Friday, December 23, 2011

Ebon Mane's Ships & Notes

This is the third entry in a row featuring a romantic tragedy... if that's not your cup of tea, my apologies! I'll have to start mixing it up. For today, though, we have a two-parter that tugs at the ol' heartstrings.

[Shipping][Tragedy] • 4,500 words
Friendships don't always last, time isn't always well-spent, and not everyone gets a happy ending. Everypony has their regrets, paths not taken, failures and lost loves. Sometimes, it's too late for second chances.

Hit the break for a few words from the good Ebon Mane, and links to Ships That Pass in the Night and The Three Notes on your favorite pony sites; check out the Downloads page for an eBook compilation of the two.

deviantArt (Ships) (Notes) • FIMFiction (Ships) (Notes) • Equestria Daily (Ships) (Notes)

Where do you live?

Mountain View, California.

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

I work full-time night shift in server and network monitoring and triage. Essentially, I make sure certain web services are working correctly, and ensure they get fixed when something goes wrong. I also take a full load of community college classes, mostly online due to my schedule.

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

I discovered MLP:FIM on 4chan's /b/ back in January of 2011. I was a fan pretty much from the first episode, though I grew into more of one over time.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Party of One. Crazy Pinkie is just awesomedorable.

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)?

Twilight Sparkle is my favorite canon pony, because I enjoy her nerdiness and find her social inexperience endearing. Based on the fandom in its entirety, I'd have to say that Luna is my favorite, because of all the things fanfic authors did with her before she had a canon personality; each writer that wrote her into their story sort of made her their own, and it was an interesting thing to see play out.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I wrote my first fanfic on a whim for Equestria Daily's Valentines Day Ship-off event back in February, and I knew that I needed a pen name. I knew I wanted something ponyish but masculine, and Ebon Mane was the first thing that came to mind.

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

I wrote a few extremely short fiction stories in high school, and one creepypasta that never took off a couple of years ago, but I really only got into writing when I got into the pony fandom. Creatures of the Night was probably the first fiction piece I wrote that was over 1.5k words.

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

Video games, forums, tabletop gaming. I don't do those things as often as I wish I could, though.

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

I don't really have a favorite author; I like a lot of authors but none really stand out to me as being ahead of the rest of the pack. My favorite novel is The Door Into Summer, a little-known science fiction book by Robert Heinlein. I'm not sure why it's my favorite, it's just something that I can read again every couple of years and still love, even if it has a bit of weirdness to it.

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?

My ideal reader is an intelligent and thoughtful stranger. It's someone that can notice and appreciate subtleties, but not predict the plot based on how well they know me, my mannerisms, and my modes of thought.

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

Know your ending before you write your first chapter, or you'll regret it later.

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

I try to outline, starting with the most general events and then filling in the details between them with more and more specificity, until I'm writing chunks of the actual narrative. I usually make several editing passes as I'm writing my story. I've had an editor for most of the chapters of Merely a Mare, but don't always get one on other works. That's because I'm more of a perfectionist when it comes to MaM than I am with other works. I often will finish a story, wait a week, and then read it again to self-edit. I also edit after I've posted, when I go back and reread earlier parts of a story I'm working on or just reread something I wrote months back to remember my old work. I have a bad habit of only making those kinds of edits to one of the places I posted, so the FIMFiction version is often slightly different from the DA version, and the versions are usually the original because I honestly just care about less.

What inspired you to write Ships and Notes?

TVTropes did, actually. I was looking at the shipping tropes section, and the name of one of the tropes caught my eye and made me think about where I'd heard the term before, which was actually a couple of songs that were referencing a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quote:

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

That quote's feel inspired my theme of love lost because of opportunities that passed. I continued with The Three Notes a bit because I wanted to destroy the reader's hope. I wanted to make clear that Twilight and Big Mac were not going to somehow manage to end up together. I wrote about several kinds of pain in The Three Notes, pain that I expected my readers to be able to relate to on one level or another. There's value in writing tragedy; happy endings show people that triumph is possible, but sad endings show people that when they cannot triumph, they are not alone in the pain they feel.

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

Not when writing Ships or Notes. It was one of the few works I've written that just seemed to flow out of me, without me needing to push myself to finish it.

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

Not everyone gets a happy ending.

Where can readers drop you a line?

Send me a note on my dA account or on my FIMFiction account.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

My ongoing fics aren't dead, just hibernating.

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