By Matthew R. White
revised May 2012
I think it was 1971 when I first heard about the show UFO. I was ten years old at the time and I lived in a small house, on Pascoag Reservoir, with my Mom and Dad, my brother Patrick, and my sister Crystal. There were four other children in the neighborhood that we hung out with, my friend Brad and his sister Sherry, who lived four houses down, and Monique and Cathy, who lived one street over. After seeing a few of the episodes we all decided to create our own UFO adventures.
We all sat down in the tree house in our back yard and divided up the characters. Brad and I both wanted the role of Ed Straker so we flipped a coin. As fate would have it, I won the toss. Brad took the role of Alec Freeman which wasn't a bad deal either. Patrick became Colonel Paul Foster (he always was a ladies' man) and Sherry won the role of Colonel Virginia Lake, (she had the same beautiful eyes). My sister Crystal became Lt. Gay Ellis, Monique was Joan Harrington and Cathy chose to be Ayshea Johnson.
Now that we had the staff we had to plan the bases. The tree house became Moonbase, the neighbor's deck across the street was SHADO HQ, the family rowboat became Skydiver, and our bicycles became the interceptors, Sky 1, Straker's car, or whatever else we needed them to be. Communications? Not a problem. We all had the Radio Shack Space Patrol walkie-talkies to communicate with. It worked out quite well.
Our UFO adventures ranged from totally original plots to reenactments of some of the episodes. We sometimes had to use ghost characters or reassign a role, but with our vivid imaginations it all worked out. Sometimes all of us were around for the adventure. Other times it was only a few. One day Sherry and I, were the only two around; did that stop us? Heaven no! We did a reenactment of my favorite episode, "Timelash"! Of course we had to have a ghost Turner, but we managed. An interesting tidbit here is Sherry and my brother were kind of an item (as much as you could be at eight years old) but I was quite taken by her as well (I'm sharing a secret here). I never told her and only she knows how she regarded me, but the symmetry to the show is uncanny. Ed and Virginia, who never shared their feelings, think Matt and Sherry here, and Virginia and Paul (Patrick and Sherry) who had a brief relationship. This was truly, a case of nature imitating art.
As I have plunged (with both feet) into the world of UFO fan fiction writing, all of these memories have surfaced with a vengeance. Rather than leave them unspoken I've decided to share some very fond childhood memories.
I wrote the first part of this essay, a couple years ago, as a challenge for the SHADO Writer's Guild in answer to the question, "What did UFO mean to me?" To answer the question, "Why do I write UFO fan fiction?" please read on.
Thirty five years ago, while I was still in high school, I toyed around with an original science fiction story. It never exceeded more than a few chapters, as I became frustrated with my poor penmanship. Sadly, I put writing aside and pursued other interests.
Enter the personal computer.
When I was in tech school, I invested in my first PC, a Heathkit H-89. Crude, by today's standards, it had no sound card, no color graphics, and an operating system that made MSDOS seem tame. But it did have a basic word processing application and that gave me the ability to create and edit documents much easier than the old fashioned free-hand method. I found that I had a way with the written word that I had not fully appreciated. Still, it would be another fifteen years before I would revisit writing fiction.
In 1991, I started laying the groundwork for a Star Trek story. By then, I had a more modern PC and a copy of Professional Write, which included a built-in spell and grammar checker. I had completed the prologue and two chapters when real life stepped in the way and forced me to put the project on indefinite hold.
Sometime in late 2009, I began to search the internet for information on the UFO television series. My search turned up, YouTube videos, fan sponsored information sites about the show, FanFiction.net, and The SHADO Library and Archives. I was impressed by reading many of the stories that I found in the SHADO Library, but the one single thing that encouraged me to start writing again, was Deb's introduction to the library section of her site, which I have quoted below:
"This site is a repository of fan-fiction devoted to the Gerry Anderson production U.F.O.. As with any library, it is constantly growing and changing, thanks to the contributions of writers who love the show, the premise and the characters enough to add their own ideas to the U.F.O. mythos and who are brave enough to share their vision."
The words, "brave enough to share their vision," were a challenge to me, and I rarely refuse a challenge. In February, 2010, I began work on my first UFO story titled Soul Mates. The story was long, almost eighty thousand words, but this time I stayed the course and finished it in April.
By the time I had published Soul Mates, I had written several smaller stories to accompany it. To date, I have written twenty six stories for UFO, including a crossover with Bonanza, one for Lost in Space, and I have a dozen stories planed with four in various stages of completion. This could become a full time occupation.
I guess writing is in my blood. My great grandfather, Hiram B. Hewett, was a writer and a poet. My story, Matters of the Heart is dedicated to him and I still have some of his work. My brother, Patrick, is also a gifted writer and poet, so I guess writing runs in the family. While I never cared for poetry, my interest in music led me to songwriting, which is basically the same thing. I've only written three songs, but two of them I was able to perform live with the band I sat in with, some years ago. While I may never be a Glen Campbell or a Garth Brooks, I understand part of what drives them to do what they do.
In the past two or so years, I have learned a lot about writing, and a lot about myself. I have made some new friends, and I have expanded my horizons. Two of my stories are "adult" in nature, something I never would have considered two years ago. My writing has influenced others as well being influenced by others. Character development is essential to my work and I find it satisfying when I am told that my portrayal of a character sheds them in a new light.
May 21, 2012, The SHADO Library celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. To say that Deb's site had a profound effect on my life, would be a gross understatement. The open-mindedness and friendly atmosphere at the guild is most inspiring and I wish for many more years of success.
U.F.O. is the © and property of ITV Studios Global Entertainment and used for promotional purposes only.
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