Monday, November 7, 2011

Syrin Kitty's Common Sky

For our inaugural Vault entry and author highlight, I am pleased to bring you my favorite Twilight x Luna fic by one of my favorite authors; a touching story exploring the first few steps of a new relationship.

[Shipping] • 21,000 words
Twilight ventures out into the mountains to see a once-in-a-lifetime event. Disappointed by her friends not coming with her, she crosses paths with a kindred spirit.

Hit the break for an interview with Syrin and links to Common Sky on your favorite pony sites, and check out the Downloads page to grab it in your preferred eBook format!

Where do you live?

I live in the province of Ontario, Canada.

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

I’m currently a funemployed student.

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

I was introduced to the show in January 2011. At first when I heard of it, I thought that “bronies” was just a bunch of hipsters being “ironic,” like the people who watch old children cartoons for fun. Eventually I watched it, and I found that the characters were far departures from what I expected. Most of all, I could relate to Twilight Sparkle’s insane “aspie student” ramblings and gestures. I first got into the series around episode 18, and eventually worked my way backwards to the earlier episodes.

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

Hmm, difficult question! Cutie Mark Chronicles is a good one, as is Winter Wrap Up. I think those would be my two favourites.

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)?

Even more of a difficult question! All of the mane six, including Luna, appeal to me for different reasons. If I was going to put them in order of priority, it’d be: Luna, Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity. Not to say Rarity is my least favourite or anything. I like them all roughly equally.

My answer might change if it came to fan creations. Butterscotch Sundae and LunaFyre strike me as interesting character designs. There are a host of brilliantly designed OCs. I think it really speaks to the creativeness of the fans.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It’s actually from a piece of unpublished, half-written original fiction. Syrin is the name of a very young (13-14 year old) time traveller in one of my bigger stories, who is trying to survive in a dystopic city after the end of the world. The “kitty” comes from the characters’ slightly autistic nature, which makes her identify more heavily with cats than other people. It was a random name to begin with, although I say that like most masks, it grew to fit.

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

I used to write random anime fanfiction a long, long time ago. It was complete crap, and I’m not even sure I can find copies of that stuff on the internet anymore. I was a bit weird growing up, and every so often I’d go through a Great Purge of some kind and wipe out a bunch of my data for no reason. Don’t ask me why. Don’t worry, I wont be doing that again. :P

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

These days I’m trying to re-start a lot of my old hobbies, which is part of the reason why my story writing has taken a bit of a back seat. I’m currently getting into amateur electronics and “cyborg art,” i.e: wearable, artistic clothing that is controlled by microcontrollers and integrated circuits. I’m currently learning how to use the “Arduino,” which is a hobbyist development platform built on an 8-bit processor. I’m also learning how to do good old-fashioned performance art with staff spinning. I hope to be able to spin a staff that is on fire by next year.

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

I often mention The Great Gatsby as the novel which inspired my current writing style. F. Scott Fitzgerald had a particular way of writing which involved writing in the third person, but having the sequence of events be described as if they were coming from the main character. Kind of like if a little faerie was sitting on your shoulder just watching everything that happened and reacting the same way you did. It almost has a way of tricking the reader into identifying with the main character’s beliefs and world views, while making them think it is an objective summary of events. It taught me an important lesson: everything is skewed by perception, especially stories you hear from other people. Novels are no different: they’re just stories being told by other people, after all.

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 mostly write for the INFP-type personalities out there, mainly the introverted hopeless romantic types. I hated most sources of romantic fiction growing up since it treated love as a kind of fire that would destroy a forest given half a chance. Going into writing, I wanted to write a story that showed subtle emotion and feelings that remain hidden until slowly pried out, like a flower beginning to blossom. Thus, my ideal readers are the “idealists,” the ones who try to co-exist in a harsh environment that crushes dreams. Sorry if that sounds melodramatic.

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

When someone is cutting a statue out of marble or wood, they begin by making the biggest cuts into the substance and giving it a general shape. Afterwards, they begin filling in the general details, like the arms, the legs, and so forth. Then, after that level of complexity is done, they do the fine detail, like hands, noses, fingernails, or the pupils in the eyes.

Think of story-writing like that. Lay out the super-structure of your story: write a paragraph in the beginning, a paragraph in the middle with some big event that you want to transpire, and then roughly how you’ll end that story or chapter. After that, just keep feeling in those blank spaces with other events that you want to transpire - even if it’s just someone saying a single sentence or two - and build up the fine detail around that. Once you’ve got all the events all laid out, it’s just a case of stringing them all together, and working out the grammatical and continuity quirks and kinks. You may even end up throwing away giant chunks of what you’ve written if you decide that it doesn’t flow properly, but you’ll at least have words on the page, and not every chapter will seem like a giant mountain to climb.

It works best if you’re the kind of person who thinks non-linearly and visually like I do. I’m no pro by any means, though.

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

My typical writing process begins with me writing the first part of the first scene of a new chapter. I’ll then jump to some other even in the continuity, like I described above. Once that’s roughly in place, I’ll keep going from place to place, filling in a random scene here or there, and then working out the dialog, all the while editing and fixing stuff up. Once I’ve got the basic story down, I’ll send it to a friends or people I know, like Drax99, Doctor Dapples, the people over in #Equestria on Caffie, and so on. Once I’m sure there aren’t any huge holes, I generally just upload it and wait for the response.

What inspired you to write Common Sky?

I had just gotten out of a particularly bad winter season. Nothing seemed to be going my way - I had just failed one of my mandatory course classes, I was increasing physical pain due to the stress and other health problems, I was getting sick pretty much constantly, I had no friends to speak of, and so on. Needless to say, it was pretty rough. Ponies provided a nice escape, and once I saw the fandom’s interpretation of Princess Luna, as the shy, demure pony who just wanted a friend, I felt incredibly inspired to write a story in which she finds friendship and happiness. In a way, I was essentially trying to make myself feel better. It was an outlet for the intense sadness and isolation I felt. The response I got from the fandom was more than encouraging.

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

Being my first piece of “serious” fiction in over seven years (i.e: more than 5k words), I felt a bit intimidated by how “big” it was getting. Obviously with fics like Fallout: Equestria starting to push the one million word mark it feels a bit silly in hindsight, but I almost felt like not publishing it at first. Once I was assured that it was Very Good(tm) by some acquaintances, I went ahead and submitted it to Equestria Daily. I think it was one of the first “Six Star” stories, which blew me away.

One funny thing that happened is that while writing Common Sky, I had planned the “once every one thousands years” meteor shower to originally be “once every one hundred years,” with Twilight Sparkle being excited and wanting to take her friends out to go see it. Imagine my surprise when the Owlicious episode aired a week into writing, with Twilight acting all excited about a “once in a hundred years meteor shower” and wanting to take her friends out to go see it. Needless to say, I had to preemptively ret-con that particular plot point, and check the various pony figurines I had bought for cameras installed by Hasbro.

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

Not really, aside from “Happy Luna,” as I mentioned. I also wanted to write a pony shipping story that was a little more realistic in terms of emotional response. A lot of shipping stories involve the characters saying “I Love You” and kissing at the end. I wanted to write a story in which two characters just begin to fall in love, and don’t even really understand it. “Love at first sight” does happen in real life, after all, but it’s more common for two people who have just met to slowly become closer and then begin a relationship. The progression in Common Sky, of course, is relative to how quickly it moves in other shipping fics.

Where can readers drop you a line?

You can always send me a note on DeviantArt or reach me at SyrinKitty on AIM. I like talking to people and I’m very hard to offend, so please don’t be shy!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Not much, aside from the fact that bronies are awesome. Be who you are, no matter how ‘normal’ or ‘weird’ that may be!


  1. "F. Scott Fitzgerald had a particular way of writing which involved writing in the third person, but having the sequence of events be described as if they were coming from the main character."

    This is called third person limited. It's the most-popular point of view for most fiction. Impressive that you figured out on your own how it works.