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Penski
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Posts : 1188
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 56
Location : Northern California

PostSubject: Drena Hill Stories   Tue May 01, 2012 9:56 am


Drena Hill is a popular and busy ASJ writer. Her 106 stories can be found at http://www.derbysulzers.com/aliassmithandjonesstories.htm The picture on the website is a little out of date with Easter eggs, but don't let that be your first impression of a Drena story.

So what is your favorite Drena story?
What works for you in her stories?
What doesn't work for you in her stories?
PLEASE explain your reasoning.

(CAUTION - SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE RECEIVED VIRUSES WHEN VISITING DRENA'S SITE - 6/1/10)


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From Talma:

Hi, I'm rusty at this, having drifted around various fandoms for a very long time but only this last year re-discovering S & J and how grateful I am I did! I hope this is okay, I'll try not to ramble too much...I've read most or all of Drena's stories and think she is incredible. Okay so some genres I don't enjoy (I tend to skip the obligatory vampire story, baby story, family-life-after-amnesty stories, cross-overs that aren't on the same level, ie involving time travel etc) but her way of weaving real people and events into many of the stories and her insight into the boys characters just leaves me full of admiration, not least that she can put it into words the way she does. The famous people who appear are plausible though once or twice someone seems a bit shoehorned in, and her version of their early lives doesn't gell with mine but then everyone has their own take. Somehow though the stories have an positive thread running through them and are nearly always upbeat in the end.

I have several favourites. Holiday and Santa Fe both carry on from episodes and fill in gaps, both involve mayhem only resolved by the boys as usual with real people fitting in seamlessly. In Holiday there are lengthy childhood flashbacks and for me it could work as well without, but it's also set in Monterey which I fell in love with when I went there some years backI also like the way they don't have to ride straight out into the sunset at the end but get to safely rest up for a while for once.

Santa Fe fills in what happened with Jim Stokeley and I like the way he and Heyes still don't see eye to eye, and less so when he finds out who they really are and he's dropped into all sorts of trouble.

Deadwood is wonderful, I'm ambivalent about post-amnesty stories as I have my own ideas about how things might go for them if and when, but is very close; they're public figures now, free, but still have trouble getting work and still in danger from their enemies. The pre-amnesty flashbacks are great, and it really works that this is mostly Kid's story as he's the one having most problems with their situation and does things his own way regardless of what Heyes may think when he finds ouT.

Of the short stories, I really enjoy Leader of the Pack, Kid's POV of Heyes as gang leader, you really have to feel for the poor guy, wonder how close he got to throttling Heyes and realise what a formidable team they must have made.

First Impressions is from a different angle, Lom's memories of the boys as he first knew them, especially Heyes when he joined the gang, starting at the bottom and working his way up.

My real favourite is Not the Same Man, the epilogue of Smiler with a Gun, and again very much Kid's story and the way he has Heyes and his reaction to Danny's death all worked out. Mostly.

I really do find something memorable in each of Drena's stories, though some don't hold my concentration as much as others, but generally she really does seem to get under their skins and see with their eyes; some of the short stories are first-person and she has them down pat and it's a skill I envy like anything!



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From Beejay:

I think Talma brought up some interesting points. To start, I pretty much share her taste in Drena's stories, even down to the ambivalence about the historical figure stories. I agree about the positive feel to the stories, and she lets Heyes and the Kid have strong self images and confidence.

To me Drena's stories have a spontaneous feel, and an immediacy to them, and the ones that make up my favorites seem to be constantly moving. I've noticed she uses a lot of dialog and this probably contributes to that. Sometimes I think she either must have the shows memorized or keep a list of favorite phrases because she often takes a phrase from the show and then gives it a slight twist. Or she connects to something in the series and brings it out in dialog. Like this from "Whimsey":

“Yea, but that was archee-ology expedition, this is a…” he studied the word. “Pale-tology expedition.”

“Which is?” Kid grinned at him knowing he didn’t know.

Heyes scowled, he never liked not knowing something. “A job, the only jobs open that don’t involve getting killed or breaking our backs.”

I didn't know about the Dinosaur Wars, and I thought the boys were a good fit in this story. I think Heyes' shipping the bones incorrectly was very clever. For me that kind of historical 'imput' works better than when the boys turn out to be something of an inspiration for a historical figure as a child(little Herbie Hoover, the Wright Bros.). I haven't quite figured that out because Calico's young Houdini story does work for me. Maybe because the Houdini of that story would definitely be Houdini whether he met the boys or not.

"Teacher's Pet" is a favorite with me--but I would have enjoyed it even if Hoover hadn't been in it(he seems just a little bit like window dressing to me).

Drena seems to also have a limitless supply of ideas for stories. I'm going to mention some that don't work as well for me below, but almost always I find something in her stories that is interesting. I think she has a great sense of humor. "Winter of Our Discontent" still makes me laugh when I read it. But even in the serious stories the boys have that bantering dialog that can be very funny.

There is one story I never managed to finish: the story where the boys get their names of Joshua and Thaddeus(though I can't remember the story or why I never seem to be able to get through it), and that circus story definitely has too many women in it!

I think there is a lot of influence from movies from the 30s and 40s in her stories; I get the impression she is a big James Stewart fan. Some of her stories capture elements from those old movies and that is probably another reason they can be very entertaining.

Stories with the supernatural don't work as well for me because; they just feel out of place to me in ASJ so I tend to skim those stories. And, as a lot of folks already know, I don't do well with stories that are on the syrupy side. I know, I know, people love those stories--cute children and childhood stories. I think the Peter Pan story was one that worked with the children in it. There are others too: sometimes it is difficult to say when that boundary from cute to cloying has been reached.

But the stories never seem to be dull and writing 106 is quite a feat.


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From Max:

Favourites wise I love '26th of June'.
It has it's share of cute children and a dash of corn - but, hey! I love it!
I laugh out loud when I hear the tasks set and I REALLY laugh out loud when HH starts his story:
"Boone Marker didn't come home that night," Heyes said... "At least not all of him"
It bobs along with lots of Drena style dialogue and the boys being shame-faced about their good deeds ... a pleasure from start to end.
(Personally would cut the tiny 'From beyond the grave' hint - but it's a sentence or two. S'okay!)

I like 'All I want for Christmas'... though like BJ I am a tad ambivilant about anything supernatural / devine intervention style. BUT, the touch is light there - and hey, it's christmas!

[I never made it through the Halloween one, nor the Vampire one.
Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed writing a Halloween one - so I guess I can understand the pleasure of doing 'em.]

For a perfectly structured and deceptively simple short story - it is hard to beat 'Cross-Trained' - good idea, not mucked about with.

Also the young Butch Cassidy one is great. AND annoying! I saw the film with that scenario in, was going to write it as my first ever fanfic, found Drena had done it and had to think again. Curses! She is too prolific!

I adore the first three quarters of 'All the World's a Stage' - but I think her deciding to have a plot in it rather took the edge off the end. I could have just happily read about HH acting forever - could have shot the villains myself just to get them out of the way.

(Oh - and purr BJ!)


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From Ghislaine:

I've read many of Drena's stories multiple times. Like others have already mentioned, what I think she does particularly well is banter and action. Her dialog between Heyes and Kid is always crisp, fun, and authentic-sounding. The stories move at a rapid pace--there is usually a lot of activity going on; these aren't stories where the boys are going through a lot of angst and not much else happens. Wait, I take it back, she does do those kinds of stories, and ones where they are reflecting on their lives, and she does great with those also because they sound so true to the characters, but when the stories are action-focused, they are always moving along and don't stop for periods of self-contemplation. I also admire the way Drena interweaves historical people and events into her stories, and I really enjoy that. For me, it somehow makes the stories more real, more historical fiction than just fiction.

Last night I went through her stories and picked out my favorites, those I don't get tired of reading; my list totals 13 stories! So I'm not going to comment on all of them (at least, not in this post!) but will just mention a few.

Probably my all-time favorite is "Teacher's Pet." As an educator, I gotta say that Heyes was ahead of his time! His method of using real-world applications to teach instructional concepts is what good teachers do today. I love how he uses poker to teach math--I smile every time I think how much fun students would have today if they could learn that way! And I liked Herbie; it was interesting for me to consider how he might have gotten interested in engineering.

"No Rules" is another favorite because I like how Drena writes the boys when they are involved with trains and banks--I think she does those scenes real well. And I like the cross-over with "Wild, Wild West" even though in general I'm not that keen on crossovers and I have mixed feelings about that show. However, in this case (and in "A Ribbon at a Time," which I agree has too many female characters--you need one of those-cast-of-characters lists at the beginning to keep them all straight and there was too much kissing in the last section--it seemed like the end of every scene in that chapter was a kiss by one of the boys--which detracted from the overall story, for me), I thought the characterizations of Jim West and Artemus Gordon were well done and I liked seeing outlaws Heyes and Curry go up against government agents West and Gordon--the verbal sparring was lots of fun.

I thought "Stone Soup" was a great explanation of how Heyes and Kid met up with Soapy and Silky et al. I thought the conmen's reservations about young Jed, and Heyes' defense of him, were especially poignant.

The last of my favorite stories that I'll mention now is "Jury Duty." I thought it was very clever to put the boys in that situation and see how they'd react. Drena had both boys playing to their strengths: Heyes as foreman, and Kid as the firearms expert. I enjoyed reading how Kid puzzled out the mystery and that he was the one who got it right.

Talma, although I hadn't put "Not the Same Man" on my favorites list, I just reread it and I agree that it's great. This is a perfect example of how well Drena writes angst with a plot and it is perfectly in character for both boys.

I like "Winter of Our Discontent" too; it's on my favorites list. BJ, your comment about Drena being a Jimmy Stewart fan and her stories resembling old Westerns was really interesting. I'm going to have to pay more attention when I watch those movies now!

"Cross-Trained" is fun but I always wonder: Why don't you just trade jobs? Just ask and see what happens--sheesh!

The one thing that I have a hard time with in Drena's stories is her punctuation and spelling errors--I wish more attention had been given to getting the language correct. Sometimes it distracts me from the stories because I have to reread a part because the errors make the story confusing to understand. But most of the time I can get beyond the language mistakes because the plots are so strong and the stories are so entertaining.


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From Sister Grace:

I believe I've read most of Drena's stories, maybe not all of them, it's been a long time. I really enjoy Historical Fiction and Drena does it well.

The one that stands out in my mind is "Lost Boys". Now, I'm not sure if this is because of Drena's writing ability (which I much admire) or if it has more to do with my lifelong fascination with Peter Pan! Whether we're talking Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical or the Disney animated version, Hook or Finding Neverland, I've loved them all.

And now that I'm thinking about it, maybe that's why I spend so much time in my own ASJ 'Neverland'! "I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, NOT ME!"


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From Frankie:

Hmmm? It's a while since I've read Drena's stories and I haven't had time to read many of them recently but in general I'm going to differ from the rest of you!

I like straight forward AS&J stories so am not keen on those with historical characters. Didn't like the episodes with Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp as much either - or was that cos they were in the 3rd series?

Don't particularly enjoy cross overs or supernatural ones either! (I'm beginning to sound a right old misery, ain't I?!)

However I have enjoyed Drena's stories and like her writing style and she sure does know 'the boys' so I'll go back and read some and perhaps I'll change my mind!


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From Talma:

Frankie's mentioned something that I meant to include before but it may be a topic for a different place anyway....

Am I the only one who's never been able to watch Roger Davis's episodes? Nothing against Roger and not only because I adored Pete (though I did) but to me the characters have always been more important, in the on-screen, fictional sense, than the actors and Hannibal-Hayes-as-played-by-Pete IS Hannibal Heyes and just can't be replaced. I can take changes of cast but not someone trying to convince me they're the same person. I don't watch remakes of old films or series for the same reason.

I know this means I've missed an awful lot of Ben, which I seriously regret as I love him too, and also a lot of references to other things; for examapale I didn't know Doc Holliday was in one episode until I read the episode synopses recently. Some of them sound really good, but I just can't make myself watch them. So (back to the point!) Drena's 'novelisations' of Bushwhacked and High Lonesome Country are a godsend as I can use my imagination and see them as they could/should have been.


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From Talma:

...and the Long Chase


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From Ghislaine:

Your comments, Talma, about Roger's episodes vis-a-vis Drena's stories were very interesting. High Lonesome Country, Bushwhacked! and also The Long Chase were three episodes I didn't have on videotape (from CBN) so I read Drena's versions of those stories before I watched the actual episodes. And then after I got my DVDs, I watched Roger and Ben. The written stories hew very closely, imho, to the actual episodes. But I like Drena's versions better--not because of the way Roger played the character--those three episodes are among my favorites of the ones Roger did--but because I can picture Pete as Heyes when I'm reading the stories. When I was younger, I was just glad to have more of ASJ so Roger-as-Heyes was fine. But now I definitely prefer Pete-as-Heyes so reading those stories and inserting Pete into them makes them even more enjoyable. Actually, I think it was a clever idea to reimagine those episodes; it would've been interesting if Drena had done more stories like that.


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From Penski:

I love historical fiction which Drena so well incorporates into her Heyes and Kid stories. It’s more believable when you take each story by itself (meet just one famous person) than if you think if her stories as a timeline with them meeting ALL those famous people. The historical notes at the end of some of the stories are very interesting.

I also love stories of Heyes’ and Kid’s childhood. Drena’s use of flashbacks in her stories let me have a little story inside a bigger story. Another favorite genre of stories is Missing Scenes. Drena has written quite a few of these stories filling in the gaps that the series left behind.

Crossover stories do not usually work for me, but I still found myself entertained in the Dr. Who and Quantum Leap stories. I wasn’t sure about Kid raising children when he received amnesty or when Heyes finds out he is a father, but, again, the stories were entertaining and gave more insight to the guys’ character and past. Probably the story that did not work for me was A Ribbon in Time with the circus – too many girls and too much kissing. Can you imagine the jealousy that really would have gone on if Heyes and Kid were kissing all those girls?

One of my favorite stories is Picture is Worth a 1000 Words where Kid is in jail thinking Heyes is dead. A reporter comes badmouthing Heyes to rile Kid. The reporter is actually working with Heyes to release Kid for the cost of an exclusive story. I love moments in stories when the guys are reunited after a serious injury or when they thought the other was dead. I also really enjoyed the stories where Lom, Preacher, Kid, or Heyes talk about Heyes’ and Kid’s lives.

Overall, I really enjoy Drena’s stories – they are extremely varied, entertaining and the dialog between Heyes and Kid is very believable.


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nm131:

Hello, I have been lurking for quite awhile and have been hesitant to jump in since I can't write creatively and am only a reader. I'd thought I would finally take the plunge and here I am.

Drena Hills was my first introduction to fanfiction when I rediscovered ASJ. I have read every one of her stories and the ones at Kid & Heyes Lit. Society at least once, many multiple times.

I like her style of writing and her characterizations of Kid and Heyes. She achieves a nice balance between the two. I also am a lover of history but have concentrated on 18th century American, Medeviel European and Ancient Greco-Roman. Her historical stories where she introduces a character or situation has prompted me to research further into what was referenced numerous times. I also liked her choice of post amnesty careers for our favorite outlaws as it allowed the adventures and element of danger to continue. I can picture Kid with kids but giving Heyes one also didn't seem a "natural" development.

Many of the comments other's have made echo my opinions. Most of my favorite stories have also been mentioned which span the years of her writings i.e. Winter of Discontent, Lost Boys, Not the Same Man, Deadwood, Santa Fe, Leader of the Pack, Cut them off at the Pass ..... Some others that haven't been mentioned that I read often are Canvas, Independence, Wyoming Outlaw in King Arthurs Court and Sweeping out the Shadows. I have the same opinion of the Ribbon stories and the Shelock Holmes story that was expressed already - to many girls and too obviously written to include the fanfiction writers of the time (characters named after the K&HLS authors). I am also not fond of cross-overs or supernatural stories but for every generalization an exception can be found.

Drena Hills has written a wealth of stories and there is a story of every type and for every mood. I was disappointed when she stopped writing ASJ fanfiction.


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From Caroline:

I know....I'm a little late getting in on this subject, but I'm a big Drena fan too.

I fell in love with her stories over two years ago and she is one of my heroes. Honestly, ALL of the writers that have the courage to post for everyone to read are AWESOME PEOPLE.

I have to admit that I have several stories printed out and saved in a notebook , so I can re-read them when I need a quick picker upper. One of my faves is "All I ever Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" (not quite the right title, but I'm sure you can find it).

I have to admit I have not read all of her stories, but I have read most of them... and I can easily envision Pete as Heyes. I am not a Roger fan, but I do understand that he had a very large void to fill and seriously doubt if anyone could have been accepted easily to fill the role.


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From Cattle Annie:

Alright so I guess I will add in my two cents...

I agree with what a lot of you have already said - like the general stories, the outlaw stuff, most of the ones with historical characters are okay some seem a little... weird. I don't really care for Halloween scary, vampires and most of the other crossovers, just doesn't seem right. I did read the Quantum Leap story because I thoroughly enjoy that show and thought it was nicely done (didn't quite figure out how Heyes knew Kid wasn't Kid - thought that was just children, mentally challenged or animals?). I plowed through the circus epic and was overwhelmed with the plot changes, and women - yipes!

The Winter of Our Discontent, The Lesser of Two Evils and Jury Duty would have to be my favorites - so far, I still have several yet to read.

I don't mean to imply that any of the stories are bad. I think they are all very well written with great banter between the boys. I am certainly glad she did write them so that we could further enjoy tales of our two favorite ex-outlaws.

I have yet to bring myself to watch all of the episodes with Roger Davis - watched two and just can't do it. Nothing against his acting but it changed the feel of the show. I did enjoy her take on the episodes which I'm not sure will further dissuade me from watching them or prod me into watching them just to see which is better. I'm going to say the written episode with Pete-as-Heyes.

Anyway, Drena if you read this - Thank You for writing ALL of them.

_________________
h
"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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