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A singer by day and a fanfic writer by night, Red Soprano is an author well-loved for her gentle touch with angst and humor. She is best known for her warm and humorous writing style and enjoys writing missing scenes. Red Soprano's Cascade Library listing currently lists 9 stories which are located at Celestial Cat's Sentinel Fan Fic Corner.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Red Soprano!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
As my "nom de fic" might suggest, I'm a singer. I have a masters degree in vocal performance from the Cincinnati Conservatory. I returned to school after a few years as a struggling musician and got a masters degree in Speech Pathology in Cincinnati and moved out to Colorado to work on my doctorate in Speech Science. Like Blair, I'm an ABD. Unlike Blair, I'm afraid I had no noble motive for canning the dissertation. I just decided that I didn't want to live in a publish or perish world so I quit. Besides, at the same time I was trying to finish my dissertation I'd discovered fanfic which is so much more satisfying to write.
What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
Singing. I belong to a really cool a cappella octet called the Colorado Consort. Love it. I also love to read, I love to go to movies, I love to hang out with good buddies.
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
I'd seen the ads for the show, but it didn't really strike me as something that I'd particularly like. I accidentally caught part of a couple of episodes and still didn't get hit by the bug. I think it was "Ice Man" that finally hooked me. Remember the rib-taping scene? Wow. GM was totally gorgeous that whole ep. Just so you know I'm not completely shallow, though, the reason I kept watching was because of the wonderful relationship between Jim and Blair. I adore buddy shows and RB and GM had such a great chemistry together.
What is your favorite episode and why?
Blind Man's Bluff. Such good fodder for missing scenes. It was kind of nice of the writers to leave such big blanks for us fanfic writers to fill in as we see fit wasn't it? I also really liked The Rig. Lots of good buddy moments in that one.
How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?
I was sitting in front of my computer putting the finishing touches on the third draft of the proposal for my third dissertation topic and it occurred to me, "Wow! I could have been writing fanfic!" As it turns out, my fanfic certainly found a lot more appreciative and supportive audience than my dissertation committee turned out to be.
Seriously, I've always wanted to write but never felt I had the talent or the patience for it. I'm also really self-conscious about my grasp of the simple nuts and bolts of writing. I read some really good stuff when I first discovered fanfic (Martha's Ordeal just blew me away.) I honestly didn't intend to try my hand at it, until a plot bunny hatched and started pestering me until I finally wrote it down. I have a couple of lengthy stories from the days when I was just fiddling around, with no real intention of posting. The thing that finally got me going was a Missing Scene challenge by the folks at Guide Posts. Oh to be a Fly on the Wall came from that. I discovered then that I really, really like missing scenes.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
I don't really write stories that would lend themselves to being an episode. Partly because I write so many missing scenes and partly because my fic doesn't have the same flavor or feel of the show. I try to keep the characters true to canon (or at least my interpretation of canon), but I don't write a lot of plot-driven things. Actually, if I could choose a missing scene of mine that I'd like to have seen included in its aired episode, I think it would be Who You Gonna Call... I can just picture a rumpled, sleepy Jim sitting on the couch having that early morning phone conversation with Blair.
Which story are you most proud of?
That would have to be JuJuBes and the Art of Male Bonding. I really love stories where the writer gives us this insight into the depth of the friendship between Jim and Blair without hitting us over the head with that whole "he stopped to ponder how his life had changed since this 'bundle of energy'/'hard-nosed cop' came into his life" spiel. Again, I have to give credit to Martha for that wonderful scene in Ordeal where Jim runs across Blair's name in the footnote of an article and ... oh, I can't remember how Martha worded it, but she says something about Jim's pleasant surprise at running across Blair's name in that article, almost as if he'd looked up to see Blair himself standing there. I remember thinking, "Wow. She got it. She let me see what these two men mean to each other and she didn't tell me too much. She just showed me." It was simple, it was elegant, it hit right at my heart.
Anyway, with JuJuBes..., I was striving for that light touch, leaving a lot of things unspoken, but still conveying how important these two men were to each other. I'm hoping it turned out okay.
Which character do you most enjoy writing? Which character is the easiest for you to write? Who is your least favorite?
I enjoy writing Blair the most because he's such a naturally comic character. He tells me what to say most of the time. Jim is also fun because he's such a great straight man. I don't do Jim angst well (I had the poor guy breaking down in tears four times in Guppy, for Pete's sake). Simon is great to write. He's so wonderfully gruff, but it's not outside the realm of possibility for him to be sweet, too. I loved writing him in Guppy.
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoy missing scenes. They're my favorite to read, too. Oddly enough, when I sit down to write, I don't always start out meaning to write humor. The two BMB scenes are cases in point. I used to joke that I was incapable of writing pure angst. All my stuff comes out "angst-lite." I like it when humor meets angst, though. Especially when the mixture give you something poignant.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
SierraBJ, who sadly no longer writes for the TS fandom, has been my primary beta reader from the beginning. We're good friends so I can trust her to be both honest and supportive.
There's also Hephaistos, who was kind enough to beta Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut at the last minute for me--I can't think of anyone else I trust more when it comes to recognizing when something is actually funny and when I'm just deluding myself. That woman has perfect comic timing when it comes to getting the humor right.
What inspired you to write your first story, Oh, to be a Fly on the Wall?
That was the first story I posted, but not the first story I started. Actually, there are two stories that have never been finished that were started before ...Fly on the Wall. I may finish them yet. ...Fly on the Wall was in response to a missing scene challenge which came at exactly the same time I was hankering to write a gentle, fish-out-of-water Jim. Jim in a dress shop seemed to fit the bill.
You write humorous stories so well. Does this come easily for you?
Aw, shucks. Thanks. I think the hardest part about writing humor is the timing. I read my stories out loud to see if they flow. I don't always succeed in getting the timing right but I think I'm getting better at recognizing when it is right. There are some spots in Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut that I'm still not happy with but I've learned to let it go. <g>
Who You Gonna Call... When Your Butt's Hanging Out? is a touching missing scene for Blind Man's Bluff. What is your favorite part of this story? How did you come up with the angsty yet funny image of Blair wandering down the hall in his sparse hospital gown?
See? That's what I'm saying. Blair's just a funny guy. That image just popped into my head while I was trying to write a perfectly serious, angsty story. And, to be honest with you, my favorite part of this story is that little scene with Jim picturing an unkempt Blair wandering the hospital with his gown hanging open. It was one of those funny-peers-over-the-edge-of-angst-and-turns-out-poignant moments. At least that's what I was striving for.
Blair mixes too many home remedies at the station with hilarious results in Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but some of the inspiration for this story came from my work with folks with short-term memory loss. I'm not trying to make light of the tragedy of short-term memory loss--I would never do that and I could never write a humorous story where Blair had a permanent loss. But I wouldn't be human if I didn't recognize the irony of a brilliant mind temporarily trapped in a memory loop less than a minute long. Besides, with all the pots Blair's got his fingers in and all those natural remedies he's sipping and dipping and sniffing, something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.
How to Warm Up a Slightly Damp Guppy is a favorite dramatic story of many people. What is your favorite thing about this story?
It's funny but of all my stories, this is my least favorite. I'm sure that happens to other people--folks really take to a story that the writer is lukewarm about at best. There was too much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in that story to my taste. But I've let it be because it does seem to be a sentimental favorite of a lot of folks who've written to me. I do like that Simon took such an active role this story. He's a good egg.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Sitting down and doing it. Making sure the structure holds. Making sure the story flows. Not being sure if it's me telling myself that the structure holds and the story flows or if really works. The insecurity, I think.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
Find a good beta reader. Not just someone who'll tell you what you want to hear, but someone who loves good fanfic and will help you get your story told.
What is it about The Sentinel and Jim/Blair/Simon that inspires you to write?
Oh, surely, you of all people, you little Cascade Librarians, know the answer to that. <g> It's all about friendship.
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Probably Guppy. But I hope they remember JuJuBes, too.
Thanks, Red Soprano!
Last updated 12/20/02 clc