Whoosh! Issue 25 - October 1998

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

9. Ella Quince

Interview August 9, 1998

[312] The following Xena Fan Fiction Works were found at MaryD's, The Bard's Corner.

*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. Broken Thread [alt]
  2. Childish Games [alt]
  3. Deja Vu All Over Again [alt]
  4. In The Dark [alt]
  5. No Place For Fear [alt]
  6. An Old Promise [alt]
  7. Return From Poteidaia [alt]
  8. The Tavern Keeper's Sister [alt]
  9. Visiting Hours [alt]
  10. Well of Sighs [alt]
Question #01:
[313] What has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?

Ella Quince:
[314] My inspiration has always been a love of a particular character or set of characters. If they are sufficiently appealing, then they just beg for stories that will explore their personalities and relationships. For me, XWP was unusual in the degree of attention it spent on developing the personalities of Xena and Gabrielle, and in the complexity of their friendship. Writing about them was almost irresistible.

Question #02:
[315] Has your motivation changed over time?

Ella Quince:
[316] Lately, with each story that I write, my motivations are two-fold: There's some new psychological aspect of the characters that I want to explore, and there's some new writing technique I'd like to play with.

Question #03:
[317] 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?

Ella Quince:
[318] I wrote my first Star Trek fanfiction story nearly thirty years ago. Star Trek introduced me to the concept of fanfiction and I wrote a few stories based on the Classic series, and a few more based on ST:TNG. However, I've written more XWP stories than all the others combined.

[319] Since the Trek stories were written in the days before internet fandom, it's difficult to judge the differences in reader responses. Xenite readers have been very generous in sending me comments on what I've written.

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

Ella Quince:
[321] I've always had a sneaking liking for Romantic fiction. If it's well-written, it can be so much fun. However, as a gay woman, I did yearn for more romances between women, a scarce commodity.

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

Ella Quince:
[323] I was initially drawn to XWP as a well-written action/adventure drama with the welcome twist of two interesting heroines. Then, as the show developed, I was hooked on the "buddy" dynamic between Xena and Gabrielle. It never mattered that much to me whether their romance was explored in the show because fanfiction could do that. What was essential, however, was an honest and consistent portrayal of their passionate friendship.

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

Ella Quince:
[325] All my XWP stories are romances -- they are unabashedly focused on the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle.

Question #07:
[326] 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 times?

Ella Quince:
[327] Well, there's nothing truly pre-Mycenaean about ANY aspect of those characters. They are quite modern in their language and cultural sensibilities, so I see Xena and Gabrielle as contemporary women. But not necessarily as "lesbians". Given Xena's sexual history, I consider her to be a woman who is probably surprised, and somewhat perplexed, by her attraction to Gabrielle. And Gabrielle has always struck me as a woman who is open to loving anyone, regardless of gender.

Question #08:
[328] "Well of Sighs" is one of the most intense, passionate tales in the Xenaverse. Did the "bad Xena" of the HTLJ Xena Trilogy inspire this story or was it written after we had seen this side of Xena in XWP?

Ella Quince:
[329] Actually, I was inspired by reading fanfic warlord stories, rather than by the series. So many bards see the warlord Xena as this very sensual, domineering lover -- and it's a scenario I've loved reading -- but I felt that the warlord in HTLJ was cold, calculating, and manipulative. Sex was a management tool, not even an enjoyable activity. Which fit with Xena's statement in DEATH MASK that she had simply stopped feeling.

[330] It's the reformed Xena that fascinates me -- a woman who has faced her very real sins and honorably taken responsibility for them. I can believe that an emotionally numb Xena committed the atrocities of the warrior princess, and then reformed when her feelings returned. So I focused on that twilight time when she was hovering on the edge of reclaiming herself, but hadn't quite taken the final step. An earlier version of that warlord would simply have slaughtered Gabrielle and moved on. End of story. [g]

Question #09:
[331] Your stories are refreshingly original and often have a haunting beauty about them. "An Old Promise" and "The Tavern Keeper's Sister" both involve sorrow and mystery with a twist. Can you share where the ideas for these two came from?

Ella Quince:
[332] I'm not quite sure where "The Tavernkeeper's Sister" came from. I'd been mulling over the idea of an amnesia story for Gabrielle, but my initial approach was really quite straightforward. And then I heard the first lines of "Larissa's" narrative, and the story took on an entirely different flavor from what I had anticipated. I'm very pleased with that story precisely because it's one that basically wrote itself, surprising me with the outcome.

[333] An Old Promise arose from my visceral reaction to third season: if the Xena of THE RECKONING and THE GREATER GOOD ever met the Xena of BITTER SUITE, she would fall on her sword in shame. I don't deny that Xena has a dark side, but after SINS OF THE PAST, the warrior princess developed enough conscience to be appalled by that aspect of her nature; if she gave into it enough to hurt Gabrielle, of all people, I think the guilt would kill her. I haven't been able to write any other stories about Xena and Gabrielle based on the events of third season because I simply can't believe in them as coherent characters. They're strangers to me.

Question #10:
[334] With a dramatic departure from seriousness, you gave us the wickedly delightful "Visiting Hours" and "In the Dark". Do you remember what caused you to write these?

Ella Quince:
[335] "In the Dark" was a deliberate parody, poking fun at the stock ways in which we alt. bards -- myself included -- manage to get Xena and Gabrielle into close, naked proximity of each other. "Visiting Hours" was my attempt to write a Della Street story. I love her work -- the light humor is delightful -- and I wanted to play, too.

Question #11:
[336] "Return From Poteidaia" is a tale of young Gabrielle's sensual awakening set in the first season. Since Gabrielle is no longer the young innocent especially after the tribulation of the third season, is this the last we will see of such characterizations in your stories?

Ella Quince:
[337] Yes, that was an early tale, written just after the end of first season, and that Gabrielle doesn't exist anymore. As for third season Gabrielle -- well, she's dead now, isn't she? I'm not sure what shape she'll be in when -- and if -- she reappears in fourth season, but I was very depressed by the despairing and suicidal woman she had become by the start of Sacrifice. I pity her, feel sorry for her, but I'm not moved to write about her. Woman as shell-shocked victim of violence and abuse is an old story, one told too many times.

[338] So, if I write any more Xena stories, I'll stay with a second season version of the characters, a time when Gabrielle had really come into her own as a confident and mature young woman and when Xena could be trusted to protect, rather than viciously abuse, her companion. Those were fresh, ground-breaking roles for women in an action/adventure format, and I would like to see them kept alive somewhere, if only in fanfiction.

Question #12:
[339] To date, which of your stories have received the most reader response?

Ella Quince:
[340] It's probably a tie between "Well of Sighs" and "The Tavernkeeper's Sister." They're very different stories, but both seem to have really struck a chord with readers.

Question #13:
[341] 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 write such a story?

Ella Quince:
[342] No comment. I haven't spent much time pondering the Uber-Xena issue.

Question #14:
[343] 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?

Ella Quince:
[344] From what I've read in various forewords and disclaimers, this is certainly a common attitude among Xenaverse bards: tell me you like my stories so I'll write more.

[345] I'm a little uncomfortable with that approach. I write for myself, to express an opinion or explore an issue that interests me. I try not to worry too much about whether anyone else likes what I'm doing. For me, writing is not a popularity contest and I have no intention of letting reader preferences dictate what I write or how I write. It's wonderful when readers DO like my stories, and instructive when they tell me what they don't like, but garnering those reactions is not central to my motivations for writing.

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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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