Q: XWP fanfic has created a
mythology all its ownseparate 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 fanfic mythology?
A: Its true that much of what we "know"
about Xena and Gabrielle comes from fan writings, not from the series.
Also, some characteristics that are mentioned once in all the episodes
are magnified in the fan fiction. During the second season, especially
with "A Day in the Life," there has been some blending of the
I try to stay true to the series in terms of the
personalities of the characters and their histories. What is going to come
through, of course, is the way I interpret those things. I love the series
and its irreverance regarding time and place. In "serious" (ahem)
stories, however, I enjoy being as accurate or SEEMING to be as accurate
as possible in regard to the time period.
Having done one Janice and Mel adventure, I can
say thats a different experience. From the "Xena Scrolls" episode,
we know a few details such as their fathers names, who their most famous
ancestors were, and where Mel is from. Almost everything else can come
from the writers imagination. If Ive created any "mythology,"
it was Mels Aunt Helen. Some people seem to think that Aunt Helen was
actually mentioned in the episode. I love it.
Q: Many readers feel that
the fanfic 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 show?
A: First and foremost, I love Xena: Warrior Princess,
the television series. I am a hardcore, nutball fan who can watch each
episode over and over. During the first-run season, it is the only television
show I regularly watch, the only one I tape. Everything else, the NetForum,
the fan clubs, the fan fiction, is secondary to the real thing for me.
I like to write stories that pick up themes from
the series and take them farther than can be done in the forty minutes
or so that are available in an episode. You dont have to read much fan
fiction to realize that it is "talkier" than the series and usually
contains much less action. I think this is because fan fiction fills in
the gaps between the episodes, tells the backstory of the characters, and
further develops the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. The series
would be boring if it had the proportion of talk to action that fanfiction
has. Fanfiction would be unsatisfying to the writer and to the reader if
it didnt explore different adventures or deeper feelings than the series.
Q: Do you read fan fiction
written by others? If so, do you have any favorite authors? Have you been
influenced by any?
A: I had never heard of fan fiction until I signed
onto the Forum several months ago. I was fascinated to find that people
wrote their own stories about Xena and posted them, usually as serials,
for other people to read. This was at the time of "Return of Callisto,"
and I thought it interesting that Callistos only human relationship was
with Xena, her creator and destroyer. Inspired by my discovery of fan fiction,
I wrote a little story called "Fair Trade?" in which Callisto
gets to come back as a Gabrielle-substitute. Then I read "All Through
the Night" by Rebekah and realized what fan fiction could be. Ever
since reading Rebekahs story, I have tried to make each story special
in some way, to make it the best I was capable of at the time.
Now I dont read much fan fiction, especially
if I am working on something myself. I do still read new stories by my
favorites, such as WordWarrior, Rie (Star Warrior), and nafanex. . . .xenafan.
WordWarrior brings a professionalism and beauty of expression to her stories.
Rie, for me, comes closest to the emotional inner life of the characters.
And nafanex mixes humor with action in a way I envy.
Q: Of the stories you have
written, which is your personal favorite and why?
A: If the writing is going well, my favorite is
the story Im working on. If its not, my favorite is the last one I completed.
Over time, I suppose my favorite single story
is "Time Changes." Although I
would now do some things differently, Im probably more satisfied with
it than any of the others. It was an easy write, since it came to me "whole"
in a way most stories dont. I favor "Friends
of the Goddess" for what it taught me about pulling together the
many different threads of the so-called Serpent Trilogy. By that time,
I had also become comfortable with Gabrielles voice and the mythology
behind the story. In both stories, I indulged my fantasy of putting Xena
back at the head of an army.
Q: How is the writing process
for you? What is your "philosophy" of writing? Where do you get
your ideas? Do you pen a story in one sitting or have to work over several
A: I hope you dont mind my taking these questions
in a different order.
My major source of ideas is the series itself.
Often, when I see an episode, either a new one or a tape of an old one,
a question will nag at me. Later, when Im not consciously thinking about
that question, an answer will come in the form of a story idea. (Yes, there
actually are times when Im not thinking about Xena.) For example, when
I saw "The Gauntlet," I wondered what would have happened if
Hercules had not influenced Xena after Darphus took her army. In the form
of "Time Changes," the answer was that Xena would have regained
her army but with the knowledge that she might not be able to afford her
scruples about killing women and babies. Sometimes, the question is as
simple as "What happened next?" or "What happened between
these two episodes?" I wondered what happened between "Destiny"
and "Quest" and where that elaborate warriors sarcophagus came
from, and wrote "Solemn Industry."
My shorter pieces, those in the forty pages and
under category, are usually written in the white heat of inspiration. (Like
that? White heat of inspiration?) These stories come to me so complete
that I seem to be less writing than taking dictation. Examples would be
"Time Changes," "Solemn
Industry," "Simulacrum," and
"Home Fires." Of course, the very
short stories, such as "Dedication"
and "The Last Day" are written
this way, too.
The longer stories, such as the ones in the Serpent
Trilogy and "Gabrielle Stele" are written over a period of weeks,
with many pauses in between sections. I usually rewrite the first three
or four chapters and the endings. I always come to a point where I lose
interest, meaning I dont have the slightest idea how to proceed. Thats
when I usually write a shorter story or discover a sudden revival of my
interest in poetry. If I dont "worry" it, a solution will come,
and Ill continue the longer story until I hit another snag.
My "philosophy" of writing fan fiction
is two-fold: First, have fun and secondly, learn something from each story
you write. XWP fanfic has, in my opinion, become all too serious a "business."
I think fan fiction is wish fulfillment; it is having the characters do
what you want them to do, having open questions settled in the way you
fancy. Some new "bards" are discouraged from writing because
they think their first efforts wont be up to the standards of a WordWarrior
or a Rebekah. If any of them read this, I hope they will get the message
that there is room for EVERY Xena fan to write his or her own vision AND
to share that vision with the rest of us fans. As for learning something
from writing each story, I try not to keep repeating the same old "tricks"
in each new effort. I try to develop new techniques, try different voices
and tenses, avoid the verbal flourishes of which I am too fond, write better
beginnings, leave fewer loose ends. . . . Someday Ill get around to writing
better "middles," I promise.
Thanks for the chance to get all this off my chest.
As Tim Wellman says, ask Judy a simple question, and shell give you several
pages in return.
Fan Fiction by Judy (Wishes)
Adventure Begins | The Arrow of Time
| Bard | Fair Trade?
(Parts 1 & 2) | Forgetfulness of Sleep
| Love and Risk | Nature
| Remember Nothing | Slumber
Safe | Solstice Thoughts | A
Song for My Son | Stone Pillars | Thread
Trilogy Lair of the Serpent | Valley
of Regret | Friends of the Goddess
Prayer | Web | With Kings
| Dedications | Old
Woman | A Starry Night, A Solstice Story
The Mountain | The
Further Adventures of Janice and Mel: The Gabrielle Stelle | Believe
| Creator: A Necessary Evil | Don't
| Harbor | Innocent Sleep
| Nadir: Sins of the Past | The
Cross | The Fates Decreed | The
Old Horse | Time Changes | Retirement
| The Last Day | Winter
Camp | Dragon Teeth | Hunger
| Time Travel | The
Truth | If Ever | Solemn
Industry | Simulacrum | Home
Fires | Signals |