INSIDE THE HEAD OF JIM KUNTZ
Jim was the very first male bard whose work I read. He does classic tales that you will enjoy reading from begining to end. Where do you think many got the phrase "Lion Of Amphipolis" from? Now let's get to know him.
Why did you start writing?
I've always had an itch to write. I started several novels in college which fortunately have long since been destroyed and forgotten. I wanted to write, I just didn't really have anything to say. Then amazingly in middle age I became a Xena fan. And then by accident, I read an article about the fan fiction on the Internet which I didn't even know existed. I finally found some and began reading. Some was very good, some was very bad, and a lot was just pornography. But I decided what the h***, I can do that. And the show really inspired me with the characters of Xena and Gabrielle. They lend themselves so well to drama and because they are searching and flawed you can find the pain and humanity in them so easily. After I put up the first story and got so many kind responses when I didn't really expect any, I was hooked. I think ego takes over after that. Like Pavlov's dog, the more people ring my bell with a kind word the more I salivate and want to produce so they'll ring the bell again. Kind of shallow I realize, I should be writing out of a deep hunger to create art but really all I want is my belly rubbed and my ears scratched, but hey, whatever gets you there right. Right?
If you had to do it all over, would you be a bard?
Absolutely. There is a great satisfaction in creating something, and having people respond to it. When they write and say they cried or laughed at something in my work I know I did good. I touched something in someone else. That's what it's all about.
How do you handle stress?
I curl up in the fetal position and cry like a baby. Just like everyone else. Right?
Who is James?
He's a middle aged guy who just got new bifocals because his d*** eyes are so old he needs two lenses to see. He has a wife and child and goes to work every day where he is overused and underappreciated and then he comes home where he is overused but is given many hugs and much appreciation so he feels better about things. He likes to read history and biography and watch the Packers of Green Bay play football and he works out three times a week because he is afraid of getting old and he plays tennis because it makes him feel young.
Do fans expect too much from stars?
Yes. Enjoy their work people. Tell them you enjoy it, because we all like encouragement and praise, then leave them alone. They don't have any of life's answers and they can't solve any of your problems. And the truth is expecting too much from them is bad for them. It warps them as much as it warps the people doing the expecting.
What advice can you give to future writers?
Write. Sounds easy. Very hard to do. A blank page is one of life's terrors. But write. And then read what you've written. And then read it again and improve it. Then set it aside for a week then read it again and improve it some more. And think. Think about the characters. Who are they? What do they feel? As the creator you should know their life's history even though it won't appear in your work. When you really know them they will begin to speak to you in their own voice. The story begins to have a life of its own as the characters interact. Trust their words. Xena and Gabrielle have spoken to me often, telling me what they are thinking and feeling. Stories have moved as if by magic far from where I thought they would go when I started because the characters took them there on their own. I was just the typist. A writer is the sum of his feeling and imagination and experience. Don't use a formula to write, that's what hacks do. Use your soul; then you will create.
How do you handle depression?
I curl up in a ball and cry like a baby. That's how everyone handles it, right? Right?
A stressed and depressed person
What was the hardest thing you ever did?
Tell my dad how much I loved him.
What was the easiest?
Tell my son how much I love him.
How do you feel about subtext?
I like it. A lot. Xena and Gabrielle are such a romantic couple to me with the trials and travails they've been through. The idea that they truly love each other, no hold barred, touches me. Plus of course Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor are just beautiful actresses and beauty appeals to me like it does to anyone. Who wants to see two ugly old f**** making out. Yuck. But those two, very hot. And of course as a straight male I have the usual fantasy of watching for awhile and then joining them. Pedestrian I know but there it is, I said it out loud. But on a deeper level we all long for a soulmate. Someone who knows us, good and bad and loves us anyway, without reservation. And we know them just as well and feel the same. We're all trapped in these flesh prisons of ours, eternally separated and lonely. So we each in our own way fantasize that we are Xena and have found our Gabrielle.
Who is your real life hero and why?
General Joshua Chamberlain. He was a medal of honor winner in the civil war and one of its greatest combat leaders. Someone once said of him 'he has the heart of a lion and the soul of a woman'. My Xena is the female J. Chamberlain. No one would dare say such a thing about a man these days. The world has become too macho for such expressions of tenderness and deep feeling. But he was a man who felt things to the core, yet was happiest on the field of battle, where emotion and intellect and courage are all tested to the limit. He is my man for all seasons. A professor, a warrior, a writer, a leader that men would follow into hell and back. He is my hero.
General Joshua Chamberlain
What are the limits in sacrifices for true love?
When your sacrifices begin to hurt others. We live in a web of relationships. True love is an ideal. Ideals live outside reality. In reality we must have a balance that takes into consideration all our relationships. When true love becomes obsessive self involvement to the exclusion of everything else then it becomes destructive. I know, not very romantic, but romance too is an ideal, that's why we read about it so much in stories but find so little of it in real life. A balanced life is one of moderation. We can visit our ideals in our imaginations but it's best not to try to live the ideals. Most tragedy's we read in fiction are people who try to live the ideal and have reality come crashing down on them.
How real is your fiction to you?
Well, as Gabrielle was telling me in bed yesterday after Xena left, it's pretty real out there.
What do you read for inspiration?
I don't read for inspiration, I see a movie for inspiration. The Lion in Winter, Henry the V with Branaugh, Network or The Hospital by Paddy Chavesky, Seven Days in May by Rod Serling. When you hear great writing like that, words that flow so naturally and have such emotion and clarity and meaning to them, it just charges me up and I want to go out a write the great American Novel. At least try anyway.
What did you think of the end of Xena?
I was disappointed. Not that they killed her off. I've done that myself. But that the emotions that could have been played out in the end were left so flat and uninspired. If they were going to kill her then it should have been an intimate moment, one of deep personal feeling and pain. Think ONE AGAINST AN ARMY but even deeper. It cried out for an ending that would bring down the house like the death of Romeo and Juliette. Gale Sayers saying goodbye to Brian Picallo in Brian's Song. Instead it happened so fast it left you stunned and feeling stupid, like an ox hit in the forehead with an axe handle. Or they could have gone for crashing Wagnerian drama, which is what they tried I think but frankly they didn't have the skill or the budget to bring it off. It should have been the thunderous passing of a god of war, instead it ended with a whimper.
I've heard some say the violence was pornographic. I think that's just sour grapes. The violence wasn't any more extreme or offensive than having Xena's arms chopped off or being beaten half to death in a harem then telling her tormentor she wants to be his number one wife or Gabrielle being dragged or all those people being graphically nailed to crosses. Common folks, Xena: Warrior Princess has always been overloaded on violence. It's too late to complain now.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
Someone who was asked to do an interview with Whoosh. This was pretty cool. Now when do I get to do Leno and Letterman?
Who would have thunk it?
Jim's e-mail address: Aleckk1@hotmail.comFrom http://ausxip.com/bards2.html#jim
The stories are divided into two novels. The first five stories, "The Fortress", "The City", "The Journey", "Meg's", and "The Lion's Wall", were the first stories I've ever written and they look it. However people seemed to enjoy the plot even if the writing was still rough. It's a story of growth and change between Xena and Gabrielle as their relationship matures and they open themselves to each other. It ends heroically but tragically. (I guess we've been there done that haven't we XWP fans)
The second set of stories, "Dreams Lost and Found", "The Will of the Lion", "Ashes on the Wind", and "Keola's Story" are my second novel. I think the quality of the writing in this second novel improves dramatically and I've been told by some it is their favorite work of fan fic. It's a story of war, friendship, sacrifice, reconciliation, courage, redemption and love. And it has a happy ending. I highly recommend it, but then I admit to being biased.
"Birthright" was the start of a new novel which I have put on hold for the time being because the one I am working on now kind of came along and overpowered me. Weird things like that happen to us writers sometimes.
"Keola and Oresta" is the novel I'm working on now. It is semi-uber and I hope to see it published one day (hope springs eternal in the mind of man). For those who like the first 80 pages they can e-mail me to get on my list and I'll send them the rest of the story as it develops. When it hits the NYT's best seller list you can say you read it first, and for free. It's a love story, character study, historical political thriller and whatever else my muse Gabrielle decides to make of it. I can never tell where I'll end up when I start these journeys, but I always find it a trip worth taking.
Thanks to Kamouraskan for the beta.
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 various issues
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 has read it! Murphy has also tried her hand at writing fan fiction, 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 (24/124)
Favorite line: "I Have Many Skills" --various episodes
First episode seen: TITANS (07/107)
Least favorite episode: LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510)