13. KatrinaInterview Aug 11,1998
 Xena Fan Fiction Works were found at Katrina's website.
*Warning: these stories contain adult sexual themes and/or violence. Do not visit this site unless you are an adult.
- Among Friends [alt]
- A Bit of Flesh [alt]
- A Bit of Meat [alt]
- Bite Me [alt]
- Dancing Winter [alt]
- Dark Promise [alt]
- A Different Kind of Spring Break [alt]
- Falling Up [alt]
- The Fan [alt]
- The Fonder Heart: A Bite Me Sequel [alt]
- The Fool: A Bite Me Sequel [alt]
- Homecoming [alt]
- Matchmaker [alt]
- Summer [alt]
- Summer Dreams [alt]
- The Tour [alt]
- Warlord Daze [alt]
 What has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?
 We all have those moments of creative choices and serendipity. My mom was the one who introduced me to Xena: Warrior Princess. She said, "You'll like it." I didn't think I would. She was right. She was beyond right. I loved it.
 The first episode I saw was THE QUEST, and I knew I was looking at one of the great mythic romances of our time. Someone doesn't come back from the dead just to do the greater good. They come back for love. The kiss that wasn't gave me shivers of recognition, not just because it was two women making this most intimate of contact, but because of the exquisite vulnerability being portrayed. Wow. Knocked my socks off. Then I saw A DAY IN THE LIFE, and I was hooked.
 I started searching the web for signs of internet life, and found lots of Xena stuff going on. I joined Xena's Campfire Girls (XCG, a list for subtext positive persons) just before it closed to the world. I was fortunate.
 The first thing I noticed was the fanfic. I'd never read fanfic before. It was... eye opening and quite delightful. I figured, I gotta try this. Well, as things happen, around that time I started putting up my web pages. I was very excited about it. The campus let us use their server and the policy said to be careful, but put what you want online.
 So I put up a bunch of Poetry I'd written and things that interested me, including a bit of heavy breathing about XWP and Subtext. I also started putting out a tame little piece on the XCG list called, "Spring Break."
 I've found that I had to finish it. I wasn't following an outline, and Had to find out what happened next, just as much as anyone else. It was great, story telling from the gut. I was surprised by the letters, gratified. I hadn't expected any response at all, but it was really nice.
 Things just flowed from there and here I am, still under waves of creative compulsion (as you said). Only at the moment I'm suffering from New Job Syndrome, so I'm not plunking out as much as I'd like to. I've got stories hanging about in my head, tapping their Jungian feet and telling me, "When you gonna finish...."
 I come from an oil painter's background where you have to wait for paintings to dry. You start one painting, set it aside, start another, go back to the first. I've been doing graphic art lately. I think it's a sidestep, or rather part of the general creative flow that XWP inspired. But I've always drawn or painted or whatever.
 The oil painting method is why I write the way I do, though. It's why I can keep going, flowing from one story to another, serializing instead of just writing straight shots. I hardly ever get bored with a story. I tend to think really globally and I was trained to observe the general and then pull out the details as I went along. That's why my stories read the way they do. I think it works...kind of...I hope.
 Meanwhile, it's as I say at the beginning of most of my writings, "It's all in fun."
 Has your motivation changed over time?
 Well, motivations change. I experienced a real strong stylistic change when I found out that someone was trying to censor my web pages. I thought, "Censor?!! You can Censor this!!!!" and started writing more intensely, graphically and including sex. I thought I'd try to give them something to censor. What I found was that I had my own censor in my head and I realized that censor had no place in my creativity. I decided that my purpose in writing, drawing, whatever, was to push the boundaries, to push mine. I figured that was the service I could give to the world. Honesty.
 Ironically, the person had only been attacking my poetry (the one about bisexuality. It was a fairly innocent piece). I hadn't even started to post my stories to the web pages. But afterwards I thought, I can't be dishonest about myself. Not on any level. So I started posting the Xenafic. Wisest decision I ever made. Life-changing Warlord Daze would have never happened without that anonymous phone call.
 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?
 Oh yeah. I'm an artist. I've written stuff all my life, and painted and drawn, and sculpted. It's all part of the process... Poetry, fiction, articles...
 I'm more serious about Xenafic than I've ever been about other stuff I've done, but it's still a tension reliever for me (you can take that any way you want to...) and a place of creative expression. I feel like I've actually made a contribution to life now, something good, something strong and beautiful.
 I think maybe my genre, even in Xenafic, is magical reality or even mythic reality. It's whatever pushes and pulls at the core. It happens to be erotic, but only because life is this wonderful sensual experience.
 I've had both good and bad responses to my work, so... I can't say if it's different or not. Some people like it... some people don't. I've had some pretty positive responses to my poetry, to my articles. Honesty moves the soul wherever it is found. That's why music sends shivers of recognition up the spine, you know?
 Do you - or have you ever - like(d) reading Romantic fiction prior to Xena fan fiction?
 Oh I've read a lot of romantic fiction, especially in my teen years. They were quickie reads I found. Escapism. I got bored with it real fast, when I figured out the formula. I decided I really hated the Mean Man takes over weak-kneed woman dynamic. I thought, "Why can't they both be strong and loving without being nasty to each other."
 When I was in my late twenties I picked up four lesbian romances. Those showed people who were both capable, both having lives and they didn't have to throw vile names at each other or try to dominate one another (unless it was part of their kink and requested).
 I tossed the harlequins and the bodice rippers a long time ago, but I've still got those lesbian romances because of that. I think I only read one bodice ripper that approximated a healthier dynamic. It was a hurt comfort story, and there was a sense of equality and love between the characters, you know? I kept that one, but I don't know where it is. Sometimes romance appeals and sometimes it doesn't, but I definitely recognized the romance inherent in the show. That was one of the things that appealed to me.
 There's been a lot of talk about how TPTB could "improve," XWP and everyone throws formulas out, but in my opinion, I think the simplest thing they could do is to go out and buy a bunch of lesbian and het romances and read them and look at what appeals. Not the rape scenarios, though I guess we got that already, but the love pushing past the barriers.
 And the TPTB need think of who their audience is. It's not the teenage boys or even the children who want to be superheroes, it's the adventurous romantics, the one's who are watching for "true love" to overcome all. It's the womenfolk, and the men-folk, who recognize the Xena/Gabrielle dynamic for what it is: that of a functioning loving (sometimes arguing) equally powerful couple trying to make it against the odds and succeeding.
 A lot of folks are pushing for a "first time," episode to validate their understanding of the relationship, but really the dynamic is more like that of "Hart to Hart," or oh what was that... there was a couple... I want to call it the "Thin Man," but I can't quite remember... anyway... the dynamic functions already like that of an old time couple (see A Day in the Life if you don't believe me... or even One Against an Army) who've been together awhile. That's real successful I think... and it takes into account why the chemistry is so goodČit doesn't mess with the fear that a first time story produces in "powers that be." Besides there are tons of first times on the net...it'd be kind of redundant for me.
 I like thinking that love carries the day, even when it's rough. Certainly Xena and Gabrielle are leading extraordinary lives, but they're finding security in the truth of their affection, their tenderness, their intimacy with each other.
 I dunno, maybe a first time flashback would be fun and then a quiet glimpse into their life. Something fun but not too intrusive. I liked the way they hinted at it in Been There Done That. It was titilating and cute. I'd like to see them kiss for real, not at the end of the run of the show, but during the life of the show. It doesn't have to be a mushy open mouthed thing either. I'd love to see them say I love you before something awful happens...you knowČreal life stuff.
 Meanwhile, it boils down to this. Xena: Warrior Princess is an incredibly beautiful love story about two women. I think that's why the Dahak/Hope arc has been so bitter for people to take. They just have to remember that in the end, Love conquers all and carries its own balm, even for Warrior Princesses and moony bards.
 In your opinion, is XWP a romantic show? Why or why not? (i.e., It's action; adventure; drama; melodrama; fantasy...)
 It's all of the above. Adventure, romance, drama, melodrama, fantasy and even science fiction. Gabrielle keeps postulating those crazy true ideas of her. I love that. I love that they are both geniuses of their time. I love that Xena is the "mother of necessity," practical and valiant and that Gabrielle is the questioner, the seeker. They both have a place, don't they. Yin Yang plus the juicy middle stuff. *evil grin* No wonder the show is so successful.
 Do you believe that any of your stories fall under the genre of Romance?
 All of my stories are romances. They are also poems. Really, my stories should be read as longass prosetry with notions of storytelling. They're also fantasy, adventure, comedy....but ultimately, the stories are about Xena and Gabrielle's relationship, or their relationship to others.
 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?
 Actually, my particular stories sort of reflect my bisexual polymorous perspective. I think XWP is about two women who are in love, who are sexual beings, who have interests in others and sometimes express that interest, but who ultimately return to each other, because that's where their heart is.
 You have written stories in serial form longer than any other bard in the Xenaverse that I am familiar with. Does posting stories a little at a time seem to encourage reader response differently than presenting a completed story and does this response affect your creativity?
 Sometimes I think it does cause differences in reader responses. I sometimes wonder if people take the writing for granted and think... oh she's churning it out again... we don't have to say anything. And they're right... they don't have to because I'll write whether I get notes or not..but I like it when they do write. It makes me feel really good. I can't reply to it all, but..I'm grateful for each bit and I try to... Sometimes I get to where I really need the feedback... then sometimes..I don't. :)
 But otherwise, well, I dunno..I think the stories that capture the attention are always gonna get some response, and the ones that don't..well..everyone has their own thing that they like.
 I have some people who love Summer Dreams and they want me to keep up with that, and some folks who adore The Tour or Among Friends and they're anxious for that and I've got some who never wanted me to end Warlord Daze....
 What I found out is that, I'll write for myself as long as it's a mystery to me...when I make an outline it seems to stymie the creative flow for me. I made that mistake with Among Friends and with The Tour. When I know the ending too soon and I get bored with the story because I've already "told" it to myself. Now I've got to give myself a little distance and "rethink" the plot without rethinking it..if that makes sense.
 "Warlord Daze" is a serial put on the net last summer and completed just a few months ago. Lunacy points out that the tale is daring in her early review:
More than a story about Xena: Warrior Princess, WARLORD DAZE is an exploration of sexuality, power, trust and the appeal of the forbidden. NOTE: This is an adult story that contains S&M and bondage. It is an acquired taste that may not be for everyone. How long did it take to write this one (I'm remembering the "RIP" Snuggles the Hedgehog reference at the end) and has the feedback on this particular story been surprising in any way?
 Wow... good question...
 Lets see... I try to put out a chapter a day on something... anything... even if it's a teeny tiny bit. There's stuff that no one's seen and no one will... but I've written. The number of chapters generally equals the number of days. :) I've been writing for almost two years.
 As for surprising letters... Yes. There have been.
 At first I got a real mix from people who loved it versus people who couldn't "see," the characters acting that way. I got notes from people who thought I was a pervert and notes from people who thought I totally was into the scene and what a great thing ... All I was doing was trying to show a loving relationship and give someone a gift. The original 4 parter was a birthday gift for a friend of mine. I thought it turned out well and suddenly there was a demand for "the rest of it..." I thought I'd actually turned out a finished piece... but... I guess... well there was more to tell than I realized.
 I got some interesting, but private notes. Some folks let me know that I inspired them to explore and to heal and to trust. Some folks just said they enjoyed the story. Some folks told me, "You know exactly how it is..."
 I loved getting the notes. It thrilled me to think that I was helping people push past boundaries. My favorite notes were the ones that started, "You know, I never thought I'd read something like this and enjoy it..." or "...understand..." or "..try it.."
 It really does make a difference if love is involved. In the writing, and in the "life," of the characters. I will say this, writing the story allowed me to try new things. I can only hope it inspired others to test their boundaries and find out what they like.
 You encourage other writers by responding to their stories and also by inviting them to contribute to "The Blood and Roses Altaverse", among other things. Obviously you have influenced other bards. Have other bards affected your creativity?
 OH yeah, I think we all love Missy's stories. I mean, I'd never be able to write the way she does, wouldn't want to... but I enjoy it so much. She's created a lovely little altaverse that I feel like I could visit and enjoy. I also love Bardwynna's stuff with a passion. I adored the gaslight series... and any Janice and Mel stuff... and Paul Seely's Uber and LN James... and I've enjoyed the things that people have put up on my site... and gosh, just about everyone has something to offer...
 I haven't been reading as much as usual... because of the moving, but I try to catch up when I can. One of the reasons I started writing was the fanfic, you know?
 Do you have any favorites among your many stories? If so, please share which they are and why.
 Way way way too many to list..
 To date, which of your stories have received the most reader response?
 Uhm. Warlord is definitely tops... Matchmaker got some cute little notes. I think people liked it. Got some hardcore fans of the Seasons of the Gods... I'm totally grateful for those... the letters came when I needed them. Got some fans of the Blood and Roses series... the Tour... Even a few for Among Friends... hmm.. OH.. Storyteller... that one is... that one... is indescribable to me.. a moment of pure inspiration that just... turned out... and I got letters saying.."When's the sequel!!" and that it was my "best," story. That story was definitely a poem of the heart.
 I've got the sequel in my head... but I have so many other stories playing I'm afraid to start... though I have several paragraphs running. I'm trying to wait for the "inspiration," because I want it to feel right... to go with the storyteller in spirit as well as body.
 There is some controversy about what uber-Xena fiction is. What is your current definition of a completely uber story?
 Well..there are some folks who call Seasons of the Gods an Uber tale. I just call it a dreamer's soap opera....but..Uber
 It's taking the Mythos of Xena and Gab and expanding on it. There is a "relationship," to the "originals," but the kinship may not necessarily be blood. There should be some links to XWP in my opinion, for it to be a true "uber-tale" but it doesn't have to be exact.
 However, if those thematic links aren't there, then its got nothing to do with XWP and should just be counted as a story on it's own merit without worrying about XWP credits.
 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?
 Well, I think that's true. WE do get energized or enervated by other's responses. It can be a bit like putting good gas in the tank. I've gotten "high," from a single letter of praise and I've gotten "bummed," from a put down. I think it's because artists/authors are responsive beings. We HAVE to be in order to write. It's part of the observation process, part of the inner search for meaning.
 We respond to the heart of the story and it pours from us.
 Yeah, I was inspired by the strength of the characters, the power of the women portrayed. I was inspired by the story telling...they definitely push at my boundaries and sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't, but I don't regret the being part of it and I treasure the changes in my life that I've experienced because of it.
 I have friends...lovers...because of this show. I've come out from huge closets to more people because of this show. I'm more spiritual now, but at the same time I'm also a bit more cynical. I observe more because now I know there is more to see. I've approached and moved beyond a great fear, because of this show. That fear of being alone has been replaced by confidence and faith in my humanity. There are treasures innumerable. I can't even place a value on it because the experience has been too important. It wasn't a case of "if Xena can do it I can," but rather, "Today I'll find my courage, because I know it's there and I have people who love me for the whole of me." I've become familiar with genuine creative successes because of this show. The show gave me my honesty back, my creativity.
 XWP teaches courage in expression. I like the ease with which the characters touch and laugh and cry and live. XWP teaches the Buddha thought of, "Everyday is a new day. It's what you do today that counts." Very zen very true. Today I will do something that counts. Today I will change my world. Today I will live my life by my own terms....
 Some days I do better than others, but always I hear it in me; my response to the show. I will choose to live and be and do and Love as bravely as I can. Maybe that's it. Maybe it is a simple bravery, a belief in the possible. True love is possible and can be found. True love overcomes. That's a pretty solid and valuable message, no matter what the gender and manner of the love.
 Fan fic started out as a response for me, but it became something deeper, a place to explore. I push words around like paint, trying to see if it works or not, if it heightens shadow, or lightens a mood or simply turns me on. I put it out because some people might like it too.
 I'm awfully happy when they do.
Table of Contents
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