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This week's interview is a fascinating look into the creativity of popular author, Rimilod. From touching 'what ifs' (as in “Jimmy”) to reinventing character relationships (in her AU “Birthright Series”), Rimilod is extremely versatile and frequently recommended as a 'must read' for those new to TS fan fiction. All can be accessed here. (archivist's note: author email found at author's page.)
Section 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?
Yes, I have two pen names: Dolimir and Rimilod (which is Dolimir spelled backwards).
Just to let you all know how long I've been online -- my first internet connection only had 9600 bauds. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered that if you had a higher baud you could actually see images and not just text. :-) But even back then, I knew better than to put my real name out into cyberspace. Therefore, I took the name of my favorite college-played D&D character. When I submitted a screenplay to Project Greenlight, it never dawned on me to create another screen name (there are days when I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier), so I tried to get Dolimir taken off the web. Obviously, that didn't go well. But that's how Rimilod was created.
Would you tell us where you live?
I currently live in Los Angeles (at least until the next really big earthquake or I lose my job).
Would you tell us a little about your life?
I moved to Los Angeles two years ago because I felt like I was in a rut; not only a rut, but a rut that would eventually suffocate me unless I did something drastic to get out of it. So, I packed my bags and my cats and headed out West to seek out a new life. Of course, I did it just as the economy was tanking and it took me a little longer to find a job than I had hoped. Thankfully, I jumped with a nest egg, and was able to land a full-time job before all my funds completely evaporated.
Since I've been in California I've attended movie premieres, gone whale watching (although I didn't see anything except dolphins), attended the Festival of Books, been in an earthquake, survived wildfires, gone to the Griffith Observatory, been to a book signing of an actor whose work I enjoy, temped for several different networks and basically just lived a little.
What work, volunteer or paid, do you do?
Upon coming to California , I signed up for a temp agency and have worked for such companies as the Hallmark Channel, The Writer's Guild, the SciFi Channel, Carsey-Werner Distribution, USAA Network and Playboy.
I currently work for Playboy, which, oddly, has me returning to my gen roots.
Do you have any pro-fic writing experience or aspirations?
I do have some pro-fic writing experience! I've had five very small pieces of fiction published and had a play produced. I've written a screenplay, but have been too chicken to send it out. I was also a book review editor for a tiny horror fiction magazine that is no longer in print.
I would love to have a book published, and have been playing with a couple of ideas over the years. Basically, I need to stop fooling around and get serious about my writing. However, my current job is rather stressful and I've discovered that stress kills creativity in a big way.
You haven't written stories for TS in a while. Have you taken a break from writing, or are you writing in other fandoms now?
When I left The Sentinel fandom, I dove headfirst into Smallville. From Smallville, I migrated into Supernatural (apparently, I have a thing for "S" fandoms), although I don't really participate much in the fandom side of things anymore. I guess you could say I'm more of a lurker now.
While I mostly read Supernatural, I have branched out into a myriad of other fandoms as well (including, occasionally, Sentinel). The one thing I love about being on LiveJournal/Dreamwidth (dolimir_k) is that I can dip my toes into any fandom I choose, without necessarily having to submerse myself into any of them. I have discovered numerous authors I would never have run across if I had stayed in a "mailing list" environment.
Section II. When and how did you become a TS fan?
When did you first see or hear about The Sentinel?
I first ran across The Sentinel because I was channel flipping and came across a curly-haired young man who didn't want to be ventilated by a pissed off magpie. I remember looking at my son and saying, "What do you think?" He shrugged and said, "Sure, why not?"
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?
When I took my first steps onto the information highway, I joined the AOL Babylon 5 community. When the series ended, I found myself craving that sort of on-line community. I had tried a few fandoms, but nothing clicked.
I honestly don't remember how I came across the Sentinel fandom online. I do remember that I used to haunt the Sentinel Library daily, looking for new stories. I read as a lurker for nearly fifteen months before I decided that I'd like to do something to 'pay fandom back' for all the wonderful stories I'd read.
Of course, making the decision to write and actually writing were two completely separate ideas. I didn't have a clue where to start. So I joined the Sentinel Angst List, wherein you had to produce a story every six weeks (I believe) or you were kicked off the list. The authors on the list were incredible and I found myself producing stories just so I could continue reading their stuff.
What do you think the readership finds most interesting in gen TS fiction?
I think it's the friendship. I like the idea of two people who would do anything for each other. Kipling wrote a poem called "The Thousandth Man," wherein he stated:
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
To me, that is the essence of Jim and Blair's relationship.
What do you appreciate most when you read TS fiction? Who are your favorite gen TS authors and why?
I voraciously followed such writers as: D.L.Witherspoon, Ysone, Kikkimax, Delilah, Autumn Skies, Jael Lynn, Fidus Amicus, Emerald, Cindy Combs, K.Ryn, LRH Balzer, Paula, Shallan and a host of others.
The reason: The quality of their writing. The Sentinel fandom had/has some great storytellers, women who truly take their time to tell a story, who worked at making their stories the very best they could be. These stories stand up, even now, years after the series has gone off the air.
Section III. About being a writer ...?
Why do you write?
I write because I have no choice. Ideas and characters come to me and pester me until I write them down. They will not be denied. I've tried; it's not pretty.
How do you come up with such great story ideas? What inspires you? Do you have tricks or strategies to stimulate your imagination?
Well, it's incredibly kind of you to say that I had great story ideas. Thank you.
Basically, I knew I sucked at case stories. I tried to write them, but I absolutely couldn't wrap my head around them. [As an aside, Jael Lyn writes fantastic case stories!]
So, I started playing, "what if."
What if Jim and Blair were somehow brothers? (The Birthright series)
What if a tape came to Jim's attention that made him think that Blair had been a drug addict in his past? (Motion of Discovery)
What did Blair mean when he said "What are we going to do -- pull him up or knock him off?" (Guides)
What if Blair used Jim's senses against him? (Hunted)
What if Blair was actually a legendary rock star who disappeared at the height of his fame? (Where Are They Now?)
What was the first story you wrote, and how did it feel to first place it into the public eye?
The very first fanfiction story I ever wrote was called, "Chains" and it was set in the B5 universe. I had no idea what fanfiction was. But it was an idea that wouldn't let me go until I wrote it down. I showed it to my fandom friends, who liked it, but who also had no idea what fanfiction was. I later discovered that B5 writers had to be incredibly careful because JMS, the series producer/writer, actively hunted down fanfiction stories, so all fanfiction was hidden on enclosed lists. Somehow, I ran across such a list and the rest is history.
The very first Sentinel story I wrote (which was actually only my second fanfiction story) was Ain't No Mountain High Enough.
How did it feel to put it into the public eye? It was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
I went back and reread it recently and, surprisingly, it didn't make me cringe. I also like the fact that not only did I focus on Jim and Blair's relationship but Simon's relationship with them as well, which sort of became a theme with me.
Do you write in other fandoms besides TS?
Yes, I've written in Smallville and Supernatural. I've dabbled in Angel: The Series, Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Angel, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean .
What do you think/hope readers most appreciate in your stories?
I think my stories are viewed as 'comfort' stories. The reader knows there's going to be a happy ending and they know I'm going to focus on the relationship between the characters. I used to rail against this. I wanted to be hip. I wanted to be dark and edgy. But I've discovered that I simply can't write that type of story.
As a result, I've tried to write stories that are a tad off the beaten path. To maybe explore areas that other authors have explored, but do it with a twist or come at the problem from a different angle.
How do you decide whether to write in a first person POV or third person as a narrator?
When I first started writing I almost always went with third person POV, but as time went on, I started experimenting with first person POV. In the Smallville universe, I even occasionally played with a second person POV.
Basically, it boils down to whose point of view am I telling the story from and how would the story best be served. I've rewritten several stories because I thought a different point of view would better serve the ideas I was trying to present.
Have you ever had a writing coach?
Not in the classic sense. However, I've had several fantastic betas over the years, who have taught me a lot about writing. On Livejournal, readers would often ask me questions or catch mistakes as I wrote works-in-progress.
I think writing is an ever evolving process. If you ever think you've reached the place where you have no more to learn, then you are sadly mistaken.
Do you work with a beta? Why or why not? What is your process for determining when your story is ready for posting?
For my larger stories I always ask for a beta because a second pair of eyes is very helpful. Over the years, I've also discovered that people catch completely different things. So for bigger stories I like to have three or four people take a look at my stories.
For smaller stories, I often don't bother. Why? Because at one point I was incredibly prolific and I felt like I was really imposing on people by asking them to look at my stuff every week.
My process for determining when a story is ready...is usually when I can't stand to fuss over it anymore or when a deadline finally comes due. I will pick at a story forever, if I'm allowed, which is why, when I get totally sick of it, I figure I better send it off before I convince myself it isn't any good.
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?
I used to laughingly say that I was the queen of AUs. I think I started writing AUs because I basically wanted to stand out from the crowd. Although I also enjoy writing humor and slices of life.
If you were to write a completely new AU for these characters, what would it demand of them?
Now that's an interesting question. I think, I would demand that Jim no longer fight Blair about his senses. Been there, done that, tired of it.
I also think I'd like to write them with more of an edge, make the danger more real and immediate.
I always liked the boys on the run sort of stories.
Which among your own works is your favorite and why?
With regard to Sentinel gen:
Hunted - The genesis for this story came when I asked myself, "What would it take for Blair to use Jim's senses against him?" And the only plausible answer was he'd do it to protect Naomi. But why would he need to protect Naomi? And thus the story was born.
Where Are They Now? - One year, I gave myself food poisoning on Christmas day. I was lying on the couch watching MTV's Countdown, when I wondered what would happen if it turned out that Blair was a famous rock star who had gone into hiding because he had lost his path. I sat down at the computer and told myself I'd simply write down a few notes, so I wouldn't forget my idea. Six hours later, the story was done. There was just something magical about how that story came together.
Time On His Hands - I really enjoy exploring Blair's relationship with Simon. After all, it's not a conventional friendship. Jim is friends with Blair because his mental survival depended on it. But why are Simon and Blair friends?
Forgiven - I don't think Blair could have walked away from Alex. That wasn't who he was. It might have taken him some time to come around, but I definitely think he would have gone back to Alex. He was incapable of ignoring her distress.
Which of your stories are you less positive about, why? Have you had the urge to revise any of your stories? Which ones?
Oh man, I want to revise them all. Heh. I've learned so much about writing over the years that it's painful to go back and look at those early offerings.
But some of the ones I'm less positive about:
Falling - It's so fraught with errors that I don't even have it up on my website anymore. You can still find it online by googling it, but I'd really rather you didn't. Besides the grammatical and punctuation errors, I rushed the story and it's obvious.
Rain, Rain, Go Away - It was one of the first stories I produced for the Angst list, and was basically a story I threw together to keep from getting kicked off the list.
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?
My problem is that in order to tell the stories I want to tell, I would have to write novellas. And while I know people are asking, "And the problem with that is what?" there's a part of me that asks, "If you're going to take that much time to write a story, shouldn't it be an original fiction story?"
As far as Sentinel goes, if I were to write a 'dream project' it would be a Jim-and-Blair-on-the-run type story.
Do you create OCs and how do you use them? Do you find creating an OC challenging?
I love OCs. LOVE THEM (as long as they aren't Mary Sues).
I created several OCs in Sentinel…basically, people at Rainier who knew Blair. It seems like the series always focused on Jim, Jim's family and friends and people at the station. I wanted a group of people for Blair, who knew him, who could show the reader who Blair was when he wasn't around Jim. Once I had my core group, these OCs appeared in several of my stories.
An effective OC has to be someone who can shed light on the character without overshadowing the main characters. [Kikkimax's Jim Brady is the epitome of this.]
I first created Janice, the department secretary, who had known Blair since he arrived at Rainier . Then I created a group of friends who were fellow grad students: Jess, David, Mike, Danny and a few others. These were people who would know about Blair's thesis and the trials and tribulations he had with his subject. They were people he could kvetch with and who would understand his frustrations.
Do I find creating OC challenging?
No. But I suspect that comes from wanting to write original fiction.
How do you feel about feedback and concrit from your readers?
I love feedback. Heh. I've had some incredibly moving feedback over the years. It's always fascinating to me to see what readers pick up on and what moves them. However, I rarely get feedback on my Sentinel stories anymore because I moved from AOL to Gmail and was unable to change a lot of the addresses that appeared on my stories. (dolimir at gmail.com)
Regarding concrit, I'm of two minds about it. (a) Questions while writing a work-in-progress are awesome. They challenge me and make me think. I've had several stories strengthened because people took the time to ask for clarification or to point something out to me. (b) After a story is written and posted, I'm not so thrilled with it...because basically the story is done. A lot of times it's posted to an archive. How can I make changes to it then?
Of course, in the early days, I had people offer me their beta services because they liked my 'style' but were bothered by grammar errors, etc. I learned a lot through these folks!
I'm always open to discussion about my stories (obviously not the 'you suck' sort of discussions, but why I made the decisions I did). So if you have questions, please feel free to ask.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
DON'T RUSH YOUR STORY!!
Yes, I was being annoying and shouting. But this is one of my biggest pet peeves.
So many writers, so many, basically vomit their story ideas onto the paper then race off to the next idea. They may have an awesome idea, but they don't fully explore it. Other authors who are intrigued by the premise, may not follow up with a similar idea because they don't want to be charged with 'so and so did it first.'
If you're going to take the time to write a story, do it right. You're next story will wait.
Also, take the time to know the canon. It's frustrating to read a story when Simon mentions his ex-wife Jane. If you're not going to take the time to get the facts right, why write at all?
Is there anything we can do to encourage you to keep writing for TS?
Not really. I occasionally drabble in Sentinel. But until my muse comes back there's not a whole lot I can do. Any sort of 'encouragement' will make me feel pressured and nothing dries up the creative juices like pressure. However, I am tickled that, nearly seven years later, people still want to read my Sentinel stories. I am truly honored and humbled by that sentiment.
Hopefully, the continuing love affair that TS fans have with your stories will 'encourage' you to keep on writing, no matter where the muse takes you. Thanks so much for taking this trip back in time with us!
Last updated 7/6/09 igr