies, cinemagoers were quarantined. Nancy had to be patient and see how things would get sorted out. Production of many movies was scrapped altogether, but Netflix picked up the distribution rights for Enola Holmes and debuted the movie via its streaming service on September 23, 2020. Nancy was grateful and thrilled.

“If there is anything that can brighten up your day,” she says, “it’s having your own movie.”

While the film was in production, long before the coronavirus reared its ugly head, Nancy was even able to visit Millie and the Enola Holmes cast – including Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter – on set in England.

“It was not in my contract,” Nancy recalls, “but my agent said, ‘Nancy really should meet her.’ We stayed in a five-star hotel, and I got to give Millie a big hug.”

It was a summertime 2019 shoot in England with temperatures in the 90s, which made for some uncomfortable filming for the actors in Victorian-era costumes. Florida resident Nancy, though, felt quite at home.

Her Chosen Home

New Jersey native Nancy and her husband moved to Oviedo in 2019. Having also lived in Pennsylvania, Nancy made the Florida Panhandle her home starting in 2007, writing books all the while.

“With my career, I am portable,” she says.

The Panhandle offered beauty and wildlife, but Nancy chose Oviedo as her home to have more social interaction, she says, portraying it as a community with a lot to offer.

“I am all about wild places,” says Nancy. “But I do need human beings. I wanted to be able to paint pottery and go line dancing and interact with other people. I like having   neighbors around.”

Pre-COVID, Nancy was active in a local Scrabble Club and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as Writers of Central Florida or Thereabouts (WOCFOT).

“We’d meet up for lunch and that kind of thing,” Nancy says, with Oviedo and the surrounding area bringing her exactly the social involvement she had been seeking – and that she looks forward to restarting again.

An Evolving Story
Just as Nancy was settling here in Oviedo, the story of Enola Holmes was making its transition from the page to the screen. Nancy has learned much about the movie-making process as a result. It is not simply a matter of telling her story in a   different form.

“The film gathers its own momentum,” she says. “I didn’t realize how much of an organic type of process it was, how much it would grow. I saw all the scripts and was amazed how much was changed from beginning to end.”

Each change, Nancy remembers, had to be communicated to some 200 team members of the cast and crew.

Though in the books Enola is a tomboy, she does not practice the martial arts discipline of jiujitsu as she does in the movie. That is likely the biggest change from her original story, says Nancy, and it was done to make the movie more epic and the character more revolutionary.

Settled in a new town with a big movie deal under her belt, it might feel like the perfect time for an author in her 70s to retire, but Nancy has no such plans. There are two more Enola books on the way.

“I was bored stiff,” says Nancy, “until my agent said, ‘Just write!’”

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