Self-Interview on......

Green Arrow: By Way Of The Bow


Q: What inspired you to write a Green Arrow fanfiction story?

A: Oh, a lot of things really. "Green Arrow", like any story, takes it's cues from real life experiences. Archery, for one thing. About twenty years ago, I spent a lot of weekends up at a rustic cabin in a rural lake-side location in the northeast. And during that time I was left alone a lot while my family would go out and sightsee or whatever. So during a lot of these alone times, I would read a lot. The vintage pre-crisis comics (i.e. Superboy, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), and almost all of the books that I mentioned in Chapter Two of "By Way Of The Bow". And when I wasn't lying on the couch reading gaggles of books and comics, I was self-teaching myself how to shoot with a bow and arrow. I learned a lot, and sometimes miss trips up there, now that I've grown up. But a lot of those early experiences in archery and comics stuck with me, so that when I started going through a seriously tough time of my own life, I naturally turned to a creative outlet for hope: writing fanfiction about some of the things I knew about.

Q: Where did the story come from?

A: Oh, Lord. Well, a lot of these ideas had been rattling around in my head for a long time... even though I never actually considered writing Green Arrow directly, until I read Kevin Smith's run on the current GA comic book (The 'Quiver' storyline). Looking back on it, Green Arrow had always been an instructive and memorable part of my childhood. A lot of my idealism and optimistic belief in people, came out of Oliver Queen as an example. He was sort of like the dad I DIDN'T have... and my personal life actually wound up mirroring in some ways, some of the darker turns that Ollie's ward Roy Harper underwent, but in different directions. (Kind of wierd, now that I think about it. In a very odd sense, I'm almost like one of Ollie's kids!) So it was really a surprise to ME, that I sat down one day and started penning this rough concept that went about maybe two pages long, about an average joe who was about my age, at a costume party and falling into the superhero bit the same way that Green Arrow did in the comics. It sparked a lot of memories about better times in my life, and reminded me of my own lessons in patience, that I learned through practicing archery as a boy. The title, "By Way Of The Bow", actually comes from the segment in 'Quiver', where Roy Harper is reminiscing about HIS lessons with Ollie. The same sort of thing happened to me during my stress-release writing exercise that ended up becoming the genesis for "Bow". So besides the Adams-era costume that my character also wears, with some minor alterations.... in it's own way, my little storyline DOES have some pretty strong connections in it's genesis, to the canonical Green Arrow, Oliver Queen. *smiles* Thanks, Ollie.

Q: Don't people give you a lot of flak for writing fanfiction on the 'net for free?

A: Hell yeah! People think it's a hobby, or a phase... or they think I'm wasting my time when I should be writing for money. But most of the critics that I've had, usually don't sit their asses down in front of a keyboard and try and come up with ideas and stories. And when they do, they're usually folks who are jealous of the ideas YOU think up, so they rag on you. Fanfiction writing is probably one of the hardest mediums to write in and for. You don't make money off it, and you're never GONNA, unless you're a Star Trek author... or the fucking genius who came up with the idea of "The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen". You can do anything you want, in fanfiction... Arthur Conan Doyle first started it, when William Gillette asked the author if he could make a small change to the character of Sherlock Holmes for the sake of a play. Doyle said something to the effect of: "You can shoot him, marry him off, kill him, do whatever you like to him.". And thus was born the idea of fanfiction writing. Taking a character or concept, and changing it in order to create totally new situations to read about. When you write fanfiction, you're free to do whatever you like. I've even read a Holmes story in print where the Great Detective was really Jack The Ripper. My point is, people shouldn't HAVE any say about what you write about, or what you do with a character in fanfiction... if they don't like it, they can either stick with the canon stuff... or write their OWN fanfiction story.

Q: You sound like a voice of experience, on the subject of negative criticism.

A: Lord, yes. Unfortunately. Matter of fact, great example of this... fellow writer, almost pulled the plug on one of his pet babies... because someone else bitched and moaned about it and made some unholy stink about it. I wrote the author in question, and told him in no uncertain terms that what that other person thinks, should have NO bearing on doing something he loved and made out of a part of himself. Like writing. You like to write? You're not making money off it? Then write your heart out, sunshine. Like I said before. If some shmuck out there doesn't like the fanfiction that's being written, either don't read it or WRITE YOUR OWN STUFF. I can't stress that enough, because it seems that the issue comes up too damn much. I wish that guy with the tough critic a HELLUVA lot of luck, and I hope that he knows what real fans are like. And that he finds that little 'block sender' button on his email client, it's a little invention that saves a WORLD of headache when it comes to people who have so little in their lives, that they like to make it tougher rather than better for fellow writers.

Q: But you find positive qualities, in writing fanfiction?

A: Oh, yeah! For starters, unlike a job where you have a deadline... or bosses over your head... YOU are the boss. You are the one, who creates the world. Decides what to have happen. And you can decide, whether you want to pull the plug like that guy I mentioned almost did, to his project. It's funny... I've had about half a dozen rough starts in fanfic... I went a chapter or two and then something happened to derail the project... but it's okay. Well, it's not okay for the fans, because they've gotten hooked on some of the other characters I've penned. And a lot of stuff is left hanging open. But it's still my call to make. And who knows? I may get another chance to pick up writing some of my earlier stuff. Or I may re-write them, with a new perspective based on the time that's passed since my initial attempts. Anything's possible, and that's the whole concept of fanfiction writing in a nutshell. That anything's possible. You just have to want to shoot for it. It's like this saying of mine, inspired by the "Apollo 13" movie: "How do you know you can shoot for the moon, unless you at least reach for the stars?" Sometimes, you may not make it as far as you WANT to. But sometimes, you can reach out as far as you can... and still touch something special. All you have to do, is try for it. Look at Christopher Columbus. He tried to find a sea route to India. He never made it to India. But he DID open up, a whole new world of exploration, for generations to come. Who knows what ANY of us can do, if we try? But no matter what you do... be prepared for setbacks. PLENTY of them. But remember. Some setbacks, may lead you down a much better road than the one you dreamed to travel...

Q: Isn't it risque, to be writing a character inspired by the comics, in a gay erotic fiction genre? And blending in real people, into the story?

A: Nope. Because of the handy-dandy disclaimer, that goes on every movie and every work of fiction. "Any resemblance to real people is coincidental". When you write about celebrities, it's not as if you're writing their biography, when it's fiction you're working with. You can pretty much have a fictional counterpart of any real-life person, doing whatever YOU want them to do... without it really having a thing to do with the real-life people. It's like how Spider-Man is written, to take place in New York City. That's a real enough place. But just because the adventures of Spider-Man is written in the environs of New York City, doesn't mean that the real NYC reflects anything in real-life from it. Unless a person (or a character, which may have protections by virtue of copyright), expressly wishes NOT to be portrayed in fan-made fiction, it's pretty much open-season with a pen and paper, kids. And that goes for writing characters inspired by comics, too. Do I make money off it? Nope. Neither does just about anyone else in the fanfiction genre. We do it, because we enjoy the creative challenge.

Q: So where DO the characters come from, in "Bow"?

A: Well, a lot of places, really. Some of the characters are nods to other characters without expressly BEING those characters. Sensei, for example. He was a one-shot little cameo appearance, who was meant to be a vehicle for explaination and information. A sort of exposition tool. Laying in the backdrop of the whole history of superheroes, and how real life ones DO pop up from time to time. But depending on who you ask, you mention Sensei and you get either "Oh, yeah! That's a rough description of Master Splinter, from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!", or "Oh, yeah! That's a rat-demon guy from the world of Buffy and Angel, right?" (The reference by Sensei that there IS a Batman, is a little plug for readers to check out "Tales Of A Real Dark Knight" over in Boybands, penned by another author who has created a world where creatures like the ones in Buffy and Angel exist.) Actually, Sensei is a little of both. It's up to the reader to decide if he's a cameo appearance by Splinter, or whether he's a wierd otherworldly rat creature posing as a human being that could have had his origins in another fanfiction "world". I left that totally open for interpretation by the reader. And that's an example of just ONE character that doesn't get a lot of exposure in the story, but who indirectly propels the story forward in some major ways as the story progresses. Now, Jake is a different story. Jake's full name (which will be revealed in the next chapter anyway,) is Alexander Jacob Murphy. Another clue that this guy's something of a hero by nature. His name, "Alex J. Murphy", is a nod to the RoboCop fans out there. Jake's name though, also goes back to my days practicing with the bow and arrow. There was this dog named Jake that was often at the cabin with me, and Jake used to hunt arrows for me. When I'd shoot an arrow and miss the target, Jake would sniff them out for me, and let me know where they were. Poor Jake died a couple years back from old age, but I couldn't resist the irony of naming my protagonist after that dumb mutt. In addition to the RoboCop in-joke, I also chose the name Alex after a friend of mine who passed away last October. I realized that he'd have gotten a good laugh out of being a part of my next writing project. Making him a gay superhero, was also a bit of ironic tongue in cheek humor. The dumb pooch who inspired part of the name, was also notorious for attempting to hump every free male leg and sniff every male doggie butt he could get his paws on. Which kind of made me laugh, considering that Ollie Queen is notorious for doing the same in the comics, with the ladies. So I decided to just roll with the name, the character... the whole concept.

Q: And Cigar Man? Who is he?

A: LOL! Um... maybe he's really Cancer Man (X-Files)! Seriously though... um, well, it's kind of interesting how the villian role more or less came about. I'm a major fan of 'Passions', and somehow this concept of a (to the readers) faceless villain like Alistair Crane, came into my head. I mean, we know he's a middle-aged cigar-smoking dude with an eye for young guys. And has no compunctions whatsoever, with murdering those in his employ. What his identity is... and how he'll be a major rogue for Green Arrow, STILL remains to be seen. So I can't really divulge any juicy gossip on him. I will say though, that he's gonna have a HUGE impact on not just the direction of Green Arrow, but also a major impact on Jake's personal life. I took just about every nasty thing I could think of, from villians I'd liked over the years... Lex Luthor, Darth Vader, Dr. Doom, The Joker, Scar, Megatron, Galvatron, etc.... and pretty much rolled them all into one nasty, cigar-smoking package. And every time I think I've finished the latest chapter... I'll save and leave the file open overnight. And every morning right before I go to post, I'll dream up a sequence with our mysterious Cigar Man involved, and find myself writing another couple of paragraphs... and get shivers by the time I click save, for the final time! I've actually posted about 10% of the stuff that has come to me in dreams, about this guy. Part of it is because of lack of space... I've got a personal limit for the amount of text per posting. Secondly, I hold back some of the initial raw material I write up, because this guy is definately an over-the-top villian, as far as rogues go. And as much as I'd love to include him in a more detailed scene or two.... I have to balance him out with the other characters and scenes already in place by the time I come up with his part near the end. And the bottom line is, I don't want to give away too much, too soon.

Q: What's the point of the story, other than an origin tale for this new Green Arrow?

A: Well, it's partly an origin story, yes. But I also wanted to bring some weightier issues to the story, as well. In the Green Arrow/Green Lantern series, GA was sometimes this preachy, moral crusader for right, who sometimes came at odds with the golden boy of the Green Lantern Corps, who believed in following orders all the time. In writing this version of Green Arrow, I wanted to infuse some of that into a new, younger unknown voice that was as much a product of the 21st century, as the classic DC comics hero, was a product of his era. A lot of the same sentiments are expressed... I've even written in a few one-liner gags that are reminiscent of Oliver Queen himself... but I wanted to bring attention to current events issues, too. For example. Ollie was a man of privilege, who gave away his fortune to become a modern-day Robin Hood. Jake Murphy is a younger man of... shall we say less than privileged a bank account, who falls into the world of being a hero because he did a good deed. And his reward, IS to suddenly be this socialite by day, and have his night-time heroics backed financially by another, wealthier young man who also started out with nothing. (And yes, who may actually become this Green Arrow's partner, Speedy. We'll see....) I threw it into reverse in this origin story. Instead of throwing away a fortune, this new Green Arrow pretty much ends up with a blank check to fill out for right, not might. I suppose I can tell you this without spoiling a future scene that's being plotted out... the point of my take of Green Arrow, is to more or less drive home an impression that it doesn't matter who you are. Who your parents are or were... or even what you can or can't do, sometimes. It doesn't matter, whether you do the right thing all the time, or you fudge it up royally several times a day. What really matters (and this is REALLY gonna throw a lot of people!), is what you think of yourself. How you SEE yourself. It's about being more than the sum of our parts. Green Arrow is a part of Jake, just as Jake is a part of Green Arrow. Both make for one helluva hero. It's like... body and soul. The Bible says, that when you have one without the other... all you have is a corpse. What the Bible was talking about, was the issue of faith and good deeds. It's not enough to just say "have faith", and then do nothing to help your fellow man. And take it from a voice of experience when I say, that it's even WORSE when you try and do a lot of good, but don't have any faith to back it up. Makes a helluva mess, when you do shit on your own. When you do things for arguably all the right reasons, but do it all the wrong ways. When you have a soul and no body... or a body and no soul... all you have, is a corpse. You have something incomplete. It's about having a belief in doing the right thing... and then doing it. It goes hand in hand. And that's the point of the story, really. Reaching out beyond the sum of your parts, and finding your niche. Your one thing that you're damn good at doing. I had my long road... and several detours along the way... but I realized that I'm damn GOOD at being a fanfiction writer. And this project, kind of shows some of those twists and turns without getting into exhaustive detail on it. There's a character I haven't introduced yet... and circumstances permitting, I will in a chapter or two from now... who is a perfect example of someone trying to find his way.

Q: So, who's GA's love interest in this tale? Is it Eminem?

A: Err... I can't really say yet, mainly because I haven't decided yet. Yes, there's flirtation with Marshall. Another Ollie moment that just popped out while writing. And frankly, it makes for damn good writing. I have some ideas in mind, but I don't currently see a definate romantic relationship per se for Jake during my current run on the character. Which may end, at the end of "Bow", actually. I may even ask a friend to help me wrap it up, there's a lot going on IRL right now that makes it hard to predict. All I know right now, is this story needs to be finished up. After that, I may announce a second graphic novel fanfic to follow "By Way Of The Bow"... or I may just announce that "Green Arrow" is free to be picked up by another writer who has a story to tell. Just like the comics, I'm leaving this one open. No one writer, writes for the comics. One writer has his run, then someone else has his run, then a third person may have a run... or the first writer has another story to write, another run to make. Hard to say, at this point. I'm just setting the stage, introducing some characters and an initial plot adventure to sink your teeth into. But as long as there's interest, as long as there's a fanbase... as long as there's damn good stories to be told in the world of "Green Arrow".... then I can guarantee that GA will have a love interest and you'll know about it almost as soon as I do.

Q: I thought Graphic Novels were just comics that are collected into one or two volumes?

A: Actually, they're not just that. Graphic novels are literally any novel with illustrations in them. And I'm hoping one or two of GA's fans out there, would be interested in illustrating some moments written about in chapters.... I've read 'graphic novels' that were mostly text and had one or two illustrations per page. There were some "Flintstones" books that were done that way, that comes to mind. Right now though, "By Way Of The Bow", is more or less a graphic novel WITHOUT the graphics, as I cannot draw. But let's hope that changes, eh? Since I write in HTML, penciled graphics may make their appearance, one day.

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