Back in the Day: Sandy Shelton Williams

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Back in the Day
Interviewee: Sandy Shelton Williams
Date(s): September 25, 2011
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Beauty and the Beast (TV)
External Links: Back in the Day Sandy Shelton Williams, Archived version
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Back in the Day is a memory piece by Sandy Shelton Williams posted at the site B&BLand.

Some Topics Discussed


Okay, here I go. In 1987, I was awestruck and completely enchanted by a new tv show called “Beauty and the Beast”. Like most of you, I found myself swept up in the romance and beauty of the show. The tunnel world intrigued me. But all too soon, I was devastated at the way that romance and inspiration was ended.

Back then, very few of us had computers and no one I knew had internet or email. All news of the show was gathered and shared by Nan Dibble’s Helper’s Network Hotline. That was where I heard about a fan group in NC called, “The Crystal Rose”. There was an address and phone number, and so I decided to seek the solace of other fans. I was amazed at how quickly I received a letter from JoAnn Grant (yes, snail mail). The letter was very upbeat and welcoming.

We corresponded a lot and then finally started calling each other. In those days, your phone bill was like making a car payment. They ate up a huge part of your budget. JoAnn wowed me with stories of conventions and thousands of other fans out there like myself. She introduced me to fanzines and pretty soon, I was hooked.
JoAnn had a way of drawing you into things. She and Vicki were starting a newsletter. Yes, an honest to goodness paper newsletter that had to be mailed out by snail mail. Sounds barbaric doesn’t it? Of course, they needed articles and features for the newsletter, so she talked me into reviewing fanzines. That worked for me because I got to read a lot of fanzines in the guise of “reviewing them”. Back then, you either went broke buying fanzines or you and some friends exchanged them. JoAnn dreamed of having a central lending library where fans could borrow the fanzines for the cost of postage. It started out modestly and then grew steadily as both fanzine writers and fans contributed copies.

Let me tell you friends, every word that I ever wrote for the newsletter or for the fanzine was written by hand on a legal pad as I stretched out on the couch after a hard day at work. I would, at times, have hundreds of pages of scribbled stories scattered all around me. I would spend hours outlining, working out plotlines, marking through things that didn’t work until that particular scene was done to my satisfaction. That was the first draft. The second phase was typing them up, editing, proofreading, editing again and so on. After several people had proofed it, the art was collected, fit into the storylines, and then all was sent to the printer.

I won’t get into much more of the creative process here but being an editor and author of a fanzine back in those days took hours and hours of hard work and devotion. Something your family doesn’t always understand. Of course, we always had some fun with it too. Hence, Chandler’s story of Vincent wrapping the “clock” around Catherine’s shoulders.
JoAnn and Vicki would travel to conventions to sell our fanzines and recruit new members. They would bring back tee shirts, bags, autographs, new fanzines, etc. for me and then tell me about the celebrities they’d met. After the Orlando convention, JoAnn called me Sandy Shelton AND Sandy Shelton and said she’d met an up and coming artist. I remember asking her name and she replied, “Sandy Shelton”. I laughed and commented that I couldn’t draw stick figures with a ruler. That’s when I found out about Chandler. JoAnn sent me some samples of her work, and I immediately contacted her. We formed a fast and rewarding friendship that lasted through several fanzines, newsletters, conventions and some great loss.
My first convention was the one in Vegas in 1994. I had just lost my mother and JoAnn talked me into getting away for a while. I was the wild eyed newbie who was totally overwhelmed by the fact that many of the show’s cast and crew attended these things. I brought my trusty camera and documented so much of fandom’s history that weekend. Several members of our group were also there, and it was quite a blast for all of us. Back then there would be hundreds of like-minded fans all running between the Dealer’s Room, the Art Room and the various discussion groups, autograph lines and so on. For a small town girl, it was quite an adventure.
Writing fanzines was therapy for me. I hated the direction the show took but, through my zines, the story had a happy ending. There came a time when I felt I had no other stories to tell. Work was taking more of my time, and I started dating my future husband. As Vincent would say, “The time has come for you to leave the safety of this world and have a happy life.” I took that advice.