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Merl Laurence PM
Joined Jan '11

Fifteeen questions for Fanfiction authors:

1. Share a little something about yourself.

I'm 41 yrs. old and live in the Bay Area of California. A pastry chef by trade, I've always had an interest in writing and have been actively dabbling in it since the late 1990s.

2. Do you write with a pen-name and why?

I do, because in real life I'm very shy about my creative/artistic work. So Merl Laurence is my alter-ego, who's not so shy about expressing herself through words.

3. What attracts you to writing fanfiction?

A lot things. But I have to say, and I'm sure a lot of fellow writers feel the same way, I do it mostly because sometimes it seems like the writers of say my favorite TV show, don't get it right. Or, I'd rather see things happen a certain way. Or, I wish that certain dialogue was included, etc... Plus writing, I feel is an important mental exercise – as is reading, for instance.

4. What are your favorite shows (or movies) and what draws you to them?

Currently I'm enjoying the TV shows: The Killing, Justified, NCIS:LA and Hawaii Five-0. I also very much enjoy The Walking Dead and Hell On Wheels – although both are currently on break. In the past I've been a huge fan of Magnificent Seven, Deadwood and BSG. Crime dramas in general, I just find interesting and admittedly a lot of that interest has to do with the characters. I guess I've always liked SciFi and Westerns, a familial influence, thanks to my bro and pops. Zombies on the other hand, I have no idea where that came from. LOL.

5. What types of characters inspire you?

I wouldn't say they inspire me so much as they're just so interesting to watch and think about. But, I really, really enjoy the 'broken men' characters. Sadly, the more messed up they are, the more fascinating they become. Take for instance Cullen Bohannon from Hell On Wheels – his wife and son were murdered by Union soldiers upon the end of the Civil War and naturally he sets out to seek vengeance. Or G Callen from NCIS:LA – he passed through thirty-seven foster homes growing up and has no idea what 'G' stands for. For me anyway, it's just so appealing to watch these men struggle with themselves and their demons because they also happen to be bad-asses at what they do.

6. Are you more of a dialogue or action writer?

I like to write dialogue because I find that it's more expressive and can showcase whether or not you've actually gotten the character down. I would love be able to write more action and fight scenes within my stories, but find doing so difficult. If I could marry the two within my fiction I might quit my day job. J/K – LOL.

7. What genres do you like to write in and why?

General is a cop-out I guess. So, predominantly Romance.

8. What types of fanfiction do you like to read?

The same as above. But Drama/Romance is good. If the author can incorporate Action/Adventure/Romance, I'm there too.

9. Do you 'ship'? Why or why not?

I totally 'ship' because I'm a goofy romantic. But I'm not the mushy type. There are so many authors out there that do that type of fiction better. Currently I ship Steve/Kono from Hawaii Five-0 because from Episode One, there was just something about the way he looked at her and I've been running with it since!

10. Do you think fanfiction has a purpose other than entertainment and if so, what?

Writing, like I've answered above is a great mental exercise. But it's also an outlet. I think if you find that one story that grabs your attention and evokes feelings or causes you to think about things differently, inspiring you and perhaps encouraging you to even try writing your own stories, it's incredibly cathartic and educational.

11. What are your thoughts on story comments/reviews?

They're absolutely essential and encouraging. Plus it's just plain nice to reciprocate for being entertained, etc. It's something I've been slacking on lately and trust me, I'm very, very ashamed of myself. But I always try and leave diplomatic, encouraging comments. I've read some comments that say something like “you did this very well, better than other authors of this fandom.” What is the point in that? Leaving a comment like that just alienates all the other authors and makes them feel like shit. It's like a back-handed flame on everyone else. I get that fanfiction writing, reading, reviewing/commenting is all about freedom of speech. But it should always remain a diplomatic, positive and encouraging backdrop for everyone's ideas and voices.

12. What are your pet-peeves when writing and/or reading a story?

What irritates me when I'm writing is never getting the chance to actually sit down to write. I have tons of random notes/dialogue on my iPhone, on my computer and in notebooks. One day, they'll all be one coherent masterpiece. LOL. What bugs me when I'm reading a story is spelling errors and using the wrong words like: 'their' instead of 'they're' or 'to' instead of 'too' or vice-versa. It's so simple to use spell-check and grammar-check, last I looked, it was just a mouse-click away.

13. If you could receive any advice on writing, what would it be?

How to write action scenes, because even with all the TV that I've watched, I would still not be able to write one. I would also love to learn how to write a full case within one of my stories, because mostly I've just written character dialogue scenes with the case as the back-drop.

14. If you could give any advice on writing, what would it be?

Spell-check before posting. It's extremely distracting to read a story that's riddled with misspelled words. In fact, I won't even read beyond the first paragraph if it's that bad. I get that you're excited about sharing your story, but it's a reflection of the type of writer that you are. If you rush and post without re-reading and checking your story before posting, I'm inclined to think that you don't really care about your story. Writing is a craft, take pride in the end result.

15. What is the best part about writing fanfiction or writing in general?

It's about expressing yourself and being rewarded and encouraged for it. Similar I guess, to say a comedian on stage who gets the laughs after performing a joke. Plus I get a real kick out of bonding with the readers and discovering that other people out there share the same ideas that I do, as evidenced in the comments or PMs.

The above questionnaire was created in part by my husband, who wanted to know why it was such a passionate hobby of mine. Feel free to copy the questions and use them for your profile as well. I'm always curious about my fellow authors. Thank you for reading and visiting.

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