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Indoctrinated into The Sentinel by her roommate, Robyn first encouraged said roommate to write fanfiction, then decided to begin writing herself. She posted her first solo story in late 1997 -- The Cascade Supermarket Incident. Filled with delightful humor, the story was a very promising beginning for an author skilled in hysterical comedy and later expanding to include wonderfully touching friendship and smarm stories. In the two years since then, she has written such varied works as a Christmas tale which puts Jim and Blair into Santa and elf costumes; a series of stories with Becky that gave new meaning to words "traffic jam"; a "perfect moment" story with the boys communing with nature and watching the heavens light up with the colors of the aurora; and a eloquently beautiful story of friendship and love which rises above all adversity to bring our heroes back to the real world.
In addition to her wonderful stories, Robyn has designed several other webpages to aid fans of The Sentinel. The Sensory Overload Site site includes a comprehensive list of the uses of Jim's senses in all the episodes; it also includes a sightings list for Rafe, Brown, white socks, among other things; and a miscellaneous trivia page. The Cascade Hospital site serves as a place for fanfic authors to visit to get medical information put into laymen's terms for medical accuracy in their stories. The Welcome to The Sentinel Fandom site is aimed at new fans to help orient them into the fandom. And the Best of The Sentinel Fan Fiction on the Web (now part of Cascade Library itself) site was created to give readers a forum to recommend their favorite fanfics, both old and new.
With her pediatrics residency completed and now working full-time as a pediatrician, Robyn has little time to write fanfic, but her work from the past that alternatively touches our hearts or makes us fall off our chairs in laughter remains on the web for readers old and new to enjoy. Robyn's Cascade Library listing includes 49 stories, eight of which are co-authored with Becky. Her stories are located at Becky's website, Becky's Sentinel Site.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Robyn!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm 27 years old, born and raised in California, and I LOVE The Sentinel!!! ~grin~ I recently graduated from a southern California medical school with my M.D. and am deep in the throes of my three-year residency in pediatrics. I was a business major in college; I have a wonderful younger brother who would freak if he ever read my fanfic; I like Toll House chocolate chip cookies, playing the piano, astronomy, chemistry, Elmo, fishing with my dad, eating out, flying, Vancouver, fanfic brainstorming with my friend Becky, The Sound of Music, Jim, Blair, Simon, Megan, Rafe, Brown, Joel... you were saying? ~grin~
What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
Residency takes up a lot of my time and can be quite exhausting, so much of my spare time now is spent sleeping or eating or walking around the apartment looking like Blair after finals ~grin~. However, when I have a chance, I enjoy updating my four Sentinel web pages. If it weren't for The Sentinel, I might never have taught myself how to design webpages, and now it's become a real creative outlet for me. I'm also a novice web graphics designer and have designed logos for a number of webpages. My most recent project has been getting all the commercials together for the Faux Paws Productions virtual 5th season, and it has been a *lot* of fun working with several other very graphically talented Sentinel ladies (Hi Mrs. Fish and Annie!). I spend a lot of time doing email correspondence with the friends I met through TS, and helping out the steady stream of new TS fans who write me via the Welcome page.
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
That would be Becky's fault. For those of you who don't know, Becky (yes, THE Becky of TS fanfic fame ~grin~) and I share an apartment. We got acquainted as college dorm roommates. I was basically a big-time premed nerd/study-holic when she met me, with basically no hobbies to speak of. In her own insidious way, she managed to convert me into a fan of several TV shows -- namely Star Trek: The Next Generation and Lois and Clark. When I entered medical school, we got an apartment and she started watching this show called The Sentinel. All I knew was that the show was about some army guy and they did a lot of explosions, and that didn't exactly sound like my kind of show -- I like mostly comedy. I'd be studying my head off and have to take a potty break. I'd walk from my bedroom past the living room where she was watching TV, to the bathroom. Inevitably, I'd end up stuck in the living room, standing behind the couch and watching the show over her shoulder! This went on for a while, and eventually she got me to sit down and watch Spare Parts and I was *totally* hooked. Jim and Blair were seriously gorgeous men and I just loved their banter. And then I realized the show had this totally deep friendship concept! Wow! Then I went through the period of "Uh-uh, I'm *never* gonna be caught writing fanfic," but obviously that didn't last too long either! LOL! Did I mention Jim and Blair are SO handsome? Beautiful smiles, vivid blue eyes, handsome faces, wonderful bodies... What more could you want?
What is your favorite episode and why?
Oh man, now I see why the previous author-interviewees hated this question ~grin~. How can you choose? I have so many favorites (which I define by saying I've watched the episode over so many times the tape is worn out ~grin~). Let's see... if I *had* to choose, my favorite drama episode is probably Warriors. It's one of the most perfect episodes IMHO. Jim freaks out over his senses and Incacha's death, and Blair confronts him and forces Jim to let him help him, just like a true friend would. And Jim lets him! A wonderful example of their relationship. Not to mention Jim and Blair look absolutely beautiful in this episode. ~sigh~ ~drool~ The only thing I didn't like is that they killed my poor Expedition. ~sniffle-hiccup-voice crack~ I loved that car... ~hic~ Let us now have a moment of silence, please...
Since I love humor so much, I have to say that my favorite humorous TS episode is a tie between Spare Parts and His Brother's Keeper. I've watched those two episodes SO many times and I still crack up in the same places! The scene of Jim trying to drive the semi in Spare Parts is so hilarious, and he tries so hard to be a "man" about it even though poor Blair is getting whiplash and the gears are making a horrible noise! And HBK's race track scenes -- I love 'em all. Blair's trying so hard not to let Jim in on the secret even though every time he changes the subject it is so obvious! And then the "You knew/But I didn't lie" exchange -- ~choke~ oh man, that kills me every time. It is SO Jim and Blair.
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?
~Robyn grins sheepishly~ I've never posted my first Sentinel fanfic story. I wrote it before I was a true TS fan, as a gift for Becky. It was a total Mary Sue (not that I knew what a Mary Sue was back then) -- basically a story about Jim and Blair coming to southern California to help out in a murder case at the university where I was going to medical school. They stayed at our apartment and everything! LOL! It was really bad. By the time Becky wrote Disneyland Detour, I knew enough about The Sentinel to help her come up with ideas for the stories, but she did all the actual writing. The first story I wrote by myself was a humor piece -- The Cascade Supermarket Incident. I think I wrote that in November 1997 sometime. Becky posted it for me since I didn't belong to any of the lists. I don't remember being particularly scared to post. I was more like a naive happy dog, eagerly waiting to see if people really thought the story was as funny as I thought it was. Fortunately, I received some incredibly kind feedback and have been writing ever since.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
I think Through a Window, Darkly would make a good episode. It's really the only episode-ish piece I've written (it actually involves a case!). However, I have quite a number of scenes from my writing that I would love to see filmed by RB and GM. Some that come to mind are the opening scene from Window where Jim emerges from the fog carrying Blair in his arms. I don't care if GM weighs almost as much as RB -- we deserve a Jim-carrying-Blair scene! ~grin~ Also, the scene from Window where Blair and Jim put their hands up against the window is my favorite of the entire story. From other stories, I would love to see the scene from Downstairs with Uncle Jim where a shirtless Jim is standing in the backlit room holding a baby against his chest. ~melt~ I wrote that entire story to get that one scene. The beach reunion scene in Memory of Angels and the cheek-touching scene in I Heard the Mountain Sing would also be so cool to see. When I write stories, I see and hear the scenes in my head in full color with camera angles and the whole business, like watching a movie. Sometimes I also hear music, which makes me wish I could insert background music into my stories -- someday we shouldn't be so limited in the internet's multimedia capacity. I simply describe what I'm seeing and hearing and that turns into the story. I've always felt more like a director than a script writer.
Which story are you most proud of?
Actually, the first one that comes to mind is The Sentinel: Men in Green Tights! LOL! I consider that my best humor piece. The heated bickering between Jim and Blair came so easily and I still LOL whenever I read the bathroom scenes (those were only challenging to write because J & B were arguing so rapidly in my head I could hardly type fast enough!). I'm always paranoid that my humor stories are funny only to me and everybody else will read them and just shake their head and think how I need counseling, but that story got me really good feedback, including good-humored "complaints" from several readers who said they inadvertently injured themselves (i.e., fell off a couch) or ruined upholstery/furniture/computers because they spit out something they were chewing or drinking. LOL! A lot of people also seemed to particularly enjoy I Heard the Mountain Sing and I think the first-person POV and sensory descriptions helped readers actually experience what Blair was feeling. My best feedback came from that story.
Which character do you most enjoy writing?
It's a toss-up between Jim and Blair. I like writing their characters pretty equally, and it depends on the particular scene or story as to which one feels more appropriate. I've learned that I really enjoy writing first-person POV. I've written several stories where I started out in third-person and was having a terrible time with the flow. Then I would switch to first-person and the writing would magically become so easy. You may have noticed that I also enjoy writing Rafe/Brown scenes. For some reason they seem to be a perfect duo for comedic scenes and distractions. I wish we could have seen more of these two characters on the show. I like Simon and Megan lots too. Aw, I like 'em all! Least favorite? The bad guys! I have a hard time thinking like one.
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
In case you hadn't guessed by the stories I've already written, my favorite genres are definitely smarm and humor. At least these come the most naturally to me. Drama is much more challenging for me because it generally requires longer stories and some complicated plot that my brain is often too lazy to think up. I tend to get intimidated, I guess, and my attention span for writing is limited. I have an incredible amount of respect for the TS authors who are able to churn out those long drama pieces. I usually have a certain "window" (please, no comparisons to Evil Samantha) where I'm really inspired about an idea (rarely more than a few days), and if I don't write the whole story during that time the writing process becomes much more difficult and much less enjoyable. Becky and I have a saying that a long story tends to turn into what we call a "ball and chain," and having a ball and chain makes Robyn *REAL* cranky! LOL! It's an apt description for anyone who's experienced this. I've become so busy that it's very frustrating when my window of opportunity passes and I'm unable to write due to real life. The large number of short pieces I've written is largely due to the fact that I can get them done quickly, within my window.
Unfortunately, the blockheaded part of me enjoys a challenge, and one of the reasons I wrote Window (my only long drama story) was to prove to myself that I could write a long drama piece. The few missing scenes I've written have mostly been a therapeutic way for me to deal with the emotional aftermath I felt after watching S2 and TSbyBS, like many writers. I honestly think that the writers/directors don't realize how little it would take to make us fans deliriously happy and not so upset with certain episodes. We're the kind of people who go crazy over a simple look or shoulder touch! The many missing scenes in fanfic prove that. Someday I hope to write a crossover as well, though it will probably be far from conventional -- I want to do one with the comedy Frasier, one of my favorite sitcoms. I may also be helping Becky with a AU TS/Star Trek crossover, which I think has a lot of potential.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
Becky's my main beta-reader. Besides being convenient ~grin~, I rely on her to reassure me that my stories aren't awful and to pick up most of my typos. Believe me, she puts up with a lot -- she's a huge moral support and tells me to keep going even when I get discouraged. I've only asked two other people to beta any of my stories -- Tate beta'ed Window and was SO wonderful. I was really afraid to ask someone I didn't know extremely well to help me, but she really helped polish the story into something much better than I could have done alone. Shiloh beta'ed Memory of Angels for me and she was wonderful because she was so good at gushing about her favorite parts! LOL!
Are you and Becky the same person?
~Robyn mumbles to herself in the background: "Doh! I *knew* the truth about the multiple personalities would come out sooner or later...."~ Just kidding! LOL! It sounds funny, but you do NOT know how appropriate a question this is. You wouldn't believe how many messages Becky and I (mostly Becky) have received in which people assume we are one person instead of two. We have all our fanfic listed on the same page and have a few stories we've co-authored, so that might be confusing, but each story is clearly labeled with the author's name. I'll admit it does get a bit annoying at times, particularly because both of us adamantly believe that our writing styles and story plot ideas are fairly different. Now that we've been in this fandom for a few years, fortunately most people have figured it out. But thanks for giving me the opportunity to say NO, Becky and Robyn (note: NOT Beckyrobyn -- LOL!) are two separate people, two separate bodies, two separate minds, two separate writers. (If you need proof, check out our Vancouver trip pictures!) Becky = short hair and green eyes, Robyn = shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. Becky = the "Jim" personality and Robyn = the "Blair" personality. I couldn't hope to write many of the beautiful pieces Becky has, and I wouldn't want her to have to take the blame for some of my stuff! ~grin~
You and Becky had the opportunity to visit the set in Vancouver. Can you tell us a little about that experience?
Absolutely. We visited the set about a year ago in December 1998, during the filming of TSbyBS. I was interviewing at the University of Washington in Seattle for pediatric residency, and we took a side trip to Vancouver during the four days we were in the Northwest. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life. Being a major homebody, it means a lot when I say Vancouver is the most beautiful city I've ever seen and I would love to live there someday. Lois Balzer and Cathy Mayo were incredibly kind and gracious hostesses and took us for a tour around the city to see the places where TS was filmed. It was SO cool to stand on the bridge overlooking the dam from the beginning of Blind Man's Bluff, to see Hargrove Hall and sit by the fountain (thank goodness I knew TS was coming back then, otherwise I would have been too sad), and to stand in front of the loft's building. I still can't believe that Henri Brown and Ryf van Rij (the actors) were kind enough to let us into their trailer on the Pet Fly set and chat with us! I can't say enough good things about both of these men. They were so incredibly kind and down to earth. Visiting the loft set itself (we weren't allowed onto the bullpen set because it was rigged with explosives for the final shootout scene in TSbyBS) helped me immensely as a writer. I'm a very visual person, and being inside the loft was the first time I really understood its layout and how cozy and comfortable it was. I just could never get a real sense of the place from watching episodes. Many of you have already visited the website I set up with pictures and a more comprehensive trip report. In any case, I want to go back again someday!
Your AU story, The Memory of Angels, was beautifully written and had a wonderfully original plot. What inspired this story?
Thank you. I wrote Memory because I enjoy gen stories in which Jim and Blair's friendship shines through with a closeness that allows them to be unafraid to express their caring for each other emotionally and physically. I wanted to see if I could write a story to explore how Jim and Blair would act if they were taken out of their everyday environment and had thought that the other had just died, without doing a regular death story. Such a plot gave them time to just be friends without a case or the rigors of everyday life intruding upon them. I also enjoy writing stories set out in nature which reflect upon the beauty of Jim and Blair's friendship. In Memory, the four elements represented the essential tasks of forgiveness, trust, sacrifice, and commitment vital to their growth as friends. This is one story where I thought of the title first and thought, hey, that would make a really neat title -- what story can I write for it? (The title was inspired by one of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes entitled The Sacrifice of Angels.) I was very pleased with how the plot ended up fitting with the title. Writing the piece was quite a unique experience. I felt like I was on an emotional high the whole time.
You write such delightful humor pieces, taking everyday things like tango lessons, doing the laundry, and grocery shopping, and turning them into wildly funny tales of mishaps with lots of laughter. Where do you get all the great ideas?
This is where I confess that I like TS so much that any time I get bored (doing laundry or going grocery shopping) or have a funny experience, I find myself thinking, "What if Jim and Blair were in this situation? That could make a good story..." A lot of the ideas come from some silly conversation Becky and I had. I suppose each story has its own twisted, embarrassing origin, some of which I've forgotten ~grin~. Speaking of which, ~Robyn yells around the corner to Becky: "Where'd I get the idea for the tango story?.... Oh yeah..."~ The tango story (one of Becky's favorites) got written shortly after Becky saw the movie The Mask of Zorro and told me about it. From her descriptions of certain scenes, I got the idea of Jim and Blair doing some melodramatic dance, plus it was a great excuse to get them in tuxes again. It was a lot easier to write the comic stuff after I saw the TS convention videos and realized that RB and GM can both do great comedy, particularly when they're just goofing off!
Several of your stories have very lyrical titles, such as The Memory of Angels, Through a Window, Darkly, and I Heard the Mountain Sing. How do you come up with such beautiful titles? Do you a particular source of inspiration?
Through a Window, Darkly and I Heard the Mountain Sing were actually both inspired by phrases from the Bible: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1 Corinthians 13) and "the mountains and hills will burst into song before you" (Isaiah 55). I think I mentioned above where The Memory of Angels came from. The Bible contains some of the most beautiful, lyrical prose ever written, and the titles you mentioned are far and away my favorites among all the stories I've written.
One of your stories is a clever allegory based on Sentinel Too and the movie, The Princess Bride. Though the idea sounds rather comic, the tale itself seems more of a dramatic effort to showcase S2 and its effects on Jim and Blair. What gave you the idea to write this story?
Sentinel Too was one of The Sentinel's most tragic stories, and we were very fortunate as a fandom to eventually see it resolved. One day I realized that the dialogue from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, actually fit very well for what Jim and Blair went through, so I combined pieces of dialogue from the movie into a surreal reenactment of the events of S2 and was very pleased with the result. The interspersing of the two in A Dream Within a Dream helped capture for me the most important aspects of the anguish of the broken friendship and a more satisfying resolution than the show provided me. Besides, I love allegories. ~grin~ I'm really proud of Dream because it was so different than the other S2 stories I had read.
What is your opinion on the importance of feedback? Would you encourage more readers to "delurk" and write to their favorite authors?
I don't have much time to read fanfic, but I do try to send an LOC for every story I do read. Becky usually recommends stories she thinks I would enjoy, and I have several favorite authors. I try to write the kind of LOC I like to receive, which means being as specific as possible about particular scenes, lines, or aspects of the story I especially enjoyed. I think most authors (including myself ~grin~) really like hearing that a particular line or scene was noticed. Chances are if a scene or line stood out to a reader, it's one the author is especially proud of and wondering whether anyone noticed. There are few things as satisfying as hearing a reader say they liked or noticed something that I was hoping people would! I'm also a firm believer in sticking to positive feedback -- like Becky and I say, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Some authors, myself included, have to psychologically prepare ourselves to accept criticism, no matter how constructive or well-meaning it may be, and the several writers who are good friends and who know me best are the ones from whom I would rather hear constructive criticism, and only when I ask for it. In turn, I wouldn't be so presumptuous to criticize or critique a story negatively unless I knew the author very well and was specifically asked by them for my opinion. Flames? Talk about an enigma for me ~grin~. Why would anyone want to be mean to someone on purpose? Call me ignorant, but I don't get it.
I would definitely encourage all readers to drop authors a note if they enjoyed a story. Most authors *love* hearing from readers, even if it's just a short note! I think most of us write at least partially because of the impact our stories can have on others, and when you hear from someone who enjoyed what you wrote, it is SO neat! Every positive LOC helps to foster an encouraging environment for creativity and fanfic in our fandom, and the fanfic is one of the best things about our fandom. Besides, it's also really nice to know that people are actually reading your stories. It might sound stupid, but the paranoid part of me always wonders if I'm just writing to myself! LOL! No, seriously, before I went to the SOS Rally in Pasadena last January, I always assumed that the only people reading my stories were the five people who sent me an LOC. I was totally flabbergasted when all these other people came up to me, asked if I was the Robyn who wrote the such-and-such story, and said "I read and enjoy your stories, but I just never write feedback. I figured the authors don't really care." Nononononono! ~grin~ Please, we love to hear from you. And to every author like me who doesn't receive hundreds of LOC's for every story, let me assure you that *lots* of people *are* reading your stories and enjoying them -- they just haven't written to tell you. Keeep writing! ~grin~
What are your thoughts on Bilson and DeMeo's decision to put Blair into the Academy rather than continue his academic career at Rainier? If the show were to continue for a fifth season, what would you like to happen?
I'm definitely in the camp that doesn't want Blair to become a cop. He'll always be the anthropologist/grad student character to me, and I don't think I'll ever write him as a cop -- it would feel unnatural for me and I don't think I could pull it off. It's not that the cop storyline wouldn't be interesting or have possibilities, and I've read several post-TSbyBS pieces that were very good, but I prefer the original contrasting premise of The Sentinel with Jim as the detective and Blair as the anthropologist and don't see the need for that to be changed. Were TS to continue in a new 5th season, I want to believe that Bilson and DeMeo would follow what they said in the scifi.com interview and find a way to get Blair out of the police academy and back into academia. I have no clue how that could be done in a plausible way, but they could pull the "shower/dream trick" from Dallas and I wouldn't care -- I just want them to give Blair his academic career and reputation back. No doubt it would have other fans frothing at the mouth ~grin~. The two gen virtual 5th seasons we have are wonderful, but sometimes I wish there were a virtual season out there which would have chosen not to keep Blair a cop.
What do you do when your muse takes a vacation?
Grumble and whine (I tried head-banging but it wasn't very productive). Plant myself in Becky's room and beg her to brainstorm with me. Lately it's been more of a coordination problem with my muse -- getting ideas when I have no time to write, and ceasing to be inspired by the time I do get a chance to write. Very frustrating!
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
1) Finding the time and 2) planting myself in front of the computer and getting it done! Writing the portions of a story for which I don't have an incredibly exciting idea, and keeping myself from getting bogged down in syntax. I'm one of those people who is easily distracted by the wording of a sentence instead of trying to get the whole scene down first and then go back to fine-tune it. My college English teacher had us read portions of a little paperback book about writing called Sweet Agony. I still think it's an apt term for the process!
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
Getting hit with a really great idea and bringing it to life in a scene, then sitting back and admiring it! Most of my best ideas come to me (don't laugh) when I'm taking a shower. Somehow it's one of the few places where my mind is free to do nothing but dream up ideas. Becky says my muse lives in the shower ~grin~. The next best part about writing is hearing back from readers who say they really enjoyed the scene and could really picture it happening. Wow! That warms me all over! I also really feel good when I re-read a scene and feel that it came across as a vivid sensory experience -- one in which the reader can see, hear, taaste, smell, and touch every detail physically and emotionally, as if they were right there with Jim and Blair -- as if they *were* Jim or Blair. That's my definition of a powerful scene.
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
Always remember that the most important thing about writing is that *you* like the stories you're writing, and that you enjoyed writing them! What other people think doesn't matter so much as whether you like it! It can be intimidating to read list conversations about characterization or different writing styles, etc. etc., and wonder if you're measuring up. Don't worry! What counts is that you love The Sentinel and you love the stories you're writing. If the stories bring you happiness and joy, then keep going!
What do you think the future of Sentinel fanfic will hold?
Speaking specifically about TS fanfic, I hope it will stick around for a long time! Because new episodes are no longer being filmed, the writers and readers of our fandom are going to be the ones that keep Jim and Blair alive forever. That thought is exciting to me, because that's something *we* as a fandom have control over. I've been so pleased to see that so many new TS stories still continue to be written even after the show's run on UPN ended, and that we regularly have new authors appearing. And even if the volume of fic ever drops off, we can be proud that our fandom has amassed a wonderful collection of stories that should be around for readers to enjoy indefinitely.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
Yes -- smarm and humor ~grin~. I've recommended many of my faves on the Best of Sentinel Fanfiction on the Web page. All the stories I love are pretty much guaranteed to make you laugh and/or feel good inside! I spend so much time dealing with hurting people, and life can stink quite well on its own without any help, so I prefer to fill my free time with happy thoughts. ~grin~ I also prefer stories in which Jim and Blair are written as equals, both emotionally strong yet vulnerable, emotionally supportive of each other, and the author goes easy on the owies. ~grin~
What is it about The Sentinel that inspires you to write?
Without a doubt, it's Jim and Blair's friendship. I know it sounds generic, but to me the friendship between these two guys is what fairy tales are made of. To me, my best stories celebrate the belief that Jim and Blair's friendship is eternal, even mythic in quality. The concept of two very different people finding each other and connecting on a level beyond the ordinary is an old, old theme that forms the basis for the most satisfying dramas, comedies, and the simplest scenes. Bilson and DeMeo managed to reincarnate this old theme into a TV show with vivid characters that gave that concept new life and allowed it to fly. That friendship is behind everything I write, and it's what makes the stories and the fandom so satisfying to me.
What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses, as a series?
Okay, just about everybody else said this too, but Richard Burgi, Garett Maggart, and Bruce A. Young did such a wonderful job at bringing Jim, Blair, and Simon to life as brilliant characters we all came to admire and care about. The chemistry between the actors comes across SO well! Bilson and DeMeo created a show with main characters that were a perfect combination of the classic and the unique, particularly the heightened senses thing. They even threw in some emotional baggage to make the characters complex. A wonderful premise for a show.
As for weaknesses, it's often easy to negatively criticize somebody else's work and you know how I feel about that, but it would have been nice if the plots had centered more around the relationship than the explosions ~grin~ (don't get me wrong, I don't mind explosions). I think it took the writers and producers a little too long to realize what they really had in the way of Jim and Blair's friendship. They could have capitalized on that for emotional value a lot more than they did. And it's not like that would have been a weird thing, because all excellent dramas do that.
Do you find yourself identifying more with Jim or Blair?
Definitely Blair. Bouncy at times to the chagrin of his best friend, an academic with a zesty curiosity that gives him a quirky vulnerability, someone who tries to see the best in people and sometimes gets burned for it. However, I prefer white socks myself (though I won't wear them with dark pants!).
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
Hmmm... I don't know, but it would be a good H/C story -- you know, the kind most TS fans dream of. Some owies, Jim- and Blair-peril, a separation in which they both fear for each other's safety, a hospital scene with a terribly satisfying wake-up scene involving a long, unhurried HUG, lots of Simon, Rafe, Brown, Megan, and Joel, Blair getting to help save the day, and a scene of Jim busting in to rescue Blair! Domestic loft scenes, sleepy Blair, and shirtless Jim. Yep, all that would pretty much send me into ecstasy ~grin~. Did I mention a hug?
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Probably Through a Window Darkly or The Memory of Angels. Or... ~expression changes to horrified look~ Men in Green Tights? Eeek! ~grin~ Or more likely, as that chick who wrote a lot of little stories with no plot whatsoever. ~grin~
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
Because I've apparently forgotten the agonizing pain of childbirth -- I mean, writing a long drama piece like Window -- ~VBG~ I started work several months ago on another large drama story (yes, with a plot) involving time-travel and a little more sci-fi slant. The writing has been slow-going because I've been so busy, but I still plan to finish it sometime. In the meantime, I'll probably still write little smarm or everyday life or humor pieces for fun.
Tell us about your Sentinel websites.
~grin~ I suppose I like all of them for different reasons. They're basically different kinds of resource pages for TS, and they were all created during some holiday weekend during med school ~grin~. Sensory Overload was my first attempt at a TS webpage. I got the idea from a webpage Becky found that had kept track of all the clever tricks MacGyver had ever done, and I thought it would be neat to keep track of all the ways Jim used his senses. The Cascade Hospital was created when I realized I could use my medical school education for the greater good of the fandom ~grin~ to help authors who wanted advice on medical stuff. That page is desperately in need of an update -- I have a huge email directory of questions and answers waiting to be added, but in the meantime, I still answer questions when I can. If I had any medical advice for fanfic writers, it would be to please not spend time talking about Foley catheters ~grin~. Get to the emotional H/C part -- it's more fun! ~grin~ Also, don't stress out over medical details. That should always be secondary to the heart of your story, which is Jim and Blair's friendship.
Best of TS Fanfic on the Web and Welcome to the Sentinel Fandom were both aimed more toward newer fans to get them into TS fanfic and show them how to get involved in the fandom. Becky and I had a lot of fun doing the Welcome page because we just thought up all the stuff we wish we would have known when we first discovered the online fandom -- which mailing lists were the major ones and how to join, a quick who's-who listing of the supporting characters (when you have no clue who the other listsibs are talking about), where to get autographs, how to get copies of old episodes, etc. It felt really good to hear from a lot of new fans thanking us for the site and old fans telling us they wished the site had been around when they entered the fandom ~grin~.
Which website are you most proud of?
Actually, ~Robyn takes a deep breath, then timidly appears from behind the circulation desk~ the website I'm most proud of is the one you're currently at -- the Cascade Library. I designed the graphics and planned CL's site layout, and I am SO happy that so many readers and writers have found it useful. When I was growing up, one of my favorite places to spend time was the public library. I spent many happy hours there, sitting among the rows of books, immersed in other worlds, reading and learning and dreaming -- thus the origin behind the Library's namee. When the idea came up about creating another TS archive, I knew I wanted the Library to be a friendly place to find stories quickly and easily, so I designed the site with those goals in mind. I was very lucky to find several other fans who were excited about the idea as well, and who have willingly served as librarians. You owe the speed and accuracy of archiving to them. There would be no Library without them! Thank you, librarians! ~Robyn waves to the people busy archiving, and receives grunting and good-natured muttering about what a slave-driver she is~.
Several aspects of the Library have come from suggestions by Library users like yourselves, including the Stories-in-Progress page and the beta readers and consultants listings. Wonderful ideas! I always get excited when someone sends in a suggestion on how to make the Library better. You may have also noticed that the Library's policies are designed to keep CL as family-friendly as possible, and I think that's cool. All of our authors have been really great about being careful with ratings stuff and understanding that CL archives only gen stories which aren't NC-17.
Who are the other librarians?
Although most of the librarians are still choosing to remain anonymous for now, I have the pleasure of saying that Jane (who writes under the pen name "Hephaistos") is one of our librarians. ~Robyn waves to Jane~ I'm happy to say that all of us are still actively writing fanfic and don't plan on stopping any time soon.
Tell us some inside facts about the Library.
Let's see... well, the Library itself takes up a surprisingly small amount of space -- only 8.3 megs at the moment. Fortunately most authors have their own websites, otherwise we'd have to obtain a massive amount of web space to hold all the stories! The search engine gets about 1,000 queries each month and FreeFind keeps track of the most common and most recent search queries (don't worry, it doesn't remember or track who did the search). The top 50 queries currently include Blair, Jim, sentinel, Rafe, blind, crossover, sick, Highlander, accident, Alex, alternate, and angst. As of this writing, the most recent search queries have been for Nash Bridges, flu, rogue, Chapel, Due South, and Girl Next Door ~grin~. One of my favorite things about the Library (besides the wonderful writers who keep bringing us the stories and the readers who faithfully keep coming back for more) is the Featured Author Interview. I am in awe of the talent we have in our fandom and happy that I could be a part of it. I've really enjoyed interviewing and reading about so many of our fandom's writers, and I think it's fun for readers to get to know something about the people who create the stories we love to read. I got the idea for the author interview from a Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres fanfic archive -- I think they posted a new interview only about once a year, and I knew we had a lot more authors to read about than that ~grin~.
Does this mean you're currently talking to yourself?
No! Well, sort of. ~grin~ I compiled the "generic" questions you see in most of the interviews, but the questions specific to my stories were written by a few other fans. I promise! ~grin~ And that intro paragraph was *definitely* NOT written by me ~very red-faced grin~
What's involved in archiving a story?
We have a pretty old-fashioned system compared to Guide Posts' spiffy search engine (which, by the way, I think is *really* cool!) The librarians work in shifts, usually a week at a time. We watch the Library's email account for stories to come through Senfic or SENTIN-L with archiving permission. Then we add the story to the New Arrivals page, the appropriate author and title page, and the stories-in-progress page if applicable. I'm pretty slow at doing it all compared to the other librarians -- they're speedy! Generally we try our best to archive a story within 24 hours of the time we receive it, as long as it's already available on an outside website. If the author doesn't have her own website, then we format the story to look pretty and store it at the Library itself.
Why did it take you so long to come forward as the CL Chief?
A resemblance to poultry. ~grin~ To be honest, I was scared that the Library would cause a big uproar when it was announced. I hoped that wouldn't happen, but it did, and for a while it wasn't pretty. I was devastated. Understandably, we were all attached to Guide Posts which had been serving us for a long time and people didn't want GP to go away or feel unappreciated. I didn't want that either! And the *last* thing I wanted was to cause another argument in which feelings got hurt. In those first few weeks, I came pretty close to taking the Library down because I wasn't sure if it was worth it. Eight months later, I can finally say I'm glad I didn't. Since then, Guide Posts has taken on a fantastic new look and feel with their search engine-based archive (someday maybe I'll learn how to write cgi scripts), and I think GP and CL complement each other. People are able to use whichever archive they feel most comfortable with to find the stories (or even better, to use both), and that's really neat.
This where I get to say thank you very, very much to the Elves and to all the authors and readers who have helped make the Library what it is today. We have received so many kind letters from many of you, thanking us for the Library. I've tried to answer all of them, but if I missed anyone, allow me to express my gratitude now to all of you for allowing us to serve you. You encouraged me to keep the Library going when things were dark. It is we who should thank you for your support. You guys are the best!
Last updated 11/18/00 igr