Whoosh! Issue 25 - October 1998

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

12. Joanna

Interview July 2, 1998

[395] 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. Joxer-Ka-Bobs (alt)
  2. Xellen (alt)
  3. Xena and the Rev (alt)
  4. Xena's Therapy (alt)
  5. The Incident (alt)
  6. Coming Out (alt)
  7. Coming Out - Part Deux (alt)
  8. Coming Out - The Wedding (alt)
  9. Coming Out - The Reception (alt)
  10. Coming Out - The Honeymoon (alt)
  11. Changing of the Bard
  12. Gabrielle's Hopeless
  13. The Debit - Part 1 (alt)
  14. The Debit - Part 2 (alt)
  15. Maternal Mistakes (alt)
  16. Bitter Treat (alt)
  17. Jerry Springer Presents: Xena and Gabrielle (alt)

Question #01a:
[396] What has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?

[397] I started writing sketches when I used to post on a.t.x. So I would post little sketches to a.t.x and the regulars who posted would express their reactions. It was fun. I like making people laugh.

[398] When I stopped posting on a.t.x, I put the sketches on Tom's Page, and eventually, on MaryD's page as well. I would also send them to a group of friends, who encouraged me. To me, it's all about making people laugh, and having a good time doing it.

Question #01b:
[399] What is a.t.x.?

[400] The newsgroup: alt.tv.xena. When I dipped my big toe in Xena fandom, I had no web access, so I didn't have any idea how much was out there, and couldn't access the forum. I had watched the show a couple times (starting at season two) and was watching Giant Killer when the promo for GJWHF aired. I watched the neck bite, sat up and thought, "Hmmmm... Are they...?" So I watched the ep the next week and hopped online to figure out if my theory was correct. Not being a lurker type, I immediately started posting and got embroiled in Xena fandom.

[401] About a month later, I was asked to join a private fan fiction discussion list and that sealed my doom -- I was hopelessly caught. I've written comedy as a profession, and sometimes, I find that a sketch is the perfect means of making social commentary, poking a little fun at the show and at us, its viewers, or just to have me some fun. Certain things just lend themselves to a good parody.

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

[403] My basic motivation hasn't changed at all: I still just want to make people laugh. But the impetus for a sketch tends to change sometimes. For instance, during the third season, I parodied all the rift episodes because there was so much negativity in the Xenaverse, that I wanted to lighten things up a bit. I liked the rift, for the most part, but those eps were so dark they were perfect material for parody. The more serious the source, the easier it is to write a spoof.

[404] "Bitter Treat" is the only sketch that was an almost overwhelming compulsion. I kept hearing the peace/war song in my head, only my bizarre brain turned it into peas/boar. It just seemed so funny to me to show the warriors and villagers as carnivores and vegetarians. I really wanted to spoof that song. But it seemed strange to just do the one song. And I also (yes I'm warped) kept seeing Gabrielle singing brightly as Xena dragged her -- hey, it's a musical, let's sing throughout! So I started from the beginning. And once I did, I became obsessed with the project, knowing that I had to finish (though I kept telling myself I was going to quit after peas/boar). Four days and a billion replays of the songs later, I had a finished script.

Question #03:
[405] 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?

[406] Yes, I've been writing for years. The genre was comedy. The response from the web was very different than I was used to because not one of them sent me a check.

Question #04:
[407] Do you believe that any of your stories fall under the genre of Romance? Why, or why not?

[408] I guess the closest I come to this is the Coming Out series but it's not really a romance by any normal definition of the word. I spend way too much time making fun of everything to have what I write be called any genre but parody.

Question #05:
[409] 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?

[410] I'm not a lesbian, but I play one on the web. No wait, you want a serious answer. I'll throw in the occasional nod to modern times and the attitudes toward lesbians. For instance, in Coming Out, I had Gabrielle's father react as though the gender of his daughter's mate was meaningless, what was important was that she finally landed someone. Xena's mom, Cyrene, was upset. Not because her daughter was marrying a woman, but because she thought Xena could do better. There were plenty of girls in the village with more money or status than Gabrielle, in her opinion. This was my way of showing how silly it is to concentrate on the gender of someone's mate, when there are more important things to think about!

Question #06:
[411] You creatively explore subtext using parody. "Bitter Treat" was a grand piece inspired by the episode, THE BITTER SUITE. The Debit pokes fun at THE DEBT, Gabrielle's Hopeless and Maternal Mistakes at GABRIELLE'S HOPE and MATERNAL INSTINCTS. What inspired the five-part Coming Out series?

[412] The truth? Nothing. I sat down one night with a vague desire to write a sketch. I had absolutely nothing in my head as to what it would be about. I generally write off the top of my head, though I might have some vague idea. This time, nada.

[413] I put the two characters in Poteidaia, outside Gabrielle's house, figuring I'd see how that went. Gabrielle then told Xena not to mention that they were a couple. That planted the seed (that's how I do things -- I'll type something and it will give me an idea, so I expand on it). The sketch progressed, with all of Gabrielle's family there and a bunch of villagers (who, because they were just standing around, I felt I needed to do something with. I was about to have them leave when I got the idea that they could act as a Greek Chorus, commenting on the 'drama' as the device was originally used in Greece. I had them rhyming because it just seemed like a lot of fun. It was, in fact, so much fun that they almost took over the whole thing).

[414] I figured that her family would be very concerned about Perdicus (a local boy, of course) and their daughter's reaction to his death, and her prospects for another marriage. Families tend to do that. So naturally, it became about Gabrielle and Xena coming out to Poteidaia and Xena sort of getting backed into a corner and proposing (not that she hadn't meant to, she had simply wanted to pick her own time).

[415] The sketch got a lot of reaction and the Chorus sort of took over people's brains. Oh, but the rhyming email I got! And in those emails were a whole lot of requests for more. It seemed a natural thing to send them to Amphipolis next to come out to Xena's mom, so I happily continued writing. Then of course we had to see the wedding, and the reception and finally the honeymoon.

Question #07:
[416] Which of your works have received the most reader response to date?

[417] "Bitter Treat". I don't get a lot of email for the sketches so it was very obvious that this was the winner, because I got a lot. Especially after it was published in Whoosh. It had been on MaryD's fanfic page for a couple weeks prior to that, but Whoosh! gave it a whole new audience. However, if you add up all the email for the five parts of Coming Out, they might overtake it. That series was the first time I'd ever really gotten a lot of responses off a project on the web.

Question #08:
[418] 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? Do you disagree? Are you still awake?

[419] Because my parodies, as a rule, receive very little feedback (with the exceptions of Bitter Treat and the Coming Out series) I can't get caught up in the "Oh no! I just wrote something terrible because I only got three letters!" When I first started posting, the volume of mail was zero. That's right, not one letter of feedback. This went on for quite some time. I would write a sketch, post it and never hear a word. In fact, I didn't realize there was such a thing as feedback off the web. I just put them out there to entertain and assumed that people were probably reading them. Xellen got a couple letters and I was really surprised to see them. When I posted Coming Out, it was downright shocking. Who knew people would write feedback on a sketch? A lovely surprise indeed.

[420] Now, I do tend to get the occasional letter on the various sketches and I even have a couple of fans who follow my work. It's a lot of fun to receive attention, and I'm grateful to anyone who writes to me about my work. But even if it all stopped tomorrow, I'd still crank out the occasional sketch. Why? Because I have this wacky sense of humor that simply has to get out somehow. So Xena was elected.

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