Sunday, 27 February 2011


Coming back to writing fiction after a 20+ year break was pure serendipity.

In 2006/7 I became completely hooked on 'The West Wing'. For various reasons I'd missed most of it when it was shown on TV, but I bought the first season - and then the whole set.

In early 2007 I discovered a couple of yahoo groups devoted to 'The West Wing' and then got into lengthy emails with another 'fan'. We discussed the episodes and characters, and she also introduced me to the world of fan-fiction. This,according to wikipedia, is defined as "stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work" and is "both related to its subject's canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe". I read a lot of 'West Wing' fanfiction, some extremely good, some so bizarre that they bore no relation to the characters or 'canon' of TWW.

Following an email conversation with my friend about the lives of the fictional President and First Lady (Jed and Abbey Bartlet) after they left the White House,
I wrote a short scenario which followed on from the very last scene of the series. In this, instead of flying back to their home in New Hampshire (canonical version), I had them flying across to Ireland for a short break.

It was only intended to be a short story - but somehow it grew. It ended up with 40 chapters and 80,000 words and its title was 'Tomorrow' - the very last word spoken by Jed in the series. My muse had returned, I was writing fiction again! But, at this stage, solely for my friend.

Fate intervened later in the year when I got to know another TWW fan, this time someone who also wrote fanfic. stories. I sent her mine, and she persuaded me to start posting it on one of the yahoo groups which were devoted to Jed and Abbey.

Before I did that, however, I wanted to make sure that my facts and descriptions of Ireland were authentic, so in October 2007 I went across to Galway for a few days. Just for basic research, you understand, but I fell in love with Ireland and have been back about 8 times since then. But that's another story.
That first time, I wanted to see the places I'd used in my story - Galway City, a small Irish town in Tipperary,a typical Irish pub, and of course the view across Galway Bay.

In November 2007 I started posting my 'instalments' on the yahoo group. I must admit I was nervous because a lot of the members of the group were far more knowledgeable about TWW and about Jed and Abbey than I was. To my relief, everyone liked it, even when I shocked them with an unexpected twist in the story!

Later, another friend posted the story for me at, and I started getting reviews from complete strangers. This was my favourite: I started reading this because I love The West Wing, and just couldn't stop reading. You did an amazing job with the characters, I could hear Martin and Stockard saying everything you wrote. Congratulations on writing something so amazing.
If you're interested, you can read it here:

I went on to write (and post) three more fanfiction stories, this time all based on specific episodes in TWW, where I 'filled in' the scenes that we didn't see on the screen. Again I got good reviews e.g.I just totally adored this story - I'm so glad I read it! You got both Abbey and Jed's character perfectly.

Of course, with fanfiction, all the characters are already there for you, you just have to pick them up and run with them! I did invent some of my own in my 'Tomorrow' story and again when I started to write a follow-up about the first year after Jed's Presidency. In the latter, I highlighted specific days - Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, Easter Day, Memorial Day and Wedding Anniversary. I followed some of the threads from 'Tomorrow' and introduced others. This became more like writing original fiction.

In June 2008, fate stepped in again. As a result, I left Jed and Abbey enjoying an 'extended' anniversary celebration in Provence and went on to other things.  More about that next time!


  1. You should post the picture of you and Martin here... :)

  2. It takes talent to keep well-known characters in character, Paula. You did this amazingly well in the episode I read.
    Hi Toni!

  3. Hi,

    Hee hee, a whole new image of Paula coming to light! Did you know there's a mobile/cell phone publisher looking for short fan-fiction stories? ;)


  4. Thanks for visiting me!

    Maybe I will post the picture of 'Martin and me' sometime, Toni. I could also add pictures of me with 3 other West Wing actors!

    Ana, I think I was so immersed in TWW at the time that the characters came easily. The other thing that helped was that I could hear their voices. As well as being able to 'see' my imvented characters in my mind, I also have to be able to hear their voices. Once I can hear them, they become real.

    Francine - I think my fanfic stories were rather too long for cell-phones, also TWW ended nearly 5 years ago now, so don't think anyone (except the die-hard fans on the yahoo groups) would be interested anyway!

  5. I am still interested in The West Wing, I watch it frequently. You did so well with developing their story and I really enjoyed reading these.

    Yes do post the picture of YOU with West Wing cast members - show off why dontcha!

  6. Thanks, Margaret!
    Maybe I will post the photos - sometime! Even though the others pale into insignificance after last year's photo with Martin LOL!

  7. I always enjoyed the way you wrote Jed and Abbey. You gave them a wonderfully rich storyline and I enjoyed seeing that play out under all the layers of backstory. I still can't watch Tomorrow without imagining "what if..."


  8. Thanks, Amber. Must admit every time I go to Galway, I think of Jed and Abbey being there (as well as Martin and Janet too, of course!)

  9. Wow! I'll say your muse came back! What a great experience.

    I have to admit (gasp) that I am not familiar with TWW, having never watched it when it was on tv, but knowing what a fabulous writer you are, I'm sure you did the story and the characters great justice.

  10. Hi Debra
    Several years ago, when my various roles with Girl Guides here were coming to an end, I told a friend I was looking for a new challenge. At the time, I never thought it would be writing again. I have to thank Jed and Abbey from TWW for reviving my muse!

  11. "Going to Ireland just for basic research." I hope all wasn't just research!

  12. Linda - thanks so much for stopping by and for becoming a follower too! Actually, my first visit to Ireland DID concentrate on the places I needed for my story but of course that also included researching the menus at some very nice Irish pubs! My visits since then have been simply for the love of Ireland.

  13. I never knew much about fan fiction before, but it sounds like a great way to kickstart writing, especially when, if you're like me, you get stuck often on the story you're writing. Great blog!