Sharon Bowers

Q: XWP fan fic has created a mythology all of its own - separate from the TV show. Do you find in your own writing that you try to stay true to the series or have you also added to the fan fic mythology?
Well... to be honest, because I write several different "forms" of fanfiction... it all depends. When I write what I think of as "pure" Xena and Gabrielle (my stories in the Chiaroscuro arc), I try to stick to the chronology of the series and the developments therein. I also write an "immortal" version of Xena and Gabrielle based on the canon established by Katrina's "Blood and Roses Altaverse." In two stories, Katrina created a wonderful alternate reality where Xena is indeed acknowledged as Ares' daughter and Gabrielle did partake of the blood of Bacchus, making her his "daughter" as well. Of course, this doesn't really "conform" to TPTB timeline necessarily... but I try to stay true to the characters as I perceive them. The wonderful thing about this incarnation of the warrior and the bard is that they have the entire tapesty of time to work within... and you can have some fun with crossovers you might not ordinarily see. The two stories I did involved Louis and Lestat from Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" novels. More recently I've gotten involved in an Uber arc called "Lucifer Rising," which allows me to take the archetypes that Xena and Gabrielle represent and paint it on a canvas of my own choosing-- in this case, modern day Miami and the drug war the government can't seem to win.

Q: Many readers feel that the fan fic often surpasses the TV series in its appeal. What are your thoughts on this? Do you find yourself attracted to themes which are not normally explored on the TV show?
I think one of the reasons a lot of fans like the fiction "better" is the same reason people always say "The book is better than the movie." Fanfiction gives us the luxury of exploring motivations and shading characters. A well-written 100K short story will always be more indepth than the typical XWP episode. Additionally, the writers of the series not only have the constraints of a 48 minute hour, but also the commercial demands of the marketplace. I write strictly alternative fanfiction... not just because I am a gay woman, but because I perceive Xena and Gabrielle's relationship as transcending that of friends... even "romantic" friends. Obviously... no matter how much we "subtext" fans might like to see it... an overt love scene between Xena and Gabrielle will most likely never take place. So, for a lot of us-- writers and readers alike-- fanfiction fulfills a fantasy we will never get to see.

For me, the Third Season-- while it has left a lot of fans bewildered, upset and dismayed-- has given the characters a lot more resonance. We've finally seen some of that "darkness" the series was always talking about in Xena (as well as its consequences)... and Gabrielle-- in losing her blood innocence, as well as her naivete about the warrior-- has become much wiser. These ideas naturally give writers fodder for more stories. Already we've seen several great stories that explore the "darker" Xena spoken of in "Armageddon Now" (HTLJ) and others than begin to tackle the moral and emotional ramifications of the Rift.

Q: Do you read fan fic written by others. If so, do you have any favorite authors? Have you been influenced by any?
Of course I read other fanfiction! Most of the other writers I've talked with do... we're fans first and foremost. *g* There are a number of authors and stories that spring to mind... too many to name them all... One of the first ones I remember reading was M. Parnell's "Origins" and it still stays with me. To me it has the best Xena/Callisto subtext scene ever written. *g* One of the first Uber stories I read was Della Street's "Towards the Sunset," which combined Xena and the Wild West. A natural fit. I think Elaine Sutherland's "The Pappas Journals I & II" give us an intriguing take on Melinda Pappas. I really enjoyed Silk's "Crown of Laurel" which anticipated the episode "When in Rome..." by months. And it still has a better Colliseum scene. *g* I could go on for pages... indexes like Shadowfen's and Xenos' old page are invaluable for locating stories... and Lunacy's reviews are (for me) a good barometer for what to read and what to go back and give a second look.

Q: Of the stories you have written which is your personal favorite and why?
Oh gee... I think "Lucifer Rising" would have to be my favorite... In part because the Uber genre has allowed me the greatest freedom in executing my vision of characters. I'm not tied to a traditional interpretation of Xena. And also I like writing something that's set in modern day times. "Twilight's Children" is another favorite because it's the only story I've written from Gabrielle's first person point of view. I found that writing with a bard's words gave me a certain amount of freedom to play with the language and to indulge in a more "lyrical" style. Because it's one of the two "Immortal Scrolls" that I've written, it's also a little darker than some more traditional stories. Gabrielle is essentially a vampire, and that gives her a bit of a "bite." (pardon the pun). Really though... Each story means something special to me, and each represents a large chunk of my time that I've willingly devoted to sitting in front of my computer while the dog sulks at my feet. *g*

Q: How is the writing process for you? What is your "philosophy" of writing? Where do you get your ideas from? Do you pen a story in one sitting or have to work over several weeks?
Writing is a continual process for me. It's what I do for a living... so writing fanfiction is sort of a way to keep my brain "limber" with all the other writing that I do. Stories can start from many seeds... a character, an event, an emotion, a tone even. "Lucifer" was an idea that originally gestated almost a year ago... and it's been percolating ever since. It's the most "tactile" piece I think I've ever written... I put a lot of emphasis on colors, settings, fabrics, sensations in this one. Chiaroscuro is the most traditional of the arcs that I've written... it follows most of the conventions of the "first time story"-- even though it takes them five stories to get together. *g* The Immortal Scrolls were inspired by Katrina's excellent stories "Bite Me" and "The Fonder Heart" and made what I thought was a natural fit between the mythology of this Altaverse and Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

I tend to write in large chunks... but I write every day... and recently I've been trying to devote one entire day a week to working on Lucifer (because this thing has turned into a monster *g*)... but really it's what moves me. If I've got something really good going, I've been known to sit at the computer for 12+ hours (much to my body's protestations)... and if something's not working... I'll nibble on a paragraph for three days until whatever is blocking me loosens up enough to let me get through it.

To me, one of the most amazing things about my fanfiction writing experience has been the overwhelming response I've gotten. Writing is traditionally a solitary process... and a lot of times it feels like you're writing into a void. But hearing from people-- both readers and writers-- has been a wonderfully enlightening experience for me. And of course, it's always nice to hear that what you've written has given someone else pleasure.

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