Judy (Wishes)

Q: XWP fanfic has created a mythology all 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 fanfic mythology?
A: It’s 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 two mythologies.

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 that’s 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 writer’s imagination. If I’ve created any "mythology," it was Mel’s 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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 Callisto’s 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 Rebekah’s 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 don’t 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 I’m working on. If it’s 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, I’m 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 don’t. 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 Gabrielle’s 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 weeks?
A: I hope you don’t 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 I’m not consciously thinking about that question, an answer will come in the form of a story idea. (Yes, there actually are times when I’m 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 warrior’s 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 don’t have the slightest idea how to proceed. That’s when I usually write a shorter story or discover a sudden revival of my interest in poetry. If I don’t "worry" it, a solution will come, and I’ll 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 won’t 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 I’ll 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 she’ll give you several pages in return.

Judy (Wishes)

Fan Fiction by Judy (Wishes)

The 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

Warrior's 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 |

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