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Shelly, one of our Sentinel fanfic writers from Australia, was introduced to The Sentinel by Sealie, a friend she knew from the Due South fandom. With Sealie's encouragement, Shelly began writing Sentinel stories with a missing scene for Cypher, And If You Fall. This was also Shelly's first venture into any kind of fiction writing. So far, she has written a variety of stories including drama, missing scenes, and humor. This author is known for her beautiful metaphors and imagery as well as clever Jim and Blair dialogues. Shelly's Cascade Library story listing currently includes ten stories. Shelly's stories are located at Mackie's Idol Pursuits.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Shelly!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in a gold mining town on the edge of the desert in Western Australia. It's a very hot,dusty place to end up for a person who loves cool, crisp weather! I live in a small cottage called Serendipity with a wayward dog named Bailey. I'm a teacher. I teach five and six year old kids and generally love it. (Just don't ask me about the politics or paperwork!) Children that age are a window to a new way of looking at things. Everything is fresh to them. I guess that is what makes teaching such an adventure. In my spare time, I love to read..anything and everything I can get my hands on. I generally only get time to write on the weekends and I try to be a little disciplined and at least write *something*, even if it is only a page. I'm a very slow writer and I'm always envious of people who just seem to write pages and pages so smoothly and seamlessly.

How did you become a Sentinel fan?

My first experience of fanfic was with Due South stories. That series is also based on the theme 'It's about friendship'. I wrote to Sealie, one of the authors, about her stories and we got to be friends. She ended up reading TS fanfic and led me to it as well. Neither of us had seen an episode, but the writing was great and filled in the gaps for us.

What is your favorite episode and why?

Ooooh...too hard!! I like most of them. I enjoyed Spare Parts. I like the humorous interaction between all the characters in that one....words *and* actions!

How did you start writing Sentinel fan fiction?

My first Sentinel story was a Cypher missing scene called And If You Fall. That was also my first *story*. The extremely persistent Sealie comes into her own here. I hadn't written before and she was convinced that I could. She started out Obi Wan Kenobi style and gave me two lines of a poem and told me to finish it. From there, she coerced me (gently...well...sorta gently! :)) to blank verse and then challenged me to write a missing scene. I found writing to be both absorbing and relaxing. It was extremely scary to post the first time. It does get easier, though there is always that little catch of breath when your story is flying out there towards an audience! :)

If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?

I don't think any of the stories are in depth enough to become an episode, but I *would* love to see the Cascade Capers Benefit Show from my story Grace Notes...Jim and the Spice Girls...shake it, baby! <g>

Which story are you most proud of?

Probably Grace Notes. I worked very hard on the musical motif that threaded through the story. I wanted people to *hear* the music.

Which character do you most enjoy writing? Who is your least favorite?

I enjoy writing all the characters. Blair is probably the easiest because he's more open, but I like Jim's wry sense of humour too. I don't have a 'least favourite' character.

Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?

Sealie betas for me...and it's great because I trust her implicitly. Danae often picks me up on 'Americanisms'...and since Mackie gave my stories a home on Idol Pursuits, she also helps me out with words that don't ring true.

You write some of the best banter between Jim and Blair. Where do you get your inspiration?

Hmmm...friendship! The two characters are so well drawn and so 'comfortable' with each other that the teasing and joking just flows! :)

Many gorgeous metaphors and imagery appear in your stories. Do you have a favorite?

No favourites. I tend to get pretty 'purple' at times, but it's just 'cos I love playing with words. I can't visualise and so painting a picture with words is the closest I can get. I pass on my enthusiasm for words to the kids in my class. When a five year old wanders out of class with a story starting "Night is a bucket of black paint dripping down the sky"...everyone goes 'Hmm...must be from Michelle's class." <g>

What inspired you to write Counting in Fives, a story about Blair's life taken in increments of five years? What has influenced you to describe Blair's childhood in a slightly melancholy way?

<blush> Slightly melancholy??? I was *way* melancholy! <g> At that stage I hadn't seen any episodes and I had wandered through some stories not realising that there was such a thing as an Alternate Universe. Anyway...these stories featured Naomi as being a mean mommy so I took it as a given. Oh, woe was me when I finally got to see a Naomi episode. She's a great, warm-hearted character! I feel I should address the wrongs in an upcoming story. :) That said, I think that what I wrote in Counting in Fives could be feasible from Blair's point of view. The constant moving around would be difficult for any child to cope with. So...yes, I was too hard on Naomi...but consider it my own, one-of, alternate universe story.<g>

Mail Bonding is a delightful story involving Jim and Blair communicating through notes. What inspired this?

LOL...I was trying to catch up with a friend and we kept missing each other, but leaving messages on our answering machines. Was begging to become a story! :)

What prompted you to write "Grace Notes"? Is there a story behind the music you chose to include?

I had the idea of writing a music themed story...but it wasn't until I decided on the title that I knew where I was going with it. It's a bit of a superstition with me. I have to have the title *before* I start writing. I chose the song Help because I thought it suited Jim's character. I wanted a song that he could feasibly have heard as a child, and then I wanted it to be sung differently by Blair. I have heard the song sung slowly and I knew it would work.

Everywhere, Like Footprints is a favorite S2P1 story of many readers. What do you feel are the advantages of writing about Jim and Blair from Simon's point of view?

I hadn't tried a story from Simon's viewpoint before, and I found that it freed me up to describe the friendship between Jim and Blair but also left something to people's imagination. For instance, the hospital scene had no dialogue, but I think it was clear what was happening.

In Dark Wings, you wove the myth of Icarus into a fascinating story about Blair. What inspired this story?

The inspiration for this story came from the Brueghels painting "The Fall of Icarus". It's a very haunting picture and the 'fall' became the centre of my story. The Auden poem about the painting was also an inspiration.

How do you deal with writer's block?

Bang my head against the wall! <g> I usually have an idea of where I'm going with a story but if I get stuck, I find it helps to give the story time to 'percolate'. It generally fixes itself. :)

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Finding time is one factor. The tidal wave of real life is forever looming over me! Overcoming my regular-as-clockwork crisis of confidence is something else I have to work on.:)

What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?

I love the fact that when I'm really involved in what I'm writing, the rest of the world just fades away. It's therapeutic!

What are your feelings on story feedback?

Feedback? Love it! It gives a sense of 'community' are not just sending your stories out into oblivion. Met some wonderful people and made some great friends.

Do you have any advice for new TS fan fiction writers?

Take a breath and have a go.

What was the first piece of Sentinel fan fiction you ever read?

From memory, I think it was one of Paula's stories. I was hooked immediately! :)

What is it about The Sentinel that inspires you to write?

It gives you a safety net of background knowledge but also the freedom to take the characters where you want.

If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?

Hmmm....tricky one. I think maybe an episode where we get to see some of Blair's childhood in flashback...something along the lines of the Remembrance episode.

Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?

Sure. I'm working on a story called Ruby Tuesday in which Blair gets to see what a gift Jim's senses have been.

Thanks Shelly!

Last updated 10/11/99 clc