The apocrypha Interview: Susianne Baptiste
By Korillian

Okay, I admit it: Susianne Baptiste is one of my favorite fanfic writers. Her portrayal of Detective Mike Logan is fascinating, combining both his positive and negative qualities to capture the true essence of the man. And in Simone Broidveaux, Susianne has created an Original Female Character who is more than just Mike's girlfriend. Smart and sassy, Simone leaps off the page, demanding to be taken seriously. And we do.
Death and Desire is the name of the series that features Simone and Mike. According to Susianne the series started out as "a short story when I sat down to write it, and ended up more like a novella." Four excerpts from Death and Desire have appeared in apocrypha: Dark Horse, Christmas in the Oaks, Law and Hors d'Oeuvres, and Pride and Penance. In a recent email interview, I had the chance to ask Susianne about her writing, her series, and loads of other stuff. Here's what she had to say. Enjoy!

What made you start writing fan fiction?
Actually, the first piece I did was back in my teen years. I wrote a companion story for one of my favorite programs. Since it was the 70s, I'm sure you'll appreciate that this particular police drama shall remain unnamed. (grin)
What do you personally get out of writing fan fiction?
I have a lot of fun doing it. It allows me to work out ideas I could probably never use in another context. Writing for a ready-made audience is the best part of it.
Is Law & Order the only television show you write fan fiction for?
No. I've written some NYPD Blue and Homicide pieces. I'm a frustrated homicide detective.
What is it about Law & Order that inspired you to start writing fan fic?
After watching the original run of the episode "Extended Family," I got inspired to write a crime-fiction story about a family of New Orleans cops. As I kept writing, several ideas came to me that were good, but wouldn't work in that context. So for fun, I hauled out a notebook and wrote Death and Desire for my own private enjoyment. I thought I was crazy (writing about some TV show!) and never showed it to anyone until relatively recently.
How long is the Death and Desire series? Is it a novel or a series of related short stories?
Death and Desire was a short story when I sat down to write it, and ended up more like a novella. There are 6 parts nearly as long in the series, along with several related short stories.
Who is your favorite L&O character? Why?
Mike Logan, because I find his complex simplicity intriguing. He is tough yet vulnerable. I admire his sense of justice and compassion for abused children. His wry sense of humor, to me, shows that he's not as intimidating as he wants everyone else to think. My favorite dialogues are those wonderfully witty exchanges of words and little glances between he and Cragen.
Simone Broidveaux is an intriguing, unique Original Female Character. What motivated you to create her?
Simone just happened. When the story came to me, I wanted a female officer who wasn't wimpy (like the Miami Vice girls) and could hold her own in a male profession. You always see "cool guys" in police stories, but not too many "cool chicks". Despite her funky clothes and spicy mouth, Det. B isbas ically a lot like most of the women I know. In fact, I stole the name "Simone" from a close Cajun friend who became a nun -- she always liked a good time, Sister Simone.
Give me five adjectives that best describe Mike Logan, please.
Tough, vulnerable, witty, loyal, hot-tempered.
And now the same for Simone. Please.
Clever, compassionate, flirtatious, fragile, dedicated.
What do Susianne Baptiste and Simone Broidveaux have in common, if anything?
Just about everything, I'm afraid. Even the tacky clothes. She's a better and more successful flirt than I, however. And she's thinner.
How much research goes into your writing?
A lot. I've gotten help from an NOPD Homicide detective, for instance. I find a sense of realism adds to the enjoyability. I'm forever consulting firearms manuals, police procedurals, and even local maps.
One of the things that makes Simone such an interesting character is the fact that she lives in New Orleans. It must have taken a lot of research in order to get a good feel for the city.
A lifetime's worth: I'm a native, too. I find so many wonderful things about my hometown that I want to share in my writing ... a lot like Anne Rice.
Rene Balcer (L&O Exec Producer/Head Writer) was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "some fan fiction...seems to be elaborate fantasies involving them and one of the characters." How do you respond to this?
I think it's oversimplification. The author is a big part of his/her own characters. How else can you write, if you don't fantasize about anything? I'm sure he's true, to a certain extent. Hey, if it leads to a great story, so what? I'm with Stephen King ... it's important that the reader be entertained.
What advice do you have for beginning fanfic writers?
Don't be afraid or embarrassed to write what you feel. The important thing is to have fun and let your creativity flow. And don't be afraid to show your work. A little encouragement can do wonders for your creativity.
So what's next for Susianne Baptiste? Any more fiction in the works, or on the drawing board?
Aside from my Death and Desire installments, I'm finishing up my New Orleans-flavored crime novel. Whether it gets published is up to some tasteful junior editor. (grin) It's always fun to dip back into the D&D trough again and again!

whaddya think?