Author/costumer Jan Walker knew that she had "arrived" the day her son's teacher invited her to speak to the honors English class - and the youth wasn't embarrassed.

Her respect quotient went up "considerably," she said, when a publisher in England turned her Sherlock Holmes tale, "The Singular Case of the Duplicate Holmes," into a tidy, orange-covered book."I wrote a book - and it got published," she said in wonder.

It's proof that life is full of surprises. Walker, a Bountiful resident who designs theatrical costumes and tries to keep up with four bright, active kids - ages 10 to 18 - didn't particularly like Sherlock Holmes when she was younger. And her life was much too busy to think about writing a book - even if she were so inclined.

But Walker's husband, Steve, was out of town for several months on business. She killed the time between putting the children to bed and going herself with the "Mystery!" series on PBS.

The woman who had never liked Sherlock Holmes particularly found herself hooked on the character in the series.

She wanted more. And at the library she was stunned to discover that many Sherlock Holmes books were not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Lots of other people had gotten into the act.

"Some were great, some were awful. I would read and say, `I can write a better book than this.' "

She decided to take her own challenge, although "I did think I'd get to page four and that would be the end of this."

Instead, she got hooked on the process. When she ran into roadblocks, she'd do more research and plow on. She loved learning about the Holmes era in England. Pretty soon, she could differentiate between old horse-drawn carriage styles. She knew about pipes and hats and had become a bit of a minutiae expert, she said with a laugh.

And the whole process fit in with her career, which is costume design.

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What started as a lark has become "The Singular Case of the Duplicate Holmes," published in England by Ian Henry Publishing, which markets mostly throughout Europe. Because the publisher usually has his entire line translated, Walker expects to see the book in French, Italian and German someday.

Right now, just seeing the book at all is a thrill, she said.

"This is all frosting. Good things don't happen to me real often. Everything associated with the book is a good thing. It was sure wonderful therapy for me when I was alone with a house full of kids to take care of month after month."

"The Singular Case of the Duplicate Holmes" is not as readily available in the United States, and it's costly because the dollar doesn't do so well against the pound, Walker said. But the publisher is negotiating paperback rights, which could change all that.

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