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Another author drawn to The Sentinel fandom through fan fiction, KandaceK began writing TS stories during 3rd season after reading the work of Susan L. Williams. She has written many missing scenes or episode-related pieces since then, but is probably best known for her lengthy and satisfying drama story, Silver Cloud, Dark Lining. Kandace also heads Skeeter Press, a fanzine publishing group, and generously provides an internet home to a number of popular Sentinel fan fiction websites including Wolfpup's Den, Susan L. Williams, Martha Taylor, D.L. Witherspoon, The Browsery, Faux Paws Productions virtual seasons, and the Cascade Library. Kandace's Cascade Library listing currently lists 12 stories which are located at her website, KandaceK's Place on the Net.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Kandace!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
Well, I'm a database programmer by profession. I work for Father Flannagan's Boys' Home better known as Boys Town (recently renamed to Girls and Boys Town). I don't actually work with the youth, but what I do helps others work with the youth. What do I enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction? Reading. Drawing when I'm not busy writing, but I'm pretty rusty. My next love is horses, unfortunately I've been without one for many years. And last but not least taking care of my husband and 8-year-old daughter. I'd very much prefer to be a housewife than a working mother.
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
Through the fan fiction. I was told about TS through another fandom, but could never remember when it was on. I did catch parts of a couple of episodes but never got hooked. One day I was searching Yahoo!'s fiction index and came across The Sentinel. That sparked my memory so I decided to check it out. At that time there were only five listings, I think. The first link I tried was broken, the next one was Susan L. Williams'. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is your favorite episode and why?
My favorite episode would have to be Storm Warning because it was the first full episode I caught after I'd gotten the scoop about what happened at the end of season 3. I also thought it showed a very believable, focused Jim, and I loved the teasing at the end. It was an "ahh" moment for me when Jim patted Blair's belly.
How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction? Specifically, what was your first story, when did you write it, and what was it like to post your first story?
I got the idea for my first Sentinel story after corresponding with Susan. I'd LoC'd her on The Devil You Know and she'd written me back asking if I knew what happened with the end of the season. (This was about a week after S2p1 had aired.) After learning that the show was likely canceled, etc., etc., I formed the idea for an S2 continuation. I pestered Susan with all kinds of questions and began watching the season 3 reruns, and began writing When the Wolf Cries, my first Sentinel story. I think that was 1998 wasn't it? I fully intended Wolf to be my first story posted to the internet. The brain had other ideas. In the midst of writing fast and furiously on Wolf, I saw Finkleman's Folly. The scene in the truck where Jim answers his cell phone and only hears a heartbeat inspired me to write a missing scene. I could picture Blair asking Jim about it later, so I wrote my missing scene snippet Whose Heartbeat? in a couple of hours, fired it off to Susan to edit, and then sent it to GuidePosts. I can't begin to tell you what a *thrill* it was to see *my* story up there on the net for all to see. It was an adrenaline high, I'll tell you. And the LoCs I received for that little snippet just kept me there for days.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
Silver Cloud, Dark Lining. A two-parter to get the full effect. <g>
Which story are you most proud of?
Silver Cloud, Dark Lining. I put a lot of time and research into it, and I was very pleased with the way it came out.
Which character do you most enjoy writing? Which character is the easiest for you to write? Who is your least favorite?
I think I most enjoy writing Jim because I like the strong, silent type. As for easiest, I think it's a toss up between Jim and Blair. Sometimes I have a tendency to put too many words in Jim's mouth, so maybe Blair is easiest. I really don't know. Least favorite to write would be Megan (you'll notice she mostly has silent roles in any of my stories).
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
Drama. I'm definitely into the "edge of your seat" type of drama. Can I write it? I try. I like case stories too, but I'm not very good at writing them, probably because they take a lot of research.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
Susan L. Williams, D.L. Witherspoon, and my best friend Barbara Seidl. What can I say about HMG? With her experience and knowledge she's helped me improve my writing tremendously. She doesn't pull any punches with grammar issues, and I like that.
D.L. keeps me on the straight and narrow with characterization. We've reached a point in our relationship that neither of us are afraid to say so when a scene or dialog isn't working for us. And we say "fix it!" <g>
Barbara and I have been friends for a lot of years, and almost immediately we discovered our mutual passion for writing. She's my sounding board when I'm having trouble with an idea or scene. Often I'll have an idea and wonder how to justify it, Barbara will undoubtedly come up with a logical means for it.
Silver Cloud, Dark Lining is a gripping drama revolving around Jim and his past mission to Peru. What was your favorite part about this story?
Oh, boy, my favorite part. Hmm, I would have to say exploring the anguish Jim suffered from having to relive the events in Peru.
Did the sections with Jim in "ranger" mode come easily to you?
Fairly easy, yes. Some of my favorite movies are "The Dirty Dozen", "Kelly's Heroes", and "The Green Berets", and any chance I get I watch those new docudramas on TLC and Discovery on Navy Seals and Army elite forces. I also have a source of information in my husband, so I was able to pump him with questions on equipment and so forth. It was a lot of fun.
In The Vigil, Jim is in critical condition in a hospital and it is up to Blair to save him. What inspired this story, and how did you come up with the solution?
This is a tough one. D.L. was having trouble writing at one point, so she was looking for some kind of jump start. The first couple of pages of Vigil were in response to her plea. I thought--hoped--she'd take my humble offering and run with it in a story of her own. No, she put the onous back on me. That snippet sat for months looking for some kind of plot or story to go with it. At that point all I knew was that Jim had been tortured and found in an alley with a syringe in his arm. I knew he had injected himself, but I didn't know why. I can't remember how I settled on scorpion envenomation, but I remember thinking that would be a unique way to kill someone, especially in the Pacific Northwest. The doctors would have a hard time tracking down the symptoms.
Blair has become a police officer in the story God's Answer. What are your feelings on TSbyBS and Blair becoming an officer?
I actually *like* TSbyBS. I know many people were angry with Jim for treating Blair the way he did, but to my way of thinking, Jim reacted as we should have expected. Here's a man who's had nothing but betrayal and abandonment happen to him, it made perfect sense for him to throw up his walls. Both men made mistakes, as they had throughout the series. Jim shouldn't have assumed Blair had betrayed him, but by the same token, Blair should have come clean with Jim in the beginning. He should have told Jim what Naomi had done. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20. As for Blair becoming a cop? Sure, I think he's been working his way in that direction for a long time. He's come a long way from the freaked out grad student in the first couple of years, to actually eager to help Jim and Major Crime. I never saw the enthusiasm for teaching others saw. I saw someone who would rather be learning and doing than stuck in a classroom teaching. Tutoring on the other hand is a whole other ball game. I could easily see Blair mentoring or tutoring. As sucky as the episode was, Murder 101 should have clued us in to how involved, how *into* police work Blair was, and he was severely disillusioned with the hallowed halls of Rainier after that case.
Several of your stories involve Jim in trouble. What is it about his character that you enjoy writing?
On the surface Jim seems to be cold, stoic, hardnosed, but on rare occasions you can see beneath all that to the vulnerable, tortured soul. I like trying to bring that to the surface. That's what made Warriors so powerful for me, seeing Jim nearly in tears, in a panic over Incacha's death. For one brief moment we saw the raw pain he was in before his defenses went up and he became angry. His reaction to Danny Choi's death was less moving, to me, than his reaction in Warriors.
You have published a number of zines through Skeeter Press. Tell us how you started publishing zines, and what is involved in getting a zine to press.
It all started with a chance comment. Back in '99 I mentioned to Susan that maybe we should start our own zine and publish The Devil You Know. The idea didn't go much farther than that. A few months later, D.L. made the comment to me that we should create our own zine since she does desktop publishing for a living. I laughed and told her Susan and I had had similar thoughts. D.L. didn't let it rest at that, she started doing a bit of research. Originally we were going to do an e-zine, I'm not sure how it "de"volved into a paper zine. I told Susan that D.L. and I were tossing around the idea of a zine, she said she'd love to be on board. Before I knew it, Skeeter Press was born and I was scrambling to learn about this publishing business. I think we have a very good team. We have D.L. with her desktop publishing skills, Susan with her editing skills, and me with, well, management and distribution skills I guess. :) What's involved in getting a zine to press -- well, obviously you need a story or stories. The story needs to be edited, and we're not talking about a simple beta read-through. Susan works with our submitting authors until a final version is agreed upon, she then gives me the final version. I go through it, do the initial formatting if necessary, catch anything Susan might have missed, then I pass it on to D.L. who will do the layout work for the zine. In the beginning we used WP/Word for layout (what a headache), now we use a DTP program called Serif. It's made our lives much easier. While D.L. is doing this, I'm attempting to gather artwork, either my own or from someone else. D.L. places the artwork or markers in the story. When she has the final file ready, she passes it to me, I print it out, get all the forwards and endnotes, etc. together. I take this document and the color cover to the copy house I use and get copies made. My copy house will colate the copies with the acetate and backcovers I supply (so I don't have to). When the copies are done, I pick them up and take them to the binder. From then it's a matter of filling orders. <g>
Your website, Skeeter63, has become a home to a number of Sentinel fan fiction websites including the Cascade Library. How did your site get its name?
For a while I had a picture of the site's namesake up on the main index page. I had a favorite Appaloosa horse when I was in high school. I used to show him in amateur shows. Unfortunately, he had an apparent heart attack the day after I came home from my Freshman year in college. It was Friday, May 13th. His name was "Skat Jacket", but we called him Skeeter. '63 is the year I was born and the number I always showed under. I consider it my lucky number. :)
What do you do when your muse takes a vacation?
Ooo boy. I read and read and read, and rack my brain, hoping to free it up. Lately I've been suffering from apathy. The ideas are in my head, I can block out entire scenes in my head, but for some reason I lack the desire to commit them to paper. I think that's just about over, though.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Coming up with an idea.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
If I can evoke a certain emotion from myself or my friends after writing something, I'm happy. Also, "The End" is always kind of nice. It's satisfying to know I've finished a story.
What are your feelings on story feedback?
I love feedback. I always get a rush when someone writes me and says they liked my stories. I've not had too many negative feedback, but I accept them too. If a story didn't work for them, I like to know that and why.
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
Get a good beta reader and don't be afraid to ask questions of her. *Ask* her why she did this or changed that. Only through asking will you learn and improve your writing, and know when you can ignore her advice. I don't care if others say "It's fanfic, it's not like it's professional fiction." If you want to improve your writing for your and your readers' enjoyment, you won't be afraid to ask questions.
What do you think the future of fanfic will hold, in both online and 'zine fandom?
Fanfic has been around since the printed word, I think. The advent of the net and an easy forum for online fiction has seen an resurgence in the printed zine, I think. Publishing and distribution are easier today than they were ten or fifteen years ago. I really think it'll continue to grow, or at least stay steady.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?
I can't remember if it was a Highlander piece or something based in Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Sime~Gen universe. I think it was Highlander, but I don't know what it might have been.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever wrote?
Ever? That would have to be Star Trek the original series. I think I was nine. I don't know what it might have been called. I still have it somewhere.
What was the first piece of Sentinel fan fiction you ever read?
The Devil You Know, by Susan L. Williams.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
Drama and case stories with close characterization. I like them to stay pretty close to canon but I will read AUs and crossovers as well.
What is it about The Sentinel and Jim/Blair/Simon that inspires you to write?
Hmm, probably the camaraderie. There are so many hidden nuances to Jim and Blair especially, that I love exploring. And then too, Jim was in the Army. <g> I think I've already established my affinity for military guys. :)
What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths and weaknesses as a series?
The greatest strength was the relationship between J & B, but it was also their greatest weakness. It was never hard to tell there was an easy friendship between the actors and their characters. In the episodes that had the characters on the outs with each I always had the sense that RB and GM were having trouble playing J & B on the outs. They just seemed to want to draw together. Some writers nailed the character relationship, other writers didn't, and it showed.
Do you find yourself identifying more with Jim or Blair?
Hmm, probably Jim. I don't have abandonment issues, but until finding this fanfic community I definitely felt misunderstood, and I think Jim is misunderstood.
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
I'd like to delve deeper into Jim's military past.
What three specific things would you have liked to see on The Sentinel that we did not see? How about general changes?
That's tough. Three things. I would have like to have seen Jim affirm his friendship with Blair a little more often, maybe actually see him learning from past mistakes (both of them). I would have liked to see Blair a little more sympathetic to Jim's sensibilities at times (like playing music loud, he didn't seem to care that Jim hurt.) Consistency would have been nice.
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Probably Silver Cloud, Dark Lining -- I hope. :)
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
Let's see, there are a couple. One deals with Jim being kidnapped, the other deals with Jim and Blair going undercover in a night club. I'm also working on a couple of crossover stories, one of which will eventually end up in a zine. I don't know which one. I have no timeline for these stories, they're all on hold until my alter ego can finish something she's been working on for three years. Hopefully it'll happen this year and KandaceK can get back to business. :)
Last updated 3/27/02 clc