Friday, January 27, 2012

Cloudy Skies's Where Earth Meets Sky

We end the week with an extremely solid piece of shipping, and with a ship I've only seen done well (so far) once or twice.

[Shipping] • 38,900 words
Something is definitely up around here. Applejack and Fluttershy have been spending a lot of time together without the rest of the gang. Well, Rainbow Dash is on to them! In fact, she is sure this is the no-good friend-stealing Applejack's doing, and she will not stand for this - whatever this is. Also, Rainbow Dash wears a corn hat.

Hit the break for an interview with the inestimable Cloudy Skies, and links to Where Earth Meets Sky on the pony sites you know and love. As always, grab a copy in your preferred eBook format over at the Downloads page.




Where do you live?

I hail from the frozen land of Norway, way up past the arctic circle! ‘Tis a place where light and dark are seasonal things. It’s dark now.

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

I am a perpetual student dabbling in history and linguistics both. I have a part-time IT job to fund my sugar addiction.

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

I picked up on it via 4chan. I thought the whole thing seemed silly at first, and I was a closet fan for a while before I admitted I liked it even to myself. By April I was reading fics on ponychan and naming video game characters after the mane 6. I think it’s safe to say I was a fan at that point, and my first fic followed soon after on a whim and a self-dare.

Do you have a favorite episode?

One? Oh no. I am terminally indecisive and I shy away from anything that smells of calling “best” on anything, but I am very fond of Dragonshy, Luna Eclipsed and The Last Roundup.

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)?

I don’t want to name a bestpony, truly. I love everypony just as they are, and prefer canon-close stuff, but I also greatly appreciate most fanon BG pony personalities where they are in tune with the show. Octavia and Bon-Bon are great examples of this.

I am far less enthused about the darker show-contrasting variants such as the psychotic killer Pinkamina. I just never “got” that.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Oh, that’s easy. It sounded nice! When I set out to write, I wasn’t quite as open about the “pony stuff” as I am now, and felt I needed a pen name. That, and I like to watch the clouds.

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

I had my goth-poetry phase in my early teens like so many others, but I never stopped writing. I am the co-founder of and do scripts for a webcomic, and I’ve had two partial attempts at writing novels before. Ponies didn’t make me write, but they changed how I write in that I actually complete things now. It’s such an immense motivator, I can’t begin to describe it.

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

Honestly, I’m downright uncomfortable when I’m not writing. If I don’t feel like I can write on - if I’m writer’s blocked - I get depressed. When I’m forced to take time off, such as when my roomie threatens to crush my hands if I don’t take a break, I enjoy the regular stuff; walks, games and hanging out with the Wonderbolts.

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

China Miéville. His versatility is staggering. He’s written weird steampunk/industrial fantasy, modern horror, sci-fi and children’s tales - and they’re all amazing. His Perdido Street Station in particular is amazing. He’s delightfully weird and treats both his own weirdness and that of his settings with callous indifference.

That said, I also want to mention Daetrin and his Off the Edge of the Map. That piece of fiction had a greater emotional impact on me than most published works, and almost single-hoofedly inspired me to keep writing after my first fic.

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 wonder if this is a trick question where the answer is supposed to be “myself”? Most of the stuff I write aspires to inspire emotions. I try to spice my writing up with clever turns of phrase, but I never considered myself a strong technical writer. I want to make the reader cry and laugh, so I cater to those who aren’t cold, dead fishes, I guess.

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

I don’t know if I am qualified to give tips or advice, but many have said before me that it’s about being able to both love and hate what you write. I think there’s truth to that, you just need to realize there there’s a “when” here, too. Love your every work as you write. Convince yourself that this is going to be the best thing ever written. Prepare to hate it only after you submit it or finish it, and seek to learn from critique you get.

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

Complete chaos. I am still learning and trying new things, but generally, I write start to finish and let the characters decide what happens. I rarely plan, but rather collect ideas and scenes as they come to me. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes I struggle to write on, but basically I write, then edit, then edit again. The more I try to organize and plan, the worse the result gets.

I do have friends and pre-readers who are invaluable resources in pointing out inconsistencies or things that flat-out don’t work. Without them, I would be an unproductive useless bubbling mass of insecurities. Cormacolindor and Kits in particular are my rocks. Thank you!

What inspired you to write Where Earth Meets Sky?

Initially, I wanted to raise the issue of homophobia, but I dismissed that quickly when I realized how ill-fitting it was for a tolerant and loving setting like Equestria. It felt like an unnecessary step in the wrong direction.

Instead, it became a bit of a personal challenge, trying to write something different from my other ship fics. Specifically, I wanted to start with a declaration of love, rather than end the fic with one. I also wanted to strip the fic of any “villains”, once I ditched the homophobia angle. It was an attempt at making a harmless story that makes the romance seem believable, rather than forcing the reader to buy into something half-flanked.

Or, in fewer words; I wanted to write something sweet and fluffy while still making it an engaging read.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Where Earth Meets Sky?

Where Earth Meets Sky involved three times as many people as any of my previous fics, and I spent a lot of time debating possible changes with pre-readers. As a result, this is easily the “slowest” fic I’ve written so far, but I am very thankful for all the help I’ve gotten.

The worst of it was entirely self-inflicted. I spent almost a full week frozen because I couldn’t decide whether or not to re-write certain parts. In the end, I did nothing, and my main annoyance was that it took me that long to decide on it.

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

I always come back to the same messages in all my fics; love has many shapes, and nopony does well alone. Where Earth Meets Sky wanted to show that differences and similarities can both contribute to something wonderful. To me, AppleShy is just so incredibly tranquil and cute, and I wanted so dearly to give the reader a what-if scenario that worked.

I don’t pretend everypony loves shipping, nor am I one of the people who try to interpret canon content with ship goggles. I just saw the potential for something adorable here, and poked at it.

That, and so many writers are mean to Fluttershy, myself included. She deserves a happy ending.

Where can readers drop you a line?

Everypony loves getting mail! I reply to everything I get at cloudyskieswrites@gmail.com, and I also have a deviantArt account at cloudyskieswrites.deviantart.com. I’m nearly always polite, honest.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Ponies are pretty swell? No, seriously, thanks for having me! I’m still writing, ever writing, and I hope to have my next story (not even shipping - hell has frozen over) out within a week or so.

3 comments :

  1. I did enjoy Where Earth Meets Sky, but I think Within and Without remains my favorite story by Cloudy Skies. It is a spectacular feat of world building.

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  2. Cloudy is my favourite author in this fandom, and this story helped maintain that for me. I never liked Appleshy till I read this and was delighted to be met with the impressive characterisation and pacing that is a staple for all of Cloudy's stories. A very sweet and enjoyable read.

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