K/S Press Interview with J S Cavalcante
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||K/S Press Interview with J S Cavalcante|
|Interviewee:||J S Cavalcante|
|Medium:||print, email subscription|
|Fandom(s):||slash, Star Trek|
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I had never read K/S before writing it. I’d been reading hetfic for years, but hadn’t read K/S because the idea struck me as “boring” (go figure) and I believed those Big Name Fans who claimed it was "out of character" I didn’t have an opinion about homosexuality; it wasn’t an issue. I think the obstacle was that K/S began to come out—no pun intended—when I was just a little too young for it. I was only about 14 or 15 when the first K/S started getting published thirty years ago. Okay, well, I had read Stranger in a Strange Land, so I was already subverted and maybe not so innocent. And my sister and I were crazy about Starsky & Hutch, too, and we loved the hugging scenes best! It’s a slippery slope. But back then, I didn’t see the K/S relationship in sexual terms. The close friendship was heroic and compelling enough. Still, there were glimmers...I remember getting the flyer for Thrust (a classic!) at a con and being absolutely fascinated by the blurb for an excerpt from the novel Nightvisions. I didn’t know it was slash; the flyer wasn’t clear enough to someone who didn’t already know what it was. But the luxurious writing fascinated me, the depth of the emotion and Spock’s despair over wanting what he couldn’t have...that was in the flyer, and I kept it for years, wishing I could find that story. Now, of course, I have an original copy of the novel. I also remember seeing a gorgeous Southern Cross drawing that suggested something closer than friendship between Kirk and Spock, and that fascinated me, too, but I still didn’t quite get it. I paid no attention to K/S until 1992, when I was at a con where there were no genzines, only K/S. So I flipped through a K/S zine and read a paragraph that I found unbelievable and out of character. I remember thinking, “just goes to show you can’t write K/S in character.” But the seed was planted. I couldn’t shake the thought over the next few days: If I know these characters as well as I think I do, could I write a K/S in character? That would be a heck of a challenge for a writer, and so on. And before I knew it I was sitting down at the computer to take a crack at it. Blushing the entire time, mind you, as I had never written a sex scene before, ever. And the guys surprised me. The story practically wrote itself—it was easy to get them into bed together. And I finished it. That’s what convinced me. I’d been writing gen fanfic for years, and except for a couple of short things written when I was 14, I could never finish anything. I didn’t know why I kept getting stuck. After that first K/S story was finished, I knew instantly why I had kept getting stuck on the gen stories. I was writing intense relationship stuff but didn’t see that they were potential lovers. K/S was the missing piece. The sex isn’t mandatory, but if the characters are tactile, physical creatures—and they are, intensely so—then given the depth of their connection, they certainly could be lovers and probably are. Once I saw that, completing stories was a snap.
There’s been something of a division between those fans who insist that Kirk and Spock are not gay and those who insist that they must at least be bisexual. Some fans have been very adamant about their positions on this issue. I straddle that fence. I love envisioning them as straight-but-gotta-do-my-best-friend, and I equally love imagining one or both of them as totally gay, and every option in between. I love making a case for whichever version I’ve chosen for a particular story. But I think that our need to cubbyhole people as either straight or gay is a little restrictive. The gay political movement has its reasons for wanting to classify people as either/or, but those don’t apply to K/S, and that either/or classification doesn’t even work very well in real life. Some authors find the romance between the characters to be that much more poignant and dramatic if there are big obstacles standing in the way of their getting together. It’s all about the conflict. What’s challenging them or impeding them from creating this communion of souls and bodies? If the challenge is that one or both are straight, well, that’s big, that would be a fatal flaw for most couples. But these guys are not most people. They are larger-than-life, operatic, dramatic, heroic characters. They can overcome Herculean challenges.
The Bond is a fan-invented (fanon) idea that’s been around pretty much since “Amok Time.” Some fans saw evidence of a telepathic mate-bond there. I didn’t. Spock says of the betrothal that his and T’Pring’s minds were “locked together so that at the proper time we would both be drawn to koon-ut-kalifi.” Clearly, the “lock” is a communications lock—like a radio receiver set to pick up a specific frequency—that summons the mates. T’Pring’s actions give ample evidence that it’s not any other kind of lock. ￼Although the Bond was worked into canon in the spin-off series, considering the general contempt shown TOS by certain of the producers, I’d say that lot aren’t qualified to decide what’s canon. Still, it was fascinating that the Bond idea showed up in ST: Voyager and perhaps elsewhere, because it meant that The Powers That Be had taken ideas that originated in fanfic and worked them into the source material. I’ve no idea whether that’s the first time it’s ever happened, but...wow, that’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? The source material now becomes a collaborative effort between the creators and the viewers. Of course, storytelling and myth have always worked this way. So maybe TV has come full circle. So the Vulcan Bond is optional. I have written a few stories that include it, because I like to experiment. Generally I prefer to show the nature of any telepathic link between the characters without resorting to the “Bond” word, because that word is such a cliché that readers will assume you mean whatever version of the “Bond” is in their heads. So it’s now something of a nonsense word like “God”: everyone’s interpretation is different.
Sex in stories? Not required, but certainly wonderful. It’s great because there’s the potential for so much emotion and so much communion between them in sexual situations. It’s such a confronting subject on so many levels. They’re in the same chain of command, with one outranking the other. They’re from different planets. They’re very different personalities. They’re in a supremely risky career. They’re both men, which is potentially confronting. They have this priceless friendship, which they do not want to lose. Their romantic track records are literally tragic. And the sexuality of Vulcans is dangerous and weird and might require levels of telepathy that would scare the stuffing out of most humans. So sex between them potentially threatens a lot of things.
Most of all, sex is deeply emotional. Writing about it lets us do some potentially outrageous things with the characters. I grew up with fandom. I remember when K/S was shocking and controversial and outrageous. Subversive, even. People would get into screaming fits about how it was “character assassination.” I didn’t even know what real character assassination was when I first heard that.And, so help me, I still love that outrageous quality. So I still try to do at least one outrageous thing in every story. As for writing sex scenes, I got over the blushing thing when I wrote my second story, and I haven’t looked back.
Almost all of [my fiction] is FT. I love that scenario best. If the story’s about the relationship, then one of the most threatening moments of change for the two characters is the first-time scenario. And what you generally want to do in a short story is write about that most threatening moment. I love considering all the different ways in which they could have got together that first time. I love making the case for K/S. I don’t know who I’m trying to convince after all these years. Maybe I’m just still trying to make the relationship seem so necessary and believable that a real nonbeliever could read one of my stories and say, “Aha, you’re right—they are lovers.” I like writing about them during and just after TOS, when they were young and handsome and uncertain, and when Spock was more conflicted and angst-filled. It would be rather tricky to set an established relationship in that era without quickly venturing into the realm of AU. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I have done AU a couple of times and enjoyed it, but I prefer staying pretty close to the mainstream canon universe.
I’m not an intellectual-type artist. I’m an intuitive one, and that goes for all my artwork: songs and poems (and now drawings) as well as stories. I don’t have any big statements to make. If I sat down and thought some big thesis through first, I would never write the story. I wouldn’t have to. There would be nothing new for me to learn, and, worse, I would have no emotional connection to the story. I have to have an emotional reason to want to write it. I might have an idea to explore, but I don’t expect readers to draw specific conclusions, even if the characters sometimes state them. Often the general idea for a story comes from a “what if” scenario—essentially a challenge I give myself—but to actually start writing, I need a compelling image in my head.
My stuff has improved, very gradually. So there’s the godawful period at the beginning, and then there’s the rest. I hope it’s less godawful now. I still blush to read the first story I wrote, and not because it’s NC-17.