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TS fan fiction is famous for its stories which helped to define the genres of 'angst' and 'hurt/comfort'. Fluterbev is one such author whose stories center around those emotionally-charged themes. Her stories have been awarded LMFAs in these categories and readers expressed their appreciation for her writing with an Outstanding Author award in 2007. (archivist's note: author email found at author's page.)
Thanks for joining us and letting your readers know more about your journey into the TS fandom.
I. Who are you?
Do you use a pen name? If so, why, and how did you decide on the one you use? Do you have more than one pen name?
When I posted my very first story, back in 2003 on the Sentinel Angst list, I decided to go by the Yahoo username Iíd recently acquired when I set up my new email account. I picked ĎFluterbeví because I am a flute player, and my real name is Beverley. Itís the pseudonym Iíve stuck with ever since, and the one I always use for my fanfic writing.
Would you tell us where you live?
I currently live in Lancaster, in North West England. I was born in Blackpool, which is about twenty miles from here. Iíve also lived in the English midlands, Scotland and Ireland.
Would you tell us a little about your life?
Iím a busy mum, who is bringing up two gorgeous sons on my own. Iím from a very musical family and, like my Irish grandfather before me, as well as my older brother, I play traditional Irish music (on flute, tin whistle and concertina). I spent a lot of time in Ireland in my youth learning my craft, and subsequently lived there for nearly ten years. My children were born over there, and are very musical themselves.
What work, volunteer or paid, do you do? Do you have any pro-fic writing experience or aspirations?
I have a degree in sociology and, apart from a break for a few years when my children were young, have worked in higher education since I graduated in the early nineties. I am currently an admissions officer at a local university. Iíve also been a teacher of Irish music and dance for many years, as well as a semi-pro musician performing solo and with various bands. When I was a student I supported myself by working as a busker, in Leicester city centre!
As regards pro-fic aspirations, I am currently reworking and finishing an original fantasy novel which I started some time ago, but shelved for several years. I now hope to knock it into a decent enough shape to seek publication.
II. When and how did you become a TS fan?
When did you first see or hear about The Sentinel?
I was living in Ireland when I first discovered The Sentinel, back in 2001. I was curious to see what kinds of fiction I could find on the internet, and soon discovered a crossover fanfic between a novel I liked and The Sentinel. Because the characters were so compelling I was very keen to find out more, despite never previously having heard of Jim and Blair (the series has never been shown in Ireland, and wasnít shown in the UK until 2003). I googled like mad and the rest, as they say, is history! I eventually managed to watch the series after I moved back to England, but by then Iíd already devoured every fic I could get my hands on, as well as transcripts of all the episodes.
Why did you decide to write fan fiction about these characters? Had you read other authors and stories that introduced you to the series and/or fan fiction?
The Sentinel characters possess, for me, uniquely perfect qualities. Iíve always loved an older/younger, mentor/student, soldier/scholar dynamic, especially where there is hurt/comfort and mutual caring combined with oodles of angst. Quite simply, Jim and Blair push all my buttons!
In the beginning, I was overwhelmingly a reader of TS fic rather than a writer of it. Because I like to write, though, I inevitably began to dabble, but my scribblings were never meant to be something to share with others; I did it purely for my own amusement. I only started to post my stories online because I wanted to join the Sentinel Angst list, which has a dues requirement. That led to me writing more stories and posting more stories, and it all really snowballed from there.
Iíd first discovered fanfiction on the internet several years earlier (X-Files and Robin of Sherwood Ė both shows that I loved and still love), although I never got truly hooked on it until I discovered TS fanfic. Once I got hooked Ė well, there was no turning back!
What do you think the readership finds most interesting in gen TS fiction?
I think overwhelmingly it is the deep connection between Jim and Blair.
What do you appreciate most when you read TS fiction? Who are your favorite gen TS authors and why?
I love that so much TS fiction is well written and engaging Ė it is the incredibly high quality of so much of it which has kept me coming back for more. Thankfully there are still great authors around who are writing tremendous stories, as well as some really promising new ones who have just discovered the fandom.
Because I most enjoy angst and hurt/comfort, the authors I love the most tend to write in that genre. I was attracted into the fandom by such fabulous writers as Martha Taylor, LRH Balzer, Jael Lyn, Donna Gentry and DawnC. Some of my favourite current gen writers include T Verano, Panik, Jess Riley and Psychgirl, although this is far from an exhaustive list Ė there are just so many good writers, past and present, in this fandom!
III. About being a writer ...?
Why do you write?
It is a lifelong compulsion, and something I canít imagine not doing; Iíve always written stories, ever since I was a child. I mostly did it in splendid isolation; endless snippets of fantasy and sci-fi, filling a vast number of notebooks which still lurk under my bed (a cliché I know, but absolutely true in my case!). A school friend and I used to write fanfic as long ago as the late 1970s (for Doctor Who and Star Wars), but neither of us knew at that time it was called fanfic, or that others did it as well.
What was the first story you wrote, and how did it feel to first place it into the public eye? Do you write in other fandoms besides TS?
The first Sentinel story I actually finished and posted (for my very first Sentinel Angst dues) was "I Can Be You Oo Oo," which is a missing scene for Cypher. I was absolutely terrified when I posted it, as until then Iíd hardly ever shared my writing with anyone, and I didnít know anyone in the fandom at all. It was like leaping off a high cliff into a dark abyss, and not knowing if Iíd land on something soft or hard! Thankfully it was a deliciously bouncy impact.
I almost entirely write fanfic for TS, although I also once wrote a story featuring Richard Burgiís character from Darklight, and have dabbled with an as-yet unfinished TS/Doctor Who crossover.
What do you think/hope readers most appreciate in your stories?
I simply hope that people will enjoy them even half as much as I enjoy writing them!
How do you decide whether to write in a first person POV or third person as a narrator?
It all depends on the story I am trying to tell, and whose eyes I want to tell it through. Narrators tend to find their own voice, Iíve found. Sometimes, if I have an idea in my head but it is simply not coming out right, I will scrap what I have written and rewrite it using a different point of view character, which can remove the block and make it flow better.
Have you ever had a writing coach?
No, but I do feel that Iíve learned a lot by interacting in positive ways with other writers. So many of those who write in TS and other fandoms I lurk around the fringes of are very good at and knowledgeable about what they do, and at LiveJournal (my fannish stomping ground of choice) there is plenty of dialogue and discussion about writing in general. Itís a hugely informative and thought-provoking environment.
Do you work with a beta? Why or why not? What is your process for determining when your story is ready for posting?
Iíve worked with several betas over the years, who have ranged from those who simply proof-read for typos and grammar, to those who have made in-depth suggestions about plot and characterisation. Sometimes I have several betas for one story, all of whom focus on different aspects. There have also been times Iíve posted stories without getting them betaed but, as I tend to be my own worst critic, I always rigorously edit them myself before they see the light of day.
I also like to post works in progress in parts in my journal, because I love the ongoing dialogue I can have with readers as the story develops. Often, in those circumstances, the readers themselves have acted as betas of a kind, by pointing out errors, helping with points of information and making suggestions. Itís an enjoyable and sociable process.
What genres of TS fiction are you most comfortable writing, choosing from canon, AU, case and action, drama, humor, horror, slice of life, hurt/comfort? Why?
The thing that attracted me so strongly to The Sentinel in the first place is the prevalence of hurt/comfort, which I loved for years (in books, TV and film) without knowing it had a name until I discovered the world of fandom. I love, in particular, to read and write stories which are concerned with resolution of psychological/emotional damage. Having said that, I also like to dabble, and enjoy variety both in what I read and what I write, so I would say that in my time Iíve been comfortable writing all of the above!
If you were to write a completely new AU for these characters, what would it demand of them?
I love AUs, particularly because I think Jim and Blair are such universal characters that they could be inserted in almost any scenario and still fit. I think the important thing, from my perspective, would be to work hard to maintain their essential qualities, so that no matter where Ė or when - they are, they are still recognisably Jim and Blair.
Which among your own works is your favorite and why?
That would probably be a tie between "Revolution" (which was the first work in progress I posted in my journal) and "Kith, or Kin?." I think that they are probably the most well-constructed of my gen stories.
Which of your stories are you less positive about, why? Have you had the urge to revise any of your stories? Which ones?
The one I feel least positive about (and which I have taken permanently offline) is one I wrote as a request for an online auction. Basically I ended up having to tackle a topic I found personally upsetting, because I had blithely promised that I would write anything. I am still more than happy to offer my stories up for a good cause, and have done so several times since, but Iím always explicit now about what I am in a position to write (or not write), which is better both for me and for whoever wins my stories.
I do definitely think that my writing has improved as time has gone on, and that my earliest stories are definitely not my best. Iíve moved website a couple of times, and each time I have revised and edited my stories, so the earlier ones especially are not currently presented in exactly the same form they were originally. I still see room for improvement, and will probably dabble with them some more as time goes on. However, the basic shape of them Ė flaws and all Ė will remain the same; my edits this long after they were written are always pretty superficial, and mostly restricted to cleaning up the grammar and basic language use.
Is there a genre you would like to write as a way of stretching your wings as a fanfic author? Is there a type of story or specific plot that you wish you could write, but feel is beyond you? Do you think more time and/or practice in writing would allow you to tackle your dream project?
Iím not really interested in 'stretching my wings' because I write fanfiction purely for escapist fun (although thatís not to say I donít take pride in what I write; part of the fun, for me, is in attempting to produce work of reasonable quality). I do hope to use what Iíve learned as a fanfic author to help me write original fiction, but I will probably continue to write fanfic purely for recreation in the meantime, without taking it (or myself) too seriously!
Do you create OCs and how do you use them? Do you find creating an OC challenging?
Iíve created a few in my time, but none that Iíve been particularly invested in once the story is done; I donít have any OCs who keep reappearing as a regular, prominent character, for example. Mostly I prefer to focus on Jim and Blair themselves, and any OCs Iíve written have mostly been a tool to facilitate that.
How do you feel about feedback and concrit from your readers?
I write purely for my own amusement, and post online simply because I want to share my love of the characters with others of like mind. I hope people will engage with my stories in whichever way they feel most comfortable; whether that means never commenting at all, sending a brief one-line note, or writing detailed concrit Ė itís all good, as far as Iím concerned! I see feedback of any kind very much as a gift, not in any way an obligation.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
New writers are the lifeblood which keep the fandom pumping - donít let anyone tell you otherwise! Write what you want to write, and donít take it (or yourself!) too seriously. Above all, have fun, and remember that there are those of us who will gratefully devour new perspectives on Jim and Blair, even if you might worry that weíve seen it all before. Those two characters are eternal; they will never get old, especially in a new pair of hands
In spite of the darker themes your stories often explore, it is wonderful that you remind readers that this is all meant for pure enjoyment. Thanks, Fluterbev!
Last updated 5/4/09 igr