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Although many of her stories focus on Blair Sandburg's character, Blair Kennedy started watching The Sentinel because she was already a fan of Richard Burgi. She has been watching the show from its beginning and has progressed from case-based stories to writing crossover series with two anime shows which involve all the main TS characters. She has also written an epilogue series to the 3rd season cliffhanger, Sentinel Too, a crossover with Touched By an Angel. Blair Kennedy's Cascade Library story listing currently includes 23 stories. Her stories are located at her webpage, Blair's Sentinel Shaque du Amour.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Blair!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I'll start with the newest thing first -- I got married. So, now, I'm Blair Kennedy-Sheffield. As for the rest, let's see, what would you like to know? I own my own business which takes up way too much of my time. Then there is the family business which takes up what time my own business doesn't and my new life as Mrs. Sheffield. I've moved from Debutante to Socialite with relative ease; however, I still refuse to wear those stupid gloves.
What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
I like to go out with my husband and friends to dinner, movies, clubs and concerts. Also, I constantly remodel my house.
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
I've told this story before but here goes... I used to watch soap operas all the time and when I first saw RB I was smitten. So, even after his stint as Phillip Collier was over, he was always in the back of my mind. Anyway, one of the soap weeklies always gives a list of former soap actors appearances. One of them read "Richard Burgi (ex-Phillip, Days) stars in The Sentinel on UPN. Check your local listings." I did and the rest is history.
What is your favorite episode and why?
I have several faves: The Pilot, Cypher, True Crime, Spare Parts, Sweet Science, Foreign Exchange and, most recently, The Real Deal. I guess my fave is The Real Deal because of the whole '70s retro motif and just how well it worked on its different levels.
How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?
I had been reading the fanfic on the net and on Senfic and just thought I'd like to try it.
Specifically, what was your first story, when did you write it, and what was it like to post your first story?
My first story was Mad As An Old Wet Hen. I wrote it sometime ago. As for what it was like to post, well shamed out comes to mind. I had been tinkering with the story for a while and my brother who thought he was doing a nice thing sent it off to the list. The only problem was it wasn't finished and not ready to be sent. Still, the people on the list were totally nice about the whole thing and told me not to feel like a defective.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
Well, my stories aren't the sort of thing of which episodes of made. Still, I wouldn't mind a few frames of Southern Cross.
Which story are you most proud of?
Southern Cross and Human Decision Required.
Which character do you most enjoy writing? Which character is the easiest for you to write? Who is your least favorite?
I enjoy both characters though my stories do tend to seem more Blaircentric. That's not because I like Blair more, though. Still, he's an interesting character who can hold his own against a powerhouse character like Jim. He does this without the benefit of any enhanced abilities. He's also just plain fun. However, it is a fine line between writing The Sentinel and The Blair Sandburg Show. That's a line of which I need to remain aware--not that Blair spotlights are a bad thing. Who do I enjoy the least? Possibly Simon which is why he usually gets relegated to the supporting cast, despite being a cornerstone of the series.
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
I guess it would be crossovers like Southern Cross and Sentinel 1999.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
Most recently, Mary Shukes who was an absolute dream. I sent her the hook to a new story I've been working on and had her check it for everything. She went over the segment with a great attention to detail. Obviously, I appreciate the time and attention she paid to the segment.
You wrote a series of stories as an epilogue to Sentinel Too. What inspired these stories? Did they reflect how you felt about the cliffhanger?
I'm not sure about the genesis of those stories. The Touched By an Angel angle was a means to an end and I was watching the series at the time. They really didn't reflect any overt feelings about the cliffhanger save for the need for resolution. That "to be continued..." tag and the show's cancellation left a lot to resolve.
The Sailor Moon and Southern Cross series are crossovers with anime shows. Do you have a special interest in anime?
Yes, I've enjoyed anime for a long time. Specifically, Superdimensional Cavalry Southern Cross which became the Robotech Masters segment of Robotech. I like anime because it is edgier than anything offered up here in the states. As for the two genres meshing, they can. The SM series was just for fun and most readers got the joke. In fact I got suggestions to turn Jim into Sailor Pluto! Still, some people were a little disturbed when I sent Simon on a date with Luna. I think the Cascade gang works well in the SC universe more easily since no one is switching genders or going out with animals, though.
Quite a number of your stories are set in the future. What are the challenges and rewards of doing this?
The setting of the story is just one more facet to explore. How would these same characters react in different settings other than Cascade? For me, that meant setting them adrift on the moon and engaged in war on the planet Glory. The challenge is putting them in a situation that works with the series mythos. The reward is knowing the idea worked. Human Decision Required was particularly rewarding on the basis of just one LoC. While I had the usual "I like this" LoC's and many talking about the nostalgic feelings about Space: 1999, there was that one that stood out because a scene actually spoke to a reader. I can't tell you how reading that LoC made me feel. When I read it I just had to sit back and think, wow, *I* wrote something with which this person could identify. That was just really something.
How do you deal with writer's block?
I don't deal with it. When it comes it comes. When it goes it goes. When nothing is coming to me, I don't push it or try too hard to write something. Mostly, I think, because I don't have the time I used to have but also because writing should be something to enjoy. If you're killing yourself trying to churn something out, what's the point? You get crabby and your readers get a story that is less than your best effort.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Ideas, definitely. I don't want to write the same thing everyone else does. Well, now anyway. I used to which is why my earlier stuff is more fanlike.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
The whole process from getting an idea to doing the outline to writing the scenes, to putting the scenes in order to planting the seeds for the next story to finally seeing the finished product. Really, from the smallest story to largest there is this great feeling of pleasure, not to mention accomplishment, from just doing it and seeing it done. You can sit back and think "I did that." Then, for good or ill, you get to see what everyone else thinks about your story.
What are your feelings on story feedback?
I think it is great and, to a degree, necessary. For myself, I know there are people who like my stories and I know there are people who don't. That's important especially for my regular readers. They let me know what works and what doesn't so the next time I write a story I know who I'm writing for and what they expect. In school, the profs were always telling us to know our audience and make sure we were writing for them. That is so true. Besides, I love reading the feedback because I know if "A" liked a story, "X" won't and so on and so forth. Also I know I can count on "Y" to tell me that Jim would do that and "B" to tell me Blair wouldn't do that "S" to tell me *no one* would do that. What's more, the feedback is so immediate which is great particularly if you've done something really heinous. For instance, I one time posted a story to my webpage that was totally unreadable and almost as soon as I posted it someone wrote to tell me it was a big old mess. Fortunately, I was able to get the mess cleaned up before too many other people were assaulted by it. By the way, I hate Lotus.
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
Only the most obvious: write what you know and know your audience.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?
This is an old story, too. The first piece of fan fiction I read was also Sentinel fan fiction. I was an internet newbie and was just browsing one day when I decided to do a search on movies like Friday the 13th. In the search box I typed in "slasher movies" and one of the results it returned was an explanation about slash fan fiction. I read it, was intrigued and began followed the links to a Sentinel story. I was intriqued so I continued to follow links which eventually led me to Wolfpup's Den, Lois Balzer's page and finally Guide Posts.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
I generally like all TS stories though I am less fond of smarm, Baby Blairs and Mary Sues.
What is it about The Sentinel inspires you to write?
It's the opportunity to play around with characters who fascinate me. Besides, through fanfic, so many more issues can be explored in greater detail than the restrictions of a television series allow.
What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths, and greatest weaknesses, as a series?
The friendship angle is one of its strengths simply because it seems more in vogue these days for people who are friends to be decidedly unpleasant toward each other. I would hate to have that Seinfield gang for friends. What's the old line? With friends like these, who needs enemies? True, Jim and Blair have had their moments when friendship seemed like the last thing on their minds as in Sentinel Too. However, there is the sense these characters genuinely care for each other. I think this is expressed nicely in Sweet Science when Jim has fallen asleep on the sofa waiting for Blair to return. Another strength is The Sentinel's sense of fun and willingness to not take itself so seriously. As for its weaknesses, inconsistent writing and unfortunate casting choices are at the top of my list.
Do you find yourself identifying more with Jim or Blair?
I identify more with Megan--got to love that pink dingo!
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
It would probably be a spotlight on the B cast and how they had to save Jim, Blair and Simon because they were incapacitated by the villian du jour. The A storyline would be the B group's race against the clock to save the guys and focus not only how they would save them, but how they worked together to do it. The B storyline would be Jim, Blair and Simon talking to each other about how their lives have changed for better or worse since they all met and ended up working together and the realisation of what they three of them really mean to each other. This would be the sort of realisations that come with facing the end with the people you find you truly care about.
What three specific things would you like to see on The Sentinel that we haven't seen yet? How about general changes?
More Simon, another spotlight on the B Cast like in Night Shift and a recurring villian, possibly even another sentinel. In fact, possibly, the return of Alex. Generally, just a little more consistency with things like the Cascade PD building! Though, I understand the original building used for the exterior was destroyed.
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Probably Sailor Moon. Those stories will haunt me the rest of my days.
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
I'm still working on the denoument to Southern Cross and another Sentinel 1999 story.
Last updated 12/13/99 clc