WENN Fanfiction Liner Notes

I don't think I have anything really profound to say...but I like to read liner notes on records and CDs.

          Actually my second piece of completed WENN fanfiction. In the first one, Betty and Scott (hey, do you sense a theme here? <g>) just didn't sound right...

          The idea for this story came to me at work: I was walking through a door with a pile of invoices in my arms. (Inspiration is an odd thing. <g>) From the inception I planned for those parallel endings and they're still my favorite parts of the story.

"Pittsburgh Bound"
          I love the WENN characters because they make me want to know what they were doing before they came to the station: Betty's turn here. One of my favorite parts of "On the Air" was poor Betty wandering around looking for a meal, so I continued the food theme. BTW, there are three inside jokes in this story, one of course being the Mystery of Edwin Drood reference. Another is the description of Betty's dad, and the third makes no sense unless you're a WENNchat regular and you know what "Wasser" translates to in English. (That character is mentioned again in "Memorial.")

          I owe the idea for this one to a letter discussing Betty's absence from WENN in "Like a Brother." It was written in two parts, with a gap of over a month in between, and didn't exactly come out the way I conceived it.
          Lillian the waitress is named after my godmother, and the coffee shop is based on a real Crown Coffee Shop, once on Weybosset Street in Providence between the original St. Francis Chapel and the Outlet Company department store (all three gone now), and it is to the memory of both the Crown and the Outlet that this story is dedicated...

          I won't tell you where this story was written; suffice it to say it was somewhere I shouldn't have been working on it. It was just there one afternoon, galloping through my brain, and I couldn't let it go. The basic story was done in three hours and it was so easy it frightened me. (I kept wondering if I were channelling Scott...) My husband looked at me askance after this one and commented how I was really into this character torture business, seeing that I get dear "Scubby" drunk and beaten up in the same story... <g>

"A Breath of Air"
          The first question that came up after "The Ghost of WENN" was "Where was Scott?" so this story was my extrapolation of his whereabouts—as well as trying to account for his seeming a bit subdued in "Caller I.D." and his comment to Betty in "Happy Homecomings." I tried to draw on all those memories of summers without A/C to make the heat wave as realistic as possible; hope it worked...

          I don't have a lot to say about this one, except I think at this point I've hit "hopeless romantic" stage. <g> The first half was written about a month before the second. You can see references to both "Memorial" and "A Breath of Air."

"A Night on the Town"
          When I first toyed with the idea of writing WENN fanfiction, my initial thought was to devote something to Mackie, who's always been one of my favorite characters. After quite a few detours, I've finally come back to my original thought. Because of the setting of this story, I just had to tuck in a couple of Rocketeer references—plus an inside joke to the fans of WENN themselves, one reference to friends, and, oh, yes, a brief tip of the hat to two of my favorite Elizabeth Peters' characters. <g>

"One Good Turn..."
          This was written in response to one of the story challenges on WENNList [the Remember WENN mailing list], namely "How did Scott and Maple meet?" That apartment of Ella's still exists, with updated appliances, of course, somewhere in East Boston; Ella herself is named after an aunt.

          Another WENNlist challenge response...to write a new Christmas story. I decided to tackle Betty's trip back to Elkhart after the events of "Christmas in the Airwaves." Betty's mom comes across as a bit of a kvetch in this one...I think I was channeling a couple of aunts. <g> Folks tell me they are cold reading about the plane ride—which means I did my job well... BTW, David Roberts is becoming one of my favorite characters! (12/24/1998)

          When I started collecting individual St. Nicholas magazines and bound editions, the one thing I decided was that this had to be a magazine Betty Roberts read as a child; it was such a literate piece of work. I also wanted to write a story about how Betty began writing—and wanted to provide perhaps a little explanation for her change of heart when Victor kisses her in "All's Noisy on the Pittsburgh Front." Instead of ending up with three stories, I worked it all into one.
          The conversation at the haymow is taken from real life—with others doing the negative talk, not my mother... (My husband got a similar story from relatives, he tells me.) Oh, and there used to be a Ming Garden in downtown Providence. (01/08/1999)

About St. Nicholas

          If I hit "hopeless romantic" for "Fever," I think I've hit "hopelessly warm and fuzzy" for this one... Yes, the title was meant to have multiple meanings. <g> And there's a tip of the hat to Law & Order to boot.
          The story Betty is reading is "Dorothea's Double" in the November 1925 "number" of St. Nicholas. (06/04/1999)

          This is what's called in fanfiction circles a "filler" or "missing scene" story. Someone asked me why I chose Lester, not C.J., to be in the control room—well, I needed Scott and Betty to talk; if C.J. was around he might have asked Scott to O'Malley's for a beer. As for the Dorian Gray reference—heck, I couldn't resist... <g> (06/09/1999)

"Midnight Tea"
          This short tale had been kicking around in my head for months; it almost took the longest to write. Even the self-assured Miss Roberts must have her "hour of the wolf," as Susan Ivanova calls it. Betty's Pittsburgh minister has a name all chat/newsgroup fandom should recognize. <g> Alas, it wasn't destined to be a quiet Sunday after all. (07/29/1999)

"'What Needs Doing'"
          For years, my mother's story of what she, her mother, her sister and sisters-in-law did on the day of Pearl Harbor has haunted me; it found a place to rest in this story.
          And Enid's brother Colin is named after another brave soul, a little boy I know who has been at war since the day of his birth: he has cystic fibrosis. I wish him an armistice soon... (09/03/1999)

"First Impressions"
          Someone on the mailing list once remarked that they'd love to have seen Betty's diary for her first day at WENN. The idea kicked around in my head, but didn't come to fruition until I'd seen a couple of M*A*S*H reruns, specifically the Hawkeye "Dear Dad" episodes. I went from there, although I eventually had to finish the Victor portions in an unconventional location to get them to sound correct. (02/28/2000)

          Victor is a difficult gentleman to compose for. But I kept cogitating about his wandering, injured, about the thoroughfares of London and finally requesting a bus driver to transport him to Madison and 42nd. What might have been his destination? Here's one answer... (03/27/2000)

          One of my favorite relationships has always been between Scott and Aunt Agatha. It struck me that he almost treated her like a substitute mother; could it be he'd lost his own mom at a young age and she'd "filled in"? She'd be a decidedly unconventional mother substitute! I also followed up on some threads I'd begun while writing "'What Needs Doing.'"
          Although Aunt Agatha now makes her home on Nantucket, there's no reason to suppose the family was from New England—but when I started writing the scene where Scott flees the house, I suddenly found him somewhere around Hingham, Massachusetts. Ah, well, close to home... (04/06/2000)

           This story was inspired by Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse strip on Veteran's Day a few years back. Something about poppies seemed to ask to be written, particularly since most of the folks at WENN must have been thinking about the last war as the situation deteriorated in Europe.
           Poppies have been associated with WWI since John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields." As Scott mentions in the story, poppies grow best in soil that has been stirred up; in fact from what I could gather from the website I found about the poem, the seeds can be in the ground for ages, but they won't germinate unless the ground is heavily tilled. So after the battles poppies sprang up everywhere.
           When they began celebrating Armistice Day, veterans (mostly) would stand on streetcorners selling poppies, the proceeds which would go to veterans' charities. They did this for years; I remember poppy sellers in downtown Providence as a child. My mom might not have any extra money for anything else, but we always had a poppy each on Veterans' Day. We'd have them in school, too, for the annual Veteran's Day program, and "In Flanders Fields" was always recited, whether by a small group of children or one of the fifth or sixth graders with a good voice. I used to know it by heart at one time. Gradually, however, the custom seemed to fade away, although people have told me they have seen poppy sellers in recent years.
           The minute of silence at 11:11 (the Armistice was signed at 11:11 a.m. on 11/11/18) I think was something done more in England than in America. I remember doing it when I was very small; they'd toll the churchbells and everything would just stop for that minute. (It was kinda spooky at that age; I vaguely remember looking out the front window as the church- bells started ringing one year and saw people actually pull their cars over and stop for that minute.) If you've read Dorothy Sayers' Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, the murder takes place in a men's club on Armistice Day and I remember where they stop for that minute of silence. (I haven't read Bellona in years, but I seem to remember that one of the clues to the murder was whether someone was wearing his poppy or not...)
           The young ambulance driver who inspired Mr. Eldridge's son managed to make it out of the war alive though. He didn't want anyone to think he was a "slacker," either, so he had his mother forge his father's name on his enlistment papers. In fact, you've seen this fellow's name all of your life: on videos, television programs, movies, books... His name? Walter Elias Disney. (05/19/2000)

"The Shell Pendant Mystery"
          My comments on "the Epic" are either on the main page to this novel-length story or in the afterward, which also contains a photo album of the sights Betty and her father would have seen. (10/28/2000)

"Past Nine O'Clock"
          I have no idea where this one sprang from; evidently it was composed subconsciously by the little elves of my mind, for by 9 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving 2000 it was asking me to write it down. Neither plotted nor planned, it "just came." Although judging by the ending, I was having a bit of a William Sydney Porter moment. <g> (11/22/2000)

          It's always struck me that Betty's mother came off so unsympathetic in my stories; this one shows another side of the ever efficient Clare Roberts, whose sweet side is more my mother, but whose efficient side suggests more a couple of aunts. The story also falls in the "hopelessly warm and fuzzy" category. As in the description, this is a sequel to "Past Nine O'Clock" (which assures maximum warmness and fuzziness <g>). (03/14/2001)

"The Memory Tree"
          As in "Past Nine O'Clock," I have no idea where this one sprang from, although Robert Brenner's Christmas Past probably has something to do with it. Like "Secrets," I had planned to write it at Christmas, but was sidetracked with holiday craft projects. This story is dedicated to my late godfather, Angelo Montella, who was a pretty nice oil deliveryman, but who probably would have made a pretty nice grocer as well. (04/15/2001)

          One night on chat we were discussing fanfiction and particularly crossover fanfiction, as in what characters might "intersect" with the WENN universe. Rodney Walker suggested—he claims it was a "flip" suggestion—the idea for this story. The problem is that you should never challenge me this way. <g> Actually it was a sound idea and worked quite well. Many thanks to Earl Hamner Jr in hopes that he doesn't mind me "playing in his universe"—and a big "thumbs up" to the Chairman of the Board at CBS, Mr. William S. Paley, who, unlike a certain Mr. Juris, ignored low ratings in favor of allowing a quality series to grow. (04/17/2001)

          Last summer on WENNlist, we began a discussion about how the staff might celebrate the Fourth of July. Apparently it was percolating all this time, like an ever-present pot of Ingrams... <g> My thanks to Ron Butler, who was the originator of Hilary's "crust of bread" line. (05/26/2001)

"The Dance"
          This story and "Letter" were both conceived at Christmas 2001, but I never got around to starting either of them. But in April the juices finally began to flow. Yes, Lowell Thomas really did complete four years of college in two. (04/23/2002)

          I'd hoped if I finished one of these stories I would finish the other. Let's say it was two for the price of one. I always wondered what type of training Victor had for infiltrating Germany. (04/24/2002)

"Minor Revisions"
          I had this one "written in my head" for over two years before I finally committed it to paper. Yes, those initials were on purpose—and I was happy because I not only skewered a certain cable channel, but a couple of fellas named Brannon and Braga, not to mention a shot at author Thomas Tedrow and his hideous Laura Ingalls Wilder books. (12/19/2002) This story originally appeared in print in the fanzine When Last We Met.

          On the other hand, when I started this story, I never intended it to end this way—in fact I wasn't certain how it would end at all—and when it finally began to take the direction it did, I initially resisted it. Madeleine L'Engle says you have to listen to the story. Apparently this is what it wanted to tell me... (12/31/2002) This story originally appeared in print in the fanzine When Last We Met.

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