Twenty-Seven Grilled Bards and One Reviewer: L. Graham

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Twenty-Seven Grilled Bards and One Reviewer: L. Graham
Interviewee: L. Graham
Date(s): July 3, 1998
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Xena: Warrior Princess
External Links: full interview is here; reference link
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Twenty-Seven Grilled Bards and One Reviewer: L. Graham is a 1998 Xena: Warrior Princess fan interview at Whoosh!.


For others in this series, see Whoosh! Interview Series.

Some Excerpts

I've always loved to write and simply found myself at a place in my life where I didn't have much in the way of any other kind of creative outlet. I'd been sitting up late nights reading some fanfic because basically I hated my life at the time and I really enjoyed the humorous sketches and parodies. Frankly, anything that could make me laugh was a worthwhile endeavor. So when my brain finally became functional again, about six months after first tuning the show in, I started thinking of story ideas-how would I like to handle xyz scenario. At the same time, I began an editing relationship with a few established bards and that pulled me in a little bit more and made me more comfortable. I'm notoriously terrified of other writers (I flee from them on sight) so there was a certain appeal to the anonymous nature of the Internet postings. I finally worked my nerve up and was pleasantly surprised when I didn't die as a result of someone else reading a story.
I started writing literally before I could write - I would imperiously dictate stories to my Mom who dutifully wrote them down on scraps of paper. Even back then I had trouble sticking with the plot though and would frequently wander off. I wrote all through high school and turned to novels in college, producing four before I graduated. Yes, they were wretched, but they generally kept me out of trouble. Being Southern to the core, I enjoyed writing and exploring some of the darker aspects of the region. You ain't Southern without at least a half dozen skeletons in the closet, usually wearing party hats. I managed to collar a few friends in college to read them, but for the most part it was a very solitary pursuit. (The online community offered by XWP is perhaps its most attractive feature.)
Hey, we always take the uber concept forward in time. What about backwards? If Xena had been in 'Clan of the Cave Bear' I bet she would've kicked that jerk's butt and made him give her baby back. Well, golly, what about before then? Before people? How come Xena and Gabrielle always have to be people? Why not horses or badgers or spiders or sompin? Or maybe wolves? Hey, I bet Gabrielle would make a really cute wolf cub."

Basically, I was whomped with the anthropomorphism stick but good. It didn't hurt that Xena's always had that sorta lean, lone wolf look about her. That story really just wrote itself. I was afraid that it was literally too weird for the 'net, so I privately circulated it and it seemed to go over pretty well so I took a chance on it. (I also had two more ideas as I was drifting out of that nap, one of which formed the basis for 4N3D, so maybe I should take naps more often.)

I think that the entire XWP fanfic community owes a tremendous debt to Della Street for pioneering the uber concept with "Toward the Sunset." While the show itself technically set the tone with THE XENA SCROLLS (my first episode, btw), she's the one who really took the initiative to apply it to the new fiction. I think that the idea of uber has pretty much settled out as being the basic X&G dynamic set down in some other time and setting. While I've certainly written an uber tale or two that directly dragged Xena and Gabrielle into it (Mel's dream in "Prelude to a Dig"), I prefer an uber tale to stand on its own. It's nice if we can see the connections and sorta wink, wink, nudge, nudge each other, but it shouldn't feel stilted either.

I think the uber genre is a great way to allow writers to stretch themselves, plus it allows them to pick some better names than the usual cheezy fake Greek ones. Anything that gets someone to think creatively and then express themselves on paper is a very good thing in my opinion, and the uber offshoots are doing a terrific job of that. "Surfacing" is easily the best piece of fanfic ever written.