Featured Fen -- My Life and Times: Paula Block

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Featured Fen -- My Life and Times: Paula Block
Interviewer: Menagerie
Interviewee: Paula Block
Date(s): January 1980
Medium: print
Fandom(s): Star Trek: TOS and Star Wars, and others
External Links:
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Featured Fen -- My Life and Times: Paula Block is an autobiographical interview by Block herself for the zine Menagerie #16 in 1980.

Block and her "pioneer dog, Berkey," from "Menagerie" #16, the artist is Joni Wagner

Some Excerpts

My personal theory is that writing is a way of communicating with people who don't normally hear you—whether it's because they are physically removed from you, or psychologically distant. I wasn't very well liked by my peer group during my formative years; maybe that has something to do with it. In 7th grade I began writing stories based on then current television shows--I guess the beginning of my involvment in fan fic, even if my involvment in fandom was still years away.
"Star Trek" premiered when I was a sophomore in high school and it immediately inspired me to write little Trek vignettes and file them away in my bedroom because nobody wanted to read them. The two most formative events of my college years were; of finding Berkey, the empathic mutt who helped to balance out more than a few of my emotional instabilities (I mention him because most of my friends in fandom have run into Berk at some time or another) (also because Connie Faddis got to be portrayed in MENAGERIE with her cat Arnold on her shoulder, and Berkey deserves equal billing); b) meeting Lori Chapek (the hyphen occurred later), who lured me out of the Trek closet and got me into fandom. Fandom boggled my mind at first—I'd never had any glimmering that so many other peculiar people existed.
I was one of the original contributors when WARPED SPACE took off in 1974. I remember hawking the little monster at bake sales to pay off the OurCon debt. It was the series of stories I did about Sadie Faulwell in WS that got me moving as a writer—never mind if the w's big or small.
The "Faulwellian Epic's genre was...well, I can't exactly say it was action-adventure, can I? I always considered it a Mary-Sue (how could I honestly consider it anything else, when the drawings of Sadie were patterned after me?), in that a Mary-Sue incorporates portions of the author's personality within the main character. And Sadie certainly reflected a lot of my thoughts and yearnings. Though "she got her man in the end," I always tried to keep her as humanly imperfect as possible. She didn't win by beauty, gile or feats of heroism. It was her personality that pulled her through—a sense of fatalism blended with a sense of humor, vulnerability balanced by stamina. A lot of people could identify with her, which helped transform the meaning of "Mary Sue" in this case from Wonder Woman to Every Woman.
In terms of stylistic technical growth, "Tinman" (printed in INTERPHASE—may it rest in peace) and "The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly's Feet" [printed in MENAGERIE—may it live long and prosper) marked the beginning of a transitional phase in which I began to understand that interesting characterization does not a remarkable piece of fiction make. Things like plotting and pacing are vital. MENAGERIE — may it live long and prosper) marked the beginning of a transitional phase in which I began to understand that interesting characterization does not a remarkable piece of fiction make. Things like plotting and pacing are vital.
In 1977, "Star Wars" premiered and gave fandom a shot in the arm. The challenge to jaded Trek fen was too much to resist. Around this time I met Jackie Paciello and found that although our writing styles differed plenty, we both had the same outlook towards the potential direction of the SWars universe. And so we began to write together, taking advantage of each other's talent and enthusiasm to produce "The Continuator" universe.[1] Writing in tandem is not an easy thing—it requires a blending of styles and a compromise—but it is always inspirational, not to mention a great way to learn new things about technique. I extend myself stylistically each time I sit down to ' write with Jackie, and with Judi Hendricks, who I started collaborating with in early 1979.
Although I generally lump myself under the label "writer," I've also tried my hand at editing. What a bitch of a taskl I have new respect for any fool masochistic enough to put out a zine. After empty promises for two years, I finally got out SYNDIZINE (that's the one with the pig on the cover.
Whither the once and future Poblocki on her quest for the capital W? Well, obviously pouring most of one's bodily juices into a mundane 9 to 5 and the rest into fannish works of art doesn't leave much energy or time for "legit" literary efforts. Yet fandom is a way of life for me, and it's been a gratifying one. It's like a big extended family—one that cares and understands and bolsters shaky egos the way real families can't always. We are united in a dream, and are by definition attempting to escape reality. We can't do it forever, I suppose. I know that I can't if I want to make capital W someday. But for the nonce. May the FIAWOL be with y'all.


  1. ^ a series of stories in Warped Space