An Interview with Websister
September 1999

How would you describe Gun Shy?

Desiree Reilly, nicknamed Dez, is an eight year patrol cop who has recently lost her work partner in a shooting. She is still reeling from the loss when she rescues Jaylynn Savage and her best friend from a vicious attack. Jaylynn, who has just graduated from college and has not yet selected a career, is captivated by the tall, serious Dez Reilly. She joins the Police Academy, despite the fact that Dez discourages her from doing so. GUN SHY is a story about two very different women and the relationship that grows between them over one hectic year on the St. Paul Police Force.

What inspired you to write GUN SHY?

I'm a big fan of the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess (X:WP), and I've always loved cop and detective stories. X:WP inspired me to think about writing adventure/romance, and it occurred to me that if Xena and Gabrielle were alive in the 20th Century, they'd likely be cops. So I used that as a jumping off point and started thinking of two individual characters, somewhat
like Xena and Gabrielle, but updated and changed for the 90s. It didn't take too long before I found that they weren't really all that much like Xena and Gabrielle at all. In fall 1998 I started the novel, which I called "The Cop Novel" right up until MaryD posted it on The Bard's Corner, at which point I had to call it something, so I named it GUN SHY, after a line in themiddle of the book.

Originally Dez had blond hair and a stiff-upper-lip-Scandinavian background. Jaylynn had light brown hair and hazel eyes, and she wasn't quite as short as she turned out to be in the Net version. As I wrote most of the major scenes of GUN SHY, my friends and partner read them,
and they told me they loved the story and characters. I decided I wanted other people to read it and enjoy it too-if only to ascertain whether everyone I knew was humoring me or not!

I was pretty certain that since my novel was a genre piece-and lesbian at that!-nobody would publish it, and GUN SHY would languish in some drawer here at my house. I had also become aware of the Fan Fiction network, and it occurred to me that perhaps there was a place that I could get feedback from a couple hundred people. So I combed through the manuscript and changed descriptors to make Dez and Jaylynn resemble Xena and Gabrielle more physically, though I didn't want them to look exactly like them. For the net version I added a few scenes that hearkened back to X & G and just tried to make the characters consistent.

Above all, I wanted to write a story that *I* wanted to read. It seemed like there was so little out in the mainstream that appealed to me, and the situations these characters find themselves in were interesting and engrossing for my partner and me. I just hoped that others would enjoy them, too.

Are you going to continue these characters in your next novel?

Yes, I have already begun a sequel called UNDER THE GUN. Jaylynn and Dez, because of their relationship, are very much under the gun, both at work and in the process of creating a partnership with one another. Any new relationship is tricky enough -- without the frustration of job demands and prejudice from coworkers. The two women face a lot of difficult situtations. Fortunately, Crystal, Shayna, Luella, Sara, and Oster are in the background cheering Dez and Jaylynn on.

In addition, I have in mind a third novel for these two characters. A lot can happen in their fictional lives!

Do you see yourself in DEZ or any of the characters in Gun Shy?

I see myself in EVERY character in the novel! Dez and Jaylynn possess a lot of characteristics I have stolen from my partner and myself. Both Dez and Jay are a lot like me-but I am really not more one than the other. They both have pieces of me in them, as do Crystal, Luella, and Sara-and pretty much all the other minor characters.

What type of research did you do to be able to write this novel?

Besides the thousands of TV episodes and hundreds of novels and scores of movies I've seen or read about cops and detectives, I did a ride along with a St. Paul Police Sergeant, and I read a lot about police procedure. My initial beta readers were an ER doctor, a Michigan cop, and a medical scientist. They helped with many of the details. Once I began posting on the Net, I received many encouraging comments from law enforcement folks, as well as from people who knew about medicine, psychology, and various other details.

When do you expect your next novel to be completed?

I hope to have a completed first draft of UNDER THE GUN by late spring 2000. But I also have a completed draft of another novel, RICOCHET IN TIME. RICOCHET is not an uber-Xena, and none of the characters from GUN SHY are in this novel, but it takes place in St. Paul and involves a character dealing with the criminal justice system after she is wounded in a gay bashing.

What are your writing plans for the future?

I plan to continue writing novels. I will publish them on the Net, or I will publish them through a Press-or both.

I have two other novels in process right now:

THE VEST - a lesbian adventure/survival drama revolving around a woman who has just been released from prison. She and two acquaintances plus their 12-year-old daughter are carjacked out in the sticks and have to figure out a way to survive while being hunted by their attackers.

THE FOURTH OPTION - a lesbian drama/love story about a woman in a kind of mid-life crisis after her lover leaves her and their 4-year-old son.

I work on whatever novel "calls" to me at the time. Right now I am having good luck with scenes for UNDER THE GUN. When that quits on me, I'll move to one of the other ones and work on it until I can get back to UNDER THE GUN again. I never have writer's block that way.

Filed: September, 1999
By: A.E. Reese