Hatstand Express Interview with HG

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Hatstand Express Interview with HG
Interviewee: HG
Date(s): November 1988
Medium: print
Fandom(s): The Professionals
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In 1988, HG was interviewed for The Hatstand Express #18.

For others in this series, see Hatstand Interview Series.


What was the first B/D story you read? Do you still like it, or dislike it?

I can't remember which of the four hatstands O. Yardley lent me I read first; the two I remember are Welcome Home and The Gift. The cumulative effect of the four was to make B and D real to me rather than the plastic action men I had assumed them to be from all the media hype which was my only knowledge of the series at that time. On re-reading the stories I can see that they are by no means the best B/D fiction has to offer - they aren't the worst either. I enjoyed them, they have happy associations for me.

How did you get interested in these characters?

In October or November of 1982 O. Yardley told me she was sure I would enjoy reading the "hatstands" she had been given. As I had avoided the series like the plague I didn't believe her; she persisted with a very aggravating confidence - for which I'm eternally grateful. I'd soon borrowed her entire collection, which if memory serves, numbered about 40 at the time - mainly British. We didn't know at the time there was an American fandom. At the same time I began to watch the series on TV - the first showing of the 5th season. As the first I saw were gems such as Lawson, Operation Susie, and You'll Be All Right, my comments to O. Yardley grew more abusive; Discovered In A Graveyard hit the screen and something clicked. Episodes like Stakeout - or should I say the scene -completed the conversion.

Do you see the "/" relationship in the shows themselves? Or is it only hinted at? Or is B/D simply wishful thinking, an alternate universe?

The episodes are open enough to be whatever their audience want them to be. I just sit back and enjoy. Given some of the scenes which have hit the small screen, somebody somewhere must have a wonderful out-take video. As far as I'm concerned there is the "gospel" according to the shows, everything else is A/U. By "gospel" I mean only that the series is all we are shown of the characters and CI5, therefore, in my (admittedly elastic) view everything else is a matter of speculation and interpretation and, therefore, A/U of one kind or another. That said, there are plenty of inconsistencies within the aired show. The inconsistencies don't bother me but they exist so - depending on what I'm working on, or my mood of the day - I either forget them or try and devise a way of explaining a seeming aberration. I don't feel the need to select episodes in order to justify or deny the existence of B/D, the possibilities are there for those who want to enjoy them. It isn't something which worries me - we were all given imaginations, why not use 'em in the way that keeps each of us happiest.

Which character is your favorite, if you nave a favorite?

D because of the mass of contradictions, the constant struggle which must always be going on within him (there again, I could say the same for B). Because he isn't perfect, or predictable; even Cowley admits he doesn't understand him.

Physically I couldn't ask for more - although less clothes would be nice. I love the voice, the chuckle, the way he moves - pause for a reverent silence - that wonderful straight line of his back, down to his best asset. It's a changeable face I never tire of looking at - I don't always find him attractive (although that's a poor word to use) but I always find him interesting.

My attention first latched on to D in Discovered In A Graveyard, which I think was about the fifth episode I saw, when B said something to the effect that D would blame himself for the invention of gunpowder. The more I see of him the more he fascinates me. That said, I bet any B fan will find at least an equal number of reasons for their preference (and it is only a preference; I wouldn't be writing if both characters didn't interest me) and that other D fans will disagree with me for mine. That's one of the things that makes fandom live - the differences.

Best of all, of course, is B and D together.

Do you hold this image in your mind as a constant that comes out in the stories, or do you like to write stories that contrast a particular version of the characters with that image in your mind?

Mot consciously, but I suppose I do have certain constants: I try to avoid the manic mercenary, the ball of mush or the feminised D because they don't appeal much. There are obvious kinds of behavior I wouldn't expect from them - from pulling off the wings of flies to gunning down a line of old age pensioners; that kind of wanton cruelty apart they're more than capable of actions I find distasteful or undesireable, from going for a 10 mile run to killing people.

My "constant" varies quite a lot in my mind, depending on what I'm working on. Whether those changes are as apparent to the readers as they are to me I don't know but as I write for ray own pleasure and satisfaction that doesn't matter particularly.

I've heard writers say they prefer Bodie over Doyle, or vice versa, but they then say they find it easier to write the one they like least. Does this happen to you?

Yes. I don't know why except I feel I capture Bodie better on paper. D's a puzzlement. While it's possible to explore the elements of one character by changing the pov and seeing e.g. D through B's eyes, I don't believe that's why I find B easier to write. A facile answer would be to say I find B less complex and contradictory; unfortunately it isn't true. Everyone is, it's what makes people in general so interesting. Probably it's no more than the fact I'm more intrigued by D's complexities, the way his mind works and his emotional reactions to events and because of that am constantly dissatisfied by my attempts to portray them.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was 15 or 16 as far as I remember, although I had done the odd bit of scribbling for fun before then. I saw a western series called Lancer and immediately ripped off the idea and started working on my own version of events: very OTT. I had fun with it for a couple of years or so but apart from the odd poem didn't write anything else until 1980 when I discovered the existence of Trek fandom.

I began writing B/D about 7 weeks after reading my first hatstand, which I think would make it January 1983.

What was the first B/D story you wrote? Have you read it since? What do you think of it now after writing the characters for several years?

"Sleeping Partners." Yes (but only to check it out so I could answer this). It wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be but it felt very strange, almost as if I hadn't written it. Perhaps because at the time it was heavily influenced by the few hatstands and episodes I'd seen rather than by much thought of B and D as people. It feels very two dimensional. Incidentally, the modern section of "Rediscovered In A Graveyard" began life as a sequel to "Sleeping Partners."

What do you hate to see done to the characters? Is there a type of story you hate? Have you ever written a story in which you've done what you hate to a character?

Character rape. D seems to be the one to suffer the most. Why feminise something so beautifully male? That particular fate doesn't seem to have befallen B mercifully - is it possible? But he's sometimes difficult to recognise. Hate is too strong a word though.

With a few exceptions I don't re-read death stories. I don't see the point of killing off one/both of the characters and then failing to explain the reality of grief. There again I've never tried; I have the sneaking feeling that if I did I might have a job to resurrect them for myself. Death's real, and it hurts. Some death stories are obviously written to wallow in pathos or to shock, most pour on the bathos until they become funny. While a writer often seeks to manipulate the reader, it isn't much fun for the reader to spot her at it.

I'm not fond of Mary Sues, i.e. a story in which the author gets B and/or D and describes her orgasm in loving detail.

Stories where one or both characters is sexually abused and subjected to various kinds of degradation for no discernible reason: what's the point of hurt without the comfort, or if we learn nothing about the characters save that they can be hurt? I can live without pages of gory descriptions quite happily.

I've nothing against some "tasteful" suffering but some descend to the level of revulsion. I regard them as obscene. I hope it's not indicative of a new trend because I've no wish to be put off B and D for good.

No, I don't have time to tackle all the ideas I'd like to work on, never mind the things I don't enjoy.

Is there any story of yours that you really hate and wish you had never written?

Again, hate is too strong a term. There are plenty I'm dissatisfied with when I go back to them but I suppose that's inevitable.

"Emerging from the Smoke" got lost somewhere along the way. I still like parts of it, but it shouldn't have gone out when it did.

"Strange Days Indeed" - I feel guilty about this one. It isn't nice to rip off someone else's story.

Do you often have a conscious message or theme you want to communicate in a story?

What you see is what you get; I try not to belabour any messages but to sneak them in - the interesting part comes when you realise that every reader gets something different from a story, and that their response can change according to their moods or experiences.

The best stories for me are those which beg to be re-read and which continue to offer something new on each re-reading. You and your damn examples! - "Invention of Gunpowder," "Waiting to Fall," "Party Spirit" sequence, "Siren" series. This isn't the definitive list but I don't have the time to analyse 1,000 stories. It's really any story which isn't heavy-handed, where the author hasn't felt the need to explain every emotion and event but leaves the reader a little space within which they can respond rather than having a response thrust upon them.

How do you evaluate the comments you might receive on a story? What sort of feedback do you like to get, i.e., is there any specific sort of thing a reader says that helps you?

It's very rare to receive detailed comments and they are appreciated because they take a lot of time and thought on someone's part. It's a massive compliment to have a piece of work taken that seriously. "Master of the Revels" apart, most of the feedback is usually of the "Yeah, I liked that" category, or "not one of your best," or a total silence.

I shouldn't complain because I'm guilty of the deathly hush syndrome myself all too often.

The comments which help the most are when someone explains why something didn't work - not that they didn't like it - but why it didn't work.

I also have a number of bad writing habits (forget the spelling, punctuation and typos) which I either don't recognise or which I'm too self-indulgent to correct. If people complained I might feel obliged to.

What stories do fans compliment you on the most; what stories have you received the most comment on?

"Master of the Revels" and "Master of the Revels." There were times when it felt like an albatross around my neck - for better or worse the bird has flown and I'm having fun rediscovering B and D.

What was your inspiration for "Master of the Revels?"

It stood 5'8," half bare, had an icy stare, chancy temper, dodgy morals and a painted face. It was lust at first sight.

In fact I didn't particularly enjoy "Facelift" as a whole; while I taped it, I had no urge to re-watch it as I disliked a lot of the music as sung by the Numbers and found the script unsatisfactory. At Sebastian's urging I scribbled a couple of pages (scene where Bob discovers Zax isn't dead) which faded for lack of inspiration. Two or three months later while staying with Sebastian I saw the video she and ET had made of Zax and the Names. Renewed lust apart (I also have a very soft spot for Bob) I suddenly had various questions about Zax and his world I would have liked to see answered. ET and Sebastian nodded understandingly, and suggested I write my own answers. I made rude noises but found myself back at home doing just that. By the time I'd written a few key scenes, still without much of an idea of what was going on (Zax in the cave, Zax handing Galen the stone and then collapsing after he'd tried to make fire for Galen) I was hooked myself.

No one will ever know the relief with which I typed END [to "Master of the Revels"], when I finally got there. It was hard to say goodbye; over the years I got very fond of everyone as I came to know them, but it was a natural conclusion. The moment that Galen's powers became evident - disconcerting everyone but himself - was always intended to be the ending. Before that point - at the stage where Galen returns home having disposed of some would-be kidnappers - I had to make a conscious effort not to be side-tracked just for the sake of it.

I know the ending leaves a lot of ends loosely tied at best; that was intentional. It's obvious they'll have a settled if sometimes tempestuous relationship but I've no intention of writing Zax and Galen from the cradle to the grave (probably mine after the time "Master of the Revels" took). At the moment the reader is free to speculate on developments rather than having my vision imposed on them.

There are still things I want to explore in Zax and Galen's relationship and I now have a 'plot' to hang them round. Whether I will be able to do a decent job of a sequel I don't know, I've no idea when I'll be free to start writing it because I'm involved in two lengthy B/D projects. Self-indulgence is still the main rationale for writing one at the moment.

Did you find it disconcerting to release "Master of the Revels" tbe way you did a few chapters at a time?

It wasn't so much disconcerting as a mistake. There was no conscious decision involved, it happened by accident. For one thing I had no idea in the early stages of how long "Master of the Revels'* would take to finish, or how lengthy it would be. I'm no masochist.

Distribution to the States happened by chance - almost. Lainie Stone visited England and we swapped notebooks, promising each other typed copies when they were done (I'm still waiting, dear heart). She asked if she could share her copy around, I said yes. It snowballed due to the tine "Master of the Revels" took to finish due to the fact it was written in spasms.

Never again. While it was great that people enjoyed the story and wanted to read it as it was typed up, it created a lot of pressure on me, the more as I became aware of people's expectations and had to try and ignore them for the most part.

Because "Master of the Revels" appeared in virtual serial form (natural writing breaks tended to come at moments of crisis because I needed a chance to catch up with what was going on) it attracted more interest than it would have done otherwise. I'm just grateful people were so patient.