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Sherrylou started watching The Sentinel with her then-12-year-old son and wrote her first TS fan fiction story in December 1998 under the encouragement of her sister, LindaS. Since then she has written many enjoyable stories involving drama, cases, humor, and a little smarm. Besides keeping up with her SentinelAngst list dues, she is also co-writing two episodes (The Rig and Prisoner X) with Linda S for the Special Edition project. Sherrylou's Cascade Library listing currently lists 21 stories. Her stories are located at right here at the Cascade Library.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Sherry!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you enjoy doing besides writing TS fan fiction?
Well, since the move to Maryland three years ago, I've enjoyed a life of leisure. <g> I left teaching behind and became a tennis bum. So, if I'm not on the computer either reading or writing Sentinel stories, then you'll find me out on the courts. I'm proud to say that my USTA team made it to the finals in Districts. Next year -- we're going all the way!!!
I have a wonderful and supportive husband, who thinks that writing fan fiction is a creative way to keep my mind active. And this year we sent our son (our one and only) off to college. I'm now experiencing the empty nest syndrome firsthand.
On a side note, my son just sent me a picture of one of his college professors, who looks like -- in his words -- that Sentinel guy. Yep! The resemblance was there. Jeans, tight black tee shirt, short brown hair, nice chiseled features, and very well built. Hmmm. I don't think I'd mind that art class. He thought it was funny, but it certainly gave me a nice image.
How did you become a Sentinel fan?
I was a fan right from the beginning. My son and I (Oh, my! He was only 12 when the show premiered!) would watch it together. He'd watched it for the action, particularly the explosions, while I was in it for the unique relationship between the hard-nosed cop and the hippie-esque anthropology grad student.
What is your favorite episode and why?
Initially, it was Survival. Yeah, you know, Blair owies and all. Hey, I admit I'm shallow. However, now I would say The Rig. Since my sister and I are re-writing that episode for TSSEP, I have become very intimate with it. Can we say recite lines in my sleep? <g> The more I work on it, the more I realize what a wonderfully well-rounded episode it is. And now we get to add a lot of extras, like expanding scenes and explaining Jim's fear of deep water.
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?
As it says in my CL author profile, the idea to write a story was on a dare from my twin sister, Linda. I had tons of story ideas in my head, so the first story, Buried Memories, was fairly easy to write. I wrote it in about two weeks during December 1998. The hard part was actually clicking on "send." I think all writers share the same fears and insecurities about how a story is going to be received by the readers. Thankfully, the response was positive, which in turn encouraged me to write more stories.
Looking back, however, I wished I had known about beta readers. I cringe at the mistakes that I made in those first few stories. LOL! I could probably use a beta reader right now for this interview! So, my advice to new writers is not to be afraid to ask for help. The Sentinel fandom has so many wonderful and talented people willing to lend a hand.
If you could see any of your stories made into a real episode, which one would you choose?
I guess I would choose one of my earlier stories, By the Dawn's Early Light. I included just about everything in that story: explosions, murder, drama, hurt/comfort. Yep, everything except a BOTW! And it gave me a chance to write a "Wait Unto Dark" scene, a blind Blair fighting off the bad guy.
Which story are you most proud of?
It's probably a toss-up between two stories. While most of my stories are drama or case stories, I had a lot of fun with Sheep Shape because of the touch of humor that ran throughout it. Then there's Up Close and Personal, which allowed me to return to the early days of the Ellison/Sandburg relationship -- something that I hadn't done for quite awhile. You know, it's really hard to pick just one, it would be a lot easier to pick the one I'm least proud of.
Which character do you most enjoy writing? Which character is the easiest for you to write? Who is your least favorite?
I really enjoy writing Blair, though I swear there are times he's not speaking to me. He's the easiest to write, and I find that's funny because I'm much more Jim-like in real life, though I don't go as far as to color-code the Tupperware. But I like things neat, in order, and I can be unyielding at times.
I guess my least favorite would be Cassie. And I only say that because I don't think I've ever written her into a story. Hmmm. Maybe I should change that. <eg>
What genre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?
I usually like to write drama or case stories, sometimes with just a smattering of humor and a small dose of smarm.
Who are your beta readers and what do you appreciate most about them?
I have two absolutely fabulous beta readers. CJ (Alberte) has been instrumental in the improvement of my writing. I can really see the difference in my later works. She encourages me to flesh out scenes, rewrite ones that aren't working (ugh!), and to mind my POV's. Lorri (Nickerbits) is my mechanics specialist. She checks for plot holes and has an eagle eye for those pesky typos and punctuations.
For the Cause is a humorous piece about Jim in a dunk tank at a fair. Tell us how you came up with the idea for this story.
I was desp1erate. It was time to post dues for the Sentinelangst List, and I had nothing finished. Cleaning up some items on my computer, I came across my husband's picture sitting above the dunk tank in his underwear. Remembering the story that is now a company Christmas party favorite of how my husband raised the most money ever for a company-sponsored charity event, I decided to use that incident as the basis for the story. Now, Blair is my favorite, but I just knew Jim with his buffed body would look absolutely delicious nearly naked.
Tales of the Rails is a story about a childhood experience of Blair's. How did you decide on the conclusion to the story?
I thought it would be fascinating to have Jim and Blair meet at some point in their childhood and not realize it until years later. And I wanted a physical reminder of that meeting -- a small token from Jim that Blair had kept all these years. I intended for the talisman to suggest possibly predestination; that they were meant to meet again someday. And, at least according to fanon, Blair could really use a rabbit's foot.
In Sheep Shape, Blair manages to help Jim solve a case even though he's delirious with Q fever. What was your favorite part of this story?
LOL!!! My favorite part was every time I had Blair trying to tell anyone who'd listen that the butler did it. He solved the case even though he was sick in bed -- amazing! That's my Blair -- an exceptional brain that never shuts down.
You've co-written several stories with LindaS. What is it like to write with another author?
Well, writing with my sister, Linda, is quite easy. I think we've been telling stories to one another since the womb! Though Linda becoming a co-author happened quite by accident. As I progress with a story, I usually send what I have to her for insight. I was stuck when writing Silent Justice, and asked for help. I was just expecting some suggestions, but instead she sent me six pages, continuing where I had left off. The rest, as they say, is history.
What's nice is that I think we balance out each other's writing. She's definitely Jim-centric in her view, whereas I like to focus on Blair. And Linda graciously gives me the freedom to oversee the story from start to finish and make whatever changes I think are necessary.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
It's finding the words -- the right words. My sister can churn out ten pages in one sitting, while I struggle with just one. I can't tell you how many times I go back to the same scene, over and over again, because I'm not satisfied. Sometimes I never am.
What is the most satisfying part of writing for you?
It's writing "The End." LOL! Actually, I cheat sometimes and write "The End" before I finish just to keep me motivated. If I type those two words, then the story *will* be completed.
What are your feelings on story feedback?
All I can say is that LOCs are great motivators. It's like scoring the winning touchdown or hitting a homerun and listening to the cheering crowd. You want to go out and do it again.
What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?
I stumbled onto fan fiction, and it was Sentinel fan fiction, quite by luck. When I moved to Maryland, I wanted to find out what station The Sentinel was playing on, so I ran a search on my computer for "The Sentinel." Wow! What a surprise at the sites that popped up. By the click of the mouse, I picked Kristine Williams' site, and I was in heaven. Soon I was off into other sites, eagerly devouring all the wonderful stories.
Are there particular kinds of Sentinel fanfic stories that you especially enjoy reading?
Yes, I love long, long dramatic or case-driven stories. And I'm particularly fond of stories that contain a lot of angst as long as they're not death stories (death stories of Jim or Blair). Give me a nail-biting, gut-wrenching, tear-spilling story any day! I guess that's why Donna Gentry is one of my favorite writers. Her talent for drawing the reader into the characters' lives is simply amazing.
If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of The Sentinel, what story would you like to tell?
I would love to see an episode similar to Remembrance, only with flashbacks of Blair as a child. Naomi could come for another visit, bringing along trouble from her past. Then, as the plot progresses, the story could be interspersed with scenes of a young Naomi and Blair.
Can you tell us what stories you have in the works right now?
Currently, my sister and I are working on The Rig for TSSEP, and we also signed up to do Prisoner X. Then there's a short story that I wrote exclusively for the Sentinelangst List called Just Hanging Around. Linda and I are re-working it into the un-abridged version. By myself, I'm writing a tale entitled A Little Peace and Quiet. It's about Jim and Blair at a resort, but is it really going to be an uneventful getaway? I don't think so. <g> And I'm fine-tuning a story that was posted over a year and a half ago to the Sentinelangst List, so I can finally send it to the Library.
Last updated 1/27/02 clc