Author Spotlight: DangerMom

DANGERMOM, aka writer Patti Heyes, was born and raised in Mount Kisco, NY, the middle-class heart of NYC suburbia, now a prime boomer/yuppie town. She went to college to be a teacher, and actually taught for several years, but then spent most of the eighties as a stay-at-home mom. Patti is currently working in retail, and has been married 20 years ("to a fan, thank goodness!" she says no doubt with a grin) and has two daughters, aged 18 and 11. The family now resides in upstate NY. Patti became a Star Trek fan at the tender age of 13, with the premiere of Star Trek on NBC in 1966, building on an already-established love of science fiction. She discovered "organized fandom" in the mid-seventies. Aside from Star Trek: Voyager, Patti has written fan fiction for Star Wars, The Champions, Doctor Who, Magnum, P.I., Shadow Chasers, Star Trek: The Next Generation andDeep Space Nine, Robin of Sherwood, and Disney's Gargoyles. A big fan of classy animated series, such as Disney's Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series, she is also currently into The X-Files, The Pretender and of course, Voyager and DS9. Some of her favourite authors include Clarke, Asimov, Niven, Dick Francis, Anne McCaffery, and the prolific nutball Terry Pratchett.

LOONY ARCHIVIST: How long have you been writing fan fiction?

DANGERMOM: 22 years, more or less. I dabbled in non-fiction fan writing (essays, humor pieces, poetry) before that, when I first discovered fandom.

What do you see as the unique challenges of writing fan fiction? How do you cope with the often widespread view that writing in an established universe--be that a television series, graphic novel series, fan fiction, or other shared worlds and collaborations--is easier than creating original characters and settings?

The challenge is in being creative while staying true to the characters and genre. Generally, you're writing about things you'd like to see happen--the trick is to make other people want to "believe" those things too. I don't think very much about that "widespread view"--I know it exists, and I know fans who have gone on to write pro. It seems to be a lot more fun, if less profitable, to stick with your own view of genre, than be trapped within strict guidelines.

What has been your favourite television series to write fan fiction for?

Tough question. I liked what I did with Doctor Who and Shadow Chasers, but I guess Voyager has gotten the most out of me.

What has been your favourite television series to read fan fiction for?

Oh, that's even harder to answer! Usually, it's whatever show I'm currently hooked on. But I think it must have been TOS Trek, because I was there reading some of the classic zines and stories of the late 70s as they were being published. But I constantly marvel at the amount of Voyager fanfic available on the net... and I enjoy checking it all out.

What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever read?

It had to have been something in the Kraith Universe... which was an interesting place to start! That's a TOS-Vulcan setting that was very deep and complex.

What was the first piece of fan fiction you ever wrote?

That's it--make me rack my brains. It had to have been a Star Wars vignette, a little coda about Princess Leia just after the awards ceremony that was the last scene of the movie. Despite being a gung-ho Trekkie, thoroughly immersed in conventions and zines in the 70's, I never wrote a piece of Trek fiction till TNG.

What was the first piece of P/T fan fiction you ever read?

Probably something out of the Collective--I read so much the first few weeks I was involved in Voyager on-line fandom, that it all blurs together now. Most likely, it was something by TerriTrek, or one of the Collective RRs... although I have striking memories of Tara's own "Would You, Could You," and her stories about the Delaney sisters; and Psyce17's "Grieving For Her."

What was the first piece of P/T fan fiction you ever wrote?

"Daybreak." The idea for "Turn Around... " actually came first, but the story that eventually named the series took over.

What is it about Voyager that inspires you to write?

It has to be the characters. I was never a "relationshipper" in two decades of being a media fan.

Who is your favourite Voyager character to write? Who is your least favourite?

I like writing Tom... he must have been the character that kept me interested in Voyager during the first two seasons, as his was the only action figure I bought! B'Elanna and Doc are also a lot of fun. I don't actually dislike writing any Voyager character, though obviously as a P/Ter, I don't do too much with the others.

What do you believe are Voyager's greatest strengths, and greatest weaknesses, as a series?

Voyager works well as an adventure series with strong characters. However, it still lacks focus, and too many of the characters were Trek archetypes who weren't thought out well enough from the start. I love that fact that Voyager is primarily a ship of exploration, and that we were finally given a woman as captain. I'm not hung up on this whole "it's not real Star Trek!" thing that makes some fans hate it, or DS9, because they're not carbon copies of TOS (or TNG).

Which of the four Trek series is your favourite, and why? Which of the four Trek series do you believe to be of the highest calibre?

My favorite is undoubtedly Voyager, the show I've sold my soul to. But I think DS9 ranks highest for exceptional storytelling and character development.

What is your favourite Voyager episode, and why?

"Displaced." It's the one that convinced me that Tom and B'Elanna belonged together, and I just love it for the story and the way it's told. What direction do you see Tom and B'Elanna going in, romantically, and what direction would you like to see their relationship go?

As far as canon goes, especially this season, I can't see any direction. I don't know if it's the loss of Lisa Klink and/or Jeri Taylor; or the inability of the current staff to deal with a "couple" within the context of the overall storyline; or what-- At times I honestly think they (TPTB) don't know what they want. It comes down again to lack of focus. What I'd like is to see some positive interaction between Tom and B'Elanna... some of the spark from third season ("Displaced," "Real Life," Worst Case Scenario")--a moment like that "non-existent" one from "Before and After" would be heavenly! Then add in a bit of the "romance" from fourth season (the end of "Scientific Method") plus some of the deep caring--another "it didn't really happen moment"--when Tom was trying to take care of the injured B'Elanna in "Year of Hell."

If TPTB continue this whole idea of "P/T on the back burner," I'd just prefer that burner wasn't in the galley of another starship!

I was very pleased and touched with what we saw between Tom and B'Elanna in "Nothing Human" and "Thirty Days." However, I'm still hoping for a bit of actual "romance" sometime soon.

What is it about Tom and B'Elanna that draws you to them, and inspires you to write?

The spark... whatever it is that makes all of us say: "They so obviously belong together!" The similarities and differences that say they were made for each other.

Did you find yourself savouring P/T fan fiction more before the characters became romantically involved on the series itself, or more now that the relationship is canon? And how do you see the genre of P/T fan fiction changing since the relationship has become canon?

I didn't read any P/T fan fiction until after the airing of "Displaced" and "Worst Case Scenario," by which time they were really hinting these two had something going. So I was ready for the stories that had been previously written that showed a heavy romantic involvement before canon did. After a strong start in canon in fourth season, the relationship is just "there" and I think fan fiction does it more justice. I've enjoyed some of the canon-based stories that "filled in the blanks" for last season's and this season's episodes, but I still prefer on-going "series" of stories that fan writers have developed on their own, or background stories that explore the relationship more fully.

What has been your favourite episode strictly in terms of P/T interaction? Least favourite? Why?

Favorite: "Displaced." It's all there. Least favorite: "Random Thoughts," for all the great potential that was thrown aside.

Do you find yourself identifying more with Tom or B'Elanna?

Umm, neither, really. I've tried to balance whose viewpoint I write in.

If you were given the opportunity to write an episode of Voyager, what story would you like to tell?

Doesn't everyone want to do the "Voyager gets home" scenario?? I don't know--it would be keen to try a "Tom and B'Elanna face a huge ship's crisis together" story, in which they work together throughout to save Voyager and the crew.

If you were given the opportunity to write a Voyager novel, what story would you like to tell?

The getting home story and its aftermath. What do you think sets Voyager apart from the other Trek series?

The obvious--the "they're on their own" setting, a female captain.

Who is your favourite professional Trek author or authors?

I haven't been reading a lot of pro-Trek, but Christie Golden is good, aside from the fact of how well she handles P/T!

Who is your favourite fan Trek author or authors?

Currently? Voyager only? I'll always be a fan of Paula Smith and Jean Lorrah (TOS, many years ago). I like the work of so many VOY fan writers, I really don't want to name names!

If you could change three things about Voyager, what would they be? I.e., what three things would you like to see on Voyager?

More subtle but accurate continuity. Better balance of types of stories (i.e., a little more "lightness" this season). Use of secondary characters on a more regular basis (bring back Joe Carey! More Samantha Wildman! Let's really meet Susan Nicoletti! etc.)

What would you like to see change in the fan fiction written about the series? What trends would you like to see make a comeback or fade away never to be seen again?

A little more imagination? Creativity? Sometimes I get a little tired of song stories (yeah, even though I wrote one!)... and I hope another movie never influences fanfic the way "Titanic" did!!

If you had to pick just one Voyager story you have written that you would want to be remembered for, which story would it be?

"The Soul's December." It was something of an experiment for me, but judging by the responses, it seems to have worked.

Conversely, what one story do you think people will always remember you for?

"Turn Around... " I've been told by others it inspired them to start writing P/T! And the song seems to have made quite an impression.

What do you see happening in the series finale of Voyager? What would you like to see happen? What do you think you would really hate to see happen?

If they bring Voyager home, I hope they plan it for a mid-season event, than give us some stories with the crew's adjustment to life back in the Alpha Quadrant. I hate to have it end with them still lost, or finding a Delta Quad planet to settle on.

What do you think the future of fanfic will hold, in both online and 'zine fandom?

Online fandom is an even more startling phenomenon that zine fandom was... as more people acquire computers and internet access, it should continue to grow. I haven't been heavily involved in zine fandom for a while, but I gather it's becoming less popular, or harder to maintain. But as long as there are television shows that grab fans' interest, fandom will continue in one form or another. It will be especially interesting to see what effect the new Star Wars movie has, and if Paramount takes the plunge into developing DS9 or Voyager movies, or yet another Trek TV series.

Thank you Patti for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! And tune in in two weeks for another Archivist's Spotlight or check out previous Spotlight interviewee, pro Trek author CHRISTIE GOLDEN

DangerMom's Voyager fan fiction:

    Father and Child Reunion
    Honor Satisfied
    After The Fall
    Mood Indigo
    The Soul's December Even Heroes...

    The Daybreak series:
      Turn Around...
      Into The Woods
      The Course of True Love
      This Crazy Little Thing Called Love
      In The Midnight Hour
      The Crayon Story

    Collaborations with Captain Chris:

    Best-Laid Plans
    After Hours
can all be found at her homepage, DangerMom's Archive as well as here at the Official P/T Collective Archive.

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