Fan Showcase: LadyKate63

In honor of the Fanstravaganza, my fellow bloggers and I wanted to shine a spotlight on some fans of Mr. Armitage in order to highlight all of the analysis and creativity that his work has inspired. I’d like to continue doing this as I find the perspectives of this smart crew of people remarkably interesting. I ran across LadyKate63 for the first time while searching for Guy/Marian fan fiction. LadyKate63 owns and co-administers the Robin Hood fan forum on Yuku, and she writes steamy, moving Guy/Marian fan fiction with a high production value that she archives at her LiveJournal account. She has also provided perceptive comments on my posts about Guy’s moral/ethical situation. I can eagerly recommend her addictive fan fiction to MATURE readers. It bears rereading for the sensitive attention to character in historical context but also because its redemptive themes hearten the reader.

Guy’s dying moments (Robin Hood 3.13, “Something Worth Fighting For”). Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Servetus: You’ve described yourself to me as mostly a fan of Robin Hood and Guy, but “quickly becoming an RA fan,” too. What drew you to the RH fandom, and what is attracting you to look at Armitage’s work more closely?

LadyKate63: I had been hearing about Robin Hood for the past three years from several friends in the Xena fandom who became fans of RH when it started airing; the two shows have similar sensibilities in many ways. It took me a while to get into it; I remember watching a few clips on YouTube that interested me but only mildly, partly because Marian seemed a bit too much the “damsel in distress” and I’m used to stronger female characters on Xena. The clip of Guy killing Marian was way too depressing. Finally, after the season 3 finale aired in England, one of my RH-loving friends wanted to vent to me about Guy’s death (which she found quite upsetting, especially since she believed at the time that there would be a 4th season), and when she told me that Guy and Robin were allies at the end and that Guy died in Robin’s arms, that piqued my interest enough to go looking for clips. I watched some of season 3 on YouTube, and then I got hooked and never looked back. I love so many things about this show — the complexity of the characters, the moral nuances and shades of gray, the absorbing stories (in spite of their silly elements), the mix of drama and humor, the quirky sensibility … even the creative treatment of history!

As for what has motivated me to look at Richard’s work more closely … well, Richard Armitage! <G>  Not just the looks, obviously, but the quality of the acting and that “special something” he brings to his characters.

Servetus: Did a concrete moment motivate you to start writing AU fan fic? What are your greatest inspirations in creating your fic?

LadyKate63: Marian’s death at the end of the season 2 finale!  I actually thought it was a very powerful episode, and not necessarily the worst way for “love triangle” to be resolved — but, as a Guy fan (and a Guy/Marian fan), I did want a better ending for them. I think all AU fic starts with the question, “What if things had happened a little differently at this point?”  And of course the season 2 finale is full of AU possibilities, because so many things go wrong to culminate in the tragedy of Guy killing Marian, and at so many points things could have happened differently. An obvious one, of course, is “What if Guy had killed the Sheriff?” (which is explored in several fics, including bookishy’s wonderful work-in-progress, Fallout.  [Note: also a great R-rated read –Servetus]). Another one that occurred to me was, “What if Carter hadn’t come to rescue Robin and the gang from the desert?” and from that, The Lady of Nottingham was born.  Originally, all I had in my mind was the theme — the idea and the visuals — of Guy tending to a “broken” Marian, and the dark irony of a “careful what you wish you” scenario in which his fantasy of protecting her comes true but in the worst possible way. If I remember correctly, in my first seed of this idea, there was going to be no healing and no happy ending and the story was going to end in double suicide, but I really didn’t feel like writing myself into a deep pit of depression.

Right now, a friend and I are co-writing a much longer season 3 AU fic, based on the premise that Marian (however improbably) survives the stabbing in the Holy Land, unbeknownst to either Robin or Guy, and comes back to England, rejoining canon season 3 at the start of episode 8.  (From that point on we keep some parts of canon but take the story in a totally new direction.)  The inspiration, ultimately, comes from the show itself, and what keeps me writing is the desire to tell new stories with these characters and in this setting.  I don’t see myself as writing in order to “fix” the show’s presumed failings; while I didn’t agree with everything the writers and producers did, especially in season 3 (some real missed opportunities there!), I think the show was excellent.  I am not “fixing” anything, I just think many more stories remain to be told in this universe — and I want to tell some of them.

Servetus: Given the difficulties of writing AU fic, what keeps you writing?

LadyKate63: I actually don’t find writing AU fic particularly difficult! It’s definitely easier than writing original fic because you already have a ready-made world and its characters, and it’s easier than writing canon-consistent fic because you have more freedom to take the stories wherever you want!

Servetus: Just a comment that I wonder if that has to do with the different sensibilities between fiction writers and historians–as a historian I feel tortured when I take any claim away from “the evidence,” which in this case is the canon. In any case, you’ve gone on record as opposing a reading of RH/Guy that emphasizes his redemption via the “noble sacrifice” of his life (see also LadyKate63’s review of season 3 on amazon). Yet you firmly believe in the possibility of his redemption through life experience in a hypothetical season 4. What sacrifices would Guy have to make in that non-existent season, short of his life, in order to achieve the redemption that you claim for him?

LadyKate63: I think of redemption as a process, not a single act.  Guy’s journey to redemption moves in fits and starts, obviously with a major setback when he killed Marian.  In season 3, I think his first serious step toward redemption happens when he decides he’s had it with being a lackey and basically self-sabotages his newfound position as Sheriff (at least, that’s how I read it!) by refusing to kowtow to Prince John. The next step is rediscovering his humanity by showing compassion to Meg in the dungeon; and then, finally, joining Robin’s cause and refusing to abandon the fight. Obviously, his readiness to risk his life for Robin in his final fight shows how far he has come; but would it have made his actions any less moral if he had not been mortally wounded? I thought it was especially disappointing that he was killed almost at the start of his new life, though as a fan of the character I’m glad that he got a chance to feel free at the end and to feel that he was fighting for “something worth fighting for.”

If Guy had lived, I think his redemption would have come simply in the form of making the right choices, doing good things, and when possible making restitution to those who had suffered from his actions in the past and righting whatever wrongs he could right. By the way, that was also one of the things I wanted to accomplish with A Different Side — Guy’s son was a major loose end, and I thought that he should have gotten a chance to at least try to do the right thing there.

Of course, it’s also possible to imagine a totally different redemption scenario for Guy — one in which he doesn’t kill Marian, and achieves redemption with her help if she persuades him to turn against the Sheriff.  Of course one way in which such a storyline is problematic is if it suggests that Guy “turns good” with the motivation of having Marian as his “reward.”  Nonetheless, I think it could have worked.  I think the decisive test of Guy’s redemption here would have been a willingness to sacrifice everything to save Marian, not “for himself” but for her own sake — for example, with no assurance that she would be with him, or that he would even ever see her again; or to do the right thing with no assurance that he was going to “get the girl.”

Servetus: It seems that your answer has to hold implications for our reading of Marian. What kind of Marian would Guy have needed in seasons 1 and 2 to facilitate your redemptive scenario? Could he have been a better Guy in the show if he had had a better Marian?

LadyKate63: It’s hard for me to imagine a different Marian!  However, it would have been interesting to see a scenario in which Marian did make a full commitment to Guy and made a serious effort to turn him against the Sheriff and get him to work for “the right side,” without going behind his back to work with Robin.

Servetus: A central and compelling theme of your G/M fic is your refusal to accept the ways in which the scriptwriters of the TV show closed down character arcs based on rather limited moral notions–in the show, Marian has to love either Guy or Robin, characters (with the possible exception of Guy) are either good or bad, and importantly, their love scenarios are forced to square with their moral stances–the good woman has to love the good man; Guy cannot “win” Marian because he is not “good.” In The Lady of Nottingham, you complicate these templates significantly by exploring what it would be like for Guy to love Marian fully by treating her as an independent agent who chooses to love him freely (rather than being compelled to do so) even while he continues on the morally ambiguous side of the story when pursuing his own ends. Similarly, in A Different Side,” you plumb the problem of Guy’s continuing emotional commitment to a dead Marian via the tying up of the loose end you refer to above: his infant son with Annie from season 1.

As a reader, I am torn about these stories. I love the acknowledgment that a person can be good and evil, that Guy can accept a fully autonomous Marian and still try to pursue his own ends without thwarting hers. (On some level this seems to me like “fixing” the show, though.) In particular, too, I admire the elegant way you write the romance/sex elements of the plot. Even so, I am tortured by the strong implication in these narratives that sex is redemptive for Guy, that it is in bed where he sees himself most clearly. Sex thus seems central to your vision of the version of the moral Guy that you create with your stories. Can you comment on this?

LadyKate63: That’s a really interesting question! Partly, to be very honest, this effect comes simply from the fact that I enjoy writing hot scenes with Guy. 😉  However, I do think that while sex is not redemptive per se, it can lead to moments of unique emotional openness and vulnerability, of all emotional barriers being down. To me the sex scenes in The Lady of Nottingham and in A Different Side are not just about sex, they’re about an intimate human connection — which is not to say that there can’t be an intimate connection without sex! One of these days I’ll write a Guy of Gisborne story in which Guy doesn’t get any. 😀

Going back to the start of your question, however, I would disagree with some of your premises; I actually think that Robin Hood was full of moral nuances and shades of gray.  Guy isn’t “all bad,” and Robin and Marian are not “all good.”  Robin is very flawed and even dark at times, not just in his fanatical devotion to the King but in his callousness toward those who love him (especially Much). Marian is guilty of some morally questionable acts as well — not only her deceptions toward Guy but her cruel words to her father before he dies, or the fact that in 1×07 (Brothers in Arms) she allows an innocent man to be tortured and executed for something that she did (passing information to Robin).  Allan, too, is full of gray areas, and Will has his darker moments. The moral complexities are part of what makes me love this show.  The resolution of the love triangle could be seen as “the good woman loves the good man/the bad man cannot win the good woman” — but there are many other ways to see it as well.  For instance, the tragedy of a love that could have been, and was perhaps very close to being, but was thwarted both by flawed choices and bad circumstance.

Servetus: Since the moral themes in Armitage’s performances are a central concern of mine, I’ll look forward to more discussions about the moral status of the RH ensemble in future. But meanwhile: Any chance for a sequel to “Lady of Nottingham” that discusses how the rebellion plays out? Or are the moral and personal conflicts you set up in the story too difficult to resolve in a fan fic?

If I can come up with a good story, and if I have time, I’ll do it. 🙂  At the moment, though, I’ve got my plate full — as I mentioned, I’m co-writing an epic-length Season 3 AU fic (currently 82,000+ words and about midway through the story), and I have a couple of other ideas I’d like to tackle after that (all AU and all Guy/Marian).

Servetus: I at least will be waiting eagerly! Thanks for answering my questions and for your thoughtful answers!


LadyKate first discovered the joys of fandom in 2001 with Xena: Warrior Princess.  After eight years as a forum moderator, fanfiction author, and artist in the Xena fandom, she found a new fannish passion in the BBC Robin Hood. In her spare time, she is a professional writer/journalist whose work can be found at www.cathyyoung.net.  She loves books, art, travel, cuddly animals, Venetian masks, tea, Thai food and redeemable baddies in black leather.  Her pet peeves include intolerance of all kinds (except intolerance of bad spelling and grammar, which she fully supports and shares), bathroom humor, fan fiction that promotes the author’s favorite pairing by denigrating the “rival” character, and people who bash fan fiction.

~ by Servetus on April 12, 2010.

6 Responses to “Fan Showcase: LadyKate63”

  1. @servetus: Always different perspectives on this site. @LadyKate: I think I’ve joined your forum(s).

    When watching series such as RH or The Tudors, the “historian” in me is in a constant feud with the “Shakespearean” and “romantic”. Too much conflict….The romantic dreams up my own fanfic fantasies of “how it might have been”.

    For the moment, though, more focused on the Rehabilitation of Richard III, and just how/when/if Mr. Armitage’s project is ever realized. Of course Richard (III) didn’t murder his nephews. Or did he?….

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  2. O_O Are you kiding??? I though about the same thing about Guy and Jesus O_O

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  3. Great interview – ladykate63 is one of my favorites. 82,000+ words and only midway – how exciting!

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  4. Thanks everyone! I only just saw this interview — looks great!

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  5. Great interview! Looking forward to that fic of yours XD

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  6. […] LadyKate63, a big Guy of Gisborne fan. I interviewed her very early on my career as a blogger, in an interview where she describes her journey to loving Guy and her interest in the moral conflicts in the show, and she’s written a (mature) fanfic that […]

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