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Jael Lyn

Although Jael Lyn didn't begin writing Sentinel fan fiction until after the show's last episode, The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg, had already aired, her strong characterization and story development skills have earned her a place among our fandom's favorite active writers. She is a fine example of one of the authors whose writing blossomed under the encouragement of the pro-writing Sentinel Angst List. Jael Lyn's Cascade Library listing currently lists 16 stories. Her stories are located at Mackie's Idol Pursuits.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Jael Lyn!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Married, two children; one in college and one ready to graduate. My training is in biochemistry.

What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?

I ski. I also sew and garden when the weather is nice. This sounds so domestic, I'm really not.

How did you become a Sentinel fan?

Oddly enough, I never saw the show. I read the newspaper reports when the show was cancelled and the protest add was run in USA Today. I was intrigued & looked it up on the net. I read a few stories and decided it was kind of an interesting premise.

What is your favorite episode and why?

Haven't got one.

How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?

Well, I sort of backed into this one, too. In the fall of 1999 I noticed a lot of stories in the library were coming in labelled "written for the Sentinel Angst list". I really enjoyed some of them, and decided to join the list. I had every intention of doing the very minimum and still be allowed to read to my heart's content. I hadn't written creatively since my last theme in high school English, so I had a little bit of a panic when I realized my 2 months was up and I needed to write something for dues. I could barely use an email program. I had no idea how to post, and finally sent an email to DawnC. begging for help. She talked me through the process. So now you know. Blatant self-interest and pure desperation.

Specifically, what was your first story, when did you write it, and what was it like to post your first story?

I sat down on my deadline day and started typing, hoping for maybe a couple of paragraphs or the shortest story in the world. When I didn't finish after about an hour, I sort of went "oops!" and sent what I had. My new list-sibs (charitably, I'm sure)flooded me with emails, all saying how excited they would be to read the rest and speculateing on how it would end. Oops again. What rest of the story??? and I didn't know how it ended. I kept posting in parts until it was done. That little piece ended up being Excessive Force.

To be honest, I was shocked anyone thought it was worth reading. If I hadn't needed to do it to stay on-list, it never would have happened.

As for posting, I have yet to post a story I didn't want to get back and burn 10 seconds after I hit the SEND button. When my first story went to Mackie's site, I think I avoided the computer completely for a couple of days.

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

I'm not sure. Most of them are too convoluted for an episode. Maybe Immediate Family?

Which story are you most proud of?

No clue. Self analysis isn't my strong point. I think I had the most fun writing Lost and Found and Patrol.

Which character do you most enjoy writing?

I don't really have a preference. My husband is very Jim-like, so I think I understand that character. I can relate to Blair as a sort of science nerd. As far as least favorite, I never write Rafe, because I don't have any clue what he would be like as a person.

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

Most of mine are case stories, I guess, so that must be it.

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

I'm ashamed to admit I don't really have one. I know, complete heresy. For about the first six months I didn't know what a beta was, and after that, I felt guilty asking someone to weed through my mistakes. I proofread the things to death, and I get really angry with myself when I miss things.

Occasionally, I have a few people that I ask to read for me, mostly if I'm having plot difficulties, and I'm very grateful for their interpretations. Since I always send stuff to SA first, I take any of their comments very seriously, and usually rewrite before I send anything on to Mackie. I'm sure that's a terrible misuse of my listsibs, but they're an indulgent bunch.

Most of your stories take place after The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg with Blair as a cop. What is it about this setting that you enjoy writing?

I didn't realize I did this until I read the question. Maybe it's because I didn't start writing until after the series was cancelled and TSby BS had already happened.

The story Blitzkrieg is a very interesting piece in which the reader is thrown into a confusing situation at Major Crimes where the department is being disassembled. Was it fun to start the story out this way? Did you find it easy to maintain the mystery as the Major Crimes group tries to figure things out?

Ouch. Like I said, self-analysis isn't my strong point. When I started, I had a very clear idea of the beginning and what the ultimate motivation was. The end evolved along the way. I loved writing the first part, because I had such a detailed picture in my head of the first half of the story. I'm not sure I really maintained the mystery on purpose. I just can't seem to write a short story once I get started.

Blair is having difficulty dealing with the events of TSbyBS in the story We Gather Strength. What was your favorite part of this story?

The very beginning. I have very mixed emotions about that story as a whole. I actually stopped writing that story at one point, because I thought it was just too "out there". People have such intense feelings about Sentinel, Too that I was afraid I was treading sacred ground.

Jim and Blair are badly injured during a camping trip in Water Music. What inspired this story?

That story was a gift fic and was written to a very specific request. I doubt I would have chosen or developed that particular story line under other circumstances. I drew on some personal experinces of the 2 major floods that I was close to.

In Patrol, Jim and Blair are separated when there is a problem with Blair's position in Major Crimes. Do you think Jim would have a lot more problems with his senses without Blair to help him all the time?

Not necessarily, but I wanted it to be so for that particular story.

Back to School is a warm story about Jim and Blair going to Walmart, written alternately from Jim and Blair's first person points of view. What inspired this story and what did you enjoy most it?

Back to School was really a follow-up to Pomp and Circumstance. They all resulted from speculation on my part as to what might upset Blair after he left Rainier.

Back to School isn't like any of the other stories, but I didn't consciously set out to write something different. It was very spontaneous, and I did enjoy writing it. It was pure fun.

You seem to focus often on Blair as a case is solved. What is it about his character that you particularly enjoy writing?

Again, I didn't know I did this until you asked. I guess it makes sense to me that analytical ability is one of the assets Blair would bring to the partnership.

How do you deal with writer's block?

I write. I don't really plan anything ahead of time, but things usually come to me if I just sit down and start. Not very insightful, I'm afraid.

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Finding time, and getting past the fear of writing something awful.

What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?

I just love the spontaneous part of the writing process. I don't plan a lot. I'd rather be shot than write an outline. It's about as productive for me as standing in the middle of a freeway. That's horrible technique in terms of the writing process, and I'm well aware of the shortcomings. Most of my ideas come as I write, and I really enjoy that. It may not be elegant prose, but it pleases me.

What are your feelings on story feedback?

I appreciate it greatly, and take it to heart. That includes people who have negative things to say. They're entitled to their opinion, and most of the time they're correct.

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

I'm not sure I'm a good candidate to give advice, since my entire writing experience was a cosmic accident.

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

Case stories, and I like the guys to be friends. My reading habits are pretty eclectic.

What is it about Jim/Blair/Simon that inspires you to write?

What one story do you think people will always remember you for?

I haven't a clue.

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

I have a few complete stories that have been posted to SA that I haven't sent to the net. Other than that, nothing. I tend to have only one story at a time, and what I start I finish pretty promptly. I don't like loose ends.

Thanks, Jael Lyn!

Last updated 5/26/00 moh