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A Merwolfpack survey

The following is a compilation of answers to the above question from the merwolfpack mailing list, Spring 1999. These are numbered in terms of mentioned the most times... There were lots of ties (note numbers repeated). On another day the rankings might come out different as they were not that far apart.

1) CHARACTERIZATIONS: There is a depth to these characters. They are 3-dimensional. We watch them deepen and grow. They change over time, and the changes occur in a way that is consistent with the experiences we see them have. This is related to #2. We have come to feel that Xena and Gabrielle, especially, are as Missy has written them. She has re-created them.

About Xena, Shari writes:
Her portrayal of Xena really gets to me. Missy has said that she has a soft spot for Xena. I guess I do to. In many stories and in the show, Xena is much more 2-dimensional, while Gab gets to display a wide range of emotions. I love that in the Missyverse we get to see so many different facets of Xena's personality. She is playful, fun, spontaneous, loyal, intense, moody, smart, powerful, etc., etc. Missy takes us inside her head to really get a feel for how she thinks, what she feels, what hurts her and what gives her joy. And then, Missy lets her experience all of those feelings. It's perfect.

About Gabrielle, Morph writes:
A major draw for me in Missy's stories is her version of Gabrielle. Missy's Gabs is, for me, the best anywhere. She's kind, courageous, loving... you can practically feel her warmth leaping out of the screen. It is such a breath of fresh air to see Gabrielle portrayed with true maturity and depth, and as someone who has an equal partnership with Xena on every level.

2) DRAWS OUT THEIR INNER DIALOGUE: An extension of character development, but deserves mention in its own right. Missy allows us to listen to her characters feelings and thoughts, painting a picture of their inner life. It makes us feel like we really know them. It helps us believe their relationships and actions in a way that other writes don’t and that the limitations of the medium of tv just doesn’t allow. She makes us feel like we are there, listening to them talk, and understanding what they were going through.

3) GROWTH OF THE RELATIONSHIP: We have watched them from the beginning and develop their incredible bond over thousands of pages. Layer after layer gets built between them and we feel included.

CPTSKP writes:
Xena and Gabrielle act like people in a relationship. They have their ups and downs (Missy's Rift was the real one) and they fight and make up and disagree and agree and do everything real
people do. Only they seem to do it better. When they fight, they don't attack each other. When they disagree, neither gets their feelings hurt. Well, sometimes they do, but they forgive each other and move on. Missy's Xena and Gabrielle love each other, pure and simple.

3) FABULOUSLY WRITTEN: We love Merwolf’s style. Clear, fast moving, beautiful imagery, great action, smoothly written. Her dialogues are true to her characters, her pacing is perfect. She has captured us with the craft of her stories as well as the content. We’re read tons of fanfic on the web. Missy’s stands out as some of the best written.

4)MAKES US FEEL: We are caught up in the depth and range of emotions played out in these stories. We feel the characters from the inside out as well as experiencing the play of the story from the outside. She makes us consider out own reactions and emotions. Not only does Missy make us feel deeply in every story, she whips us around from pathos to hilarity in a few keystrokes. We revel in mushy, revile evil, grieve injustice and fall on the floor laughing with great regularity. The emotionality of her stories are a feast, leaving us full and satisfied. Humor should be given a special mention. There is a quality of mirth and playfulness running through all her stories. We are all grateful for the many many many belly laughs.

J writes:
Missy's stories make me laugh. In that deep, joyous, soul-fulfilling way that is just disgustingly rare in real life. For that, she has my earnest thanks. Without her fine sense of comedy and wonderful turn of phrase, I'd be a poorer person right now.

5) PLOTS UNPREDICTABLE: There are many of us hanging on the edge of our seats reading update to update. We have acquainted ourselves with Missy’s devious mind through thousands of pages. AND I STILL CAN’T GUESS WHAT IS COMING NEXT. Merwolf is the master of the curveball. I never knew it hit me. It is delightful to be privy to such a twisted and unique mind. Special mention for SUSPENSE. She really knows how to leave us hanging.

6) MINOR CHARACTERS REAL AND USEFUL: Despite their tendency to lose their names and occasionally their heads, Missy brings all the characters to life rather than skimming over them as vehicles in a scene.

Morph writes:
I'm also a big fan of the way Missy has fleshed out characters from the show, invented reoccurring characters of her own and made me hooked on dying to know what happens to each and every one of them.

7) FLASHBACKS: Missy uses these to bring a sense of continuity to her stories and depth to her characters memories. She layers in each story like nesting boxes and the flashbacks keep us current in each story so they all stand on their own (nice writers trick) as well as giving us a sense of the meaning of this history and complexity in each characters psyche. She blends flashbacks from her own stories and moments from the show.

Morph writes:
I love Missy's use of these. They add depth to the characters and give me a real sense of a 'real' relationship. One that has grown over time to become the incredible bond the characters share. Plus, any flashback that erm, flashes to a particular episode of the TV show, more often than not makes me enjoy the episode involved tenfold.

7) SOULMATE/BOND: The bedrock of Missy’s stories is the bond between Xena and Gabrielle, and now Dar and Kerry. (Ardwyn and Elevown) She created the concept of a bond beyond life, beyond understanding. It touches us all in the deepest way. We are moths to flame. (Luckily she hasn’t burned us for it).

Skippy writes:
Then there is their Bond. How marvelous to know what your partner is feeling. To know, from the bottom of your soul, that they love you, would die for you, and that you are the most important person in your partner's life. It is both wonderful and one of the scariest things I've ever read. Both women not only have the weight of their own lives on their heads, but the knowledge that their partner's life is riding on every decision, ever fight, and every chance encounter that they have or make. But it is a burden they both carry because they BOTH carry it. They are not alone in a vast and lonely universe. Even unto and beyond death, they will be together. And they know it.


  • Intelligence of the stories (and the writer)
  • Including a wolf puppy
  • Including the best parts of the mythical tv show based on Missy’s stories
  • Novel length allowing for depth and development of characters and themes
  • Interaction with fans, BB’s, List, email, cons, minor characters, in on the joke....
  • Forest Dwellers are a cool species
  • Poetry
  • Subtext, a world where they are pretty much accepted as a couple
  • Archetypal themes without being trite: good/evil, love/hate, redemption/condemnation, joy/sorrow
  • Mush, just needs to be mentioned again
  • Visuals and images, Missy makes us see, hear, smell and taste the world they are in
  • There is no Joxer.
  • Happy endings.

And Missy’s favorite comment re the effect of her stories:

It changed how I think.

Becky writes:
This may sound dumb, and I've mentioned it before but Missy's stories have made some major changes in the way I think. When I read some 'alt' fanfic once and I thought (now don't flame me, I've repented) "oh, yuk, homosexual stuff, that's so un-natural and weird" I was a total homophobic. Then I accidentally read part of one of Missy's stories. I was immediately impressed with her writing style. I was drawn right into the story. So I hunted down her stories so I could read them in order. By the time I was through with AWBAON I was convinced that Missy's characters were the real ones. By the 'kiss' scene in AAD I couldn't picture X&G in any other kind of relationship. Through out her stories as Missy's characters grew and changed my attitude changed.


Darkness Falls:
We needed it. The show left us all hanging, tons of loose ends and unbelievable solutions to a horrifying rift. Missy helped us retain our connection to the show by making the resolution seem more real than what the show allowed us. We shared in that turmoil and Missy helped us all find our way home. It was painful, it was cathartic, it gave us hope.

Val writes:
I loved the way Missy rebuilt their shattered relationship and took the readers through each building block by relating the character’s thoughts, fears and actions.

Tropical Storm:

Yup, We love Dar and Kerry. The bond made the jump through time without a hitch. The same things that made us love the warrior and bard’s relationship made us fall in love with two geeks in Miami.

At A Distance and Home Is Where The Heart Is
Tied for the next most loved stories. Distance was an entry point for many folks and was beautiful. HIWTHI took us inside Gabrielle’s childhood and personality in a new way. It resonated for many.

Favorite Scenes...... Tropical Storm and AT A Distance, both for THE KISS.

walking paw prints (Missy likes these)
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