Whoosh! Issue 65 - February 2002

INSIDE THE HEAD OF PALLAS
By Amy Murphy
Content © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2001 held by Whoosh!
3402 words


Introduction
Pallas' Head (01-70)
Pallas' Stories
Acknowledgments
Articles
Biography



INSIDE THE HEAD OF PALLAS



Introduction

[01] Pallas wrote one of the most moving stories I have ever read: Beyond and Forever. This story made me bawl like a baby, then I had to read it again. It was that good. I bawled again after that.


Pallas' Head

Hey, I don't almost die in this one!
Hey, this is pretty good!

INTERVIEWER:
[02] If you had to do it all over, would you be a bard? Would you write?

PALLAS:
[03] I'm a writer. It's my profession and it's my life, so of course I would write. Would I write Xena fan fiction? I dunno. The ideal of the two characters still fascinates me, but after watching where the show has taken them, I'm not sure if I would feel the same way about the possibilities. I still think from an alternate lifestyle perspective, the Xena/Gabrielle pairing has opened a world of good fiction where there was frightfully little choice. Despite what RenPic [Renaissance Pictures] did with the characters, their show has inspired so many to take up the challenge and produce better fiction. So, yes, I probably would still have become a bard.

INTERVIEWER:
[04] How did I start writing fan fiction?

PALLAS:
[05] I started writing fan fiction by reading fan fiction. A lot of the stories I read sparked my imagination and others left me saying "I can do better than that". A friend I met on-line encouraged me to write a story and from that Ravages of Spirit was born. Today the story makes me cringe, but for where I was coming from at the time, it was a good effort.

INTERVIEWER:
[06] How did it feel to be published?

PALLAS:
[07] The first time was so cool. When you see your name attached to an article you've written you can't keep the goofy smile off your face. It's like at that moment the whole struggle to do what you've dreamed is validated. You feel like taking the article to every person who ever said 'you'll never be a writer' and giving them a great big "HA!" (well that's the nice version of what I wanted to say).

INTERVIEWER:
[08] What would you say every writer needs?

PALLAS:
[09] A keen sense of observation. A good imagination. Discipline. Dedication. Faith. And a really good chair.

INTERVIEWER:
[10] Do you type with your fingers on the right keys?

PALLAS:
[11] Yeah. It makes it much easier for others to read.

INTERVIEWER:
[12] Do you keep a diary?

PALLAS:
[13] I've never kept a diary. I think I would either be compelled to lie to it or it would be too honest and thus topple my Jenga puzzle of sanity.

INTERVIEWER:
[14] What theme would you like to tackle in your next work?

PALLAS:
[15] I'm just finishing up Mercy that Sadness Brings, which has been a long difficult road. I wanted to quit on many occasions. Now that I'm almost done, I've begun thinking of my next project. I'm toying with two ideas: a story set during the Salem Witch Trials which would deal with society's closed-mindedness and group hysteria, or a story set in modern times about a serial killer who kills because she can't find the perfect one. I'm leaning towards the latter. I think it would be more psychologically satisfying.

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

PALLAS:
[17] It flows for me. Rewrites are not for writing. They are for ruthless editing and identifying plot problems and such.

INTERVIEWER:
[18] What is the source of your inspiration?

PALLAS:
[19] Mostly it comes from songs. I'll listen to a song, even one I know very well, and it will suddenly inspire a whole story. For example, Beyond and Forever was written after listening to Madonna's You Must Love Me. Mercy that Sadness Brings was named after a Sheryl Crow song. The serial killer story was inspired by Ani Difranco's Asking Too Much.

INTERVIEWER:
[20] What are three things you enjoy most about writing?

PALLAS:
[21] Control. Peace. Construction. To me, writing fiction is the one thing that I control completely. Everything that happens in my stories belongs to me and can't be taken away. It also gives my soul peace. I've been writing stories since age 6 and it's as much a part of me as breathing. I also love the fact that I build something and that it gives others enjoyment.

INTERVIEWER:
[22] How real is your fiction to you?

PALLAS:
[23] It's not. I can get more lost in reading a story than writing it.

INTERVIEWER:
[24] What, if anything, can stop you writing, if only for awhile?

PALLAS:
[25] Stress and life. I'm not Anne Rice or Stephen King. I'm not paid millions to write, and so it's a hobby. When work or life becomes too stressful, I'll stop writing. Of course it's like ripping my arm off and I ache to get back to it. That's why I work as a writer, so even if I'm not working on the things I want, I'm writing. It balances me out.

INTERVIEWER:
[26] Which part of writing do you enjoy most and why?

PALLAS:
[27] I honestly enjoy it all. I'd rather not do the editing part, but without it my work would be weaker. I'm also really bad at editing myself on spelling and grammar stuff. Ask my co-workers, they'll agree. I love writing from inception to completion. However, ending a story can be bittersweet. If it's a long work, it's like losing a friend, even though like a house guest, you're ready for them to go.

INTERVIEWER:
[28] How has online writing affected your life and how you see yourself, your goals?

PALLAS:
[29] Honestly, it's helped boost my self esteem about my fiction writing. To get a fan letter is an amazing thing. It totally validates you in ways your friends and family can't. I know I'm a good writer. I get paid a lot to write tech stuff and articles, but to hear that someone likes your fiction, that it's made them cry or laugh or just feel, that's worth more than any check. Online writing hasn't affected my goals or life, it's just made me feel better about what I do with my spare time.

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

PALLAS:
[31] No, I'm mainly in control. I think experienced writers are. Of course, there are times I fall in love with either my characters or my words and let them lead me off on tangents, but that's where experience comes in and pulls me back on track. I've read too many fan fiction stories by new writers who you can easily tell have no control over their work. Before you know it you are reading pages and pages of either descriptions or dialogue that does absolutely nothing to further the plot. This is especially true of new writers who do a great job of building their stories and characters, but blow their climax and then drag the story on forever in some sort of diabetic coma before ending it.

INTERVIEWER:
[32] How often do you think about a piece when you're working on it and when do you think about it?

PALLAS:
[33] I guess it's always in my mind, but I don't actively think about my story until I sit down to work on it. I've gotten to the point where I stop writing when I'm not sure what to do next and come back the next day when I've slept on it and more times than not I can finish the section. I usually work on my stories from about 3:30 to 6 when my office starts quieting down. I used to write late at night, but working all day ended that .

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

PALLAS:
[35] I don't think of it as getting stuck. I feel that's self-defeatist. Writers who use phrases like writer's block aren't really writers, in my opinion. I think there are times when you can't work on a piece either because you've lost your way or are too close to it or whatever, but a writer can always write. If I get stuck on a story it's usually because I'm not sure what to do next or I'm not ready to write what's next. I know in Mercy that Sadness Brings I've been challenged several times, but it's more because I have several plot lines going on that I needed to meticulously tie together.

INTERVIEWER:
[36] Who is Pallas?

PALLAS:
[37] I live in Phoenix, AZ and work in real life as a writer. I've written for everything from websites to magazines. I'm currently working as a technical writer for a hardware and software development firm. It's dull, tedious work, but not too difficult. Big pluses to the job are getting a lot of time to work on my own stories, dressing in shorts and t-shirts, and listening to mp3's all day. But that doesn't answer who I am, does it? Simply, I'm just like everyone else, give or take a trait or two. Mostly I'm a writer. It's who I am and what I do. I see things happening and I like to write them down. Words are my stock in trade and I live by them in more ways than I can count. Someday the only thing that makes me happy is writing a sentence, and when I can't write, I've found I get depressed and really moody.

INTERVIEWER:
[38] What is the most sensitive part on your body?

PALLAS:
[39] My neck.

INTERVIEWER:
[40] How do I handle depression?

PALLAS:
[41] This depends on what I'm depressed over. Sometimes I want to sleep a lot. Other times I need to get out of town and find a quiet place. I might listen to a ton of sad songs or read books to lose myself in other places. I probably withdraw from those closest to me most, though.

INTERVIEWER:
[42] What makes your best friend your best friend?

PALLAS:
[43] Love. Trust. Companionship. Laughter. Forgiveness. Compassion. And that small smile that tugs at her lip when she's trying really hard not to laugh at whatever stupid thing I've said or done.

INTERVIEWER:
[44] What was the hardest thing you have ever done?

PALLAS:
[45] I think the hardest decision I ever made was putting my 16-year-old blind, deaf and shaking dog into the car and going to the vet to put him down. I took my mom with me, and even though this dog had been with me since I was 12 and had always been there for me, I couldn't stay in the room to be there with him. I couldn't look into his eyes, like my mom did, and watch them close. I was a coward that day and I've never forgiven myself. That's the hardest thing I've ever done. I decided life and death and rationalized it with being kind.

INTERVIEWER:
[46] What was the easiest thing I've ever done?

PALLAS:
[47] I can't remember. It must have been REALLY easy.

INTERVIEWER:
[48] Do you believe in prayer?

PALLAS:
[49] Yes and no. I don't believe that prayer is for that omniscient supreme being but for ourselves. Everytime I pray for something, I do it in the traditional way I was taught, but I've come to realize that I'm calling on the divine in me. I think everyone has a divine side that can influence outcomes. It may be that thing we call faith or it may be nothing, but I think when we pray we pray to ourselves because that's really the only thing we have to believe in. To clarify, I do believe we have some control over our destiny, but I think it's more along the lines of making the right choice at the right time.

INTERVIEWER:
[50] How do you feel about subtext?

PALLAS:
[51] I love it. I think it helps add another dimension to the characters. I think in the case of Xena, it helped move her from what could have turned into a dull two dimensional "hero" character into a more living breathing "hero" character. The aspect of their friendship or relationship expanded the show beyond the premise of "hero looking for redemption." The subtext made for a richer enjoyment, and the question of are they or aren't they led to a lot of interesting discussions.

INTERVIEWER:
[52] Would the world be a better place if women ran it or would it be basically the same?

PALLAS:
[53] Believe it or not, this is one of my favorite debates. I won't bore you on all my thoughts, but the conclusion that I most often draw is that it would be pretty much the same as it is now. I think that unless women start standing up and taking responsibility for their lives, they would run it much the same way it's done now. I'm a fringe feminist, which means I silently watch from the sidelines, but I would like to see women move out from under a male dominated thought process and do what they feel is natural and right. Women need to stop living for others and start living for themselves. I'll get off my soapbox now.

INTERVIEWER:
[54] What would your friends say is your worse trait?

PALLAS:
[55] Easy. My need to jump in and fix everything for everyone. I'm working on that.

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

PALLAS:
[57] I liked this question because I just helped a spider out of my shower the other day. It was a great lesson in futility because the dumb thing ended up getting drowned the next day. Unless I have more than one spider in my shower.

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

PALLAS:
[59] Dessert.

INTERVIEWER:
[60] Who is your favorite Greek God?

PALLAS:
[61] Pallas Athena. I first read about her when I was about 8 and have been a devotee ever since. Such complexity.

INTERVIEWER:
[62] What to you is the worse feeling in the world?

PALLAS:
[63] Disappointment.

INTERVIEWER:
[64] What is the best feeling?

PALLAS:
[65] Hope.

INTERVIEWER:
[66] What stupid thing did you do as a teen?

PALLAS:
[67] I got myself expelled from Catholic High School three weeks before graduation. That was the stupidest, but there were oh so many more things.

INTERVIEWER:
[68] What are the limits in sacrifices for true love?

PALLAS:
[69] When you lose who you are in trying to please someone else. Nothing and no one is worth losing who you are. We spend far too much time trying to just figure that out.

INTERVIEWER:
[70] Who do you read for inspiration?

PALLAS:
[71] The Onion. Modern Humorist. I don't know why. Must be the disguised truth in humor.

INTERVIEWER:
[72] When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

PALLAS:
[73] Rich. I know that sounds awful, but my mother is a conspicuous consumer.

INTERVIEWER:
[74] What is your favorite song of the moment?

PALLAS:
[75] I've been a big Ani Difranco fan for years. For some reason her music doesn't bug me and I enjoy listening to it. I think Amazing Grace is my all time favorite song. I've ask that at my funeral two songs are played: Sarah McLachlan's Dear God and Amazing Grace. I want people to leave conflicted.


Pallas' Stories

Pallas' e-mail address: Pallas3@yahoo.com

Ravages of Spirit
(also here)
Typical coming out story with a small twist as Gabrielle discovers her attraction for Xena and rather than face Xena and her own fears she flees in the middle of the night. Upon discovering the bard's flight, Xena engages the help of Ephiny and the two travel to Athens. Ephiny is guarding her own secret while trying to be a good friend to both Xena and Gabrielle. Friendship and love come to blows throughout the story, and ends in a way not common.

Beyond and Forever
Gabrielle is keeping a deadly secret from Xena. The bard is dying and terrified if she tells Xena then the warrior will leave her. She is also tortured by her own need to be of service to Xena and help her as she's always done. Both women have to learn to trust each other and come to grips with the end. Beyond and Forever has been described as poignant and something of a tearjerker.

Unconquered
(also here)
Set in the alternate Xena the Conqueror universe, but again has a twist on the story line established in Hercules. The story opens with Xena captured by a remote Amazon outpost and the news being delivered to the Queen. Gabrielle has joined the Amazons after saving Ephiny's life, but her heart is dark with unquenched vengeance. A few years before Gabrielle came face to face with the Conqueror who raided her village and held Gabrielle in her arms while she was forced to watch her husband and sister burn to death. Ever since Gabrielle has been seeking retribution. Now that Xena is within her grasp, Gabrielle will go to no end to kill the Conqueror. Journeying with Ephiny to the remote outpost, Gabrielle must come face to face with her enemy and soon discovers that hatred can be but a shadowy reflection of love. Unfortunately love cannot conquer all and sometimes duty must come first.

Star Light, Star Bright
(also here)
A simple comedy about coming out to your parents and the lengths one will go to forestall that discussion. Gabrielle is called home for her sister's wedding, but rather than bringing Xena as her lover, she brings Joxer as her fiancée. Her reasoning is that once her parents meet Joxer they will love Xena in comparison. However, Gabrielle's family gives new meaning to dysfunctional and they may not either notice or care about who Gabrielle is sleeping with. Or maybe they will.

Mercy that Sadness Brings
(also here)
A foray into the uber world, Mercy is set in turbulent WWII months prior to the Normandy Invasion. Jacqueline Bradford is a first time US operative dropped into Upper Normandy to help the Maquis Resistance slow down the German fortifications and prepare for the upcoming invasion. Sophie Frenay is the sister of the local Resistance leader and a propaganda writer. Gestapo agent Caron von Rundstedt has pegged Sophie as the person who will help her bring down the Resistance. Jackie and Sophie finally meet when her small Resistance group attacks the building where Sophie is being held. The Germans are prepared for their attach, and Jackie and Sophie barely escape with their lives. They run, desperate to find someone who can help them escape, but Caron is hot on their trail. Inadvertedly they stumble into a plan to betray the Overlord invasion plans to the Germans, and Jackie's torn between doing her sworn duty to her country or saving Sophie whom she has sworn to protect and has come to need. Story is unfinished. Estimated completion date is August 2001.


Acknowledgments

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)

 

 

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