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(June 9, 2009)
Fans of TS canon-oriented fiction owe a great deal to Dawn C's prolific writing accomplishments and her formation of a Yahoo group (Sentinel Angst or 'SA list'), specifically designed to cultivate new writing talent. This is the tenth anniversary of her first author interview at the Cascade Library so it seems fitting to do a follow-up to see what the past decade has wrought on personal and professional levels. You may want to read that interview before this update.
When we last checked in with her, Dawn was a law student and her favorite show, The Sentinel, had just been canceled. Her many popular stories continue to be regarded as part of the 'gold standard' in canon-oriented TS fiction and can be found here. (archivist's note: author email found at author's page.)
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us a bit about your present day life and continued involvement with a fandom you helped to develop. It's been ten years and you are now a practicing lawyer with some heavy commitments to particular charitable causes. Yet, after all this time, you remain connected with the TS community.
Please tell us about your Yahoo Group called 'Sentinel Angst' begun on June 24, 1999. The list is quite well known for its requirement that each member engage in some creative endeavor relating to the fandom several times per year. What were your purposes in forming the group and how has it served its members over the past decade?
I created SentinelAngst (SA) to provide a steady stream of gen h/c or angst fanfiction. By requiring people to submit at least short fanfictions, SentinelAngst ensures that Sentinel fanfiction continues. SA has proven to be a prolific repository for gen fanfiction, and has helped ensure that all members have regular access to general Sentinel fanfiction.
Your stories appear to do more than just entertain; they also encourage readers to place their involvement with their favorite characters within a framework of real world concerns. Your "Constitution Series" highlighted legal issues of import, and "Law of Friendship" looked at the medical marijuana controversy. Do you encourage the use of fan fiction as a vehicle to get people to read, research and write about real life issues?
I see writing in general as a means to express ideas or concerns about real life issues. Some of the best stories are those that highlight societal issues without being "preachy". They encourage genuine thoughtfulness in the reader about serious issues and promote dialogue about the "what ifs" scenarios that can help members of society form educated ideas about issues that affect them and those around them.
Your love affair with writing from the perspective of a certain anthropologist is well documented! After years of reading and writing TS fiction, have your interests broadened into reading or writing POVs from the perspective of characters other than Blair?
My fanfiction has taken on both Jim and Blair's POVs, but I admit I really do take more of an interest in Blair. I like Geeks and academics, and I particularly like characters who fit that description but find themselves working in an environment and around people that are very different. It's a particular spin on the 'fish out of water' scenario that appeals to me; in TS's case, I really enjoy the dynamic and sometimes contentious relationship between Jim and Blair as they try to understand one another and continue their friendship. Those are the type of stories that motivate my fingers to start typing.
From the number of 'angst-related' stories in your collection, new readers may miss your humor as showcased in your award-winning story "Cherry Bombs" with a drunken Blair and an exasperated Simon (co-authored by Hephaistos). In "Let Sleeping Anthropologists Lie" and "Bio 'Chemistry'", you rib fan fic writers and audiences. If you had the time to spare, which genre of writing would you indulge these days?
I think my heart will always be with the angst genre, but hopefully with touches of humor. Humor is admittedly a very difficult genre to write well, and my tastes in humor are pretty defined. I like darker humor or unique situational humor (not the slapstick variety), so when I do incorporate humor in my stories, it almost always has some element of hurt/comfort or angst; I feel humor is richer when balanced by more psychologically intense situations.
Which authors have you followed over the years? Have you kept up with your former writing partners at all?
Oh gosh, quite a number. Hephaistos is one of my all-time writers and one of the few that REALLY does humor well. I have kept in touch with her, but we don't communicate as frequently as we used to. I also keep in modest contact with Toni, Lady Shelley, Lyn and several others who are a part of or have poked their heads into SA, and they are all authors who I tend to follow -- in part, no doubt, because we all share commonalities in our fanfiction tastes.
What do you see as a current trend in fan fiction in general, and in TS specifically?
I admit I no longer really have my finger on the pulse of fanfiction, but I do believe that strong character stories will continue to play a prominent role in fanfiction.
What advice would you give a budding TS author into taking the plunge in writing and posting their early efforts?
Find a good person to bounce ideas around with, and who will be able to edit your work and give feedback. Most of all, understand that feedback from a trusted beta is a gift. Don't get too defensive, and develop a thick skin, and always keep a sense of humor about your own writing foibles
Understanding that you aren't offering legal advice here, can you reassure prospective writers about the legitimacy of using existing characters in novel ways without infringing upon copyright law?
You know, this is such a complex area, that I dare not even try to cover it in this kind of arena. That being said, I think that any studio, network, or production company that tries to stamp out fanfiction is likely fighting a futile battle and risks diminishing their fanbase. Many fans have started watching shows specifically because they discovered them in fanction (through cross-overs, for example).
Your stories "The Heart of a Warrior" and "Bite Me" focus upon issues in the training of dogs to protect people. How much progress have you made in the effort to eradicate the mythology of so-called 'evil' dog breeds such as the Pit Bull terrier and German Shepherd?
I'm still working on it! Whenever people hold deep-seated discriminatory beliefs, changing those beliefs and educating them about the realities takes time.
Have your fan fiction efforts made you a better communicator in your non-fiction writings?
I'd say so! It lets me exercise my creative muscles more and get out of the habit of 'legalese' or technical science jargon.
Have you made any moves into writing fiction on a professional level?
Yes, and I have a novel that is in first draft phase right now.
It was wonderful catching up with you and confirming that there is still plenty of opportunity for fledgling authors to test their wings among friends and learn to write fan fiction. That is on Dawn's Yahoo listserve called 'Sentinel Angst'.
Thanks Dawn, for all your contributions to the fandom, past and present!
Last updated 6/9/09 igr