Profile: AJ low

Published on 21 June 2016

Writing under the pen name ‘AJ Low’, the duo behind the Sherlock Sam series of children’s books unveil the secrets to their partnership.

BY PAMELA HO

They met at a dinner party. “I had been living in Singapore for over six months and was deciding if I should stay or move back to the States. Then I met this girl with crazy hair and glasses, who talked to me for 20 minutes about comics. I decided then and there I’d stick it out in Singapore,” says Adan Jimenez, a Mexican-American writer/editor who now lives in Singapore.

The girl with the crazy hair — whom he eventually married — is Felicia Low-Jimenez, a self-confessed geeky bookseller, who is also division manager for merchandising at Books Kinokuniya in Singapore. Together, they are ‘AJ Low’, the writing team behind the Sherlock Sam series of children’s books, which revolves around a 10 year-old boy who solves adult-baffling mysteries with the help of his grumpy robot sidekick Watson and his friends, The Supper Club.

Based in Singapore, the mystery adventures take the little detectives from Katong to Fort Canning, Bras Basah to Pulau Ubin. “We do a lot of research. This usually means going on heritage trails, tracing routes we want the characters to take, and serendipitously coming across awesome things we didn’t know existed,” shares Jimenez. “Our favourite part of the process is just throwing ideas at each other and making each other laugh, and then yelling that somebody should write that down.”

Adds Low-Jimenez, “We wanted to tell stories that Singaporean children could envision themselves in. We wanted them to aspire to be heroes!”

Published by Epigram Books, Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong won the International Schools Libraries Network’s Red Dot Award 2013-2014 in the Younger Readers’ Category, while Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning took third place in the Popular Readers’ Choice Awards 2013 in the English Children’s Books category. Some books have also been translated into Turkish and Bahasa Indonesia.

The 10th installment, Sherlock Sam and the Comic Book Caper in New York, was released in May and sees The Supper Club attending the San Diego Comic-Con and solving a mystery that takes them to the Big Apple. Incidentally, the authors are also making in-roads into the United States. Andrews McMeel Publishing — which publishes Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larson’s The Far Side — has bought the North American rights to this series. Books 1 and 2 will be out in August, with Book 3 following in 2017.

As to where they hope to see the series going, Jimenez says, “I hope there will one day be a Sherlock Sam animated series, movies, Sherlock Sam toys, comic books and theme parks. Basically,
I want a Sherlock Sam empire.”

Low-Jimenez chips in, “And a Sherlock Sam Lego series — with Lego video games!”

The Sherlock Sam series is available at all major bookstores. Find out more at www.sherlocksam.wordpress.com.

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