By MARIE MAGINITY
One of DARK SHADOWS’ more whimsical fanfiction writers is Magical Irish Dolphin (I mean, that name says it all). Her stories are fun and imaginative. Picture a Collinwood occupied by not only Josette and Sarah, but dozens of ghosts from every storyline time period, all interacting with each other and their human counterparts.
Magical was good enough to talk with me about herself and her work. So I asked my usual first question.
Tell us a little about background.
I was born in the mid-1980s in Florida, but when I was four, my Mom packed my brothers and me to Colorado, where we still live today. Coming from Irish and Seminole descent, I spoke only Seminole until the relocation. We spent several years dealing with hardships and complications. My mother remarried when I was twelve, and we continue to be a close-knit family.
When did you begin to write?
As a kid, I had a wild imagination, daydreamed a lot to escape reality and was, well, pretty flaky. In second grade we were assigned to write a story with illustrations. Mine was a crossover about 101 DALMATIANS and Freddy Kruger from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films. Not surprisingly, my first fanfiction was ill received by classmates and teacher alike. I was bummed but somehow survived.
I’m glad you were not deterred. When did you enter the big world of fandoms and fanfic?
Internet fanfiction was a discovery in my teen years, I wasn't really impressed with it at first, but there are some good authors out there. Through the years, I read fics from a variety of fandoms, ranging from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to NCIS, as well as from ‘80s cult films such as THE LOST BOYS and LABYRINTH.
Is that when you began to write your own stories?
At that time, I was completely disinterested in writing fanfiction myself—until I came across the British sci-fi series DOCTOR WHO about five years ago. I fell in love with the whimsical style of that show, and the character’s ability to travel through time and to other worlds. So, I picked up a pen and notebook and wrote some DOCTOR WHO stories. They were just for my personal entertainment and never posted; I felt they weren't good enough.
My brother and I worked on a DOCTOR WHO/FARSCAPE crossover fic. FARSCAPEis an American/Australian sci-fi series that I think aired from 1999-2004. The show featured puppets created by the Jim Henson Company, and had an exotic alien look. My brother loved it, but that project went on hold when I was suddenly bitten with the DARK SHADOWS bug.
When did you come over to the Dark side?
Sadly, unlike the countless number of lucky fans, I did not grow up watching DARK SHADOWS. But my Mother did, and she told me about her love for the show through the years. I saw bits of it in reruns on Sci-Fi Channel and, around the time of the Tim Burton remake, scored the Original Series DARK SHADOWS Collection I DVD set at Sam’s Club.
Later that day, my brother put the first disk into his X-Box, and we hunkered down to watch a punk named Willie Loomis break into a vampire’s coffin in search of jewels. By episode 215 I was hooked— when Willie came back with a haunted look in his eyes and blood on his sleeve. I honestly thought when Willie opened that coffin he was a goner; after all, he seemed to be a disposable villain. But now all of the sudden, he'd become a tortured Renfield-like character with sex appeal. I really loved that twist and John Karlen's powerhouse performance. So, it was Willie, and later his caring for Maggie in the kidnapping storyline that captured my interest.
As a classic movie lover, I enjoyed the gothic look of the show and was especially amazed by the presence of Joan Bennett, in addition to Jonathan Frid's elegant performance as Barnabas Collins.
But it is an ensemble piece, so there’s much more to enjoy, especially the Elizabeth/Jason story, and the interaction between David/Sarah. The early Barnabas stuff remains to be my favorite era of the show, as is his origin story in 1795. Then, of course, there’s Quentin and the fanciful world of 1897.
Above all, I highly feel the show had a tremendous imagination that's more up my ally—normal people surrounded by ghosts, vampires, witches, warlocks, Frankenstein monsters, zombies, involved in séances and time travel.
So the next logical step was to engage in some DS fanfic?
Becoming addicted to DARK SHADOWS rekindled my interest in fanfiction. Similar to my feelings for DOCTOR WHO, only more intense, so the next stories made it to the internet. I can do this, I told myself; I've written supernatural stories about ghosts, witches, spooky children, eccentric weirdoes and vampires before.
When I started searching for DARK SHADOWS fics online, the first thing I noticed is that they usually focus on a singular character, namely Barnabas, occasionally Quentin or Willie. I decided to focus on a variety of characters, after all the show is an ensemble piece, and the fans forget that at times.
Tell us about some of your stories.
My first one-shots were mostly character studies, beginning with my favorite character, Willie, in A Precious Jewel. It's a typically angsty Willie Loomis fanfiction, in which he mourns the loss of Maggie after her kidnapping ordeal, and characteristically drools over Josette's emerald earrings.
Next was another Willie/Maggie one-shot, Broken Paradise. It takes place during the kidnapping story, with Jason and Elizabeth as the supporting cast. There I created a parallel between Elizabeth and Maggie over their separate situations with Jason and Barnabas, with biting dialogue and a bittersweet ending. Then I focused on other characters, such as Adam in Poetry in Motion, and Beth Chavez in The Trials of a Maidservant, in which Beth must deal with the sordid secrets of the Collins family, such as Jenny locked up in the tower room, and her attraction to Quentin.
In Secrets, David and the ghost of Sarah must endure Barnabas at the height of his vampire villainy, and the tragedies that came with it. Then there are the Barnabas stories: Sparks in Martinique tells the story of he and Angelique, from her POV, and in Truth and Denial, Barnabas must deal with his feelings when Julia is bitten by vampire Tom Jennings.
Some of these early works were problematic but I hope someday to rewrite and make corrections, since I would like to pursue a career in writing.
At this point I was ready to progress to multi-chapter fanfictions, so next came The Music Box. Once again it was about Willie/Maggie and the kidnapping story, which I had explored twice before, as have many other fanfic writers. So I introduced Josette’s ghost into the mix. She returns to the Old House to help Maggie and Willie and their relationship develops into romance.
The two shared a special connection at that time in the series, and John Karlen and Kathryn Leigh Scott had sweet, yet repressed, chemistry. Maybe they never got together on the show, but in my story, they survive Barnabas and the spooks, and end up as a couple.
This eventually spawned a sequel, Ode to the Witch, which brings in my other favorite couple, Quentin and Beth, as ghosts haunting the west wing which is under renovation by future newlyweds Vicki and Burke. But Roger arrives with his bride, Cassandra, which is bad news for Barnabas, who is being cured by Julia. Now that’s an ensemble piece. But wait, there’s more: The Collins’ family ghosts rally to support Barnabas, including Josette, Jenny, Carl (recruited to torment the witch), Sarah (still hanging out with David), Millicent (who is oddly attracted to Joe Haskell), and Bill Malloy, to distract Elizabeth as she deals with Vicki and her parentage. Sounds like a soap opera.
Have you abandoned your other fandoms now?
I managed to post two one-shots for the NCIS: LOS ANGELES fandom last summer, and that was a great experience. One was a comedic little piece titled The Reminiscence of Youth, about Linda Hunt's character, Hetty Lange and the assistant director of NCIS. It's very dialogue driven and probably the closest to a crack fic I've ever written. The other, Mixed Partners, delved into the popular Kensi Blye/Marty Deeks pairing, which I love. I'm working on another one-shot on that show that will feature a shout out to DARK SHADOWS; two of the characters will go undercover as Jonathan and Lara Collins. I like to tackle other shows eventually, especially DOCTOR WHO because it's my favorite sci-fi series, but I still have big plans for DARK SHADOWS’ stories, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Magical Irish Dolphin can be found on Facebook posing under the name Erin Evans.
Marie Maginity is the author of the seven-part Willie Loomis World Series, and writes under the names Mad Margaret and Lizzie Bathory. She has a BA in Theatre and works as a professional actor, director and drama teacher. She has had many “straight” jobs, including bartender, gas station jockey, graphic artist, website designer, facepainter and film projectionist. Once, she bullshitted her way into a newspaper job as a reporter and, over the next eight years, became a copy editor, feature writer and assistant editor. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with one husband, two daughters and two cats.