<![if !vml]><![endif]>Edith Crowe
Links to Edith Crowe’s work online:
An unfinished story:
Who are you?
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests in general.
I'm now 58 years old (good grief!) and have worked as a reference librarian in a university setting for 34 years. I'm interested in lots of things--I have a degree in art history and was an art student for awhile (not a very talented one, alas). Another major interest is the field of fantasy fiction and the scholarship thereof. For many years I've been involved with a group called the Mythopoeic Society, and have delivered papers at their conferences, published articles in their journals, and have served as Corresponding Secretary since 1999.
What drew you to the Beauty and the Beast TV series, and why did you feel the need to write about it? Was writing something you had done before being involved with Beauty and the Beast or something that developed out of it?
Hard question to answer--at first I thought it was just a nice TV show, but nothing special. I started watching because of the fantasy theme, and watched quite a few episodes before I just "fell in love" with it all of a sudden. I had done other kinds of writing--scholarly articles, work-related stuff, essays, even poetry--but was convinced that I couldn't write fiction.
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've been writing most of my life--can't remember when I actually started. I did a lot in high school with friends who were also good writers. Other than the usual stuff in the school literary magazine, we did a lot of irreverent parody of our teachers and school life! I still have some of that floating around somewhere.
Who most influenced and/or encouraged your talent? Have you had any formal training - or are you self-taught, working from instinct and lots of reading?
I had parents who were very encouraging in general, but the greatest influence has been other writers, both published (I've always read a lot) and friends who are also writers. My partner, who is always the first reader/critic/editor of what I write, is probably the most important influence on my fanfic.
When you write:
Would you describe the space in which you do most of your writing?
Where the computer is--I don't think I could have written any fiction at length before word processing was invented! We have a corner of the family room set up as a kind of "office" and I usually write there. I also have a laptop, but mostly use the "big computer" for writing.
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?
I usually start by getting a general idea for a story, then specific ideas for scenes pop up in my brain (often at inconvenient times, like in the shower or at work). I write these down as they come to me. When they reach "critical mass" I start writing--always from the beginning. Even if I feel I don't have enough ideas for a story, I always find that if I sit down at the computer the process of writing seems to dredge up all sorts of things I didn't know were there.
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?
Not necessarily specific endings (other than happy), just a general idea and usually some kind of symbolic theme. Other than that, I go where the story takes me most of the time, and constantly surprise myself.
Do the characters ever 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?
Yes, the characters do take off on their own in most cases. I wouldn't say I end up with an "entirely different" story--usually just much longer and more detailed than I started with. Sometimes they're so long I realize I have to continue with another story. Since all my BATB stories are related to each other, in a consistent "universe", you could say I've just written one very long story!
How do you handle character development? Your characters have such a "real" quality to them, how is that accomplished?
I haven't a clue! I don't do it on purpose...I think if you're dealing with characters you really care about, you pay attention. Some fanfic writers only use the characters to accomplish their own ends, usually some kind of therapy; others are just not good writers, I suppose--they write generic stories that could be about anyone and just happen to call the characters Vincent and Catherine. I only write about characters I'm really interested in, and figuring out how to extrapolate from canon in a way that remains true to those characters is a big part of the appeal of fanfic writing. That and finally getting them together!
What are your sources of inspiration? For example, in the story "My Furry Valentine," where did you get the idea for the chess set made of chocolate? Do your ideas come from things you see around you? What do you imagine first - the content or the emotion you want to convey?
That was a long time ago, folks! I'm pretty sure the chocolate chess set was something real that I saw in a magazine ad. I do get ideas from things I see around me or read about. When you're immersed in a particular fandom you tend to notice how things you see could fit into that universe. The chocolate chess set was something that immediately screamed "Vincent & Catherine!" to me. I generally imagine specific scenes or snippets of dialogue first; emotional tone and overall theme usually emerge once I actually start writing.
How do you feel about writing erotic fiction? Did you have to work up to it or did you always feel comfortable with it?
I was never uncomfortable with it as a reader, as long as it's truly erotic and not pornographic. As a writer, I find it the most difficult kind of thing to write. English is not a language well suited to erotic writing--your choices of words tend to be crude, clinical, or clichéd euphemisms.
One prominent theme throughout your writing is Vincent & Catherine's everyday life. What was it about that part of their dream that appealed to you so much?
I have a theory that there's a continuum with "nest-builders" at one end and "sensation-seekers" at the other. I'm about as far over on the "nest-builders" end as one can get, so obviously that part appeals to me. Also, it's the part you see little of in canon. Conflict=drama seems to be gospel with TV writers, so canon is skewed toward that. One of the main motivations with fanfic is to "fix" canon, including stressing the parts that are neglected in the actual show. I happen to find everyday life, particularly finding a way to achieve that "happy life," a lot more interesting than mayhem.
How did you decide on the features of the brownstone where they lived in your stories? Was it drawn from a place you had encountered or read about, or did it come entirely from your imagination?
always liked that type of house for some reason. I wanted something homey that
one could realistically find in NYC. I was vaguely aware that there were some
nice brownstones near
One of your most interesting and unusual stories is "Excerpts from a Diary” the story of Vincent and Catherine's Happy Life told from the point of view of the brownstone house they are living in. (We think it should have been called "If Walls Could Talk", by the way) This is a stand-out story in the mind of many fans. Where did you get the idea to write from this perspective? Can you tell us a little about the process of actually writing it?
I have no idea any more how I thought of that. Once I did, though, it appealed to me as a writing challenge. How would a house express itself? What would its world-view look like? I had fun coming up with things like the Great Architect, for example. It also gave me a chance to incorporate some ideas I had about V & C's long-term future, in case I never actually got around to writing the actual stories--which, as it turns out, I haven't.
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?
Without going back and reading them all again--which I haven't done in awhile--I don't think I incorporate a lot of specific experiences or thinly disguised versions of real people. It's more a matter of being in my early 40s when I started to write these, and having a fair amount of both life experience and reading (fiction & nonfiction) to draw on. I'm a believer in the compost heap or soup pot theory of writing--all your experiences go in there and can be drawn upon, but they come out transformed in your writing.
Do you adhere to any self-imposed set rules or boundaries?
I don't write what I don't want to read, so--only happy endings. No death stories. No sex for the sake of sex, but only if it serves the story. There was no 3rd season.
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 try to avoid painful developments, without degenerating into the unrealistically saccharine. One of my motivations for writing BATB was as an antidote for all the ridiculously unnecessary angst the characters were put through in canon.
In your story, "Wall Between the Worlds,” did you do a lot of research to find out the various Samhain traditions that were mentioned? Do you usually do a lot of research for your stories or was this an exception?
Actually, I knew a lot of that already, because I'd written about it when I was editor of the staff newsletter at work. Also, between my background in fantasy and being half Irish-American, I'd been interested in that sort of thing for years.
Do you have one or several favorite happy endings and/or developments in the characters' lives? If so, have you written about them yourself? Are there similar stories from other authors that you enjoy as much as your own?
Obviously that "first time" story is a perennial favorite, as is the wedding and the babies! I'm particularly interested in seeing how other people handle the "happy life" part. There are a lot of authors whose work I've enjoyed as much as my own (or even more), but (other than Linda Barth, who's a friend I made through BATB) it would be impossible to remember without going back and reading a lot of that stuff all over again. Which is a great idea, but probably not one I can follow up on until after I retire.
Do you ever have a case of writer's block? If so, do you have a technique to get past it?
Actually, I have one right now, and still haven't gotten past it. As I've gotten older, I've found it impossible to accomplish what I used to in any given amount of time. Work has become increasingly demanding, "Real Life" seems to intrude more and more. I never seem to have the time to focus on writing these days--too many distractions.
If you could change one thing about your writing, writing habits, style, etc, what would it be?
Being better able to ignore those distractions I mentioned in the previous question.
Are you doing any writing at present, Beauty & the Beast or otherwise? If so, can you tell us about it?
See same previous question...alas.
Is there any particular part of a story that you had an unusual amount of trouble getting the way you wanted it and how did you resolve that problem?
I'm sure there were a lot of those, but I don't remember.
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?
I consider it essential. No matter how good a writer you are, I don't think you can truly edit your own work. You know what's supposed to be there--it makes sense to you--but you need to show it to someone who doesn't have the whole story in her head. It's the only way you know if it makes sense to other people, and achieves whatever effect you were counting on. Not to mention those sneaky typos! I generally depend on my live-in permanent beta reader and partner, who's terrific at it. I've had some bad experiences with editors who've changed things without my permission--not for the better. Unless I know the person and respect their skills and opinion, I don't want them messing with my work.
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 choose the sites to have your stories posted?
I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't want to do it--it makes your work available to so many more people. I've bought a lot of zines in my time, but those are so expensive. The Internet makes the stories available to a lot of people who don't know about zines and/or couldn't afford them. I don't remember any more whether I sought out places to post my stories or vice versa--probably some of each. I like the Beauty & the Beast Reading Chamber because it's a relatively stable site, has stories nicely organized, categorized, and rated, and is simple enough to load quickly. I don't think I've ever said no to anyone who asked if they could post my stories.
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?
Gushing compliments are always good for the ego, but I particularly like it when people give specifics about why they liked something. Specifics about what they didn't like are nowhere near as much fun, but I do pay attention.
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?
I've often gotten feedback from readers that really touched me, but I couldn't give you specifics without hunting up a lot of old email--presuming I still have it. That would take until 2007! I particularly like it when people tell me that my vision of what happens to Vincent & Catherine is so compelling they see it as the "real" outcome.
Are you aware of having inspired other authors (such as Lea & Corinne, to name just two) and how does it make you feel to know that you have?
No, really? Wow. That's cool. Give me a list; I want to hunt up their work!
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?
a real soft spot for "The
Fire and the Rose." It's the first BATB story I finished, and the
first fiction. It taught me I really could write fiction after all, which was a
big deal for me. Besides, I love the imagery of the Solstice, and the T. S.
Eliot passage. I was traveling in
Who are some other B&B authors who might inspire you or whose work you particularly enjoy?
Seems I mostly answered that above somewhere--I could have given you a great list 10-15 years ago but it would take more time than I have to remind myself now.
What aspirations do you have for your writing? i.e. Do you wish to write professionally or keep it as a hobby? In either case, what do you hope to achieve?
Fanfic is strictly a hobby with me. I do a lot of nonfiction writing for work. I have no aspirations to write fiction professionally--that would make it work.
Do you write in any other Fandoms besides B&B?
Under another name, I've written a significant amount of slash fanfic in the Sentinel universe, which probably surprises the heck out of many of my BATB "fans." For those who don't know what I'm talking about, that's fanfic that presupposes a same-sex relationship between the characters. Slash has nothing to do with "slasher" as in gore. Hey, star-crossed lovers are star-crossed lovers.
Any advice you would give to beginners?
Just do it. I was sure I couldn't, but one day I decided to sit down and just record a few of the amorphous ideas I had. The next thing I know I had the first 15 pages of "The Four of Rods." (I finished "The Fire and the Rose" first, but "The Four of Rods" was started first.
Being a B&B fan:
In Real Life 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?
I was going to Star Trek conventions and other F&SF conventions beginning in the early 1970s, so my sanity was already compromised and everybody was used to it.
How did B&B affect your life?
brought me some good friends (like Linda Barth) and
wonderful experiences (like BATB conventions and meeting BATB fans on the
Are you or have you been involved with any other Fandoms in the same way?
At various times I've been active in others, especially Star Trek, various slash fandoms, and fantasy/science fiction fandom. Sentinel is the only other fandom that has moved me to write fiction, but I've done art and poetry for others.
Is there anything else that you would like to say to the readers of this interview, about yourself, B&B, the art of writing, or the fandom?
a. One of my greatest contributions to BATB fandom was convincing Linda Barth that fandom was an OK and often rewarding thing.
b. Credibility is my watchword in fanfic. Honor your work by taking the time to do your research and know what you're talking about, both for the characters and setting.
c. Find somebody who'll tell you the truth about your work and be prepared to hear it. Leave your ego at the door (admittedly easier said than done).
Edith has gifted us with an unfinished story. In our Closing Ceremony we will have some suggestions for the inspired.