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(May 10, 1999)

It's hard to believe this talented author didn't get hooked on The Sentinel until the third season finale, Sentinel Too, part 1! However, the cliffhanger was all it took to get DawnC into the Sentinel fandom and its fan fiction. Readers visiting Dawn's Sentinel website, aptly called Blair "Angst" Fiction Page, must check her page often to catch all the new stories posted by this fairly new but prolific author. Dawn's stories reflect her background as a law student, her interest in American Pit Bull Terriers, and of course, her love of Blair angst. Notably, her Constitution Series focuses on Sentinel stories involving the law.

DawnC's Cascade Library story listing currently contains over 30 stories. Thanks for taking a study break to chat with us ~grin~, Dawn!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I'm a law student, so that takes up a lot of my time, but I also try to keep up on the scientific journals (my M.S. is in Medical Biochemistry and Genetics). I started a Science and Law Society at the school to help me keep one foot in each discipline *grin* In between all that, I do work with American Pit Bull Terriers: dog training, rescue work, and education/community work.

How did you become a Sentinel fan?

Well, I'd seen a couple of half-episodes during the first three seasons, but, in my usual form, I was procrastinating during finals one day and caught Sentinel Too, the third season finale. That one got me! At first I didn't think much about the "devastating" ending because it's a cliffhanger and that's the kind of thing writers do ;-) However, I started searching the net to get some more info on the show (since I wasn't too familiar with the whole premise) and that's when I found out it had been cancelled. I think I literally screamed, "NO!" The rest, they say, is history. ;o)

What is your favorite episode and why?

Oooh. Tough Question. I guess I'd have to go with Blind Man's Bluff or Sentinel Too, Part 1. Blind Man's Bluff because of the Golden scene with Blair in the garage, and Sentinel Too because the whole episode is just rivetting, but the fountains scene clinched me!

How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?

This is too funny, actually! I'd always been very ANTI-fanfiction. I stayed away from it like the plague. If I like a show, I really get picky about the characters, and fanfic writers tend to mess up the characters (in my opinion, which has been known to be wrong on occasion!) *grin* I didn't write fanfiction, and I didn't read fanfiction. However I didn't know much about the Sentinel or its characters, so I started to read the fanfiction to get more of a flavor for the show, and since I had no idea if what I was reading was in character or out of character, I wasn't bothered by anything. In fact, I absolutely LOVED the stories! I was enjoying the fiction as though it was original work. I was also highly impressed by the overall quality of the fanfiction in the Sentinel world, and that drew me in as well.

At the time, I had just gotten my masters and I was trying to re-write a novel I'd finished years ago, but after two years of strict science, I found I needed to brush up on my writing, so I used my writing fanfiction as an excuse to get me back in literary shape! :-) Unfortunately, I got addicted and haven't STOPPED!

What was it like to post your first story?

Um, I'm almost tempted to take the Fifth on this one *grin*. After I got my Master's, I had a summer free with nothing to do. My stipend with the university had ended, and I needed money before the big move back to California, so I did some temp work. I got placed in a clerical position which found me sitting at a desk most of the time. One day, I had finished just about all the work I could think of, so I started fiddling around on the computer (yep! I was writing fanfiction on company time! Shhh!) An X-Files-Sentinel crossover kept nagging at me (ironic b/c out of all fanfiction I tended to roll my eyes at crossovers the most!). Anyway, the first paragraph just "came to me" and, the next thing I knew, the story was finished.

As for what it was like posting, it was great to get feedback, but I really didn't think much about it after that. I figured "okay, I've gotten back in the swing of writing now" and pretty much decided that was the end of my fanfiction efforts. Obviously, that *wasn't* the end of my fanfiction writing. All I can say is that the "characters called to me." ;-)

If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?

Inside and Out! That started with my brother and I having a conversation about the prison system (punishment vs. rehabilitation). I sat down at my computer and started a story where Blair, a character who represents the ultimate "good" in my book, would be sent to a maximum security prison, a world where "survival of the fittest" rules.

Which story are you most proud of?

Inside and Out, as I said above. I'm proud of others, like Cherry Bombs and Heart of a Warrior, but Inside and Out really grabbed me. For the few weeks I was working on it, it practically consumed me. I remember one time having lunch with my sister and I told her, "okay, let's go, I've got to get Blair out of prison." *grin* She just threw me a real odd look and mumbled something underneath her breath. I think she was planning an intervention, at that point. LOL!

Which character do you most enjoy writing?

Blair, of course (hence, the title of my web page)! He's an academic, curious and good-natured. Having spent most of my life in the academic world, I can relate to him more. I've also always had a soft-spot for "sidekicks".

What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

Drama and Angst. My novel was pretty dark in some parts, and that's just the kind of fiction I enjoy writing.

Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?

Hephaistos is my "official" beta-reader, and she's fantastic! I cannot say enough good things about her. She's funny, straight-forward, and prompt! She always makes me laugh with her "editorial" comments on my stories, and she "tells it like it is." She's also extremely supportive and encouraging, and puts up with all the questions I send her. She never complains, even though I know she's extremely busy and has a real life. I was lucky to have found her. :-)

You're well-known for your stories involving angst for Blair. Why do you enjoy writing Blair angst so much?

I don't know exactly. Those kind of stories just grab me. When I first started reading fanfiction, I found myself skimming ahead to see what kind of a role Blair had. If there was no Blair Angst, much of the time I just passed right on by. I guess it's because Blair is the kind of character that endears himself to one's heart, and, as such, I just can't help writing about him.

You've written several creative and unique crossovers with other TV shows, including X-Files, Star Trek: The Original Series, Xena and Hercules, and The Pretender. What inspired you to write those stories, and what did you like most about them?

Like I said above, before I got into fanfiction, I stayed away from fanfiction, and particularly dreaded crossovers. I've changed, obviously. I can't say what inspired me to write them. How does one really explain inspiration, anyway? *grin* Usually, I'm doing something else and a thought occurs to me. I file it away, but it starts to grow, and then I find myself sitting in front of the computer.

The X-Files crossover was my first, and I resisted that one because I was a real X-Files fan and didn't want to mess up Mulder and Scully. However, I think I got them both right, and I enjoyed writing it (especially Mulder's wise-cracks). As for Star Trek, I've always been a huge fan of the original Star Trek, and I found myself wondering one day how Ellison and Kirk would interact, and what Spock and Blair would think of one another. My main concern when I started it was that I didn't want it to be "cheesy", but I think it turned out pretty good, actually :-)

Don't even ask me about Hercules and Xena. I don't know what possessed me as I'm only a casual viewer of those shows. *grin* Actually, I do know what possessed me: Iolaus' death! I always liked Iolaus (sidekick affliction) and I was not happy when the writers killed him off. Someone on one of the listgroups asked people to write crossovers with TS for shows that have thus far been overlooked. So I figured it was the perfect time to grab a few Xena/Herc fans and I set out to write the impossible: a *serious* Xena-Herc crossover!

How does your study of law affect your writing (for example, your "Constitution Series")?

Well, I've always been a "prosecutor" at heart, even thinking about going into crim law at one point. My Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure professor is/was a defense attorney, very liberal. She's extremely engaging in class, and makes biting editorial comments on the criminal justice system. I don't always agree with her views, though, but I love having her as a professor!

While reading case books and listening to her talk, I found myself really raising my eyebrows at some judicial decisions. I started Rule of Law one day when reading my Crim Law book, and thought, "I need a break. I know! I can write fanfiction AND study at the same time!" *grin* So I wrote a story based on the case I had just read. When I found other "legal issues" nagging at me, I kept writing them down. Hephaistos liked the concept and suggested that I turn them into a series: The Constitution Series. Of course, she's brilliant, so how could I argue with her? LOL!

As a busy law student, do you find it difficult to find time to write?

Yes and no. Even now I should be reading for my Crim Pro class which starts in a couple of hours. *grin* I'm a master procrastinator, but I always get my work done and I manage to do well in my classes. My theory is that, by allowing myself these creative excursions, I reduce stress and keep my brain cells flexible. :-)

One of your stories involves Jim and Blair defending a pit bull. Tell us about that and your interest in pit bulls.

Oh glad you asked!!! :-) I LOVE the breed. My parents raised show champion Pit Bulls, and I grew up around them. I never developed the stereotypical image of them as "killer dogs". Pit Bulls are absolutely amazing animals! They require responsible, loving owners, however. I have one of my own, and he's placed in shows and gotten a few obedience certificates.

Unfortunately, American Pit Bull Terriers are under fire. Some communities have outrighted banned them. I finished a book on the breed, and am working on getting it published. I do a lot of work with them, including rescue and education work. I've used the dogs for animal-assisted therapy and I've taken them to local elementary schools to give presentations. I've given radio, television, and newspaper interviews, and, in general, devote a lot of my time to helping the breed and combatting breed-discrimination.

How do you deal with writer's block?

I don't. If I don't have a story nagging at me, I just do other things -- like law school and Pit Bull work. I havee more than enough to keep me busy. I've had a few snags in stories, and I try to just put the story aside until inspiration strikes. I look at FanFiction as something that I do for fun, not a job, so I don't "force it".

Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?

Have fun! Write what you'd like to read, but try to stay true to the characters. Oh, and write more Cypher and BMB missing scenes, because I want to read some new ones! *grin*

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Re-reading and finding typos *grin* They get by all writers -- Heck, I make corrections that Hephaistos give me, and often end up making a TYPO during the correction *grin* But I don't have the time to make a story absolutely, 100% perfect, else I'd fail in my law classes. So I just have to turn away from the story and say, "That's good enough and if a typo bothers someone, then they can go read something else." *grin*

What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?

Writing a good story. Getting feedback. I've had some wonderful feedback from readers, and that's what keeps me writing. If I know people appreciate the stories and I've given them something fun to do, then I've done my job and I'm happy!

What was the first piece of Sentinel fan fiction you ever read?

I can't remember for sure, but I think it was Danae's Savior's Trilogy.

Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?

Need you ask? Angsty ones that are heavy on Blair angst, owies, or h/c *grin* Hey, I'm not ashamed to admit it! I'm a Blair-Angst junkie. It's kind of like when people indulge in Harlequin romances but they'll never admit it! LOL! Only I admit my addiction. :-)

Who is your favorite Sentinel character to write? Who is your least favorite?

Blair is my favorite to write, but I really like writing Blair and Jim together. My least favorite is probably Cassie. :-)

What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths, and greatest weaknesses, as a series?

It's greatest strength is the characters. Unfortunately, the show falls flat much of the time. The reason I never got into the show before when I'd caught a few episodes was it was very much a "cop" show, and a lot of their "extras" tended to be awful actors. The writers would touch on character issues, but they'd never go really in-depth. I remember the first time I saw Blind Man's Bluff, I was rivetted by the garage scene. Then the writers just kind of "threw together" the ending and left out a very important scene: Blair's recovery. It was a long time after that til I tuned into the show again.

Do you find yourself identifying more with Jim or Blair?

Blair! He's an academic, curious and intelligent, with a good heart. What's not to like about him? :o)

If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?

I think I'd like to write something that highlights the sacrifices Blair has made for Jim. I'd also like to find out more about the "father" issue, since we know that Blair has no idea who his father is.

You've written quite a few missing scenes for different episodes. Which one is your favorite and why?

Hmmm. I guess The Dentist's Chair. I always wondered how Blair would react to the dentist after his experience with Lash. Personally, I find the dentist's office creepy enough all on my own! *grin*

Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?

No! *grin* Oh, all right! I've got an idea for another addition to the Constitution Series, and I also started a sequel to On the Edge of Forever which is currently on the back-burner. I'm also thinking of doing a Cypher Missing Scene, but all that will have to wait till after finals. *grin*

Thanks Dawn!

Last updated 5/10/99 clc