Friday, September 6, 2013

Dromicosuchus' Mendacity

Did you know that Lyra showed up in "A Canterlot Wedding" because Chrysalis kidnapped her to keep Bon Bon in line? I didn't. I really enjoyed finding out, though!

[Adventure][Shipping] • 74,700 words
Bon Bon's voice is funny, and that's about all that anypony who meets her notices, as her marefriend Lyra soon steals the spotlight with her explosive personality, strange obsessions, and curious beliefs. And why not? Bon Bon is, after all, a perfectly ordinary, boring pony in every way but two: her voice, and the carefully kept secret that she isn't really a pony.

Hit the break for a chat with Dromo... Dromico... the author, and links to Mendacity out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab your own ebook copy over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

A bit beyond the southeastern rim of the ancient Laurentian craton, but not so far beyond it that I'm east of the site where the holotype of Dromicosuchus grallator, a greyhound-esque "crocodile" that lived ~230 MYA, was discovered.

...So, southern Appalachia, to be slightly less obnoxious.

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

At present, I spend my time industriously waiting for local labs to recognize my many sterling qualities as a chemist (or, um, a recent graduate with a Bachelor's in Chemistry, which is admittedly not exactly the same thing) and beat a path to my door. So far very little path-beating has occurred, but hope springs eternal.

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

It's not a particularly unique story, really. FiM was first brought to my attention in Spring 2011, when I noticed a series of pony-themed forum avatars on a webcomic forum that I occasionally meamble* around. Given the context, I assumed at first that the images had come from some sort of Homestar Runner-esque online Flash cartoon. Bafflement ensued when I realized what the show actually was, and out of curiosity I decided to give a few episodes a try.

I honestly wasn't all that impressed by the initial two-parter (although there were some moments that, even then, surprised me; I think my first inkling that the show was a little bit out of the ordinary was when Twilight and the others responded to "Giggle at the Ghosties" with confused incredulity instead of just happily leaping into the song), and continued more or less unimpressed (although still incapable, for reasons that were at the time unclear to me, of dragging myself away from the show) right up until "Suited for Success", which I found myself genuinely enjoying. "Feeling Pinkie Keen" left me wondering whether it had all just been a strange, happy dream, and then "Sonic Rainboom" came along and assured me that No, it was definitely real. From that moment on I was hooked.

*It should be a word, dagnabbit.

Do you have a favorite episode?

"Secret of my Excess." It has a kaiju, a moment extremely reminiscent of a certain glorious scene from Spirited Away, and a sensitive, touching, intelligent, thoughtful treatment of Spike and Rarity's weird little not-really-a-relationship-except-when-it-is. That moment when Spike starts to tell Rarity that he's "always sort of had a crush on her," and she lays a hoof over her mouth and smiles through her tears...absolutely pitch-perfect.

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)?

Within canon, probably either Fluttershy or Discord (guess what my favorite season 3 episode was). If we allow fanon... Eh, it's a tougher call, and I don't think I could narrow it down to a single character. Fluttershy and Discord are still up there, but Princess Celestia and Derpy also rank pretty highly. Oddly enough, before writing Mendacity I was only vaguely fond of Bon Bon, but as the story developed I found her growing on me quite a bit, and now she easily ranks up there with Flutters, the Scion of Tartarus, the Sun Princess, and the Muffin Queen.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

One of the central characters in a story of mine is a lizard-like critter who is more closely related to crocodilians than to "normal" reptiles. I needed an ancestor for the beastie who had lived a few hundred million years before the present time, and ideally one that looked fairly similar to the creature itself. Sphenosuchian crocodilians fit the general bill, and after a bit more consideration of the geographical location of the fossils that had been found and of the meanings of the various names of different sphenosuchians, I settled on Dromicosuchus grallator as the chosen ancestor of my character. Since no one else on the internet names themselves after obscure crurotarsan genera from the late Triassic, I figured it'd make a suitable penname, we are.

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

I haven't actually written all that much, really. There have been oodles of short stories, but Mendacity is the first long story I've ever completed. I've been telling stories, though, for as long as I can remember; for example, I think I originally came up with the lizard-like character I described above when I was about five (although not, of course, the critter's genealogy; that came rather later).

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

Drawing, reading, digging up assorted scientific papers on whatever subject happens to be interesting me at the time, and above all worldbuilding.

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

Hrm. Tough question. My favorite book is Richard Adam's Watership Down, but Shardik and Plague Dogs are simply too traumatic for me to be able to regard Mr. Adams as my favorite author. L. Frank Baum's Oz books (not The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which is actually pretty lousy; Ozma of Oz and later are, in my wholly partial and biased opinion, the only good Oz books) are both wonderful and wonderfully imaginative, and were immensely influential on me as a child. I love E. Nesbit's work, particularly her Psammead trilogy. Mary Norton's Borrowers books are delightfully real. Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, saccharine as it can get, never fails to get me to tear up. H.P. Lovecraft was for the most part a really bad writer, but his ideas were like nothing else that anyone before (or, I would almost say, since) had ever come up with. Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy is a tour de force. Every Jane Austen novel, including her unfinished works and juvenilia, are fantastic.

I suppose, in general, I love well-written, inventive, thoughtful, sensitive, and pragmatic children's stories. In hindsight, it's not such a surprise that I should have ended up falling in love with Friendship is Magic.

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?

...Honestly, I am my ideal reader. I write for the pleasure of crafting a world and a storyline and then interweaving one with the other, and while I am of course delighted if others enjoy my writings, in the end I write because I love worldbuilding, and storycrafting is an important aspect of that.

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

This is an awful response, but I'm afraid I really don't have much in the way of sage advice. Writing's always a struggle for me, and often (as followers of Mendacity can well attest) I miss self-imposed deadlines by weeks or sometimes months. When I do write, I write because I've thought of a plot development, conversation, or character that's just so enthralling to me that I simply have to get it down on paper. When that doesn't happen, all I can do is either try to force it, which can have mixed results, or simply think and think and think some more about the plot as it currently stands, and try to come up with a more intriguing, exciting way to get from A to B to C.

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

I walk. For hours. Sometimes I'll have a destination in mind, but often enough I'm just wandering, letting my feet carry me mechanically along as I work out the details of the next bit of my story section by section, paragraph by paragraph, and sentence by sentence. When I finally do sit down in front of a keyboard, I tend not to go through many drafts because by that point I've already revised and trashed and experimented with the course of the story in my head, and it's gotten smooth enough that it doesn't raise too many bruises as it bounces around inside my noggin. That's not to say that there aren't occasional moments when large-scale revisions or deletions don't become necessary, mind. Many paragraphs of Mendacity fell before the cold mercies of the delete key, and after being judged unworthy were cast into the abyss. But in general, my revisions are actually pretty minor. However, before I post chapters, I do always have an independent reader look through it and tell me what they thought. Something that I ought to always do but sometimes neglect (pretty rarely, but it still happens) is to put aside a finished piece for at least a day, and then read through it again.

What inspired you to write Mendacity?

Lyra's presence in the wedding, pure and simple, and particularly her role as one of the possessed bridesmaids. I wondered what Bon Bon was doing during the course of the episode (beyond her cloned background appearances, which I chose to disregard), whether she knew that Lyra was in danger, and if she did know, what she was doing to try to save her. Things kind of snowballed from there, helped along by the obvious connection between Bon Bon's shifting voice and the changelings' shifting shapes. I remember actually hurrying along the first chapter of Mendacity so that I could get it in to Equestria Daily as soon as possible, because I was so convinced that the basic premise behind the story was blindingly obvious and that everyone and their mother would soon be writing stories about changeling Bon Bon rescuing her marefriend from the clutches of Chrysalis.

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

The epilogue. Getting myself to sit down and get the dagnabbed thing finished has been...well. Everyone who was waiting for it knows exactly what it's been like, so I suppose descriptions would be superfluous. There are a lot of little scenes and vignettes that I wanted to include, but some turned out not to really fit, and fitting the others together has been an adventure.

Oh, and this is pretty minor, but I originally planned to have Celestia show up in a separate chunk of said epilogue, but had to be cut due to issues getting her voice right. Figuring out how she speaks isn't actually that hard for me, but figuring her out as a character I find darn near impossible. On the surface she seems quite simple, but there are subtly strange aspects of her character that are tricky to reconcile.

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

Nothing so exalted, I'm afraid. When I started, I wanted to do two things: properly express the ideas and interconnections I'd patched together regarding Bon Bon being a changeling, and to write a story with Bon Bon as the protagonist, standing on her own four hooves and unsupported as a character by Lyra's antics.

Where can readers drop you a line?

FiMFiction'll do, really; just send me a private message there, and I'll do my level best to respond.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Other than to offer general thanks to the many kind, perceptive people who have read Mendacity and offered their perspectives on the story, not much occurs to mind.

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