Whoosh! Issue 25 - October 1998

Twenty-Seven Grilled Bards And One Reviewer: Rare, Medium And Supertoasty

27. Wishes (Judy)

Interview July 7, 1998

[902] Xena Fan Fiction Works were found at MaryD's Xena Information Page.

*If you decide to go to this site, please pay careful attention to the disclaimers that introduce each story regarding violence and/or sexual content.

  1. Fair Trade?
  2. Trilogy
  3. Lair of the Serpent
  4. Valley of Regret
  5. Friends of the Goddess
  6. Dedications
  7. Old Woman
  8. A Starry Night, A Solstice Story
  9. The Mountain
  10. The Further Adventures of Janice and Mel: The Gabrielle Stelle
  11. Believe
  12. Creator: A Necessary Evil
  13. Don't
  14. Harbor
  15. Innocent Sleep
  16. Nadir: Sins of the Past
  17. The Fates Decreed
  18. The Old Horse
  19. Time Changes
  20. Retirement
  21. The Last Day
  22. The Truth
  23. Solemn Industry
  24. Simulacrum
  25. Home Fires
  26. Signals
  27. The Further Adventures of Janice & Mel: The Xena Core
  28. Battle
  29. The Body Remembers
  30. Greece - The Musical [alt]
  31. The Prize
  32. The Wound
  33. The Loyal Warrior [alt]
Question #01:
[903] What has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?

[904] I started writing fan fiction for fun and continued writing it for fun and in order to improve my writing. It gave me a platform upon which to try different styles and genres. Of course, my love for the television show Xena Warrior Princess and its characters has been the inspiration for writing this particular brand of fan fiction.

Question #02:
[905] Has your motivation changed over time? I remember you saying that you were dealing with a physical injury when you wrote "Battle", which sounds like it was a cathartic experience.

[906] Of course, it has been nice to write something that others read and to receive their responses, both the praise and the criticism. Although I prefer the praise and am sensitive to the criticism, it has been the latter that has helped me improve as a writer. It is still a thrill to receive an email from someone who has just read a story I wrote a year or several months ago. Also, I've made many friends among those who have read my stories and among "bards" whose stories I have read.

[907] As for individual stories, there have been different inspirations for each of them. Both "Signals" and "Battle", which you mention, were written while I was undergoing traction and physical therapy for injuries suffered in an automobile accident. No offense to the wonderful doctors and therapists who helped me recover, but the "tortures" of these stories, as well as my knowledge of the exercise machines used in "Battle", came from that experience. Writing these and "Wound", which followed surgery for one of my injuries, helped me deal with the emotional and physical aftermath of that accident. (More than a year after this accident, I'm doing great, by the way.)

[908] The Janice and Mel stories I've written are grounded in my fascination with World War II, which started at the age of twelve, when I was given a collection of National Geographics that spanned the years 1939 to 1947. The first story I ever wrote, also at the age of twelve, was about a Navy nurse whose ship was torpedoed by a U-Boat. (Cherry Ames at sea!) I doubt that it was much of a story, but my seventh-grade cronies seemed to enjoy it--until the history teacher confiscated and destroyed it. Everyone is a critic.

[909] One of the side benefits of writing Xena fan fiction has been gaining the research habit. Thanks to the information available on the wonderful World Wide Web, as well as on my rapidly expanding home reference shelf, I've learned (a little) about armor and goddess cults and W.W.II II cameras and fencing, as well as a dozen or so other topics.

Question #03:
[910] Have you written other fiction? If so, was it before or after becoming a Xena fan? What genre are your other works? Generally, was/is the response from readers of these stories similar or different than the response to your Xena fan fiction?

[911] Several years ago, I wrote a very bad mystery novel that, thanks to the good sense of several editors, was not published. Other than that, I've written mostly poems, some of which I've been fortunate enough to have published. Melting Trees of Montgomery, Alabama, published a chapbook (poetry pamphlet) for me two years ago. This is now out of print, as Melting Trees has gone "on sabbatical," but my friends and family, the primary audience, seemed to enjoy it. (A grin mark would be appropriate here, if this were email.)

Question #04:
[912] Do you - or have you ever - like(d) reading Romantic fiction prior to Xena fan fiction?

[913] I read a few Romance novels as a teenager because my mother and sister read them, and I was the sort of reader who eventually read everything in the house. I found them not to be to my taste, perhaps because those I read seemed formulaic and predictable. I was a fan of Agatha Christie (mysteries), Zane Grey (Westerns), Robert Heinlein (science fiction), and John D. MacDonald (adventures). My current reading tastes run mostly to mystery/detective and crime procedurals, with Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell being particular favorites.

Question #05:
[914] In your opinion, is XWP a romantic show? Here's a related Wishes quote from MaryD's XIP:

Given that the subtext has become the text, I'm not sure how one could continue to write about Xena and Gabrielle as anything but lovers, although this relationship will probably still be more background than the focus for my stories. I have tended to write the same degree of subtext as the series contains, and I imagine I will continue to do so.
[915] Oh, how our words will come back to haunt us!

[916] I think XWP is romantic in the classic definition of that term, that is, one of its major themes is the relationship, the love, between two heroic figures, Xena and Gabrielle. There are, however, other themes, one of the most prominent of which is redemption.

Question #06:
[917] Do you believe that any of your stories fall under the genre of Romance?

[918] Although almost all of my stories are considered "general" rather than "alt.," there's a strong romantic component, beginning with the stories some call the Serpent Trilogy ("Lair of the Serpent," "Valley of Regret," and "Friends of the Goddess." ). "Signals," a story about intimacy, is also romantic in the sense of emphasizing the love between Xena and Gabrielle. The very short stories "Solemn Industry" and "The Last Day" are about the devotion of each woman to the other.

Question #07:
[919] You show a lot of versatility in your writing and have produced many wonderful works. I believe "Fair Trade" is your first Xena fan fiction story. In it, you portray a sympathetic Callisto. Do you remember what prompted you to characterize her this way?

[920] Thank you.

[921] I wrote "Fair Trade" after seeing RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205) and INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207). Many of my stories begin as a question or image inspired by an episode. In this case, I was struck by the image of Callisto haunted, not only by those she had killed, but by her mother. Whereas she could withstand the hatred of her victims, could she bear the love in her mother's voice? From that beginning point, I wrote the story of Callisto's bargain with Hades, one which temporarily made her Xena's partner in a mission to rescue a child.

Question #08:
[922] Did feedback from readers play a part in your decision to write the trilogy, "Lair of the Serpent", "Valley of Regret" and "Friends' of the Goddess?"

[923] Oh, yes. "Lair of the Serpent" was meant to be a self-contained story about a monster. However, as I wrote the chapter in which Xena is asked to come to the countryside being ravaged by the monster, I found myself writing that this invitation was issued by the serpent himself. This brought a mystical element to the story that, I believe, led to the readers' questions that persuaded me to write "Valley of Regret." Even I could see that the second story was merely a bridge to the final conflict between followers of the ancient goddess religion and the worshipers of the new male god(s).

Question #09:
[924] "Time Changes" and especially "The Wound" are quite mystical. Were there specific episodes that inspired these pieces?

[925] "Time Changes" was inspired by THE GAUNTLET (H12/112) and SINS OF THE PAST (01/101). In fact, it is an alternate reality to SINS OF THE PAST. In "Time Changes," Hercules has not been born because of a trick pulled by Hera, Ares, and Hades with the unwilling help of Chronos (Father Time). As a result, the Xena of "Time Changes," did not reform after being made to run the gauntlet. Instead, after recovering from her injuries, she had killed Darphus and regained her army. Gabrielle, having had no champion to save her from Draco's men, is Draco's slave, property to be traded for safe passage across Xena's territory.

[926] The mysticism of "The Wound" reflects more what I was reading than what I was watching. I had recently read _Women Who Run With the Wolves_ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I was impressed with the idea of bone women and with the author's telling of the legend of Baba Yaga. I put these ideas together with some other mythological concepts and created Adja Ka, the mystical woman who sends Xena and Gabrielle on a quest for a healing herb.

Question #10:
[927] You have written three Mel and Janice adventures, "The Gabrielle Stele" and "The Xena Core" and "The Prize". Considering THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210) episode that these stories are based upon was not as well received as say, ITADITH or "The Quest", why do you think they have become so popular?

[928] I think people like the characters of Janice and Mel and enjoy the role reversal involved: Janice, the Gabrielle-lookalike, being the rough, tough adventurer and Mel, the Xena descendent, being the soft, southern belle. I enjoy writing about them because of the World War II setting and because the episode told us so little about them that I get to make up all the other details. For example, I gave Mel an Aunt Helen and Janice an estranged mother married to an English lord. Other authors have picked up on the Aunt Helen character and, after kindly asking permission, have included her in their stories. I love that as well as all the details other authors have created for their Janices and Mels.

Question #11:
[929] There is some controversy about what uber-Xena fiction is. You wrote an unusual story called "The Loyal Warrior" that does not seem to fit neatly into any fan fiction category. What is your current definition of a completely uber story, and can we include "The Loyal Warrior" in it?

[930] I don't know that I have a definition of an uber story. I have heard about "archetypes" and so on, but the closest I can come is that it is a story in which two characters similar to Xena and Gabrielle share a relationship and adventures. I have read wonderful uber stories in which those characters were pirates or police officers and even one in which one of them was a spaceship.

[931] Have I written any uber stories? I suppose the "Xena Scrolls" episode of XWP was actually an uber episode, so Janice and Mel stories are probably uber, too. As for "Loyal Warrior," I wrote that after reading a book about Amazons. I described my two main Amazon characters as physically similar to Xena and Gabrielle. However, I think "Loyal Warrior" is only "borderline uber," whatever that is, because it is debatable whether these two characters really represent Xena and Gabrielle. (And this has been debated, an argument from which I abstain.) "Loyal Warrior" is also "Wishes' " only clearly alt. story to date.

Question #12:
[932] The title of the article, Romancing The Fan: Romance and Xena Fan Fiction, at least in part suggests that we fan fiction authors, inspired by XWP, write for more than ourselves alone...If we get little response or too many negatives, we will give up or amend our courting in some way. Do you have any thoughts about this? Are you still awake?

[933] Huh? What? Oh.

[934] I didn't set out to write to form relationships, but I've formed some of the most important relationships of my life because of writing Xena fan fiction and poetry. Watching the series, reading others' fan fiction and writing my own have caused me to think about relationships and love and trust and all of the ideals one can too easily forget as one grows up and then grows older.

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Lunacy | Baermer | Bat Morda | B.L. Miller | Bongo Bear | C.N. Winters | Della Street | DJWP | Ella Quince | Hobbes | Jenbob | Joanna | Katrina | L Graham | L.N. James | Lyssa | Marie E. Costa | Missy Good | PB | Paul Seely | Puckster | Quest | sHaYcH | S.L. Bowers | Tim Wellman | J.C. Wilder | Wishes | WordWarior

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