Cascade Library Interview with Donna Gentry

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Cascade Library Interview with Donna Gentry
Interviewer: Cascade Library
Interviewee: Donna Gentry
Date(s): February 7, 2000
Medium: online
Fandom(s): The Sentinel
External Links: interview is here; reference link
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In 2000, Donna Gentry was interviewed for Cascade Library.

Some Excerpts

I wish I could say I've been a fan from day one, but to tell you the truth the first couple of episodes I saw really didn't catch my attention -- beyond the fact that there were two reallly nice looking guys in it (who's shallow?). Then I stumbled across the [fanfic]]. What I read was so wonderful that I decided I must have missed something in the episodes I had seen. I gave it another try, about mid-second season, and was hooked.
I was actively writing fanfic for another fandom when I stumbled across the fic for TS. After reading a dozen or so stories, I thought, "I want to be a part of this. I want to write for these characters." So I got a hold of some tapes of the shows I had missed and started learning everything I could about these guys and their relationship. It was very important to me to get it right. Deliver Us From Evil was my first effort. At the time I wrote it, I was helping my husband deal with the effects of severe head injuries suffered in a head on collision with a drunk driver, so it seemed only natural to apply the things I was learning to a Sentinel story. Writing it was the easy part. Posting it was terrifying. Up until then, I had only written for fanzines, which has this nice, safe, anonymous feel. Posting to an email list where hundreds of people would receive it instantly was terribly frightening by comparison. I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, I was made to feel very welcome. Feedback was a new concept that I quickly fell in love with; you just don't get that with fanzine stories. I kept thinking, is this a mistake? Did they mean to send this to *me* ? I still think that way.

Well, I'll probably regret admitting this, but the story that means the most to me is one that I don't even claim. It was posted under a pseudonym, for reasons too complicated and boring to get into. It was a very difficult story to write. Very emotional. I felt like each and every word was ripped right from my heart. I really put my soul into that story. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out, even if I don't claim it.
I have a folder on my computer labeled "4me". In it are literally dozens of stories, mostly unfinished, written strictly for myself. They involve things I'd like to see happen to the characters that I feel are "too much", over the top. But there are days when that's the kind of stuff I want to work on. Accessible started out as one of those stories that grew too big. By the time I had finished, I had so much emotionally invested in the story, I just had to post it in hopes someone else might enjoy it.

For all of Blair's verbosity, he doesn't always express himself very well, and frankly, Jim doesn't always listen very well, so I see miscommunication as one of their biggest obstacles. In Heart/Soul that lack of communication almost came between them in a way they couldn't overcome. I wanted to explore how they could come to that point and then work their way back, not with cliched, macho displays or jokes, but with real words and actions, like real life friends would have to in order for the friendship to survive.
My muse went on permanent vacation about a year ago. At first, I waited patiently for her to return. When it became obvious she wasn't coming back, I hiked up my britches and began plodding along without her. Some days, I just stare at a blank computer screen waiting for the words to magically appear. Some days, I just jump in and write, figuring I can always delete later, if need be. I find it really helpful to reread some of my favorite stories to remind myself why I love this fandom so much. On the really bad days, I read the most dreadful piece of fanfic I can find (in another fandom, of course ~g~), and tell myself, I can do at least that good. That almost always works.

I've heard other writers talk about feedback like it is a thank you note for a gift they've given, but I see feedback as the gift and deserving of a thank you note in return. I treasure each and every email (compliments and criticisms alike) just as I would a gift from a friend. I have printed copies of them all that I thumb through when the muses refuse to bash or if I'm just down and need a quick pick-me-up. I honestly don't think the average reader knows just how much feedback means to a writer.