Joan Martin

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Name: Joan Martin
Alias(es): J.M., The Crone
Type: writer, fan writer, editor
Fandoms: The Professionals
URL: Memories of Joan Martin[1]
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Her Fannish Biography

Jjoan martin memory.jpg

Joan Martin was an active slash fan writer and editor. She participated in fandom by mentoring other fans, offering writing workshops at conventions, betaing stories for writers and fanzine publishers up to her death in 2006.

On the topic of slash: "Slash is a wonderfully subversive voice whispering or shouting around the edges and into the cracks of mainstream culture. It abounds in unconventional thinking. It’s fraught with danger for the status quo, filled with temptingly perilous notions of self-determination and successful defiance of social norms." (Joan Martin, 1992, "Is Slash an Alternative Medium?")[1]


"She was born and raised in Minnesota - St. Paul, I believe - by her mother, a widow with a college degree- quite, quite rare in those days. I think her mom did social work. I remember Joan talking about going to settlement houses as a child.
Joan's lifelong interest in live theater and writing began when she was a child telling stories to her friends. She attended university with a number of well-known actors, including the brothers James Arness and Peter Graves. She dated Stewart Granger. She worked as an usher at the The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis so that she could have access to plays, concerts and events, all of which enriched her from an early age. She described taking a street car ride into town as a nine-year-old in order to attend some performances, saying she knew it wasn't exactly safe even then but that she'd learned how to protect herself and be aware of any threats. She did not believe in keeping children from the realities of the dark side of life, feeling that they then entered adulthood, unarmed.
She looked for people to teach and encourage. An "egalitarian elitist," she didn't care who you were or where you started from as long as you showed promise, a willingness to work and a mind prepared to receive information and learn from it.
She taught in public schools, through the military as a civilian contractor and, of course, in writing workshops. Those of us whose work she edited have benefited far more than we can yet know by her skills.
She had at least one post-graduate degree, possibly more. She taught all of her life up to the month she died. She was a skilled and intuitive editor, particularly for women working in the more subversive forms of writing. Few people walking the earth knew and understood as much as she did." ~ Sharon B. [2]

Fan Memories

  • "Fan fiction has influenced my writing....It was any number of stories, but I can point to a specific writing workshop given by Joan Martin at Mountain Media Con (a very long time ago) that helped me understand the "shape" of a story -- how big the exposition is, and where the big plot points are placed inside, and how the different situations are resolved and nested together, and so on... how to know when your story is over, and how to make sure you actually write the critical scenes rather than condense them down to a couple of sentences!" ~ TreeWishes [3]
  • "I met Joan at a Pros (Professionals) fan convention in Milton Keynes. She was one of those old school fans who believed in being mentored into a fandom, when everything or almost everything was done at conventions, at smallish reunions in the house of this or that friend, when stories were passed around by hand, copied, typed, mailed back and forth across the ocean, when most stories were a 'conversation between writers', as another common friend said a couple of years ago. Joan remembered who were the first Pros writers, who first organised conventions, zines, libraries that would circulate stories among fans. She was also a woman with a rich life experience, with smart eyes, not afraid of saying what she wanted. She was a great editor, too, a person of spirit, who would look at the form, yes, but also at the spirit and heart of the content. She was kind. I was newish to the Pros fandom at the time, enthusiastic and bouncy about it, but also in a moment in my life in which I felt very scattered. We talked a lot, at that convention.....And in the years past that first meeting, we've been in touch, she's been my editor a few times, and an all over great friend, always present in moment of crisis, and always with a few, quiet, sure words." ~ Phantomas [4]
  • "I first met Joan via email in September 2005. She wrote in response to a request for editing help that I sent to a mailing list, offering guidance in choosing a person who would be right for me. After exchanging a couple of emails she told me she would look at the story herself. This developed into a correspondence that continued until the day before she went into hospital. She was busy and still teaching despite being theoretically 'retired' for many years. This made the time that she gave me a generous thing, so very precious. I was worried about imposing on her – she set me straight pretty quickly. She was a brilliant teacher/editor. I say teacher because she realised early on that I'm not an experienced writer. Joan could say, in very few words, exactly what she enjoyed or disliked about something. She could give detailed feedback in such a wonderfully concise, objective way, and then make everything seem brighter with one well placed positive comment. We didn't stick to discussing writing. Joan had a very sharp sense of humour and told me several funny anecdotes about fandom and life, several of which people have already mentioned. She told me about visiting New Zealand and standing on a beach on the South Island thinking that there was nothing between her and home but a very large quantity of water. She also said, after I told her my professional background, that her cats were her best physiotherapists. She gave her time and her considerable knowledge of writing unstintingly, When I had problems with the rhythm of some passages within a longer story, she suggested I read aloud to my pet turtle or (if the turtle wasn't interested) my teddy bear. Just one idea amongst so many." ~ Kiwisue [5]
  • "The first I heard of Joan was when she was mentioned by Sharon B. in the context of a zine to which we had both submitted. It had all been a confusion, owing to the publisher's health problems, and Sharon's story had not been edited as she had expected. She commented that in future she would always go through Joan first. I was still fairly new to the fandom and diffident about demanding who what when where, so didn't pursue that. In December I had a very nice note from Joan, saying she'd enjoyed my work. I was working on Boxing Day at that point, so I asked was she Sharon's Joan, and if so would she be willing to take a look. Well, she was, and she did, and it was the most enlightening experience. She had a wonderfully minimalist approach, but every suggested change was right on the mark. And after it had been posted she suggested a few more revisions, so we went over it again -- even more interesting, especially since she wasn't making any claim to have been perfect the first time. And then the subject of the zine came up. I had never received my trib copy and was surprised when she mentioned something in the story that I knew I'd changed. I hadn't kept my original version so she scanned and OCR'd it for me, and we worked together to make the whole thing right. And for all subsequent stories I had the inestimable benefit of her support. Even when other editors were involved she was my primary, so to speak. I passed editor comments on to her and she suggested what to accept, what to ignore, and what to protest. She was enormously helpful in various matters concerning the Proslib. She lent me zines, scanned stories for me, and of course just the day-to-day chat was a pleasure. I came to regard Joan as my most important reader as well as editor. Though always gentle, she wouldn't let me get away with half-baked crap. I don't know what I'll do without her, quite frankly." ~ Hagsrus [6]
  • "I knew Joan only in the most casual way, having met her at my first Escapade many years ago, where she was amused by my being the world's oldest/youngest Professionals fan (I had first watched the series when it was airing a couple months behind Britain's showings, on Canadian TV, but it took me 16 years to find other fans after the series had started migrating its way here through the organization of slash fans). She was one of what a lot of us refer to as the "mothers of fandom," and while there's a bit of a joke when we say that, it's very true. There are so many fans who've been around, organizing and pimping and sharing and creating, for so long, and most of them don't get their due now that fandom has exploded on the 'net and everyone coming in thinks they invented fandom, and don't care about any of the stuff that came before. Joan usually taught the writing workshops at Escapade those first years I was there, and though I didn't really have a lot to pick up, I went to a few of them because I thought she was an interesting person, and I really wanted to absorb the history from a lot of the people who came to that con year after year after year." ~ Gwyneth Rhys [7]

Fan Works

In 2008, one reviewer described Joan's fiction:

"I absolutely adore this story. It's one to bring out when you need something slow, gentle and gorgeous. It takes our boys to America over the Christmas period, ostensibly to retrieve some documents for Cowley but in reality Cowley realises just how tired they are and how they need some quality time together without the pressures of work. And so he gives them this opportunity wrapped up in a job. There are just so many fantastic things about this story. The spell she weaves with her descriptions; about the house/pool/hottub, the butterfly tree, the wildlife are just beautiful. I cannot recommend it highly enough." probodie (reviewing "In Hot Water-An Idyl") [8]


  1. WebCite of the memory page 1; WebCite page 2.