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Remembering Susan M. Garrett

Author Susan M. Garrett died today after a months-long battle with cancer. Aside from being a professional writer (Intimations of Mortality, 1997, Berkeley, ISBN: 978-1572973138), she also wrote several unpublished novels and was actively involved in the fan fiction community, where she had a sizable fan base.

At her heart, Susan M. Garret was a storyteller, “Officially, I’ve been writing fiction since I was eight years old,” she said in one of her biographies. “It all began with fan fiction–they didn’t make enough new episodes of my favorite Saturday morning cartoon and children’s shows and so I started writing my own.”

From there, her writing took off. She had been published hundreds of times in various fanzines, including works of non-fiction as well as original fiction and fan fiction. It’s in fan fiction circles where the name Susan M. Garret gained an iconic status; a guarantee that a first-rate yarn was in store for the reader, true to the original characters.

She developed quite a large fan base with her original works based on the worlds of The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne and Forever Knight. It was her reputation in the latter that led to her book deal with Berekely in the 1990s.

Aside from developing a fan base of her own, Susan was a die-hard fan herself, where her fan career began in earnest in 1976, when she was inducted as the first American female into the UK’s storied Doctor Who Appreciation Society. A life-long fan of the Doctor and his adventures in the TARDIS, she kept up with the series until the end.

A publisher of several fanzines through the years (see partial list below), she had a distinguished impact on fandom in general and was the co-creator of the satirical “Not The MediaWest*Con Program Book” with Ann Larimer, that was distributed at MediaWest for many years.

 

Between 1989 and 1992, she published The Handy Dandy Adzine Calendar and Address Guide for Fanzine Editors and Other Busy People, a bi-annual adzine for and about adzines that was distributed at fan conventions and via the mail.

She also was the creator of two publications regarding fan publishing: The Fantastically, Fundamentally Functional Guide to Fanzines for Readers & Contributors in 1989, and The Fantastically, Fundamentally Functional Guide to Fanzines for Editors & Publishers in 1990.

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She had a particular impact in science fiction and fantasy TV fandom as it came of age in the 1990s.

She was a top BNF (big-name fan) among Doctor Who (1970s-80s), Forever Knight (1990s), and most recently The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (SAJV). It was her work in SAJV fandom that is still being felt today. She, along with a small team of dedicated fans, set up a multi-media network to save the show that had been cancelled by the SCIFI Channel – consisting of inter-linked websites,  PR campaigns to advertisers and DVD/video distributors, and very detail-oriented and precise attack plans and events at fan conventions made the industry and other fans stand up and take attention.

Although it was too late to save SAJV, others took notes and those same tactics were later used in other campaigns, including the successful effort after FOX cancelled the series Firefly, in which many tactics originally developed by SAJVers under the tutelage of Susan M. Garrett led to Universal movie studio making the feature film, Serenity.

By that time, Susan started devoting more of her time practicing her writing. Born and raised on the east coast, but always fascinated by the lure of Hollywood (she was an extra in a 1999 episode of Homicide: Life on the Street when it filmed in Baltimore) Susan jumped at the chance to switch coasts when the opportunity arose in 2002 to move to the Los Angeles-area and be room mates with fellow SAJVer and empty nester with a room to spare, Vicci Varner. There she lived and wrote in the foothills overlooking Los Angeles for the past 8 years.

But, after a routine medical procedure in April 2010 revealed that Susan M. Garrett had advanced Stage 3 colon/stomach cancer, she spent her last months fighting the disease in her adopted home; as usual, she lived at the Varner house as part of the family until the end – with the help and care of her long-time friend and room mate, Vicci Varner, and her brother, Shawn. Recently, she was transferred to the intensive care unit of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills, where she spent her 49th birthday. Her battle with cancer ended three days later with her drifting off in her sleep, on Saturday, August 14, 2010.

LINKS

Although she has left us, Susan M. Garrett lives on in cyberspace. Below are a few links about her and her works:

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.

6 Comments

  1. Susan was a gifted writer, and her work will be a wonderful memorial to her talents. She was very well liked and respected by all those who knew her, and I am only sorry I did not get to meet her in person. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

  2. Haven’t seen Susan since Dragon*Con 2002 though have certainly heard what she’s been up to through SAJV channels. Very sad to hear of her loss yet pleased to know that the efforts to save SAJV were noted and successfully used afterward. To think I missed that ‘Serenity’ party.

    Keep on writing, Susan.

  3. Ooof! What a punch to the gut. I’ve always adored Susan Garrett, especially since the Phoenix Gerthering, when we commiserated about our mutual less-than-stellar finances, and had so many terrific laughs. I was so proud of her for publishing her FK book (because taking that leap requires so much courage from a writer), and she was indeed a brave soul with a kind heart.

    We are grateful to Susan for so much, most of all for just being Susan. In our next lifetime, I hope I get to meet her sooner.

  4. Susan was one of the finest souls I have ever been blessed to know, and her friendship to me was a treasure. She will be sorely missed. My thoughts and love to Vicci, Shawn, and the rest of Susan’s beautiful family.

  5. Oh, this is just so sad. Susan was a good friend, plus she printed my first ever published Doctor Who fanfiction in Timewinds 18. What a loss for her family and friends and for all of fandom.

  6. This comes as a real sad shock. Sue and I were fellow members of the Jersey Shore Science Fiction Society years ago when she lived here. We celebrated when her first novel was published. I even used her as a character name in one of the stories I wrote for Marvel Comics. She was wonderful fun, a talented writer, a computer expert (helping me get up and running on more than one occasion). She will be remembered fondly and sadly missed.

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