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the why

It's all Frank Paur's fault, really.

He was a guest at a convention I attended in New Orleans in August of 1995. After opening ceremonies, I basically sat down at his feet and begged him to tell me everything he knew about animation. During the course of the next hour (Frank has the patience of a saint, by the way), I asked him, since I so was utterly taken with Owen's character, if we would ever see an episode along the lines of "a day in the life of an meglomaniacal genius' butler."

Frank got this evil gleam in his eye, leaned closer, and told me they had very special plans for our Mr. Burnett.

Excited, I pressed him for more. But all he would tell me was "There's a reason some characters don't have pupils."

I carried that conversation around in my head for about two months. Then, an episode aired introducing the Children of Oberon. It centred around the theft of Queen Titania's mirror, and introduced a trickster called the puck.

I knew I had the pieces to an extraordinary puzzle in my hands, but I was missing just too many to see the whole picture clearly. So I put together what I had, and came up with a story called The Butler's Tale. It went like so: The Puck returned to Avalon with a marvellous tale to tell about gargoyles in Manhattan, a castle atop a skyscraper, and all the fun he had there. So the Queen's puck, Rowan, just had to see for herself. And while she's there she pays a visit to her old lover, Owen Burnett, one of Oberon's Children who inexplicably passes himself off as human and serves millionaire David Xanatos. In flashback, we learn that Rowan, by virtue of her office, lead the humans and eggs from Wyvern to Avalon, hence her connection to the castle. Owen and Rowan renew their relationship, and recapture the stolen mirror from Demona.

It seemed so... right.
It was so wrong.

But not entirely wrong. And it was so close. Owen was one of Oberon's Children. I just hadn't known he was a very specific Child of Oberon that we had already met. And then there was the matter of the completely buggered flashback.

I think I knew, when I wrote it back in September 1995, that some fifty-odd episodes were most likely going to completely bugger up bits of it. In fact, I knew "Avalon" would. But I couldn't wait three months! I mean... I could. It would have been prudent to. But I was driven. I was on fire. I was insane.

Soooooooo... I would have to re-write it.

But in the meantime, I would just ignore the fact that The Butler's Tale as written was completely outside series continuity, and start a new story, Games. This was January, 1996, by the way. The series was smack in the middle of the Mists of Avalon (as it became known on the mailing lists) arc, and I just had this sudden flash of Rowan as a gargoyle. I worked feverishly on the story, amused and delighted and bewildered by the dialogue and situations running through my mind. I had no idea what was going to happen in The Gathering in regards to our Mr. Burnett. No clue.

So I had to wing it.

And to top it all off, in the middle of the last third of Games I suddenly had an idea. For another story. Between April and May, even though Games was hot off the presses and I should have said all I wanted to say, I had started what I not so laughingly referred to as "The big HONKIN' novel" as the months (and months... and MONTHS...) went by.

By the way, I did finally get The Butler's Tale rewritten in December, 1996, over a full year after the original was posted to Usenet. I had been promising it to people for so long that I felt enormously guilty for not doing it. So while working slavishly on the novel, I started the careful process of banging my head against the wall trying to get the story to fit with the two stories written after it. Not to mention showing how, over time, Owen and Rowan's relationship changed and grew. That would be a big part of setting the stage for Hills and while it was all well and good to have the backstory in my head, I needed to get it out there so all three stories would work together as a unit, which is what they are meant to be.

But enough about Rowan, this is about Owen, right?

When we saw "The Gathering" Part 2, I had already been prepared for the shock of Owen's duel identity. A fan and friend had spilled the beans to me in December, but what I hadn't counted on was how complex the whole thing ended up being. Or how profound a reaction I would have to those last few minutes of "The Gathering."

So, despite the fact that it would be almost a year to completion, I wrote what was to become, with many changes and one big omission, the prologue of The Hills Come Between You and Me. I titled All's Well. "Hunter's Moon" hadn't even aired yet, and I had no clue what was going to happen, but I posted it anyway to Avalon Mists and the archive. I think I received more feedback on that little vignette than anything I'd written since The Butler's Tale. Certainly anything since...

There's a tremendous amount of fanfic now, as opposed to the days when Butler's was one of three, count 'em, THREE stories in the archive. And I'm not the only person writing Owen Burnett stories any longer. There's an entire Order of Owenite Nuns, best represented on the web by The House of Stone and Sprites, Owen's Room, The Temple of Owen/Puck, Puck's Siblings, Puck's Place, Puck's Fellowship, and The Mirror. There's a good dozen of us at least, but I can never figure out if I should be proud or embarrassed to have been first. After all, why should a glorified henchman--albeit, a decidedly cool one--inspire such devotion? We're talking over 116,000 words of fiction basically existing to give Owen a life (and, um... a sex life. But a very PG one, really.). That's roughly equivalent to a 400 page novel. Think about that the next time you heft the current Steven King or Tom Clancy tome.

Owen had to be more than he seemed, right?

Except what intrigued me was the seeming. This was a character with a narrow range of emotion, and such subtlety that when he did react, even if it was a slight smile, or gasp, or even the lift of an eyebrow, it was more effective, shocking, and expressive than a guffaw, sob, or scream.

The best example from the show I can think of was from "City of Stone" when Owen reverts from stone to flesh for the first time. When he changed, he had been on the telephone, warning Mr. Xanatos. I remember thinking at the time even in the midst of a crisis, Owen keeps his calm.

But then, mid-sentence, Owen realises the phone cord is dangling from the receiver, broken, and he composes himself. Hearing him snap back to cool efficiency once more made me realise with a shock just how dishevelled he had been. It was just one of those moments in life you want to frame and hang on the wall.

I think I fell out of my chair. Then I rewound the scene, and watched it again. Then I showed it to my mother. They I forced most of my friends to watch it (my friends, like Frank Paur, all have the patience of saints).

Jeff Bennett deserves a great deal of credit for this.

His performances make up much of the Owen I love, and I can't imagine anyone else voicing the character. It's gotten to the point where I will watching anything if I hear the faintest rumour that Jeff's working in it.

And what I get the biggest kick out of are those instances when I can't tell who Jeff is playing. Because that means he's doing his job. And he does it so well...

And no, all you fervent Star Trek fans, I haven't forgotten the voice of Owen's pointy-eared alter-ago. Brent Spiner, playing most decidedly against the type he perfected 10 years ago as Star Trek: The Next Generation's Commander Data. Bringing a deliciously sardonic and gleeful touch to the character in "The Mirror," "Future Tense," and "The Gathering," Brent gave us the Puck as a mischievous yet wise little trickster, shedding his levity for rare moments of solemnity that remind us just how ancient this child of Oberon is in between cracking wise.

Anyway, gentle reader, now you know why I write what I do. And if you've gotten this far, then I applaud your tenacity, because I'm ridiculously long-winded and this is probably far more than you needed to know about me and my motivations to actually read and enjoy the stories. But it was important to me that readers knew the long history of these stories, and the context in which they were written.

You can blame Frank Paur, if you want to.
But, personally, I'd like to thank him.

Tara O'Shea
January 24, 1997

All images are Copyright BuenaVista Television; 1996 and are used here without permission. This is a fan run website completely unaffiliated with Disney's Gargoyles or BuenaVista Television.

Last modified 29-10-97
By the way, ask me someday about Owen, The Talking Aardvark....

the stories

The Butler's Tale | Games | The Hills Come Between You and Me | Midsummer

with missy wilson

To Drive the Cold Winter Away

the artwork

Rowan (Fay) pencil sketch | Rowan (as Fionnuala) pen and ink | Rowan (as Jackie) with Owen (from the model sheet) | Wedding portrait pen and ink

Owenite Webring
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