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T. Verano

T. Verano came on the scene only recently, immediately capturing the attention of the fandom with her unique writing style and character insights. Earning herself several awards including best New Author in the 2007 LMFAs, "T" demonstrates how this older fandom is still attracting talented individuals, intrigued by its colorful characters and classic themes. Her CL author page can be found here.

Hi "T",

Thank you for adding your popular stories to the archive at CL and agreeing to share a bit about yourself. We have a number of questions intended to help readers get acquainted with you and your work.

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?

I do use a pen name, yes (and only one). In RL I often use T as my signature, and it's the name I use to refer to myself inside my own head, so it's not the 'pennest' part of my TS name. "Verano" I chose because it means "summer" in Spanish (which I'm totally not fluent in, but is such a lovely language) -- summer is the season closest to my heart, for many reasons.

Why a pen name? As far as RL-meets-fannishness is concerned, I'm pretty fond of staying in the closet. :-)

Would you tell us where you live?

In the U.S., in the Southeast, in a small city on the coast.

Would you tell us a little about your life?

Oh, gee. The world's most out-there cat. A heck of a lot of time in front of my computer. A whole bunch of Murphy's Law. A sincere desire to spend most days hiding under my bed.

What work, volunteer or paid, do you do? Do you have any pro-fic writing experience or aspirations?

I mostly do computer work from home right now, cobbling together various things.

No pro-fic writing experience. I have tons of admiration for pro-fic writers; it sounds like the coolest thing in the world to be able to be the kind of writer who can write original fiction. I wish I had that inside me.

II. When and how did you become a TS fan?

When did you first see or hear about The Sentinel?

I remember watching the show when it was originally aired -- and falling like a ton of bricks for the guys -- but for some reason now lost in the mists of time I only saw a handful of the episodes. Then I totally forgot about it again until I stumbled on some fanfic accidentally three years ago or so.

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?

At the time I started writing, I'd been reading in TS for about six months -- rapaciously, and with great joy and an immense amount of gratitude for every one of the writers out there who'd shared their take on TS, shared their souls.

I started writing fanfic out of curiosity, mostly. I'd known since a regrettable incident in the ninth grade that I wasn't a writer and never would be, so it wasn't particularly optimistic curiosity. But I couldn't help myself -- fanfic writers are pretty inspiring, you know?

And fanfic is a fabulous place to give your writing curiosity free rein -- you don't have to invent the characters or the setting, and you've got tons of backstory. And hey, if it works out okay, you'll have a new fic to read yourself, whether you end up posting it anywhere or not.

What do you think the readership finds most interesting in gen TS fiction?

Hmm. Hard to answer for anybody but me -- it fascinates me how very differently people read things and see things and appreciate things -- but I would guess the relationship between the guys. Sentinel/guide stuff is probably up there too, but I would think that for most people TS is fundamentally about Jim and Blair's friendship.

What do you appreciate most when you read TS fiction? Who are your favorite gen TS authors and why?

Oh, man. Put me on the spot. You probably don't want me to give you my entire most-favorite list -- I just did a quick rough estimate and that would be forty or so people, easily.

Probably wiser to go, instead, with "Major Very Early Influences" (and ruthlessly limit myself to only a couple of those). DCStreets is one; I love seeing things through her ('her'? I'm assuming 'her', but I apologize if it should be 'his') Jim's eyes and hearing them through her Jim's wonderfully snarky voice. The other is Merry, particularly her "The Heart Hath Its Reasons". That story is one of my foundation icons of TS fic: the realness of the way the guys think and feel and act about everything, including themselves and each other; the h/c; the dialog; the way it extends sentinel and guide stuff (and I'm not always an easy sell on that); the way it's written -- everything is dead on, for me.

And I've left out thirty-eight or so authors who are equally deserving in my head and heart to be listed here. TS is incredibly rich in talent, present as well as past. I want to run up and down the alphabet and point here and here and here…

What do I most appreciate when reading TS fic? Why do I suspect I'm not going to be brief, answering this? :-)

Okay. In general: Authentic voices -- Jims and Blairs I can believe in. Rounded characters -- flaws, vulnerabilities, strengths. Thoughts! -- I usually want to know what's going on inside at least one of the characters. The guys being very guy and very human. But the general thing I appreciate most is really hard to define, although calling it 'depth' is easy enough. I guess it's primarily a combination of emotion and realness (not necessarily RL-type realness; a fantasy AU can have that type of realness just as solidly as a canon or slice-of-life fic).

About genre: I love angst (hugely love angst) and h/c and humor and drama. I love canon. AU's are often fabulous (but I need them to pull me in through emotional connection, not just the novelty of the 'verse itself). Horror's cool. Case fic can be tougher for me because it often spends a lot of time and attention on the case :-), and that can make it harder for me to get emotionally involved, but if the fic has the emotional legs to reel me in (run from that metaphor, 'kay?) I'm very cool with case fic, too. But it's usually not about genre to me, it's about how a fic is written and how connected it makes me feel to the characters.

III. About being a writer ...?

Why do you write?

Because at its best it feels better than something I shouldn't mention in a non-R-rated context? :-)

Because I love the TS 'verse and Jim and Blair as characters, and love thinking about them, and love exploring their world through writing about them.

Because I love words and and love the rhythms they make when you put them together, love the sounds and meanings of them; love fooling around with them and trying to wrestle them into saying what I want to say as well as I can learn how to say it. Because it's creatively satisfying and fun and endlessly challenging, and uses all kinds of parts of my mind and soul. Because I learn from doing it -- not only learn more about words and writing itself, but about life, as I try to see and feel things clearly enough to know what to say about something.

Because it feels like I can't possibly do anything else, ever, those rare times when it's really working. (Even get up from the computer and go to the bathroom. Which works out okay since it's unlikely that I've left the computer long enough to get a glass of water or a cup of coffee or anything in the first place. :-))

What was the first story you wrote, and how did it feel to first place it into the public eye? Do you write in other fandoms besides TS?

"Polishing Shoes" was my first posted fic. Putting it on the web and announcing it here felt like a private adventure -- fun, but only a little scary since I totally knew already that I wasn't a writer, and I also knew that nobody was going to read the fic (or at least I'd never know whether anybody ever read it or not).

But posting my second fic ("New") -- that was nerve-wracking. People had written me (people had actually written me! that was so unbelievable) such shockingly nice things about Shoes that it scared the socks off me; I knew I was going to disappoint those readers with the next fic. I almost didn't post it, actually.

Write in other fandoms, no: solely TS writing. I did toy privately with one or two tiny nothings in the first fandom I read in (HTLJ), when I was beginning to uncover that "Could I possibly, maybe, someday…?" curiosity about writing, but TS is it with a capital "I" and about fifteen exclamation points.. And probably It for forever, actually. I could see an occasional dabble somewhere else in the (distant) future, possibly -- but it's hard to imagine my heart being anywhere other than here with Jim and Blair.

What do you think/hope readers most appreciate in your stories?

People seem to like the Blair POV / voice I've tended to write in so far, which is very cool. And very lucky for me, since it -- he -- lets me play around with the English language in ways that make me happy.

And he lets me be wordy. I like that. :-)

'Hope they most appreciate'? I really want things to be well-written, but that's certainly only part of it. I don't know, actually. Emotional connection, amusement about certain things, the sound and feel of the fic working well for people -- I don't know. I don't think about that when I'm working on a fic (at least I don't think I think about that); it's more just me trying to do whatever the fic itself wants me to do.

How do you decide whether to write in a first person POV or third person as a narrator?

Okay, showing my non-technicalness here. I never can remember what you call all the different POVs or persons and which ones are which.

I'll (probably) never write from whatever the most removed standpoint is; I need to be inside a character's thoughts, and writing without being able to take the reader along with me into those thoughts is like writing with one and a half hands tied behind my back. I tend to stick with a POV that lets me be intimately inside the person, sharing that, while not usually going as far as being "I" driven. But it's really up to the fic; whatever it wants, I'll try.

So far, that's mostly been POV from inside a single character's head (well, from inside Blair's head). I do love both the challenge and the reality of that -- as a person, I only get to experience life from a single viewpoint; I don't get to suddenly jump inside somebody else's head and check out the view from there. I like that a lot as a writer for its reality check. I also like the challenge of trying to show things subtly that the POV character isn't really noticing, or interpreting right, but that the reader needs to see.

But there's a whole new set of (equally appealing) challenges in writing that same type of 'inside-his-head' POV for more than one character in a story, and I would like to explore that, too. It's not something I can force, though -- the fic has to want to be written that way.

Have you ever had a writing coach?

Nope, not in any formal interactive sense (aside from betas provided for most of my later fics). But reading pro-fic and fanfic attentively for the writing as writing, as well as for the story, has probably served as a subconscious 'coach' in some ways.

It's also been a big help to do some beta'ing myself; that really gets me thinking about the nuts and bolts of why certain details have such impact and how things fit together, and all kinds of fascinating stuff. And I've had wonderful and inspiring discussions about writing with several people (Laurie, Jane Davitt, Skye among them). Writing is probably my favorite thing in the world to get carried away thinking about, and I can obsess over a comma, or a single preposition, or the emotional flavor of particular words and sentence structures, or character motives and plot points -- or anything, really -- for (endless) paragraphs.

Your stories seem to pick up the emotional consequences for the various circumstances shown in the early episodes of The Sentinel. While that is often the main accomplishment of fan fiction, you've raised it to an (award-winning) art-form. Have you had any experiences of this kind yourself with danger or uncertainty that help with this?

Ah, you make me blush. Boy. Seriously not an art-form, but thank you.

"Uncertainty" is one of my middle names -- about anything you can think of -- so yes, I have experience with uncertainty. As a life direction, actually; ongoing and often all-pervasive.

Danger, no. Thank God. (And knock on wood.)

"New" centered around living conditions for an impoverished grad student. "Permanent Ink" centered around trauma suffered while in life-threatening danger. Which character is easier for you to envision as far as their circumstances and feelings?

"New" as far as it counts literally. Not the grad student part, which I've never been, but not having money is something I've known, and it was very easy to identify with the downward spiral of Blair's financial biorhythms and to know how he was feeling and thinking.

"Permanent Ink" was actually also easy to identify with. Emotional turmoil and getting trapped in circles inside your own head? Yeah, I can do that. Absolutely. Total piece of cake. :-)

Do you work with a beta? Why or why not? What is your process for determining when your story is ready for posting?

I do now :-). When I started writing I didn't know anybody in TS at all and was way too diffident to ask somebody I didn't know to beta my fic. Now I've had three extremely dear and helpful people who've beta'ed things for me (Jane Davitt, Laurie, and JadeBear), and not having one of my fics beta'ed would feel like I was cheating the fic -- it's so easy for me to get way too caught up in my own patterns of hearing and expressing and thinking about things, and a fresh pair of eyes is totally invaluable. The fic always ends up being better and I always end up learning something new about writing.

I don't always get a beta for really short and informal stuff, though, but that's not because I don't know it would be far bettter to have whatever it is beta'ed; it's more just not wanting to take anybody's time for something that's just a short and informal nothing thing.

Posting -- oh, that's tough, knowing when to post. I usually post before I should -- ten minutes after I post I almost always have my head buried in my hands, having a sudden and crummily belated attack of clarity about all the things I could've written better.

But overall, I post when I've gone through a fic obsessively so many times that I can virtually recite it word for word and I've gotten to a place where I think I've got it as close to what I'd like for it to be as I can get it, and suddenly I can't stand not kicking it out of the nest for even ONE MORE MINUTE -- it's like a fever at that point. I give in to it too soon and then I regret it; that seems to be the immutable pattern.

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?

That's a tough one, too -- what category does the fic I've written so far belong to? (Canon, maybe?) That would be the logical answer -- for the time being, anyway -- since whatever it is that I've been writing so far, it's familiar, and familiarity is (at least supposedly) a comfort zone.

But other than saying that, I actually don't know how to answer this question. (I can't even figure out why it's so hard for me to answer this one, except that I'm having a tough time separating "current" from "possible -- even if only in a vanishingly small way -- future" comfort zones.) If it helps any, whatever the answer might be doesn't involve major plot. Plot is a hard thing for me; even simple ones are difficult for me to coax into my head.

If you were to write a completely new AU for these characters, what would it demand of them?

Oh, golly. If I knew that, I might have a plot to go with it [yearns…]. It would be cool to have an AU that put special demands on the guys, definitely. But ordinary demands would be okay, too. As long as there were some emotional demands in there. :-)

Which among your own works is your favorite and why?

Oh, golly, again. I don't like any of them best. I like parts of them for different reasons, usually just specific short scenes or phrases. The scene in "Polishing Shoes" where Blair's stash of Christmas food gets run over by the car was pure fun to write. "Permanent Ink" has some things that were satisfying to me on a couple of levels. Mostly it's just bits and pieces scattered throughout the fics, things that I think maybe worked okay, phrases here and there that I still feel solid about even now with time and distance and more writing under my belt.

Which of your stories are you less positive about, why? Have you had the urge to revise any of your stories? Which ones?

Sort of the same thing as the 'favorite' question: I tend to be negative about aspects of a fic or about particular bits more than about the fic as a whole (probably because I'm an up-close reader and writer and not good at the big picture). I could go fic-by-fic with you and point out all the parts where I could have written something way more smoothly or articulately or intelligently or interestingly. Or with fewer unnecessarily italicized words. :-)

Would I like to revise the things that make me flinch with embarrassment now? Yes and no. I'd definitely love for the fics to be better in every way and maybe someday I'll think about polishing them further, if and when I ever have enough time to do that. But what if what I end up polishing away is something somebody likes? That doesn't seem fair to me, exactly.

Okay, that's not what I mean -- it's not unfair, and I know I can revise if I choose to, and many writers do revise fics. And I think that's totally cool and I absolutely never think of it as being unfair in even the slightest way when anybody else revises a fic. It's just a personal weirdness that applies only to my own stuff; I'd have to wrestle with myself that it’s okay to get a do-over, really it is, and that I don't have to live with my mistakes.

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?

Yes, to the last question, definitely. I want that with vast and unwieldy passion, and it kills me that life is really not letting me get there right now.

Yes, to the middle question, definitely -- and also no, sorta. And that covers a lot of territory (as well as a lot of ambiguity). I desperately wish I could write (and think of, sheesh) even marginally plotty fic. I'd love to write an AU. I'd love to write a horror story, or dark fic. And I feel all of those are beyond me currently -- but I don't, also, if that makes sense; I feel like I could at least try (if the Plot Gods would condescend to smile on me, at any rate). Pretty much all writing is an experiment to me anyway, whether I've tackled anything similar before or not, and maybe I could end up learning how to write new types of things in an okay way.

The first question -- partly that gets the same answer as the middle question just got, with an addendum of extra angst / TS-gotta-writes. Which means things like tackling TSbyBS and SenToo -- scary territory, and they wouldn't be easy, but I'd be fooling myself if I pretended I wouldn't like to write them some day.

Do you create OCs and how do you use them? Do you find creating an OC challenging?

I haven't really created any "on-screen" OC's yet. I enjoyed the minor off-screen OC character creation for "New" a lot), but I think I can safely say that creating a more full-fleshed OC would be challenging. You betcha. :-)

How do you feel about feedback and concrit from your readers?

Heh, is this a trick question? I kinda suspect all writers love to get feedback. Not just writers, but anybody who creates something and shares it, or who shares some part of themselves in some way; knowing that what you've sent out into the wide world is making a connection with somebody in some manner -- most people need a little of that, I think?

And feedback and concrit can be really valuable; I know I've got a heck of a lot to learn about writing (and I hope I never stop learning), and hearing what people like or don't like about a fic, what works for them or doesn't work -- all of that can really help.

But now that I've said that, I also need to say that I have complete empathy with not sending feedback even if you want to marry a story and have its children, you're so in love with it. I'm in that particular space myself right now, thanks to a long and still ongoing stretch of time- and stress-challenged RL. And when I first started reading fanfic, I absolutely could not believe that a writer would want to hear from me -- what could I say; how could I say it; would I be bothering them? And whether somebody has those reasons or other reasons or no reasons at all for not sending feedback is totally understandable to me. Getting feedback is sort of a bonus kind of a thing, something that I appreciate immensely, but receiving it or not receiving is something I'm cool with either way. Whatever works for people, whenever it works, if it works. No worries. :-)

And after having said all that, I must also say I've been blown away by how kind people have been about my fics. It still seems surreal to me that so many people have seemed to like them, that people have taken the time to let me know that they liked them. (And I've ended up getting to know some totally wonderful people and becoming friends with them thanks to meeting them through LoCs. That goes so far beyond 'bonus' that I don't even have words for it.)

And I should come with a warning label, I know that. You didn't exactly ask for an essay... ::rolls eyes at unable-to-be-concise self and Shuts.(Finally.) Up.::

We staunchly maintain that we DID ask for an essay and are very glad you provided one written in the classic "T" style of prose. It certainly brings to mind a certain anthropologist, well known to your readers. Thanks "T"!

Last updated 4/6/09 igr