Today is the birthday of Lucy Lawless (March 29). Since my first fanfiction shared in the modern internet was centered around Xena: Warrior Princess (and housed at the Royal Academy of Bards), I thought that I would share a bit about the transition to publishing original fiction.
I have been a writer since I could form words on paper. There’s a photo my mother treasures of me, head in hand, leaning elbow on the living room coffee table. I am leaning over a piece of paper with a pencil in my hand. I’m about 4 years old.
I wrote all the way through middle school and high school. Junior/senior year, I was planning to go into diplomacy, to go all over the world as a U.S. diplomat. I was up to my eyeballs in history, and political reading, and writing. And I loved it, but…
Fiction writing was my stress relief valve. My stories were epic fantasies, featuring horses, warriors (male and female), and magic. I penned these stories long into the nights after I was supposed to be asleep. Thousands of pages.
Then I went off to college, got caught up in the “real world.” I wrote more sporadically, but when I did write, my stories were contemporary teen and new adult angst and romance. I still wasn’t sharing with people, just writing as my stress-relief.
It wasn’t until I was a young mother that I was truly bitten by the bug again. The stories came out of the media I was watching, and I’d just started this new “sword and sorcery” show, Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP). I’d occasionally watched Hercules, and it was okay, but Xena, she was a revelation. Here was the heroine I’d been playing with ten years earlier as a teen in and she was incredibly more than I could imagine. I loved the show. I wrote a little story, Horse Thieves, and shared it with an online friend in a forum who said I should write and share more. I adopted the bard name “LZClotho” and let my imagination take off: 23 stories, from one-shot shorts, to novellas, to series.
The “original fiction” was born from the series itself. The term coined was “uber” stories set in other places and times from the concept that Xena and Gabrielle were soulmates who would always meet up in the next life, and the next, and the next after that. The series established the concept specifically as descendants of the warrior and bard, but there were other stories written by fans offline who created characters whose ties were looser: a brunette tough stoic and a blonde with a bright outgoing personality. The further and further away from “ancient Greece” these stories became, the more original they were.
This was still the period when books were still paperback. Ebooks were barely a thing. But there were all these stories. Within the community people started banding together and creating “kitchen table” publishing houses and the original stories were soon being issued in paperback.
These stories of blonde/brunette love spearheaded a rebirth of the lesbian fiction genre. It wasn’t all Xena, of course, but XWP was certainly producing the largest number of new writers, new publishers, and new books.
I never used the Xena and Gabrielle archetypes in an original story. The seeds were planted, however, and I would go on to other fandoms and take archetypes from other media while also writing fanfic for Star Trek: Voyager, and Once Upon a Time.
So, thank you to Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor, who opened my eyes to the epic, the fantasy, the archetype, and got me producing original stories that I feel more and more passionate about as the years pass.