Del Floria's Interview with St. Crispin

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Del Floria's Interview with St. Crispin
Interviewer: Del Floria (Live Journal)
Interviewee: St. Crispin
Date(s): May 23, 2011
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Man from U.N.C.L.E.
External Links: Del Floria's Interview with St. Crispin; Archive
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Del Floria's Interview with ChannelD is an interview with a Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan.

It is part of a series at Del Floria's. See Del Floria's Interview Series.


Your stories have an overall arc and you've built a consistent MFU Universe with a closed ending. Have you ever gotten the urge to break out of it?

Not really. I’ve had opportunities to collaborate with others and even though those stories are not technically St. Crispin’s stories, I find that I still write them from the St. Crispin’s perspective. I didn’t write anything in those stories that might violate the universe’s vision or timeline. There have also been others who’ve asked me to borrow characters from the universe and I’ve always said yes. Sometimes, I will incorporate some of the material from their stories back into mine in return. The French Songbird Affair by Diana Smith and Pat Dunn is a good example.

That said, I do write outside the universe when I write the Escape/MFU crossover series with Nan. I think of it as a slightly alternate universe. It’s a dystopia: Thrush has taken over the world and bad things have happened to Solo and Kuryakin. They’re still hellbent on saving the world, but it’s a far more difficult task. So I think of the two universes as parallel. There are St. Crispin references [such as to Nate Cassidy] embedded in the crossover series. I guess, as it’s turned out, it’s sort of like what happened with the new Star Trek movie. Something occurs that disturbs the space/time continuum. If you follow one path, you get St. Crispin’s. If you follow the other, you get Escape/MFU.
What do you consider your weakest piece of work and why do you consider it so? I’m not sure how to answer this question, not because I think all my work is equally strong, but because I think it’s really up to the readers. I don’t publish anything I don’t think is decent and ready to be read by an audience. Judging by comments and readership totals in the past, I’d have to say that although I like them a lot, the stories that feature Napoleon and April are not as popular with the fan readers. It’s funny because I expected that the stories featuring my OC, Allyson, would not be popular, but the character has been fairly well accepted, for which I’m grateful. My adult only stories also have limited distribution and because they are het, probably more limited appeal.
What do you consider to be your strongest piece of work and why?

Again, it’s really not for me to say. I notice that stories that feature Illya often attract the most comments and readers, and I guess I’m not surprised since a good portion of the female fans are still Illya fans. I suppose my own favorites are two of my collaborations, the first novel in the Escape/MFU series that I wrote with Nan, and Small Sacrifices that I wrote with N L Hayes. Both, unfortunately, are currently only available in print. Online, I guess I’m probably most proud of the origin trilogy stories, starting with 'The Long St. Crispin’s Day' running through 'The Devil’s Attic Affair', 'Uncertainty Principle.' And I have a particular affection for 'The City of Lies Affair' as well because it covers a lot of complex issues and yet remains a fast paced, well-balanced story.

I like writing about politics and psychological issues. My favorite theme is exploring what it might be like to be an U.N.C.L.E. agent. I love the relationship of Solo and Kuryakin, but I prefer to embed it within the U.N.C.L.E. organization and real world politics and relationships. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an U.N.C.L.E. agent and I guess fan fiction is a way of doing that as an adult.
Are you swayed by other’s reactions to your work or have you set a course and stayed upon it?

Most fiction writers, even those who write professionally and commercially, say they write for themselves and frankly, I can’t imagine what it must be like otherwise. Nevertheless, any writer who says s/he pays no attention to the audience is delusional. Seriously. Because if you’re not writing for someone else besides yourself, why not leave it in the desk drawer? I always say that writing is like sex: sometimes you do it for money, sometimes you do it just for yourself. If you’re doing it for yourself, that’s fine, just don’t do it in public and embarrass the rest of us.

The best writing, to my mind, is interactional and accessible, and brings pleasure to both the writer and readers. So, yes, I pay attention to comments and feedback because it matters, and if it’s honest, thoughtful and well-intentioned, you can learn a lot from it. I write gen and het, but I’ve also learned a lot from the slash fans about putting more emphasis on the agents’ relationship. Readers sometimes complain that gen can be boring, and I think that’s a fair criticism. It’s so easy to get caught up in plotting details that you forget to pay attention to what’s going on with the characters. In a good story, there’s a balance. And, as they say in scriptwriting, action is character ---and vice versa.
You're a gen writer whose always been slash friendly. Has your own view of the Solo/Kuryakin relationship changed over the years? As I said, I think gen and slash writers can learn a lot from each other. I’ve gone on at length in my own LJ about why I write gen and why I read slash. I’ve always been friendly with the slash cousins. As they say, some of my best friends are slash writers. I not only read slash stories, but I beta them. And I’ve been lucky that a good portion of the audience for my gen are slash readers. To me, they’re just different aesthetics, different perspectives. But whether they sleep with other people or with each other, Solo and Kuryakin remain, IMO, essentially the same. They are always U.N.C.L.E. agents and that’s what interests me. So, it’s all good.