Links to Becky’s stories online:
Who are you?
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests in general.
I am divorced and the mother of two grown daughters, of whom I am very
proud. I work as an accountant and bookkeeper, and am starting my own
bill-paying business. I volunteer as a puppyraiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. and also as my church's treasurer. I love to
read. Mysteries and young adult fiction are favorites, but I pretty much read
everything. I like to watch TV, and there are a few series I am diligent about
seeing. Current favorites include "Desperate Housewives", “The West
Wing", and "Joan of
What drew you to the Beauty and the Beast TV series, and why did you/do you feel the need to write about B&B? Was writing something you had done before being involved with Beauty and the Beast or something that developed out of it?
How long have you been writing? If you started when you were a child/teenager, do you still have some of your work from that time? Did you share it with your friends then?
I did start when I was a teenager, but I don't think I still have any of those writings. They weren't very good. <g> I had one friend who I showed some things to, and I wrote some things for English class in high school and college.
Who most influenced and/or encouraged your talent? What training have you had for writing/literary techniques, and where, if it was formal training - or are you self-taught, working from instinct and lots of reading?
I think all the good writers and storytellers I have read have influenced me. I have also been blessed with friends with a really good eye for what works and what doesn't, who are willing to read my stories and tell me what they really think! I have learned a lot from their constructive criticism. I do think I have a good instinct for story, plot, pacing. And I am blessed with a gift for both grammar and spelling – both come very easily and naturally to me.
You, alone or as a team with Sue Hernandez, have written some of the stories that the fans especially love and continually re-read and recommend. We’ll ask you later about how you produced all that beautiful work.
When you write:
Describe the space in which you do most of your writing.
I write at a small computer desk in a corner of my bedroom. The shelf above my monitor holds an unabridged dictionary so I can look up any word I'm not absolutely sure of, a thesaurus so I can find the word that will most exactly convey what I want to convey, several general reference books so I can double-check facts (although I use the internet more and more for that!), some quotation books (two versions of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations among them), some grammar and style and other writing books. The rest of the desk is quite cluttered with books, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, papers, and Stuff.
How do you work when you write - outline the story, start from an image, a word, an individual section... have an idea that tugs at your mind and practically writes itself...? Where do you start on a story... beginning, end or middle? Or does it just depend on the story?
To a certain extent it depends on the story. Sometimes I will have a scene just pop into my head that's so complete I need to get it recorded right away, before I lose it! But most often, I start with a general idea, most likely prompted by a "what if?". I usually know where a story will end before I start it, but I usually don't know everything that will happen in the middle! I almost always start at the beginning and slog straight through to the end, and then I do lots of rewriting. When I am finally happy with a draft, I send it off to my trusted editors, who pick it apart for me, and then I rewrite again.
Do you have endings in mind for works in progress when you start them or do you just let the stories go where they take you? Do you always know what you want to achieve at the end?
I think I've already answered that! Yes, I do need to know what generally happens at the end, because I need to know what I'm writing toward. I often don't know exactly how it will happen, but I do have the general picture in my mind as I go along.
How often do the characters take off on their own once you've started writing? Do you ever end up with a story entirely different from the one you started, or maybe two or three spin-offs?
Ha! Characters always have minds of their own, and they're always doing things I don't expect them to do! Sometimes they even insist on doing things I don't want them to do! And funnily enough, they're always right, and what they want always makes the story better and stronger.
A good example of this is in "Eternity 2", when Catherine orders Vincent out of her chamber. She says, "Maybe if the person I am isn't good enough for you anymore, you should just get out." I stopped typing at that point, and I believe I actually said aloud, "You can't say that!" And I deleted the line. And I sat there a while trying to figure out what she would really say instead, and when I put my hands back on the keyboard, she said it again! So then I sat there a while trying to figure out what Vincent would say back, and finally I had him say what I was thinking, which was, "You don't mean that." At which point Catherine got really mad (we women don't like being told what we do or don't mean, particularly when we're upset) and he picked up their son and left. And it was exactly right for the rift I was trying to create between them. Catherine knew how to do it before I did!
Do your stories ever include some of your own life experiences? Have any of the characters you have created in a story been a reflection of yourself or someone you know? If so, to what extent?
I think all writers borrow bits and pieces of people they know, but real people seldom fit a writer's needs, so I kind of pick and choose what I use, and then invent the rest. One exception to this is the story "Sleeping Beauty". Joe's three nieces in that story are "Lee Kirkland's" three daughters – my Julie and Laura, and Sue's Rachel.
Do you adhere to any self-imposed rules or boundaries?
A rule I try to keep is to write something, even if it's only one sentence, every day. I don't always manage, but I try! The other thing I don't do is adult material. I am just not interested in writing those kinds of intimate details! I prefer to fade to black, and then see the smiles on my characters' faces the next morning. <g>
If you introduced especially painful developments, were they a priority in order to make the story eventful, hook the reader...? How did you feel about making the characters suffer - it would make them or their determination stronger, eventually solve their problems...?
I'm a big fan of angst – I love to read it and love to write it! And as a reader, I have little patience for stories that are called, in some circles, PWPs (which stands for Plot? What Plot? – because there isn't one!). So I generally don't write those. Although I think there are a couple out there from long ago! But I like getting my characters into some kind of trouble and then seeing how they get themselves back out of it. I think it's the difficulties that make the stories interesting, and I really like it if someone tells me I made them cry, or that they stayed up too late reading because they had to be sure everything came out okay!
I don't mind making the characters suffer, not because it's character-building for them, but because without them suffering, I have no story! And of course, I do know it'll be okay (on some level) at the end.
Some of your zines (The Rainbow’s End, Quantum Beast) were a collaboration with Sue Hernandez, the two of you writing under the name Lee Kirkland. Tell us about this team: how you started to write together, and how you chose the pen name? Were the two of you friends before, or did you get together because of B&B? Were you living close enough to one another to work together in person, or did you find each another through one of the early online discussion groups?
Sue and I
both lived in the
How did the collaboration work? Who did what? How did you handle difficult decisions about the stories? Did the stories you wrote under your own name come before or after the collaborations? Can you compare the two ways of writing, alone or as a team? What is difficult, and what is rewarding about each?
We talked out the plotlines, and it was definitely easier to do that part with a partner! Bouncing ideas back and forth is way easier than working through plots alone! As for handling difficult decisions – if we couldn't agree on something (and I think it only happened once or twice, usually we could talk to a good compromise, and most of the time we agreed anyway) we just didn't do that thing. I did most of the actual writing, and then would hand it over to Sue, who would rework things, edit, ask questions, etc., all of which made the stories infinitely better! A few times we did sit down at the computer side by side and both toss in lines. I think that was mostly on the shorter stories, because they took less time to write. The downside of writing in partnership is, even if you really love something, if your partner doesn't like it, out it goes! <g> The plus side of that is, a lot of bad stuff I really loved got cut and the stories are better for them. The upside of writing by myself is that I can put anything I want in the story! The downside, of course, is that sometimes what I put in is dreck. <g> I had written solo before the partnership, but everything you see posted under my name was written after "Lee", with the possible exception of "Riches", and maybe "Blackout".
Both alone (Timeless) and in team with Hernandez (Quantum Beast) you wrote excellent crossovers. Would you talk a little about this kind of fic - the differences, problems, rewards in writing it?
Crossovers happen when you can think of a really good reason for the character(s) in Series A to interact with the character(s) in Series B. By its very nature, Quantum Leap lent itself to crossovers. I credit Sue with the original idea. It was early 1990, Quantum Leap was brand new, and Beauty and the Beast was winding down or perhaps had just finished its abbreviated third season. And Sue said, "Sam should leap into the tunnels." "Good idea," I answered. "Who should he leap into?" And we played with that a while. Mouse was a fun candidate, but really Vincent was the most compelling choice. And… I still can't believe, all these years later, that I said this… I said, "But Vincent can do practically anything, and Sam would have to leap in to do something Vincent couldn't. What couldn't Vincent do?" Remember the time. And Sue said, sounding sort of exasperated (I think she couldn't believe I was this dense!), "Think about it!"
Duh. Vincent couldn't save Catherine.
The QB sequels mostly came about because people wrote us letters saying, "What's Vincent doing in the Waiting Room while Sam's saving Catherine?" and "Wait! What happens after they get back to the tunnels? You can't stop it there!"
Timeless came about because I
was newly fascinated with Lois &
Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and one of the observations I had
was how much Clark and Vincent were alike. And since L&C already had parallel-universe-hopping as part of its canon,
that made it easy to send Lois and Clark into the
The difficulties in writing crossovers is that now you've got two universes and sets of characters to
keep straight and true to the originals. I had a lot of trouble with
A question about the fine O Never Star/Eternity II – I Shall Emerge, your SND story: why did you feel the need to write a SND story, and how did you come to compose the plot, which is rather original?
of the impetus for that story was simply time on my hands. We had just moved to
As a half of the writing team you wrote the multi-chapter The Rainbow’s End and the Quantum Beast series, using long and elaborate stories in each of them. What is the hardest part of writing a long, multi-chapter story? What inspired you to write the family saga of The Rainbow’s End series?
I actually have more trouble writing short stories, mostly because my ideas tend to be long and complex, and also it's very difficult to develop a good plot in a short space! For me, anyway. The hard part of writing long is keeping the enthusiasm for the story (hence the "write every day" rule) and keeping track of what I've already established so I don't contradict myself later in the story! And I think I've already answered the question about how Where the Rainbow Ends came to be.
You also wrote a third season story. Care to expound a little about this? What difference did you find between writing stories set in the Classic universe and in the 3S universe?
Some of that was just sheer perverseness, because when I wrote it (1997), some of the "season wars" were still going on, and doggone it, nobody's going to tell me I can or can't write something! Even though I'm Classic at heart, I always liked the character of Diana Bennett. And as I've said, I like angst. And I'm not sure, but there may have been a "well, Vincent might be able to love Diana, but not if Catherine were alive!" thing going on somewhere online, and did I mention I can be perverse? So I decided I wanted to write a "SND but Diana gets the beast anyway" story. And in order to make that happen, I had to try to level the playing field, so Diana had to have Vincent's baby. And then I found out I couldn't make the playing field completely level, because Diana's been with Catherine's son all this time and Catherine hasn't. I am pleased with the way that story turned out (and expected to get hate mail for it, and never did!) even though my personal preference is for a Classic resolution. And I did feel sorry for Vincent, because I think he was terribly torn between the two women he loved, the two mothers of his children!
I didn't really find any difference between writing one season versus another. It's the same world, and the same characters, and I love angst, which 3S has built in.
What research, if any, do you do for your stories?
As much as I need to. If I'm giving someone a medical problem, I ask medical people I know, I search online, I have a great book called "Body Trauma" that was written by a doctor for writers, so you can pick the symptoms or limitations you want your character to have, and then pick a wound site or illness. It's great. <g> If I'm setting the story in a real place, I study maps, I calculate distances, I try to visit if I can (although I'd never been to NYC before writing any of my B&B fanfic, and it shows). I figure someone out there is going to be knowledgeable in this field, so I'd better get my facts right!
Unless, of course, I'm making stuff up to suit my plot, and even then I try to weave in as much real fact as I can.
Do you ever have a case of writer's block? If so, do you have a technique to get past it?
I often have no idea what's going to happen next in a story, and my technique is "at least one sentence per day". It's surprising how often getting that one sentence out unlocks my brain! I will also get up from the keyboard when I'm stuck, and go do something with my hands, like empty the dishwasher or hang up some laundry. When I come back, my subconscious has often been working on the problem, and I know what comes next!
Is there any particular part of a story or poem that you had an unusual amount of trouble getting the way you wanted it and how did you resolve that problem?
And I'm back some hours later and I still can't think of anything. I can be virtually certain that I resolved it by simply working through it, though! Writing a little bit at a time, seeing how the characters or situation developed, going back and changing the setup, etc. Sometimes writing is plain old hard work! If I waited for inspiration, I'd hardly write at all.
If you could change one thing about your writing, writing habits, style, etc, what would it be?
I'd write more, and I wouldn't agonize so much about getting it perfect in the first draft. Which would directly lead to writing more.
Do you write in any other fandoms besides B&B? Tell us about the story/stories you are working on at present, if any.
My other writing fandom is Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which aired on ABC in the mid-1990s. I am currently working on a young adult fantasy novel that is completely original (not fanfic! Scary!) but I don't know if it's any good yet. I think it wanders a lot, so I'm going to have to tighten it up. Once I get past this bit, almost at the end, where I don't know what happens next! <g>
After you’ve written
Do you have your stories edited and proofread? Do you consider this important? Do you involve beta readers? Do you have favorite editors/proofreaders/beta readers?
Yes, yes, yes! It is of vital importance. I am just too close to my stories to see some of the flaws; I need a clear, unbiased eye to point them out! I have a small group of trusted friends who are also talented writers who give me the benefit of their eagle eyes.
You, as well as the other guest authors we are interviewing, have allowed your work to be posted online for the enjoyment of all B&B fans. Why did you decide to do it? How did you/do you choose the sites to have your stories posted?
I decided to post my B&B stories online because the fanzines in which they appeared were out of print, so new fans couldn't get them. I chose the Beauty and the Beast Reading Chamber (aka BBRC ) partly because it is an all-season site, and that's important to me, and partly because I was one of the people urging Jackie Newman, who runs it, to set it up! After all that, I felt morally obliged to submit my stories there. <g> I also act as a general editor for the BBRC, which is sort of loosely based on the Lois & Clark Fanfic Archive, which is truly wonderful because virtually every L&C story ever written can be found there.
What do you like to hear from someone reading your story? What do you find most helpful or rewarding when reading reviews of your writing?
It's always nice to hear "I liked your story." It's better if they say why they liked it, or what parts stood out for them, or something like that. Tell me what you liked! Tell me what you didn't like! Details, I want details!
What was the most interesting response you've had to your work? What do you consider the greatest compliment you've received? Did you ever get a review that really touched you? Something a reader wrote that really inspired you?
The highest praise I've ever gotten was from two readers of a rather dark L&C story called In a Dark Time. Both said, "what happened to Lois happened to me, and you got it right." Wow. Gave me chills, since I'd made it all up, with considerable help from online and other research.
Which of your B&B writings do you like best, and why? If you were forced to pick one passage, scene or line from one of your stories as a favorite, what would it be? What are your favorites of other things you've written?
As I continue to develop and grow and improve (I hope!) as a writer, I tend to like more recent things more than some of my older work, just because I see so many flaws in the early stories!
Of my B&B stories – Timeless is the most recent, and I am really pleased with how it turned out. I am also very fond of the first two Eternity books – "O Never Star" and "I Shall Emerge".
If I had to pick one passage – hmm. That's hard! Let me think about it. Hmm. Well, I'm not sure they're my absolute favorites, but what comes to mind right now are a couple of scenes from Timeless. I like the part when Clark first ventures into the tunnels and he's trying to convince Vincent that he is as non-human as Vincent is, which he does by floating upside down in the middle of the tunnel. And I like the scene at the end where Lois, determined to prove to Vincent that he is too sexy and attractive, kisses him.
Of the other things I've written, I'm particularly proud of the L&C story In a Dark Time. It was very difficult to write, but it's the closest I've ever come to actually writing the story I initially envisioned! And I think it turned out really well, from a storytelling standpoint.
Who are some other B&B authors who might inspire you or whose work you particularly enjoy? Is there another writer whose work you especially like – any particular story?
Beth Druhan. Her "2:38" breaks my heart every time I read it. Cynthia Hatch, particularly "The Bridge", because I think it's a marvel of plotting! You pick up all the pieces as you go along, and then they all fit together so perfectly at the end, and how did she do that? <g> There are lots of others, but those are the two who immediately pop into mind.
Any advice you would give to beginners?
Keep writing. Don't be offended by criticism, learn from it! Rewrite. Rewrite again. Make sure you use spellcheck and a grammar-checker, and you know the basic rules of punctuation and such. Take the time to look up things you aren't sure about, including words! Because "discreet" and "discrete" mean very different things! So do lots of other homonyms that are often confused. Keep writing. And rewriting.
I am generally happy to look at someone's story, as long as they don't expect, "it's wonderful, it's perfect, don't change a thing!" back from me. <g> I want my stories to be the best I can write, and I assume other writers want the same thing. I give the kind of detailed feedback I like to receive.
Being a B&B fan
In RL are you a closet "beastie" or do all your friends and family members know you're a fan? How do they feel about your Beauty and the Beast involvement? Do they worry about your sanity?
They all know, and they all question my sanity, but they're happy I'm happy.
How did B&B affect your life?
It got me writing again after a long hiatus, and it gave me friendships I will have until the day I die! I also learned how to operate and moderate an online mailing list. <g>
Are you or have you been involved with any other fandoms in the same way?
I have been involved in Lois & Clark fandom, but not to the same extent. I have never been to one of L&C's fan gatherings, for instance! I mostly do online things.
Do you want to say anything else to the readers of this interview about yourself, B&B, the writing art, or the fandom?
I have always been astounded at the sheer staggering amount of talent that's out there, and even more astounded by the body of work we as fans have created in our so-called spare time! And seventeen years after the show started, we're still here and still having fun! That's amazing.
Winterfest Online, January 2005