21. PucksterInterview July 10, 1998
 *Xena Fan Fiction Works were found as indicated and If you decide to go to these websites, please pay careful attention to the disclaimers that introduce each story regarding violence and/or sexual content:
- Cerberus' Challenge [alt]
- Empathy's Cost [alt]
- Alice's Alternative [alt]
 What has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?
 Well, the show's development of latent lesbian themes in the Xena/Gabrielle relationship got my attention, but it was reading other people's fan fiction on the web that inspired me to write. I love the freedom of expression that seems to exist within the relatively narrow theme of these stories. The way a particularly appealing aspect can be developed over and over from infinite perspectives. I love that anyone could write and post something. I love the way the whole venue puts a wide variety of (once invisible) lesbian sex on display for all the world to see. Then, once I was actually writing, it was the thrill of the art itself that kept me inspired. Writing is a powerful experience. Writing sex is even more powerful.
 Has your motivation changed over time?
 I was definitely very motivated to write when I was actually writing. To a certain extent I have been motivated by fan mail and encouragement, but mostly by my own excitement and by making and meeting personal writing goals. Over time, the circumstances of my life have changed and I don't have as much time on my hands to write. I have also drifted from the show somewhat, and am not as well versed on the episodes in detail as I once was, but that probably wouldn't stop me from writing something if I got going.
 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?
 Nope, no other fiction, nothing published of any kind.
 Do you - or have you ever - like(d) reading Romantic fiction prior to Xena fan fiction?
 Before XWP, I had never been a fan of romantic fiction because most of what I saw was not well written, was heterosexually oriented, and/or was explicitly sexist. If I sound judgmental, it is because I can be that way sometimes. Easily bored as well, and heterosexual sex just doesn't seem to catch my interest.
 In your opinion, is XWP a romantic show?
 I think the show plays with romance in a variety of ways, or with the fantasy of romance in general. Just standing there, Xena and Gabrielle are romantic fantasies, as far as I am concerned. But I would probably characterize it as a fantasy rather than a romantic show, because I don't feel the development of the "subtext" has gone far enough to do that for me, personally. Elbow clasps, side hugs, and not quite kisses just don't do it for Puck.
 Do you believe that any of your stories fall under the genre of Romance?
 Well, yeah. My first-time story, Cerberus' Challenge isn't much else but romance. But I think Empathy's Cost and Alice's Alternative step more firmly into fantasy/adventure, while keeping both feet in romance as well. After the first-time story, I wanted very much for Xena and Gabrielle's lives to go back into adventures together, even as their new relationship grew.
 Are any of your stories as much of a reflection of what it's like to be a lesbian in modern times as it is about pre-Mycenaean times?
 I don't pretend to know much about what life was like back then, but am interested enough to try and give rough authenticity to the stories I write. The past gives us lots of wonderful material to work with.
 I portray Xena and Gabrielle as almost pure archetypes rather than real people, but almost any lesbian can find some resonance with these characters, and has lived some of the feelings I try to write about. The lesbian living in modern times still faces the challenge of coming to grips with the truth of her love, a theme that rings through fan fiction and the show alike.
 "Cerberus' Challenge" is your first work of Xena Fan Fiction, and you entered the scene with a bang. Lunacy wrote: "An extraordinary debut for a new bard, this story will likely make it into many a readers list of favorites! This tale is simply magical - one of the most romantic and passionate in XWP fan fic today." Did reader feedback play a part in your decision to write the sequel, "Empathy's Cost?"
 To tell you the truth I would have written Empathy for just Lunacy alone, she is such a dear. But I did get other encouragement, and yes, I loved it, and it played a part in my decision.
 Gabrielle is an empath in "Empathy's Cost". How did the idea for this ravishing romance develop?
 Well, as much as I loved the innocence of Gabrielle's character, I couldn't see her staying that way after she became Xena's lover. I wanted them to have a balance of power. It was easy to give her mystical qualities more in line with the magical bards of mainstream fantasy fiction. I actually believe empathic and other talents exist to varied degrees in many people, and just exaggerated those qualities in Gabrielle.
 I also enjoyed developing the story in distinct settings. The battle at sea was one of the most difficult things I have ever written. I just wanted to see if I could pull it off.
 And, along the line of the diversity of characters I try to build in my stories, I made a key and powerful figure from a man that in my society would be considered disabled. that and it was very, very satisfying to write.
 "Alice's Alternative" is an excellent original novella and your last work to date. It involves several romantic/love relationships and lets Xena save the modern world from the Goddess of Chaos. (And Alice just happens to be a Xena fan fic writer.) There are so many facets to this tale that it has to be read more than once in order to absorb it all. You must have invested a lot of energy in writing it and you have not posted another story since. Did this one exhaust you?
 "Alice" was an extremely challenging story to write, and yes, it kicked my b*tt. It is also not a big winner in the popularity contests, but I like the story a great deal. I think the beginning is just too slow for most readers that are used to seeing Xena and Gabby sooner in the plot, and Alice is soooo annoying. I wanted to move our grrls into a contemporary time, and somehow more into the reader's life. I stretched myself perhaps further than I should have in my attempts to create, develop and weave together such diverse characters.
 But, no regrets. Diversity is important to me in real life; I think it has something to do with saving the real world we all actually live in, and I don't mind pushing the envelope a bit.
 I'm actually toying with writing at least one more story. so I may not be done just yet. Gods help me.
 There is some controversy about what uber-Xena fiction is. What is your current definition of a completely uber story? Do you think you will ever write such a story?
 Uber stories seem like a very creative adaptation by fan fic writers to broaden the boundaries we can write within and still be doing Xena fan fic. I am not familiar with the controversy as I should be, but I would define Uber Xena as anything that resurrects their characters in a new time/place. I have enjoyed many of the stories, and find that on the fringes of Uber, we can almost see these new writers spinning off on their own. I just love the idea of talented lesbian/lesbian-positive writers developing their many skills and spreading them all over the world. I love that!
 I don't have any plans to write uber stuff at this time.
 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?
 ::sitting up and blinking::
 Well, as I implied above, I am on a mission to save the world, and hope that through these writings lots of womyn will get really hot for each other, which I am quite sure could save us all if it happened on a global scale. I really think lesbian sex is terrific blended with action, adventure and magic. (Maybe that's how many lesbians actually live do you suppose?) So. My writing may be more expressive than a search for validation.
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