Whoosh! Issue 25 - October 1998

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

22. Quest

Interview August12, 1998

[743] Xena Fan Fiction Works were found at the following URL: http://www.obsession14.com/XenaRotica/Quest/Quest.html

*If you decide to visit this website, please pay careful attention to the [alt] labels below that indicate the stories are for those over the age of 18 only:

  1. Dirty Work [alt]
  2. The Farmer's Son [alt]
  3. Festival of Flowers [alt]
  4. Forget Everything [alt]
  5. Fortunate Mis-fortune [alt]
  6. The Heart Always Knows
  7. Lessons
  8. Misfortune Revisited [alt]
  9. Nightshade [alt]
  10. Plink
  11. A Rock and a Hard Place
  12. Running [alt]
  13. The Ship Who Remembered [alt]
  14. These Things Happen [alt]
  15. Unfinished Business [alt]
  16. Urgent [alt]
  17. What Happens After [alt]

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

[745] Well for me at least, this would have to be broken down into two questions: (1) Why did you start writing fanfiction, and (2) Why do you keep writing fanfiction.

[746] For number one, then. When I started writing Xenafic, there was none on the web, anywhere. But then, I was on the first Xenaverse mailing list, back when it was run by a guy with a college account that would allow him to do a listserv. When I joined that list, there were only maybe twenty people on it, and we all knew each other pretty well. I remember clearly when Spikus and Ally started writing a sort of ongoing adventure. Pretty soon we were all sucked into what came to be termed "Fluff". But it wasn't Xena stories. It was stories where each of us had a character, and we did a sort of round robin role playing type adventure scenario.

[747] Then the list changed hands, to the capable Spikus and Penth, and more and more people joined. Eventually, the tone of the list got rather homophobic, though truly Spikus and Penth did their best to keep the flames down. So, a group of Xenaverse women formed a writers group, with the intent of being lesbian and bi friendly. And I was one of those in that first writer's group. I wasn't the first to post a story there, that was Lisa Jain, but I was, I think, the second... and that was only cause mine was longer and therefore took longer to write. So, why I started? Because I was in a writer's group, and the echoing empty space where the stories should be bothered me. [wry grin] I already considered myself something of a writer, so it seemed natural. Also, I had up until that point had a very difficult time writing short fiction, and this was a forum where I would be forced to keep it short (or so I thought at the time! [g]). It seemed a legitimate form of writing practice, and that's, I think, why I allowed myself to do it.

[748] As for why I've kept writing, that's something that's harder to define. I'm not one of the web's most popular authors. Nothing so world shaking as Batsky and Wordee, for instance. People don't write and pester me for stories. A lot of times, I'm not sure that people are reading. But the characters lend themselves so well to vignettes, and frankly, the ideas just keep coming. It's fun to have an heroic female to work with, and until I get that great American SF/Fantasy novel published, the Xena fans are my only real audience. I could publish original (non fanfic) stuff on the net, but that would negate the possibility of ever having it accepted for sale, and that's an important goal for me as an artist. Fanfic is a great outlet for little stories, because I know they could never be sold to a publishing house, so I'm free to put them on the net and let people read them right away.

Question #02:
[749] 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?

[750] I have written other fiction, but never other fanfiction. (Big difference.) I'm a poet, a musician/songwriter, and a writer. I've written short stories, and have a handful of novels in various stages of progress... My other works are, without fail, SF/Fantasy. Its what I've always loved, and it allows such a great scope of world building and imagination... I couldn't imagine wanting to write anything else. As for reader response, I haven't had any, because no one but my spouse has ever seen them. However, I hope someday to pass by them on the bookshelves of the local Barnes and Noble. [wink]

Question #03:
[751] Do you - or have you ever - like(d) reading Romantic fiction prior to Xena fan fiction? Why or why not?

[752] The only heterosexual "Romance" that I ever enjoyed was the Clan of the Cave Bear stuff. I tried reading various other romance genre works, and frankly, was bored silly by the cultural stereotypes, bodice ripping, and general lack of plot. They are, plain and simple, formula books as a whole, and that bores me to tears.

[753] I've read a few lesbian "romance" novels, with varying degrees of success. Some are just as formulaic, but not many, because they all seem to have real issues to deal with. Homophobia, being in the closet, gays in the military, children and how or if the woman wants to have them... and they tend not to work through the "issues" in a preachy fashion, but rather as real obstacles to be surmounted in the character's lives. And in surmounting obstacles, the characters have to learn, and grow. It's not too often you see real character development and growth in a het romance novel. And for me, it's the characters that make a story live. Too often in Romance novels, the characters are as shallow as the story line.

Question #04 & #05:
[754] In your opinion, is XWP a romantic show? Why or why not? (i.e., It's action; adventure; drama; melodrama; fantasy...)

[755] This is a question I'd never really considered. But I would say that it is. Because really, not matter how many monsters get slain, or universes saved, the real issues always have to do with the inner landscape of the characters, and how they relate to each other. Action is about saving the world, or at least avenging your dead family. Adventure is bravado and swashbuckling your way out of any problem you encounter. Fantasy, well, that's more encompassing, and you could definitely call XWP a fantasy show, but I think it truly has elements of romance in it, because romances are always about the emotions/lives of people. And this show is about Xena's effort to deal with the scars of her past, and how they affect her interaction with the world around her. And about Gabrielle's classic "growing up" and becoming a Bard, and a hero in her own right.

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

[757] I find it very difficult to put a genre label on any of my stories. Rather than Romance, etc. I would tend to label them : Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction, and perhaps some of the vignettes are more like poetry or general "fiction" than anything else. (Especially works like The Heart Always Knows)

Question #07:
[758] 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?

[759] Actually, I've read a lot of this in fanfiction, but for me, no. I never have Xena and Gabrielle running into severe homophobia, because it just wasn't that way in pre-Mycenean timelines. And my Uber works, so far, have been set in universes where I don't see that as a problem either. If I were writing a modern Uber piece, set in this world, then it would be. But I try to make sure that the obstacles the two have to surmount are congruent with what they would actually have to face in their worlds. It's an important point of continuity for me. Having Xena and Gabrielle run into a good old boy Redneck in Greek clothing jars me completely out of the story, you know?

Question #08:
[760] Many of your works are surreal and poetic. Did any of your vignettes or short stories begin as poems?

[761] Well, although I write quite a bit of poetry, no. I just love to write in a lyrical style, and sometimes it transfers itself well to shorter fiction. However, the Farmer's Son is based on a Xena song that I wrote, and includes several of my Xena/Gabrielle poems.

Question #09:
[762] Have you ever written a story because someone requested it?

[763] Funny you should ask that. I'm currently writing a sequel to "The Ship Who Remembered", because people have bugged me for more. [g]

Question #10:
[764] To date, which of your stories have received the most reader response?

[765] That'd be "Ship Who", hands down. Second would be "These Things Happen". Third was my alternate timeline (Perdicus lives and what it does to everyone involved when Gabrielle settles down with him...) Forget Everything.

Question #11:
[766] There is some controversy about what uber-Xena fiction is. What is your current definition of a completely uber story and can we include "The Ship Who Remembered" in this category?

[767] "Ship Who" is definitely, in my opinion, an Uber story. In my mind, any story who's main characters are Xena/Gabrielle (or other show character's) descendants, and which takes place in some other world/time than pre-Mycenean Greece is Uberfiction. And we have a great "cannon" Uber story, the very first, which is (of course) the episode "Xena Scrolls". To me, that sets the tone of what an Uber story should be. Xena and Gabrielle's descendants in some future time dealing with some problem that they are uniquely qualified to handle. (Even if it's only their own demons)

Question #12:
[768] 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?

[769] Yup, I'm still awake. For me, writing is the primal function of mythmaking and story telling. We must make our own myths in this day and age, myths that fit our culture, our time, and that fulfill the needs we have. We write fanfiction because all the myths we currently see (ie: movies & television) are sanitized for the masses, and therefore we as women, as people with alternate lifestyles, etc... do not see ourselves represented. Our needs for cultural heroes are not being met, and so we do what people have always done, and make our own.

[770] I think that the reason so many people have fastened onto Xena is that she is a step closer to being "Our Hero" than anyone else on television or in the movies. Why? Because she's a woman who doesn't take sh*t from anyone. She's a woman who doesn't need to be rescued by a man. She is all those things that women have been yearning for in our mythological structure. BUT, I believe that the reason so much of the fanfiction is alternative is that A) the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is already so loving on screen, and B) that lesbians still need a mythological hero of their own, and Xena is the easiest to make fit the bill.

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