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(April 10, 2000)
Just as channel-surfing across the famous episode Cypher hooked Danae on the show, web-surfing across a Sentinel fan fiction website introduced her to the TS stories. A English and history teacher who teaches writing to high school kids, it wasn't long before this author began writing stories of her own. Danae is well-known for her drama pieces, including the popular Saviors Trilogy, a favorite among readers. Danae's Cascade Library listing currently includes 17 stories. Her stories are located at her website, Wesv's Cat House.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Danae!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a 34-year-old teacher from Georgia. I teach high school history and English to visually-impaired and blind children. I'm a published poet and a confirmed cat lover. I have five that are truly mine, and about 8 more that "allow" me to feed them! <g> I'm also an amateur actress from time to time and I sing for weddings and such whenever I have time.
What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
I enjoy performing. I even have a little monologue that I'm known for around here. It's actually one of my published works called Feminism: Southern Style. People call me "The Feminism Girl!" And I love to sing as well. I've been singing in some capacity since the age of about six. I also love to read, shop, explore, shop, travel, shop, cook, and did I mention shopping?
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
Quite by accident really. I was incredibly bored one evening and was flipping through the channels with the remote. Now, I didn't even know that UPN existed but as I passed by Channel 7, these big blue eyes caught my attention. Lo and behold, it was Cypher. I stopped to check out those eyes and stayed for the duration!
What is your favorite episode and why?
Blind Man's Bluff. I know you've heard that a hundred times but it is nevertheless. For me, it's the trust that shines through in that episode that makes it special. Here, Jim trusts Blair enough to get him through the case and Blair trusts Jim enough to relinguish control and that gun in the midst of what had to be a terrifying hallucination. We seem to lose that level of trust later, but then, at least for that episode, they were partners. Add to that the excellent performances and you have a great episode.
How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?
I found out that there was such a thing again by accident. I was actually searching the web for ideas to use with my creative writing class and had entered the word fiction for a search. One of the webapges I got from that search was a Sentinel fan fiction site. My first response was, "Cool! That's that show I like." My second was, "Oooo, people are writing stories here!" Then I read Counting in Fives by Shelly. I had to respond to that. I wrote her, we started corresponding and she challenged me to write a story. Two weeks later, I was done!
Specifically, what was your first story, when did you write it, and what was it like to post your first story?
That first story was Saviors. I wrote it sometime around the start of the second season I think. I had caught the some of first season in reruns at that point but that was all. It was scary to post that first story! Originally, I was only going to let Shelly read it. Then I got brave and sent it to Laura Picken. She beta-read it for me and then posted it for me.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
Saviors. I have a soft spot for that one. Or Brotherhood. That one teaches a lesson or two and as a teacher, I like to lecture sometimes!
Which story are you most proud of?
Brotherhood, I think. It was definitely the hardest one to write. That story was nearly two years in the making. It went through major revisions and make-overs and almost went into the trash but the subject was too important. Again, that's the teacher in me coming out. It was painful to write in some places but I stuck with it and finished it.
Which character do you most enjoy writing?
Simon, actually. I try to involve Simon as much as possible. He's a great character.
Which character is the easiest for you to write?
Blair. I can identify with Blair more so than with Jim.
Who is your least favorite?
Well, you don't see Cassie anywhere.... I won't write her. I had Jim talk to her on the phone once, I think but I only wrote his line! I don't tend to do well with Megan, though I don't dislike the character. She just doesn't seem to fit in my stories very well. I don't know why.
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoy writing drama and case stories. My own original stories tend toward drama.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
Well, Laura was my first beta reader. She encouraged me so much when I was a novice. Her support is the only reason my stories are out there at all. Shelly also edits for me. She won't let me say beta. She always sees my work before anybody else though. Again, she is supportive and she catches those little missing words! Missy and Beth Manz catch those annoying little plot holes. You know, the things that you just know because you're writing it and forget that the reader doesn't live inside your head? Susn is betaing my current story as it progresses. She really knows the subject matter that I'm working with for this story. Nickerbits is the comma queen! I personally hate the things and leave them out all the time! As you can see, I have lots of betas! I may have even forgot a few and if I did, I'm terribly sorry! I do appreciate them all!
The Saviors Trilogy involves Blair going undercover into a cult for a case and is a favorite series of many readers. What inspired this series? How did this series allow you to explore Jim and Blair's friendship?
The Saviors Trilogy was actually inspired by my own interest in religion and its effects on the believers. I've done research on the origins of various religions, the belief systems, etc. I had done a research paper in college on cults and had never really lost interest after the paper was done. I started working on a fiction story based on the research that I did but it never came together until I was challenged by Shelly to write a TS story. Wyn and Brendan went from primary characters to secondary characters and Blair went undercover. The rest is history. As for Jim and Blair and the relationship that is portrayed in the series, I used my research again. Families of cult members and cult survivors have all expressed guilt over not seeing the problem before it became a problem and anger over what they see as a betrayal of sorts as their loved one turned to the cult instead of them. I thought Jim could do anger and guilt really well. In the process, I saw an opportunity to get back that level of trust that existed in BMB and maybe even deepen it.
What inspired the Puzzle Pieces Duology?
Yet another of my little side research projects. I wanted to know more about Wicca and went digging. It became obvious very quickly how often Wiccans were blamed for things that were done by evil people and cults and that Wicca could not be more far removed from that evil if they tried. From there, I got the idea. But it didn't get written until a friend made an off-handed remark about puzzles that were missing pieces and how much it annoyed her not to be able to see the whole picture. She was talking about a real puzzle but I started writing...
By a Thread involves the return of a favorite villain, Lee Brackett. What prompted you to choose him for your story?
I simply thought that no one is all bad. Lee Brackett had to be human somewhere down deep. So I started to explore his human side. I decided that he had a mother that loved him and that he had girlfriends in school and that maybe he got married. Lucy became the symbol of Lee's humanity and the story grew from there.
Deja Vu deals with a woman who is obsessed with Blair. Did you find this story easy to write?
Not really. It was a difficult story. First, there was the issue of obsession and stalking then there were the hospital scenes. I cried through some of those. It's the one story that I've written that I've never gone back and read again after it's posted. I have this habit of reading each story after it's posted to see if I can look at it objectively and evaluate it. But I've never read this one again.
Do What You Have To Do and Too Long, Too Far From Home are two pieces which deal with Jim and Blair still trying to recover from the drowning in Sentinel Too. Was it difficult to write the angst involved between them?
Nothing like Deja Vu, but yes. I felt that none of the issues of Sentinel Too had been addressed, however. I needed to clear the air even if PF did not.
How do you deal with writer's block?
Cry.... no, really... I read or I start something new. Usually my writer's block tends to be story related. Brotherhood for example. I was stuck in the same place for forever but I finished and posted Soul Shadows, and The Agency, plus worked on a few original things while it sat. Eventually, I work it out and find the transition I was looking for and go on.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Detail. I leave out little details that need to be there for the readers. I know all about those little details but I don't write them sometimes. Thinking that the reader is a mind reader... that's my biggest fault.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
The process I think. Starting with just one little idea, scene, or sometimes just a title, and building a story around it, developing the characters, moving them through the story to its inevitable end. That is really cool when you think about it.
What are your feelings on story feedback?
Feedback is great. I like to know that I'm not just amusing myself here. I love getting it, especially when the writer points out particular things that worked or did not work for her. I'm not spun glass. I can take constructive criticism. I may even act on it. On the other hand, I think that someone who writes to a writer for the sole purpose of being mean and hateful is a sad and lonely individual who needs to put down others in order to feel better about themselves. I've not been flamed... yet. <finding some wood to knock on> But I have known others that were. Bless their hearts, it can't be a nice feeling. I live by my mother's words, "If you can't say something nice, keep your damn mouth shut because you aren't worth hearing anyway." Can I say that here??
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
Get good beta readers! That above all else. Nobody is perfect. Everybody could benefit from a second or even third opinion. And for heavens sake, really listen to them! You may not agree with everything they say but hear them out before rolling your eyes and doing what you please anyway. I have disagreed with my betas before but I listened and considered everything they said before I rolled my eyes and did what I pleased anyway! <g> Seriously, there have been many things that they have been right about and my writing is better because I listened.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?
It was either River's Edge by Lois Balzer or Deliver Us by Ysone. Both fantastic pieces! I have read both again many times since!
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever wrote?
Actually, it was a Miami Vice piece before I even knew that fan fiction existed. I was challenged during that last miserable season of MV by my best fried because as we were watching a really bad episode, I commented that I could do better than that. She said, "prove it." It will NEVER see the light of day! Think I purposefully lost it... although my friend liked it.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
As I like writing drama and case stories, I like reading them as well.
What is it about The Sentinel that inspires you to write?
I think Pet Fly gave us a great framework of characters of which to work then left them hollow for us to fill in. I like filling them in. Coloring outside the lines is fun sometimes too.
What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses as a series?
The friendship that we witnessed growing between very diverse men in the first two seasons and the first half of the third was its greatest strength. As for a weakness, the vision of the show seemed to lost somewhere in the third season as they tried to please TPTB, I think. Once the vision became blurred and distorted, the show lost the edge that it had over some many other carbon copy cop/superman shows. And no, I wasn't intending a pun with the blurred vision thing. It just happened. Sorry.
Do you find yourself identifying more with Jim or Blair?
Blair. Bit of an odd one myself.
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
I'd like to be able to repair the damage that the fourth season, particularly TSbyBS, did to both the guys' friendship and Blair's reputation.
What three specific things would you like to see on The Sentinel that we haven't seen yet? How about general changes?
A return to the original focus of the series. A real female character that is not in competition for the guys or with the guys. That's my one complaint about Megan. She wanted to compete with Jim for baddest cop on the block in the beginning. Not so much toward the end. An exploration of Blair's role and Blair's abilities.
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Probably Saviors. I still get comments on it.
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
I'm working on a story that will address all that stuff I didn't like about the fourth season. It's called Wages of Sin. In my world, however, things do get worse before they get better. It appears to be turning into an epic so it may be awhile before it sees the light of a webpage. We'll see. And I'm trying to work on Mercenary which is the working title for my original story which involves Pete and Jesse from The Agency. People have asked me about that story and I really need to get it out there. It's undergoing revisions.
Last updated 4/10/00 clc