Whoosh! Issue 25 - October 1998

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

4. B. L. Miller:

Interview July 14, 1998

[135] Xena Fan Fiction Works were found at the bard's website located at: http://members.aol.com/IQ139/Page2.html

*If you decide to visit, please pay careful attention to the disclaimers that introduce each story regarding violence and/or sexual content:

  1. The Cabin [alt]
  2. The Silent Bard [alt]
  3. The Show [alt]
  4. A Queen's Sacrifice [alt]
  5. Mothers [alt]
  6. Ulysses Revisited [alt]
  7. About Artemis [alt]
  8. Cards Anyone? [alt]
  9. Hostage [alt]
  10. The Treaty [alt]
  11. Charon's Troubles [alt]
  12. Guilt, Love and Forgiveness [alt]
  13. Clueless [alt]
  14. The Cloak [alt]

Question #01:
[136] About "The Cabin", a novella and your first story, you tell us:

When I first wrote this story, I had only seen the last five minutes of 'Ten Little Warlords'. Everything I had learned about the Warrior Princess and the Amazon Bard came from reading other's fanfiction, especially LN James, Patricia Ennis, and Vada Foster. It was through their splendid writing that I became interested enough to pick up a piece of cyberpaper and begin writing about Xena and Gabrielle.
[137] Beyond this, what has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?

B. L. Miller:
[138] I guess more than anything the inspiration to continue to write fanfiction has been the fans. Every email I get about my stories encourages me to write more. I have a million stories in my head and every time someone tells me that they can't wait for my next story, it pushes me to open up my word processor and start plugging away. As for the specific characters of Xena and Gabrielle... their mythological world gives me great creative freedom to do what I want with the characters. I love the Amazons and Goddesses and my mind is constantly swimming with stories about them. The hardest part is sitting down and actually getting the ideas onto cyberpaper.

Question #02:
[139] Have you since caught up on the XWP episodes? Has your motivation for writing changed over time?

B. L. Miller:
[140] About four months or so after I started writing X/G fanfic, a friend of mine sent me tapes of all the episodes. My writing has changed over time, I'd like to think for the better. I look back now at something like "The Cabin" and the grammatical or structural errors pop right out at me. I'm always striving to write an excellent story, one free from spelling and grammatical errors but also full of characterization and plot. It's a challenge to me to make each story better than the previous one.

Question #03:
[141] 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?

B. L. Miller:
[142] I've written and completed four Star Trek alt stories, all done before I discovered Xena. Since the quality of those stories is not what I expect from myself now, I've pulled them from the web. The responses for those stories was different from the X/G fanfic, but then again, those stories were more erotica than fanfiction. I wasn't as careful about the details then.

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

B. L. Miller:
[144] I do enjoy a good lesbian romance, fanfiction or not.

Question #05:
[145] In your opinion, is XWP a romantic show?

B. L. Miller:
[146] I believe XWP to be a blend of romance, drama, and action/adventure. I haven't enjoyed all the episodes but just like the fanfic, there's always something there to keep me interested.

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

B. L. Miller:
[148] Hmm... I suppose some do... if I had to give it real thought I'd say that they all have that underlying feeling of romance, especially the first time stories.

Question #07:
[149] Are any of your stories as much of a reflection of what it's like to be lesbian in modern times as it is about pre-Mycenaean (uber-Xena time if applicable here) times?

B. L. Miller:
[150] No, not really, not that I can think of, anyway.

Question #08:
[151] You have described "The Show" and "Cards Anyone" as your "naughty little romps" and humorously offer The Amazon Ice Company Emergency Order Dept as a remedy for readers who become overheated after daring to read them, or too many of your stories in succession. Have any readers actually placed orders for ice?

B. L. Miller:
[152] Heheh, the Amazon Ice Company joke has been around for a while. Yes, many readers of those two stories have emailed me requesting large quantities of ice. I take it as a compliment to my writing abilities :)

Question #09:
[153] "A Queen's Sacrifice" was the first alt story on the web to deal with rape and the character of Gabrielle. It is now recommended reading by a women's sexual abuse survivor's mailing list. Did this surprise you?

B. L. Miller:
[154] Yes it did. I knew it was the first alt story to deal with Gabrielle being raped, but it was a complete surprise to have the survivor's mailing list ask to post it. I've received letters over the last year from women who have discovered the story to be cathartic for them or a catalyst to dealing with their own abuse. Those letters always amaze me the most. I never would have believed that a simple story written by me could affect another human being so much. I would have to say that I'm most proud of this story.

Question #10:
[155] In an interview with MaryD at the Bards of the Xenaverse site you say that your favorite story you have written is "The Silent Bard", because it allowed you to explore the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle in a unique way. It has been said that all of your stories contain unique twists or set precedents. Do see yourself as a purposefully choosing to write differently than others or do ideas come easily to you?

B. L. Miller:
[156] I pride myself on writing original stories, taking Xena and Gabrielle into new situations or dilemmas and having them work their way out. I always look at a potential story idea carefully to make sure no one else has used that idea before or used it in the way which I want to use it. "The Silent Bard" is a perfect example of that.

[157] Prior to TSB, no one had ever had the great bard lose her voice for any length of time. I saw it as the perfect chance to explore the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle from a new angle. I always want my stories to stand out, to be memorable and something that people will go back and read over and over.

[158] The ideas come to me easily enough, it's more a matter of weeding out the ideas that won't work and fine tuning the ones that do. I tend to start with a broad idea and work my way from there. For example, for TSB my broad idea was what would happen if Gabrielle suddenly lost her voice. The rest of the story came from that one little idea. I never know the ending of a story before I've written it and most times my stories go off in directions that I never thought of.

Question #11:
[159] Someone in the Xenaverse requested a warlord/slave story and you wrote "Hostage". Have you received other requests for stories?

B. L. Miller:
[160] I'm always receiving requests for stories, usually from my beta readers. The trick is to take the request or idea and form it into a story that is original and unique. "Guilt, Love & Forgiveness" is another story written based on a request from a beta reader. She wanted me to 'make Xena suffer with guilt' over the Gabdrag.

Question #12:
[161] "Charon's Troubles" is an unusual mixture of romance, hurt/comfort and humor. What was your inspiration for this enjoyable story and the nature of Charon?

B. L. Miller:
[162] I never thought I was very good at humor, although I've tried to incorporate it here and there within my stories. With "Charon's Troubles" I focused on making a humorous story that would allow me to explore Xena and Gabrielle differently from what I was used to doing. The inspiration for the character was the scene in "Mortal Beloved" where Charon is grumbling at Xena before taking her over the River Styx and into the Underworld. It reminded me of a blend of Rodney Dangerfield and Don Rickles and that's the characterization I tried to keep throughout my story. As for the hurt/comfort part of it, don't ask me where that came from. That's a perfect example of my muse taking over and sending my story in a new direction without asking me first. :)

Question #13:
[163] Currently, fourteen of your stories are on the net. Which have received the most reader response?

B. L. Miller:
[164] Overall, I believe "The Cabin" and "A Queen's Sacrifice" have garnered the most emails. Due to the volume, I no longer store the emails or keep track of them in any statistical sense. "Charon's Troubles", "Hostage", and "About Artemis" tend to run about the middle, and "Mothers" and "Ulysses Revisited" tend to receive the least number of emails.

Question #14:
[165] There is some controversy about what uber-Xena fiction is. What is your current definition of a completely uber story and do you think you will ever write such a story?

B. L. Miller:
[166] [chuckle] Talk about timing. I'm hard at work on a monster of one now. My definition is descendants of Xena and Gabrielle that carry most of their personality traits. Perhaps I see it more of an archetype than a characterization but so far my beta readers don't seem to mind. I don't think a story has to actually reference Xena and Gabrielle like the Mel/Janice ones do, but if the underlying personality traits are there, I think that's good enough. The key to uber stories, in my opinion, is still the same as a non-uber story, entertain the reader so they finish the story and walk away satisfied.

Question #15:
[167] 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. We are drawn to Xena's power and her envelopment/acceptance/love for us (vicariously experienced) is empowering. We expand on the theme and share our idealized visions of love or emotional bonding with the hope of forming a type of relationship with readers. Life is all about relationships and we - like actors who would woo their audience - we seek not only artistic expression but acceptance as well. There is no monetary profit in this endeavor. Our profit is of a spiritual nature during the writing of it and whenever a reader communicates to us their thoughts and feelings about our expressed visions. If it's positive, our efforts to woo were successful and we are spiritually energized. 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?

B. L. Miller:
[168] I guess for me, the positive praise is the lifeblood of my writing. I seriously doubt I'd continue writing if people didn't send me emails encouraging me. I take great pleasure out of seeing my new stories being well-received. I try not to analyze it too much.

Previous Section
Table of Contents
Next Section

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

Return to Top Return to Index