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Originally a due South fan, Sealie was already familiar with fan fiction when a friend introduced her to The Sentinel. Because The Sentinel isn't shown in Great Britain where she lives, her introduction to the show was through the internet. After devouring most of the online fan fiction, she began writing her own stories. As she describes in her interview, writing stories for an American show can be challenging, but American beta readers and experience have helped her to write several enjoyable stories for the show. Sealie's Cascade Library story listing currently includes seven stories which she's found time to write as this busy graduate student pursues her own PhD. Sealie recently moved her stories to The Sibilant Storybook, a multifandom website shared with a few other fanfic authors.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Sealie!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a post-graduate student studying arctic marine ecology as such I have absolutely no idea how Blair Sandburg managed to do his studies and chase after Jim Ellison. I'm in my final year and writing my thesis -- fan fiction is my break from studying. I guess the most telling thing that I could say about myself is that curling up with a good story is my favourite thing-more so than chocolate.
What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
<piously> Fanfic is my life. No seriously… I like to draw/paint. I enjoy sleeping.
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
This is somewhat convoluted. Basically, I wrote a due South story called Crowded Room. The mountie, Benton Fraser, was at a party and he was having an absolutely dreadful time because he couldn't filter out the noises and smells et cetera. A friend asked me if I had made Fraser a sentinel. I asked a few questions and thought that it was a nice idea. I then went on my ecology field season up north. There was no tele at the field station but there was internet access. I started reading the fan fiction, devouring everything that I could get my hands on. The rest, as they say, is history…
What is your favorite episode and why?
Oh, that's difficult. I don't have a favourite episode. I really like the one with the monks and the one on the oil rig. It goes without saying that Blind Man's Bluff is enjoyable but I would have liked more comfort -- gee, that's a surprise -- and less posturing. The one with Blair's mam is pretty good (the first one). Sorry, can't be specific.
How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?
I was stuck on a field station literally in the middle of nowhere and I got an idea for a story. I wrote it 'cos when an idea smacks you over the head like that you don't have any choice.
What was your first story, when did you write it, and what was it like to post your first story?
Hmmm, it was Kith and Kin -- I could see a toddler Blair in my mind's eye. I wrote it about two years ago. What's it like posting my first Sentinel story? Absolutely terrifying. The people on Senfic were really nice, though.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
Easy: Our Unconquerable Soul. It would have to be a movie (based on the length) so the guys would be on the screen for a couple of hours <g>.
Which story are you most proud of?
Our Unconquerable Soul. I think that it's the most "rounded," if that makes sense.
Which character do you most enjoy writing?
I don't enjoy writing any one character more than any other. I think that is one of the things that attracted me to The Sentinel and due South, in that all the characters are interesting and have their own story to tell. When I was little I happily wrote many stories based on TV series, but I was usually pretty much concentrating on one character at the expense of the others. I always felt that there was something out of balance in those stories (they're in the loft at home festering, BTW). In The Sentinel and due South I came across a patchwork quilt instead of a plain blanket.
Which character is the easiest for you to write?
Hmmm, I guess Blair since I can identify with his position, being PhD student, age, sense of humour... so I can write him relatively easily. Although, I can empathise with Jim-in-a-strop mode. In contrast, Simon is difficult since his character on tele is so underused.
Who is your least favorite?
Least favourite? Crumbs. Cassie was irritating -- but she was written really badly. They (writers/producers/who's in charge) should have brought back Carolyn if they wanted a female character with a shred of realism rather than a BOTW.
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
All of the above including murder/mystery and horror. One refuses to be constrained to one genre, don't cha know.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
Great big sloppy kisses to my betas. They have different roles. Michelle is the comma queen and she's really good at picking out my tendency to miss out words and drop through sentences. The palatable and palpable debacle was a good laugh. She's my first port of call and she gets the dribs and drabs as I write. Cindy helps me with the Americanisms (you know: queue and line; torch and flashlight) she also spots inconsistencies in the plot. Becky has the quickest turnaround in the Western Hemisphere and her comments are straight to the point. Seah puts up with the weirdest of questions like "Do you put coins in your telephone boxes in America? Do you call them telephone boxes?" I try to cycle through my betas not giving the same person the first draft every time - that would be just cruel. Although poor Michelle usually sees the worst of the worst.
Both Kith and Kin and Boot Camp have Jim and Blair meeting much earlier, when they are children, for brief times. What gave you these ideas?
<weg> I guess this is where I admit that I wrote and posted Kith and Kin without actually seeing any televised episodes. As such it was easy to write the guys where they would be "different" -- despite the fact that I had read most of The Sentinel fan fiction on the net. I guess that I was extrapolating on the cute, elfin Blair and the responsible, much older Jim that pervades fan fiction. As for the idea, it was after thinking about predestination in the Sentinel and Guide mythos. I liked the idea of Jim being destined to be guided by Blair. To be honest they practically wrote themselves, the stories both flowed. Boot Camp grew from Kith andKin. Originally, I'd planned a series of three stories, but the final one hasn't materialised yet.
You have written two stories in which Poltergeist: The Legacy characters appear. Is P:TL another favorite show of yours? What made you decided to cross it with The Sentinel?
Blame it on the muses. I had read that Blair hadn't been called a guide by the producers and this was leaning more to the fanon that the canon. I liked the idea of Blair finding out more about being a guide that seemed to demand more of a supernatural story line rather than a murder/mystery. I'm not a major fan of P:TL but I always felt that Philip (the Catholic priest) was underused, since the producers/writers of P:TL didn't want him I thought that he could come and play with the boys.
Your entertaining story Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians has Blair with several Sandburg cousins, more than Jim seems to want to understand. Where did the idea of giving Blair such an extended, sometimes confusing family come from?
Glad you enjoyed it. The idea came from the title actually, i.e. Jim's tendency to call Blair "Chief." The thought of Blair multiplied by four made me laugh. It was fun writing a story about Jim but using the Sandburgs to illuminate him. He's not as bothered as he's pretending to be. As for the confusing family, I have a lot of cousins.
Being one of our fandom's European writers, do you find it difficult to write fanfic for a show that isn't based in Great Britain? What are the hardest things you have to deal with, and how have you found solutions to these problems?
Yes, it does add a degree of difficulty. Can't you just see Jim sauntering into the loft and saying, "I say, ol' bean, I don't suppose that you would like make me a cup of cha, I'm gagging…" When I wrote due South fiction I received a few pointed comments about it. I was a bit slow at realising that there was a significant difference. Cindy and I have had a laugh. I beta for her and on a few memorable occasions I've completely misinterpreted her writing, like saying "Shouldn't you state that the jeep belongs to the Cherokee Native American? Rather than it being a Cherokee Jeep? It doesn't make sense, Cindy!" It's the little things that turn into giant pitfalls. I wonder sometimes what subtleties I miss while reading stories by American writers. Cultural differences are more difficult to identify than word differences and language is somewhere between the two. I guess having to think about these things also gives me an alternative viewpoint. An American beta reader is invaluable.
What do you do when your muse takes a vacation?
I always have a 1001 other things to do so I go off and do them. It equally difficult when the muses *demand* that you write something when you have 1001 other things to do.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Finding the time.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
When it all flows and the words simply appear.
What are your feelings on story feedback?
Gimme, gimme, gimme…. I adore getting LOCs and if anyone hasn't received a reply from me after sending me an LOC it means that the e-mail didn't reach me. Personally, LOCs (both praise and constructive criticism) make it all worthwhile. It's hard to sustain an interest in writing, editing, polishing, re-writing, more polishing and producing a story when nobody is apparently reading the damn thing.
Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?
Ignore flames and think about constructive criticism. And a beta reader (or two or three or four) is very helpful.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?
A Kirk/Spock story. I can't remember the specific story. Apart from the fact that I was very surprised by the content.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever wrote?
Some sort of Enid Blyton pastiche. Best left forgotten in the loft.
What was the first piece of Sentinel fan fiction you ever read?
I remember looking for something that made sense. I ended up in Wolfpup's Den and read one of Cindy Combs stories, The Maze. It was accessible to someone who hadn't seen the series as it was plot driven and the characters were described.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
Long, chunky stories that I can get my teeth into with a modicum of plot and a grungy, sexy, intelligent Guide and a hard-ass, complicated, selfish, selfless Sentinel. Oh, and don't forget a bit of h/c.
What is it about The Sentinel that inspires you to write?
There's room to move. There is so much in the canon to explore that you can play to your heart's content.
What do you believe are The Sentinel's greatest strengths, and greatest weaknesses, as a series?
Relationships, Mythos and Hunks <~cough~> Enchanting Characters BOTW and Car Chases/Explosions and The Cutting Room.
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
Someone in the government putting two and two together and making five, then initiating the Sentinel Programme with Jim and Blair as the first recruits. Eventually Blair would become the Director of the Institute and get his doctorate. In between saving the universe, Jim would become the house mother of the recruited baby sentinel and guides. I guess it would become a film--maybe I'll write it in the future.
What three specific things would you like to see on The Sentinel that we haven't seen yet? How about general changes?
Specifically, Blair getting his PhD, a "proper" hug and a tickling match between the boys.
Generally, more concentration on the spiritual side of the sentinel heritage and some light shed on the guide/shaman role.
What one story do you think people will always remember you for?
Haven't the foggiest -- they've all garnered the same amount of feedback -- none stand out.
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
Almost a Sentinel -- which has been accepted for Linda's Sentry Post -- is currently being polished. AaS is a novella, it looks at the depths of Jim's honour and commitment and the lengths he will go to for a friend. Another story is Mote which is a tad weird. Oh… I forgot… me an' Shelly have been writing a story together for nigh on two years that explores the shaman-sentinel bond against the back drop of a rescue mission. And, finally, I have this h/c fest that I dip into and write another sentence every now and again-but that's not really a story it's more of an indulgence.
Last updated 9/27/99 clc