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A multi-fandom author prior to her introduction to The Sentinel, it only took a viewing of one Sentinel episode (Survival) to inspire majik to begin writing stories for Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. This author's experience and love of writing is obvious in her stories where she skillfully weaves riveting plots with smarm and wonderful characterization. She is also well-known for her missing scenes and creative alternate universe plots such as the story Upon Awakening. majik's Cascade Library listing currently includes 27 stories. Her stories are located at her website, Chaos Central: The Sentinel.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, majik!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
I'm a junior at Hollins University at the moment, and I'm slowly making myself known in the Creative Writing department -- largely as a "popular media freak." If I turn in one more sci-fi/fantasy story I may be run out of the school. <g> As for other interests… Classes, swimming, chocolate (never have too much of that), French and Japanese and <laughs> writing other fiction? That sounds sad, but I honestly enjoy writing more than just about anything. I spend a lot of time with my friends here, but most of them are writers too. We spend most evenings storyboarding and coming up with ideas. And just being plain weird…
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
My mother made me do it! My mother watched the show all the time and mentioned it once, off the top of her head. I kinda blinked at her -- all I knew about The Sentinel at the time was that there was a whole lot of slash fic about it out there. So I watched it with her one night and I got hooked.
What is your favorite episode and why?
That's always a tough one. Survival was the first ep I ever saw, and it's the first one that comes to mind whenever I think of the show. But I'd say Siege, Reunion and The Rig are currently my favorites. Siege was just cool. Blair and Jim getting settled, Blair's first intro to the department, and of course it was nice to see Blair getting in a few good hits to the bad guys. Reunion is undeniably a Simon episode and one of the best out there. I absolutely love it. As for The Rig -- what isn't there to love? I mean, hidden fears, house rules, Jim worrying about Blair, shower scene <grins> and a bomb. What more could a girl ask for?
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 watched Survival with my mother, was horribly impressed, then went upstairs, parked myself in front of the computer and wrote A Blessed Protector's Thoughts on Survival in about 45 minutes. Then I spazzed, read about two hundred fics, revised the story fairly heavily, and posted it. It was probably the most nervous I've ever been about a fanfic. I'd written fiction before, mostly X-Men and Star Trek stuff, but all the Sentinel stories I'd read had been so good! I didn't want to post the first horrible fic for the fandom.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
Hard to say. I'd really love to see What Might Have Been as an episode or five. It would mean starting everything over from scratch though, and as fun as it might be, I doubt most people would agree. <g> I had a lot of fun writing that series, and it's probably still my favorite of my own Sentinel fanfics.
Which story are you most proud of?
I don't know if proud is the right word. I'm happiest with What Might Have Been and Upon Awakening (waits for the evil glares to fade away) just for the reaction they got from people. Plus, since they're both technically AUs, I had the most liberty with them, and my interpretation of the situation. I think I did a fairly good job with them.
Which character do you most enjoy writing?
Blair. Hands down. It's great to have a character that rambles as much as you do.
Which character is the easiest for you to write?
While I enjoy writing Blair more, Jim is usually the easiest to write, for some reason I don't even pretend to understand. CerSun says it's cause I'm as stubborn and hard-headed as he is.
Who is your least favorite?
Well, including the rest of Major Crimes, I'd have to say Megan or Joel. Megan, because I still haven't seen all of fourth season and as a result don't have as strong a grasp on her character as I'd like, and Joel because he's such an underdeveloped character.
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
This made my friends laugh. A LOT. I love smarm stories, everything I write has smarm in it to one degree or another. In general I tend to write a lot of missing scenes for The Sentinel, but drama/case files are my favorite to write. Dramas have so much potential to them, and so much capability. You can really take yourself and your readers to whatever lengths you like with them. Plus, with shorter stories, you tend to have to actually come out and say a lot of what you're trying to get across, while with a drama you can show them in detail exactly what you want them to be getting out of the story.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
Most of my beta readers aren't in the Sentinel fandom, they've just watched the show and listened to me rant, but they're all great writers themselves. Kat in particular is great at feeding my ego while still picking out what needs to be fixed.
The series What Might Have Been explores what might have happened if Jim and Blair had not met in the hospital in Switchman. Instead, Simon is the one who finds Blair for Jim. Do you think this scenario would have changed the dynamics between the three men?
Completely without a doubt. Simon and Blair would be much closer, Simon's acceptance of the situation would have come much sooner and I think his and Jim's friendship would have been even stronger for it, no matter how close he and Blair later became. I've always felt that the necessity of keeping the Sentinel thing a secret from Simon (though it lasted all of two seconds) was an obstacle between them. There's a lot of scenes in various episodes where it seemed like Simon was being left out because he wasn't a part of the whole "sentinel thing" and I wanted to see how he might have been more closely involved with Jim's new abilities.
You've written a number of missing scenes in the A Blessed Protector's Thoughts On... series. Do you have a favorite? What prompted you to choose Jim's POV for this series?
My favorite of them always was and still is the Survival one, with Siege running a close second. When I started Survival, it just came out in Jim's POV and the next thing I knew, I was writing the next one the same way.
In the stories Changes and Jealousy, Jim and Blair's friendship is seen from Carolyn's POV. Do you think Carolyn's character should have stayed longer on the show? How do you think she would have fit in?
I don't really. Maybe it's just because Carolyn honestly didn't do much in the short time she was there, but I think she was mainly meant as confict for Jim, and there were much better ways to do it. As for the whole "we need a female character to diversify the cast" idea, Conner is great, and far more purposeful than Carolyn or Cassie had been.
He'll Be Here is a short story where Blair's in jeopardy and knows Jim will come for him. Do you think Blair would ever have doubts about whether Jim would rescue him?
Nah. <g> I think he'd worry whether Jim would get there in time, but underneath it all, the fact that Jim would try no matter what, would never be in doubt.
In Doctor Sandburg, Blair gets his Ph.D. Do you think the doctorate was something really important to Blair to get?
Important, yes. Driving force of his existence, no. He gave it all up in the end, and that says a lot about his priorities. The Sentinel research was the goal, not necessarily the acclaim and title that came with it.
Withdrawal is a fun piece about Blair being held at gunpoint and talking himself out of it. Is it fun to write pieces in which Jim and Blair know their actions are part of a story?
It's probably some of the most amusing writing I've ever done. Well, amusing to me at least. I can't help but think that somewhere out there, there's a universe where anything we imagine is real, and poor Blair really is running around trying to figure out why we do this to him. Jim's plotting revenge.
The warm story In Sickness and in Health has Jim taking care of a sick Blair and is a common theme in Sentinel fanfic. What do you think the appeal of this theme is?
<melts> It's just so sweet. I think a big part of the appeal of hurt/comfort and smarm is the idea that there may be someone out there who cares so much. Just thinking that if you get hurt, someone will be more worried about making you better than anything else.
You wrote a couple stories dealing with Sentinel Too. What was your initial reaction to both episodes, and how would you have done things differently?
Well, I started yelling at the television and scared a whole lot of people… I wrote What Matters Most just to calm myself down. I really hated the way Jim and Blair's friendship was handled in these episodes, especially since with just a little change I think it could've been one of the best episodes they've ever done. The idea that Jim would be that strongly affected by another Sentinel was a fantastic plot devise, but the fact that he seemed willing to completely ignore everything she'd done to Blair served to diminish the bond between him and his Guide. This episode is the reason I now have an unreasonable hatred of Jeri Ryan.
What was your reaction to TSbyBS, and would you have done things differently to end the show?
I've never seen it. Not once. <pouts> I finally get Sci-Fi Channel though so I'm just waiting till it comes around again!
Upon Awakening is a very intriguing story you started in which Jim wakes up after being in a car crash and finds out Blair died in the crash. However, Jim begins having dreams of Blair which imply Blair might not really be dead. What inspired the premise of the story, and are you planning to finish it? <g>
Ack! I knew you'd mention that! To be honest, it started as a straight out death fic. Kat said I couldn't write one, I said "Can too!" she said "Can not!" and I said… well, you get the point. She finally told me to prove it, so I did. It was meant to just be Jim getting on with his life and dealing with the loss. Then I felt guilty for killing off Blair. Then I realized I couldn't end the story happily to save my life. (Jim kept dying too. Stubborn brat.) So I gave in and brought Blair back. The story is basically finished by now, I just never posted it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I'm a flake.
How do you deal with writer's block?
I take a long walk with music. This happens a lot. There are people on campus who look surprised when they see that I wasn't born with headphones attached. <g> The ideas start coming, and even if it's not the idea I was looking for, it's enough to get me started.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Convincing myself to post. I always have a last minute "But they suck and no one will like them and I'll get laughed at!" attack.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
Finishing it to the point where I'm satisfied with it. It's unbelievable how satisfying it can be to know that you got it just right, just how you want it to be. Feedback is very cool too. <g>
What are your feelings on story feedback?
I like it. A lot. I try very hard to write to authors whose stories I find especially good, but I don't as often as I should. I personally find feedback very encouraging and helpful. I'd still write without it, but it's nice to know people out there like what you have to offer.
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
At the risk of being repetitive, I'd say, just write what you'd like to read. If you sit around all day trying to figure out what everyone else wants to read, you'll never get anywhere, and you'll suffer a nervous breakdown to boot. Besides, there are enough Sentinel fans out there that it's pretty much guaranteed someone will like what you have to offer.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?
Ummm… <thinks back> Oi, it was a long time ago… Something X-Men, I'm sure. That was the first fandom I ever looked up on-line.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever wrote?
No laughing now, promise? It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fic that I wrote during study hall in sixth grade. I still have it saved. I killed Donatello.
What was the first piece of Sentinel fan fiction you ever read?
It was… <pauses to build the suspense> Kristine Williams! Adrift, I think… Big surprise, ne? I think that woman got more people addicted than heroin.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
Smarmsmarmsmarmsmarmsmarm….. Anything with a point. And anything without a point as long as it has smarm…
What is it about The Sentinel that inspires you to write?
First and foremost, it's the relationship between Jim and Blair. I may not have mentioned this, but I love smarm… <g> Beyond that, the idea is fascinating. A man with heightened senses and a drive to protect - the potential is just so much fun to play around with.
What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths and weaknesses as a series?
The characters in this show are some of the best I've ever seen. I don't know if it's the writers, directors or actors (though I'm inclined to credit the latter) I think these three guys are some of the most fleshed out people you'll see in an hour-long, under-budgeted cop show. It's single greatest weakness was, in my opinion, trying to make too many people happy at once. Here's a bit of buddy-buddyness for one batch of viewers, here's an explosion for that batch over there, oh and a mini-skirt for our target audience…
Do you find yourself identifying more with Jim or Blair?
Well, I love Blair, so of course, I'd like to say him, but in all honesty, I'd have to go with Jim. We have similar issues, similar ways of dealing with problems, and all in all, I think I have the same tendency to emotional distance as he does. I'm not quite as moody though, thank goodness.
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
I… can't decide. I'd rewrite Sentinel Too, I'd write a follow-up to TSbyBS (which I have to see before I can follow up, grrr….) and I'd love to do an episode like Upon Awakening. Sheer angst is fun!
What three specific things would you have liked to see on The Sentinel that we did not see?
More information on Blair's past. A hug. (yups, certified smarm addict!) A non-work related trauma in their lives. Bad car accident, illness, death in the family, something like that.
How about general changes?
Just more on the relationship. As great as it was, there was never any real introspection between them. Beyond that, less worry over guns and explosions and professional basketball players, and more concentration on canon and storyline.
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Upon Awakening. Just because it pissed so many people off. <g>
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
<eyes cross> ALL of them? Well, I'm forever writing more Blessed Protector's Thoughts, though I haven't posted any in… a long time. I'm also working on a story called Rogue Call which deals with Jim meeting a new Guide. That one… oi, no guarantees when it'll be finished. Outside The Sentinel, I'm working on several fics. Otherworld Windows is a Ghostbusters AU, Blood of Ancients is a Mighty Ducks cartoon fic (I know, I know. Kid's show.) and Seigyo Suru is a Yu Yu Hakusho fic. Not to mention fics for Starsky and Hutch, Magnificent Seven, Gundam Wing, FAKE, Due South, and about 200,000 original stories. I'm also working with several other amateur writers on a science fiction/fantasy anthology which will hopefully be published late 2002. <crosses fingers>
Last updated 9/25/00 clc