Friday, January 6, 2012

CouchCrusader's Wingmares

Today we have an excellent piece of friendshipping, exploring the circumstances surrounding Rainbow Dash's defense of Fluttershy at summer flight camp.

[Slice-of-Life] • 20,500 words
Little Rainbow Dash is loyal to one pony and one pony only: herself. It's a simple system, and it gets her through the days. But that all changes one stormy summer afternoon at flight camp, when another pegasus blunders into her life - a pegasus with whom she shares nothing in common.

Hit the break for an interview with CouchCrusader, and links to Wingmares on your favorite pony sites - and check out the Downloads page for copies in your preferred eBook format.

Where do you live?

For the moment, in the Puget Sound, Washington region.

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

I’m a college senior working toward his B.A. in English, though I’m also taking biology and chemistry courses for med school. For discretionary income, I work at the campus library, pretending to be useful at the information desk while I look up ponies on the internet. Nifty job.

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

Someone I watched on deviantArt suddenly started talking about ponies. A LOT. We’d met at Comic-Con a few years back but didn’t really speak. Still, her general enthusiasm started breaking me down, and in May I asked her if it was worth “my complete and utter emasculation”.

I think I finished all of Season 1 in four days.

Do you have a favorite episode?

This question is very hard! I think I have to go with The Stare Master from Season 1. The Everfree Forest is such a cool place and really helps develop Equestria as a world! I really hope we see more of it in Season 2.

From a fanfiction writer’s standpoint, I love that it located Fluttershy’s cottage right next to the forest, as well. Maybe a future writer will derp and place her cottage more toward Sugarcube Corner in a later episode, but for now, The Stare Master is my canon. I know, it’s a stupid little thing to get excited about.

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)?

It’s Fluttershy, definitely. The first three episodes of Season 2 pretty much concentrated her awesome quotient so much that that’s the only explanation I can think of for why she hasn’t had a S2 episode dedicated to her yet. To be more serious—beneath her self-effacing demeanor lies a very respectable core of iron. She knows what’s important to her, accepts her responsibilities, and will stop at nothing to make sure there’s a happy outcome involved for everypony. Sometimes she overextends herself, but who doesn’t?

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Last summer was a pretty hectic time for me since my family literally lives scattered across the globe at any one moment. After college got out, I spent the holiday sleeping on various couches—my best friend’s, my mom’s in Japan, Dad’s in California, as well as a short visit to Mexico... When I moved into my own apartment this year, I bought an IKEA sofa bed to sleep on. I’m typing this interview on a couch right now.

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

I started writing in 1st grade after I watched a segment on the local news that someone my age had published a book! I never stopped writing since, though I never tried to get myself published because I could never finish a story (I did, however, win NaNoWriMo in 2009). Ever since I got into ponies, my writing throughput has expanded dramatically.

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

I wish I had more time to read the amazing fic that pops up on EqD. Other than that, though, I’m a very boring person IRL! I even have a $1200 gaming computer I built last year and I don’t play games anymore.

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

I’m going to throw several at you: China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, and Italo Calvino for “published” authors. if on a winter’s night a traveler would be assigned reading for every course I teach if I ever became a college professor. These three gentlemen have written some very amazing stories that take place right here on planet Earth, while only changing a few details, and the result is nevertheless stunning. Fan-fiction wise, I don’t have have a favorite author, though I doubt that that position will remain empty forever.

(Oh! One more addition! How did I forget about Patrick Rothfuss?)

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?

I always write for myself. My primary motivation for writing is to make sure I have fun reading my own stuff. That said, however... remember that friend I told you who got me watching ponies? I write for her, too. Find her on dA and Tumblr under RizCifra.

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

Since everyone else has said “read and write a lot,” I’ll try to say something different. Consider the following question seriously:

“Would I keep writing if I were the last person on Earth?”

Especially for novice authors, writing is primarily a solitary pursuit. Your drive to write must evolve internally - if that drive comes from a hunger for other peoples’ love and admiration, Princess Luna will tell you you’re in the wrong line of work. It’s okay if you cannot answer “yes” to that question right now (I still can’t, not completely), but developing that kind of independence goes a long way toward productivity - and happiness.

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

I have a writing process? Excuse me while I laugh at the notion. I’m the opposite of what you’d want to emulate as a writer, “process-wise”. I go on Facebook/pony sites a lot, revise as I write, and generally take every opportunity to belittle my limited understanding of writing well.

If I get over that: I try to sit back and let the characters operate the story. I know I’m onto something good if they take over their own dialogue and go off on their own places - I just run behind them with a figurative notepad, scribbling furiously. I’ll also keep a little “buffer” at the bottom of a WIP where I’ll list possible narrative destinations (as well as more lambasting/psyching of my writing abilities).

Once I complete a draft of a story or chapter or what have you, I’ll print it out and mark it up with a pen. Hard copies reveal wonderful, wonderful blunders I wouldn’t catch on the screen otherwise. Then I ask other people I know to be reliable editors to examine my work. Only after they give me the all clear do I publish.

I really can’t overemphasize how important it is to have other sets of eyes looking over your work for mistakes you won’t catch. At the same time, be fair and reasonable with your expectations. A good friend is not necessarily the same thing as a good editor, and you’ll have to judge how useful they are when it comes to polishing the rough spots out of your work.

What inspired you to write Wingmares?

My other project, A Fire on the East, ground to a halt after Chapter 4. I really wanted Chapter 5 to take place from Rainbow Dash’s point of view - and I felt I needed to get a better idea of her history with Fluttershy in order to do that.

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

The entire thing. The specific parts have faded into my mind, but writing the moments leading up to the climactic race in the last chapter was especially tough. Coming up with the layout of Cloudsdale Circuit, and describing it in races without stiffness or a serial listing of its elements, was difficult, too.

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

Nope. I just wanted to expand on Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash’s history. Then again - I love writing [Normal] flavored fics. I guess I just really wanted to write one and see if it turned out to be something that could possibly show up as an episode some season.

Where can readers drop you a line?

My Gmail account is thecouchcrusader, but I’m found on dA as commoncouchcrusader. I also have a tumblr under couchcrusader that I never update.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

If you’ve read my writing before, or read through this entire interview without punching your screen, thank you for your time! Feel free to contact me if you want to know anything else about me or my writing, too, I guess.


  1. I will always remember this piece for the thinly-veiled sex scene.

  2. Well... I will always remember this piece for the excellent exploration of the strange 'polar-opposites' relationship between Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, but the 'preening' scene to which Dubs Rewatcher refers is very well written as well.

  3. I just give the fans what they want 8D