Whoosh! Issue 62 - November 2001

INSIDE THE HEAD OF ANGHARAD GOVERNAL
By Amy Murphy
Content © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2001 held by Whoosh!
2489 words


Introduction (01)
Angharad's Head (02-104)
Angharad's Stories
Acknowledgments
Articles
Biography



INSIDE THE HEAD OF ANGHARAD GOVERNAL



Introduction

[01] I find Angharad Governal very talented and very cool. She is fun to talk to, writes very well, and has some kick-b*tt websites, including THE Conqueror fan fiction site. She is a darn good bard, and an even better person.


After one too many jokes at Gabrielle's expense, the bard writes Xena out of the next several scrolls
What are 'frames'? Heck, I don't even know what a 'website' is!

Angharad's Head

AMY MURPHY:
[02] Why did you start writing?

ANGHARAD GOVERNAL:
[03] My first love has always been poetry, but I have been writing fiction for as long as I can remember. I started writing Xena fan fiction a few semesters after I entered graduate school because academic writing became such a grind. I wanted to try my hand at creative prose writing. I had been reading Xena fan fiction for a long time, but when I came upon Katrina's The Storyteller—the very first Xena the Conqueror fan fiction story—I decided to try and write my own Xena the Conqueror fiction. Unfortunately, it's still unfinished even to this day. I am planning to complete it sometime before the next millennium.

MURPHY:
[04] If you had to do it all over, would you be a bard?

GOVERNAL:
[05] Yes, writing Xena fan fiction has been an interesting and educational writing experience. Being a "bard" has taught me about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer and I've learned a great deal from participating in the fandom as a fan fiction writer.

MURPHY:
[06] How do you handle stress?

GOVERNAL:
[07] I imagine myself walking through my maternal grandmother's house. In my mind, I visit every room and see the contents of the house and yard in every detail. By the time I finish with the entire house, I'm relaxed. It's a form of meditation.

MURPHY:
[08] Who is Gov?

GOVERNAL:
[09] Angharad Governal (Gov) is the pen name I use in the Xenaverse fandom. Both components are taken from medieval literature and history.

MURPHY:
[10] What do you see yourself doing in the future? Future projects?

GOVERNAL:
[11] As far as Xenaverse fandom is concerned, I'd like to try and finish Metamorphosis (my Xena the Conqueror fan fiction story). I'd also like to write a Mel/Janice story as well, but that idea is very, very tentative at the moment. Outside the fandom, I'd like to work on my poetry and maybe, if I gather enough courage, I'd like to send my work out to local and national poetry journals and magazines. I'm also kicking around the idea of going back to school to pursue a doctoral degree in medieval studies.

MURPHY:
[12] How do you handle depression?

GOVERNAL:
[13] I handle depression in the same way that I handle stress. I also read a lot and try to write through the depression.

MURPHY:
[14] What advice can you give to future writers?

GOVERNAL:
[15] Don't be afraid to rewrite what you've written and writer's block isn't the end of the world.

MURPHY:
[16] What has the show Xena meant to you?

GOVERNAL:
[17] I've met so many amazing and interesting people through the fandom that grew around Xena. I've met people that I know I'll be friends with for years to come. The fandom that grew around Xena has been an incredible thing to both observe and participate in and the show itself has been a source of guilty pleasure for me over the past six seasons.

MURPHY:
[18] How do you feel about its end?

GOVERNAL:
[19] I guess I feel melancholy and nostalgic about the ending of the show, but at the same time, I'm amazed at how much Xena has crept into our collective popular culture in such a short span of time.

MURPHY:
[20] What would you say every writer needs?

GOVERNAL:
[21] A good dictionary, a good thesaurus, a copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, some sort of caffeinated beverage to keep you awake when you're writing in the dead of night, and a person you trust enough to tell you when your writing is bad and can give you honest and useful criticism so you can improve.

MURPHY:
[22] What theme would you like to tackle in your next work?

GOVERNAL:
[23] I'd like to try to write a tragedy. Not necessarily in the sense that there needs to be a death, but in the vein of ancient Greek tragedies, the fall of a protagonist from a high state to a low state.

MURPHY:
[24] You now have absolute authority over the world. Omnipotent in all areas. What's your first move?

GOVERNAL:
[25] Eliminate hunger and provide shelter to those that have none.

MURPHY:
[26] How would you categorize your best writing?

GOVERNAL:
[27] I don't necessarily consider it my best writing, but I'm very happy with the first poem (the Xena-Wealtheow section) of Triptych Song.

MURPHY:
[28] Favorite song of the moment?

GOVERNAL:
[29] Cake's "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" and Coldplay's "Shiver".

MURPHY:
[30] Is there one part of the writing process where you usually get stuck? What have you tried to change that, successful or not?

GOVERNAL:
[31] There isn't necessarily one specific part in the process, but when I'm distracted by other things happening in my life, writing goes out the window. Sometimes I get "stuck" because a word or a phrase just isn't "clicking" in my head for one reason or another. If I get major writer's block and absolutely nothing is happening writing-wise, I put the piece aside for a day, two, or three. I take a break from looking or even thinking about that piece of writing for several days. I hope that when I finally do go back to it, I can see it with fresh eyes and can move on from there.

MURPHY:
[32] Does the best writing flow for you, or does it come from rewrites?

GOVERNAL:
[33] It's a mixture of both things. Sometimes everything flows and you become amazed at how much writing you are producing. But most of the time, it's an incredible struggle and pieces get re-written a half dozen times before it makes sense and "feels right". I am in awe of writers who write with ease. For me, writing isn't easy—it takes a great deal of struggle to produce a piece of writing that "works". Thomas Mann once said, "A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people" and I, for one, truly believe that.

MURPHY:
[34] Which part of writing do you enjoy most and why?

GOVERNAL:
[35] Again, it depends. Sometimes the writing process itself is pure joy, but there are instances when it feels like you want to run screaming into the proverbial hills because it's so difficult. Other times, rewrites are simply a matter of "tweaking" a phrase or a word and that task becomes a great source of fun. The very opposite is true as well —I want to tear my hair out when I've rewritten something for the 30th time and it still sounds awkward or wrong.

MURPHY:
[36] Do you feel in control of your writing, or do you get carried away by your inspiration or characters?

GOVERNAL:
[37] One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was, "Listen to your characters and let them go where they need to go. Don't ever force them to do something they don't want to do. Be true and honest with them and they'll serve you well in the story." I don't know whether that means my characters control my writing, but I'd like to believe I have some sort of say where I want a story to go and that I'm not a slave to the whims of my characters.

MURPHY:
[38] Tell the truth--are you your favorite writer, or in your own top five? Why or why not?

GOVERNAL:
[39] Heavens, no. I'm not even on my top five list. I think I'm barely above "okay" as a writer. I need to learn so much more about the craft. Being a good writer isn't something that you are, it's something that you're always striving to become.

MURPHY:
[40] What is your favorite spot where you live now?

GOVERNAL:
[41] The Japanese Rock Gardens at the Huntington in San Marino, California.

MURPHY:
[42] What books are you reading now?

GOVERNAL:
[43] I'm constantly reading and re-reading poetry. Two volumes I always turn to are: The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova and The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I also have a dog-eared, nearly falling apart copy of Millay's Collected Sonnets.

MURPHY:
[44] What would your friends say is your worst trait?

GOVERNAL:
[45] I'm constantly glancing at my wrist watch.

MURPHY:
[46] Do you type with your fingers on the right keys?

GOVERNAL:
[47] Nope.

MURPHY:
[48] Do you have any particular bedtime rituals (glass of warm milk, etc.) that you follow every night?

GOVERNAL:
[49] I usually read for an hour or two before I go to sleep.

MURPHY:
[50] If you find a spider in the bathtub, do you help it out or squish it?

GOVERNAL:
[51] Squish.

MURPHY:
[52] What was the last thing you bought that you really didn't need?

GOVERNAL:
[53] I bought a book on art history—The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich.

MURPHY:
[54] Who is your favorite Greek God?

GOVERNAL:
[55] In the show? Aphrodite. She's a righteous babe.

MURPHY:
[56] Why do fools fall in love?

GOVERNAL:
[57] Is a great song , don't you think? Ooh wah, ooh wah Ooh wah, ooh wah Ooh wah, ooh wah. Why do fools fall in love?

MURPHY:
[58] Do you keep a diary?

GOVERNAL:
[59] I don't keep a diary per se, but I do keep a small journal book that I take everywhere I go. I jot down ideas, bits of dialogue, quotes, titles, fragments of poetry. Essentially, it keeps me from using paper napkins as writing paper when I have nothing else to write on.

MURPHY:
[60] What skill would you like to have that you don't have now?

GOVERNAL:
[61] I'd like to learn how to play the violin.

MURPHY:
[62] Who is your real life hero and why?

GOVERNAL:
[63] Nien Cheng. During China's Cultural Revolution, she was accused of being a British spy and was locked up in solitary confinement for 6-1/2 years. She wrote a book about those experiences called, Life and Death in Shanghai. Despite the horrors she endured, she was able to retain her dignity and humanity. My admiration for her knows no bounds.

MURPHY:
[64] What fan fiction story touched you so much that you still remember it vividly?

GOVERNAL:
[65] "A Narcoleptic's Guide to Romance" by Vivian Darkbloom. The writing in that piece is so lyrical and breath-taking. It's one of the most amazing pieces of writing I've ever seen in Xena fan fiction. I get goosebumps every time I read it. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.

MURPHY:
[66] If you could only choose a single climate with no variation would you prefer it to be sweltering hot or freezing cold?

GOVERNAL:
[67] I've always lived in areas where it's hot, so for the sake of variation, I think I'd prefer to live in a cold climate.

MURPHY:
[68] How is $25 well spent?

GOVERNAL:
[69] Buy a bunch of pizzas and spend the evening with a group of friends.

MURPHY:
[70] Would you rather live in a sociable suburb, or alone in the deep woods?

GOVERNAL:
[71] I'm a city kid, so the 'burbs.

MURPHY:
[72] What Disney character do you most identify with and why?

GOVERNAL:
[73] I don't identify with any Disney characters at all. If it were a question of identifying with a cartoon character in general, I would have to say Daffy Duck. He's always considered to be the underdog character when paired up with Bugs Bunny and he seems more sincere in his insanity, his viewpoint of the world and his circumstances. Bugs seems too smug sometimes. Daffy is just on the lee side of paranoia and that makes him lovable for me.

MURPHY:
[74] Who do you read for inspiration?

GOVERNAL:
[75] For writing in general: Millay, Akhmatova, Umberto Eco, and about a dozen other writers. For fan fiction writing: Vivian Darkbloom, LN James, Della Street, Anima, and Sharon Bowers.

MURPHY:
[76] What's your favorite website?

GOVERNAL:
[77] KCRW, Poetry Magazine, and Whoosh!—essential as air and water for any Xenite.

MURPHY:
[78] When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

GOVERNAL:
[79] I wanted to be a cetologist (a whale biologist).

MURPHY:
[80] What questions should I have asked?

GOVERNAL:
[81] I think you asked just about everything and then some.


Angharad Governal's Stories

Angharad Governal's e-mail address: governal@earthlink.net

Xena: Warrior Princess Fiction

Xena the Conqueror

Metamorphosis (currently off-line and being revised) The Conqueror is getting ready to expand her empire outside the borders of Greece, but trouble, in the form of a small resistance group, aims to change her plans

Classic XWP

Interlude
A short vignette highlighting an interlude between the warrior and bard.

Triptych Song: Reflections on the Ring Arc
Three poems on the Ring Arc from Season 6

Uber

Little Gabby and the Moose
A photojournalist finds more than she bargains for in a forest. Written in verse.

And the Strange Morning
Based on Anima's Triptych Series. Short vignette

Adventures in Chakram City
XWP - Pokemon Crossover. Will Ash and his friends beat the mysterious "Warrior Pokemon Princess"?

Languedoc
Libraries, nuns, manuscripts, and medievalists

Websites
The Annals of the Conqueror : A Xena the Conqueror Fan Fiction Index and Story Archive
Word Hoard (personal website)
BLURB: Recommendations of Xenaverse Fan Fiction (also here)

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the Bardic Circle for a few of the questions. Thanks to Kamouraskan for the beta.


Articles

L. J. Maas and Murphy Wilson [Amy Murphy]. One Step Beyond ... Uber, That Is. WHOOSH #49 (October 2000)

The "Inside the Head of…" series in Whoosh issues #58, 61-


Biography

a woman of mystery Amy Murphy
Twenty-nine-year-old Amy Murphy resides in Indiana, and is an avid reader of Xena: Warrior Princess Fan Fiction. If it exists in the Xenaverse, chances are she's read it! Murphy has also tried her hand at writing FF, turning out two very nice pieces that reside on a couple of web sites throughout the Xenaverse.


Favorite episode: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE
Favorite line: "I have many skills" (various episodes)
First episode seen: THE TITANS (07/107)
Least favorite episode: LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510)

 

 

Return to Top Return to Index