An Interview with Killashandra
September 1999

Karmen Ghia: What are you working on these days?

Killashandra: Just lately, very little because of real life overload. What little writing I have done lately has been non-fannish. Those Highlander characters have really captured my imagination, though, and I suspect that it will be some time before they're done with me.

KG: Okay, I'm sorry for the mundane questions but how long have you been in the Star Trek fan community?

K: I first became aware of the existence of fandom in late 1994, when I found the Trek boards on AOL and learned about zines and fanfic. It was tough going in the beginning though, because I was only interested in Classic Trek, and at that time there wasn't much to be found online. I had no idea how to go about meeting other fans. I knew only that there existed some vague nebulous group of people I wanted to meet... sort of like a secret society and I didn't yet have the password.

I remember the first story I ever found online was Jess' "Trompe L'Oeil" (please forgive my bad French). What a tease! But very funny.

KG: What attracted you to K/S?

K: That's a tough one to answer. I had gone through several periods of Trek obsession from about age 12 on, but had never thought of the characters in a romantic light. Then I found a topic on the AOL boards with the heading, "Are Kirk and Spock Lovers?" As soon as the idea made it from the screen to my brain, I suddenly had to know more. I wanted to find other people who thought this could actually be true. Mostly, I wanted stories. I hadn't read much erotica, and had never thought of seeking out such a thing, but once the idea was in my head I couldn't get it out.

I think one thing that has fed my interest all along is the fact that I identify very strongly with Spock, as I think many Trek fans do. I also have a well-developed hero-worship complex, and so I always had a thing for Kirk as a hero figure. I loved Kirk, and since I identified with Spock, it wasn't hard to make the leap that Spock could also love Kirk.

KG: What was your earliest story?

K: The first story I wrote was a long (very long) novel that I threw away before anyone saw it. Well, almost anyone. Two long-time K/S fans read it, and were very kind. But it's gone now, and no loss to the world, believe me.

The first story that I actually finished was called No Brighter Moment and it was printed in a K/S zine. I still hadn't actually read any K/S, at that point. Desperate to find other people with this strange and esoteric fascination, I started writing a story and posting it in parts on the a.s.f.s. newsgroup.

KG: How did you decide to start writing what was in your head? What was your motivation?

K: Total desperation. I had no idea how to find other fans. I thought if I wrote something, a few people might write to me. Ha ha. More like three hundred.

KG: How did your first story come about? Can you recall the decision to write it or did you just wake up one day, face down on the keyboard, and there was the first 3,000 words? (This happened to me, that's why I'm asking.)

K: That's about it. I long for those days, when I didn't know what I was doing and happily churned out ten or fifteen pages in a sitting. Now I know a little bit - just enough to realize how much I don't know, I think. I'm lucky to get one page, on a good day.

KG: I know you write Highlander slash as well as K/S - are there other genres you like to write in? What attracts to you Highlander and other slash genres?

K: Every fandom is different, but I have learned that I have to be really in love with every aspect of the show before I start writing in a given fandom. It can't just be one or two characters. I could go on for a long time about why Highlander, but the biggest reasons are wonderful characters (particularly Duncan MacLeod, the ultimate flawed hero) and consistently superior writing on the show. One thing that Highlander has that I often longed for in Trek is a consistency from episode to episode, with each week's stories having deep- and far-reaching consequences for the characters. There is no reset button in Highlander.

I've also written a little bit in Starsky & Hutch and Wiseguy, but ultimately found that the shows didn't satisfy me in the same way that Highlander and Trek did - perhaps because I like fantasy and sci fi more than cop shows. I think I could have become more of a Paris/Kim fan if Voyager's writing had been better.

KG: What writers do you feel have influenced your slash writing?

K: In the beginning, Anne Rice, since her books were the only real erotica I'd read and found appealing. Guy Gavriel Kay is a favorite of mine and sometimes I find myself emulating some of his stylistic choices. As far as fannish writers, there are so many great writers that I would wish to emulate, but I think I get too caught up in the stories to pay attention to what makes them work. If you could pick out a point at which I got better about word economy and dialogue, that would probably be the point at which I started writing to Macedon. He taught me a *lot.*

KG: Who is your favorite character in slash to write about? Read about? And why?

K: Duncan MacLeod, followed closely by Jim Kirk, and for many of the same reasons. They are heroic, yet flawed, they struggle with loneliness, they make the hard choices. They're physically beautiful to me. They don't let fear stop them from acting, and they try to act for Good. They are passionate, and vulnerable because they have the courage to express their passion honestly. They're brawn and brain in one package, and they have enough charisma for any ten guys.

KG: Do you have some special technique for writing slash? (For example: I listen to really loud techno music. What do you do?)

K: Music, definitely. Loreena McKennit for K/S, but anything will do... sometimes Squirrel Nut Zippers or techno will work too. And I have to be alone in the house. Writing sex scenes usually involves scented candles.

KG: What do you feel is the future of K/S?

K: If you mean the future of K/S fandom, I really don't know. I suspect that there will always be a small core group of K/S zine publishers, writers and readers, and that K/S fandom online will wax and wane much as print fandom has done over the years. In the old days, fandom experienced a resurgence each time a new movie came out. In a similar fashion, the re-airing of Classic Trek on the Sci Fi Channel has brought new fans into both fannish communities.

I also suspect that there will be a schism between these two groups of fans for some time to come. It's been very disheartening to me to see the way these two groups work so hard at defending themselves from one another. Those of us who came into fandom just as K/S was beginning to be seen online are left with friends on both sides, and no way to bridge the gap.

KG: Me, I'm just a webizen so I know nothing of the printzine community, except for a brush or two with certain members. What is with those people? Are they really as uptight, narrow minded, hyper critical/sensitive and condescending as they seem or am I really just too fucked up to see their good points? K: I think that is a generalization, no more or less accurate than any blanket statement you might make about any group of diverse and unique individuals. I have seen evidence of judgmental and narrow-minded behavior among fans, but this behavior has not been limited to any particular group or fandom that I've seen.

I think that in K/S fandom, in particular, little effort has been made by pre-net fans to recognize the value of new blood, new ideas, new writers and greater communication. Similarly, I think little understanding, recognition, appreciation or tolerance has been offered by net fans. I admit that I don't begin to understand why "us vs. them" should hold any appeal whatsoever to those who value the Kirk/Spock relationship, and the true I.D.I.C. that it represents.

I also admit that part of the reason that I began looking for other fandoms was a general weariness and frustration with this constant atmosphere of intolerance. Other fandoms are certainly not immune to infighting, but I've not yet seen it to the same widespread degree that seems to pervade K/S fandom.

KG: You've had experience in the printzine community and the webslash community. In what ways do their inherent strengths cause them to be inherently antagonistic? Or do I think that because I'm an asshole? (Okay, it's an awkward question, rephrase at will.)

K: On the contrary, I think you've asked that question in a very perceptive way. "In what ways do their inherent strengths..." Yes, exactly. This is a question I can't really answer properly without writing a tome, but you've hit on the essential problem. K/S fans who came to fandom through zines value certain things, and those who discovered fandom online value other things.

Trek zine fandom had faced a decade of steadily dwindling numbers, and many years of being forced to remain underground, in fear of censure from any number of sources. One can easily imagine an ever-smaller core group of fans pulling together, developing certain ideas and "truths" about their common obsession, bonding with one another in their shared views. But though this might, of necessity, lead to a certain incestuousness of ideas and themes, it also created some truly passionate, well-developed and beautifully expressed work in the form of stories and artwork. The first K/S I ever read was in zines, and I can honestly say reading a story on the net will never touch that first experience of opening a zine and having stories and artwork printed in my hands. It's not that I think the zine fic was better, but when that's your first experience, it means something. It has value. To those who lived in that world for ten years or more, it has *great* value. The development of complex ideas, the individuality of each zine, the whole tradition of this small group of passionate fans.

Along comes internet fandom. Suddenly, this carefully guarded secret is anything but. These traditions and common "truths" are anything but. New ideas are valued - and the more radical the better. Many long- time fans have no computer experience, and are wary of the internet in general, and don't have the perspective to perceive that there is a value of a different kind in *not* staying underground, in reaching new fans, in shaking up those assumptions about what K/S should be. And worse, net fans don't care about that years- deep tradition, and their first experience of fandom was reading it on their computer screen, so what do they care about zines?

I don't pretend to understand all the nuances of this fundamental schism, but to me it seems that everyone feels threatened, and reacts accordingly. Print fans fear exposure, and the loss of a tradition they have loved for years. Net fans feel as though they must compete for validation, and at the same time are resentful of the limitations imposed by a tradition they don't share.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

KG: I was recently reading an article in diary form about filmmaker Roger Nygard latest project. This 'feels' partly true to me (even I'm sure there's more to K/S than this) but I'm wondering if you have any reaction to this quote from the article: "March 22, 1997, Pasadena: Today we interviewed two writers of underground, homoerotic Kirk/Spock stories at the Pasadena Convention Center. These stories are typically written by and for heterosexual women - women who want to read sexual stories about Kirk and Spock but don't want to imagine them with other women." (LAT Magazine 6/20/99)

K: Well, I like gen stories and het stories, too, so I don't think that applies to me. That probably goes hand in hand with the fact that for me to get into a fandom, I have to like *all* the characters. I write slash because that happens to be the most passionate relationship I perceive in the fandoms that interest me. (Kirk/Spock, Duncan/Methos, Vinnie/Sonny, Starsky/ Hutch.) But I've been known to write het (Trek, Wiseguy) and if Uhura were half as interesting a character as Spock was on screen, you can bet I'd be writing her too. I've certainly read plenty of Xena/Gabrielle and Xena/Callisto in my day, and on X-Files I'd go for Scully/ Skinner if I liked the show better.

I think the quoted description is one manifestation of a K/S fan, but not by any means the only one. Among net fans, I'd say it's the exception, not the rule.

KG: What is the motivation to write slash? One can't sell it; one can't even eat it.

K: One word: obsession.

KG: Do you have any thoughts on the future of Slash on the Web?

K: I hope TPTB continue to allow it. Some things have gone down in the past year that have taught me not to take fandom for granted. I hope it continues to grow, because the bigger the phenomenon the more bucks it will make for the original owners of these characters, and the harder it will be for them to control it.

Right now, homosexuality is fairly widely accepted in various media. I hope that trend continues, too. I have no idea if slash harms or hurts the general perception of homosexual behavior, but I would hope it doesn't hurt. I think the wild popularity of slash among online fans has actually had an effect on several shows still airing - among them The X-Files, Due South, Xena, and others. I can't say this for sure, but I feel that slash fandom has encouraged producers to allow more subtext between same sex characters than most shows gave us in the past, and I think that might lead to more acceptance of ambiguous relationships from general viewers.

KG: You're very cool. Would you like to put your website address and/or recommended URLs here?:

K: Why, thank you. LOL

Addy is:

and I have a whole page of recommended links, at:

KG: And one final question - in your opinion, who's bigger? Kirk or Spock?

K: I couldn't care less. But Spock is definitely the better kisser.

KG: Thank you, Killa.


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