Friday, November 18, 2011

Pride's Arddun Lleuad

Today's Vault entry is an excellent example of a genre that's difficult to do well - a human in Equestria. Perhaps even more ambitiously, it ships said human with everyone's favorite Princess of the Night, and succeeds wonderfully.

[Adventure][Shipping][Human Crossover] • 40,200 words
University student Chester Llewellyn tries to survive in the Everfree Forest after being torn from Earth without warning or reason. But Equestria has sent a legendary war hero to personally recover him, for at the tallest point of Equestria, somepony needs Chester, and fast.

Hit the break for a particularly verbose interview with Pride and links to Arddun Lleuad on your favorite pony sites, and check out the Downloads page to grab it in your preferred eBook format!

I count myself lucky to have gotten this chance to learn more of Pride before his self-imposed exile from the fandom. If you were not aware, his final act as a brony was to release the sequel to Arddun Lleuad on his deviantArt account. Chwe Goleadau was originally only available from Pride as a downloadable Word document; it is now also online at the Pony Fiction Archive.

Where do you live?

Originally I lived in Abergavenny, a small market town in Wales cradled by seven mountains, not thirty minutes away from the capital, Cardiff. Whilst writing Arddun I lived in Treforest attending the University of Glamorgan, a university as famous for being on the side of a bloody great inconvenient mountain as it was abominable as a university. Since then I now live in Penarth, a confusing town five minutes from Cardiff with its own warm microclimate and huge demographic of confused old people who shy away from self-service tills in supermarkets as if they were secretly Decepticons in disguise.

Maybe they are, and they’re the smart ones.

What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)

Officially my job title is “Software Engineer”, but this is fancy talk for “Programmer”. I’m a graduate on probation with a small start-up company; I work in a spare room in a dentist’s office. Every now and then my dentist comes in and has a go at me for drinking sparkling water. Alternatively he puts monkey toys on the door handle so I get confused when I walk in on a Monday morning.

To go into a bit more detail, I develop and bugfix an application that works sort of like Facebook, but for business. People group together in “chapters” and give referrals to one another for work in a sort of networked way. It’s my first job and it gets an absolute ton of business. The web app is Java-based but includes heavy doses of Javascript and SQL. To be absolutely frank I love my job to bits and look forward to Mondays with a bizarre sort of zeal that makes people question my sanity, although this offends me, as it’s not even a question by this point.

How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?

Oh, hang on. Let me dig out the conversation I had with the guy who linked it to me.

[12/02/2011 20:37:29] Gelf: PONIES
[12/02/2011 20:37:33] Gelf: THEY'RE IN MY MIND
[12/02/2011 20:39:30] Gelf:
[12/02/2011 20:39:35] Gelf: Succumb!
[12/02/2011 21:10:16] Pridethunder: ...
[12/02/2011 21:10:25] Pridethunder: This...
[12/02/2011 21:10:31] Pridethunder: Is enjoyable...
[12/02/2011 21:10:33] Pridethunder: ...
[12/02/2011 21:28:05] Gelf: Yes,
[12/02/2011 21:28:08] Gelf: Yes it is
[12/02/2011 21:28:13] Gelf: I'm on episode 14
[12/02/2011 22:32:16] Gelf: Tell me you're still watching.
[12/02/2011 22:55:11] Pridethunder: You know nothnig
[12/02/2011 22:55:14] Pridethunder: Tell
[12/02/2011 22:55:16] Pridethunder: noone

[Editor's note: Due to space concerns, the full chatlog provided is available here.]

I had recently left WoW and sought a community I could be a part of. I found Equestria Daily at one point, and then I found Ponychan, and that was it. Naturally I gravitated towards the /fic/ board; chans were, for me, an intimidating hive of scum and villainy, and I wasn’t at all sure how it worked and whatnot, but my first post and action within bronydom and writefriendship was to proofread a guy’s story. Ironically, it was a Human in Equestria story. Funny, that.

Shortly afterwards I was buzzing with the idea that eventually turned into Arddun Lleuad (called Corruptor, back then) and the rest is history.

Do you have a favorite episode? [Editor's note: at the time of this interview, the most recent aired episode was Luna Eclipsed.]

Absolutely not; I can’t pick out a favourite since they’re all so damn good!

Who is your favorite character based purely on the canon of the show itself? Would your answer change if you considered the fandom in its entirety (i.e. art, fanfiction, memes, etc)?

This is a hard one. I’m tempted to say Luna, because she’s such an excellent setup. We could do whatever we liked with the character, since she was so loosely defined; it was like being given clay that you were free to mould into whatever you wanted, with a theme and appearance ready-made. Celestia also fits this bill, being somewhat less fleshed-out; we know that she’s capable of battle, can move the Sun, has a joker’s side, but what else? It’s the lack of detail - the understatement - that makes a character compelling to me.

But of all the characters that are fleshed-out and defined, Rarity wins my respect for being her own woman, a strong woman in her own regard, while Twilight wins my eternal jealousy for being able to do nothing but further her mind all day long.

My answer wouldn’t change if I considered the fandom in its entirety; I can see where the idea of Trollestia comes from, but I don’t subscribe to these theories, even if it is just a joke. I have to say, though, that the beautiful, adorable pictures of Celestia and Luna go a long way to altering my look on the characters. “Woona” is probably going to give me a heart attack at one point. Not that I’d mind.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?


Okay. Originally, I played a very old, very bad MMORPG called Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. I randomly came up with the name Raisentaku for a character name; this then became Raijingeki, then Raijinmagus.

Into WoW I went, adopting the name Raijinragus (for playing a warrior); this is the one name I hate the most. I transferred to a roleplaying server at one point, seeking intelligence (as well as being a phenomenally adept roleplayer, if I may say so myself), and I can remember the exact length of time it took me to create, for my tauren warrior, Pridethunder.

I wanted two Warriors, one for killing players, since back then you couldn’t dual-specialise; hence Felrage was born. A time came when I had to have a handle; and so I concatenated both to create Priderage.

To be honest with you, I don’t really like Priderage. I vastly prefer just Pride.

Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?

I am giving serious consideration to writing as a professional hobby; however, prior to Arddun Lleuad I had only written bits and bobs, including a story for my wife for her birthday. Arddun Lleuad was my first foray into proper writing.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Way too much Left 4 Dead (pref. mode Realism Expert) and Team Fortress 2 (favourite classes: Medic, Engineer, Soldier, Sniper, Heavy, Pyro). I’m also very given to walking with my music and reading whilst giving my cat (or the cat that belongs to the house I’m currently living in, at least) a great big adorable fuss, even if she randomly decides to try and kill me halfway through it.

I also spend huge amounts of time with my wife. We play together a hell of a lot; currently we’re playing Dead Island, but since we enjoyed Terraria so much together I am really looking forward to playing Minecraft with her. She is going to love that.

Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?

Neil Gaiman. Easily, by far. The man’s imagination scares me. Sharon Shinn comes in at a very close second. Her writing is incredible; the flow is beyond sublime.

Stephen King believes that every author has an "ideal reader" - the one person who they write for, the one person whose reactions they care about. Do you have one, and if so, who is it?

Oh God yes. It was once said by someone that “the reader brings as much to the story as the writer”.

The ideal reader is, indeed, the reader I write for. My requirements for my ideal reader are not difficult; they are this. That they take their time to read the story; that they understand that two hearts that seek one another are not bound by physical barriers and that they are of the mindset to be able to enjoy the warmth between these two characters.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?


Love what you write. Don’t write anything for the sake of popularity, write because you love writing. As soon as you stop loving it, stop writing. If writing is an optimal activity that will bring you joy in the long term, the love will come back. Otherwise, move onto something else that you’re destined to find.

Everyone thinks everyone else’s story is better than theirs. Fact of life.

Be patient. Sleep on your stories, don’t write and publish immediately.

Try and maintain a structured approach to writing, but if you’re buzzing with ideas for scenes, write that ASAP and weave it into the story structure later.

And the most important of all. A good writer is a good reader. READ. Read like buggery. Read everything. Take in what you like, disregard what you don’t. Your reading WILL influence your writing, it will give you ideas.

Also, find support and friends in the writing trade. Feedback and the few, rare discussions I had with fellow writers was immensely inspirational. Friendship is magic and all that.

What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)


My writing process is a horrible abomination. Arddun took two entire drafts to get to where it is now, and even now I want to rewrite the sixth and eighth chapters. I wrote a track draft, hated it with all my soul, and then went back and re-drafted it. Once I had the outline, I went through and polished it to a final state.

For Chwe Goleadau? Ugh. It has been terrible. I have had a solid idea of WHERE the story is going, but HOW to GET THERE has been awful. I’ve made an outline, written to it, examined the first draft, decided it lacked many important things, redrafted, re-outlined, re-outlined again...

I wager if I had a solid writing approach, CG would have taken half the time. Sadly, I do not. I can only apologise in this regard.

What inspired you to write Arddun Lleuad?

I really can’t remember. One day I was just watching the show and then the next I was planning Corruptor. I think what I wanted to do was write a more serious story without a happy ending; of course, as Chester formed in my mind this changed completely.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Arddun Lleuad?

Firstly, the romance between Luna and Chester needed to be perfect. The end result of it was that while the romance was indeed a deep, emotional connection that many readers tell me they found heartwarming, the romance was unfortunately too fast. I think Chester, in my mind, had waited for so long to finally begin his destined relationship with Luna that when it started to happen all of it came out at once. In a future draft of Arddun I may or may not get the chance to do, Chester will start as Luna’s companion first and become her Consort nearer to the end.

Additionally, exams. I was close to finishing Arddun, starting on Chapter 8, when my exams came. I wanted Arddun out of my mind; I wrote it as fast as possible. God, do I regret this now. Chapter 8 is ungodly; it’s full of plot holes.

When you set out to write Arddun Lleuad, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

Believe it or not... no. No themes or messages of any kind, nothing I wanted to get across to the reader. Which strikes even me as a bit strange.

Where can readers drop you a line?

I’m afraid I can’t provide such a thing at this point in time, for various reasons.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Yes. Two personal admissions. Private in their nature, but the fandom is of the type that I feel comfortable to speak freely in this manner.

For one, I find it nearly impossible to believe I am actually a good writer. I have extreme paranoia; I believe everyone who says so is lying to me, or doesn’t know what they’re talking about, which I find uncomfortable in the extreme only for the insult it gives to those who speak positively of what I do.

In that same thread, I suffer from jealousy of larger, popular works in the FiM fandom such to the extent that I now avoid Equestria Daily. I feel this is one of my greatest letdowns as a person, and look forward immensely to the day that I am able to do so freely without such strong envy.

Finally I hope you, reading this, have a great day. Hell, have a great week, or year, or life.

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