Friday, February 10, 2012

Titan Rising's Moonspire Run

Continuing the adventure theme, Spitfire challenges Rainbow Dash to a race through one of the most treacherous areas of Equestria. This story really reminded me of the X-Wing novels with all the precision flying and juking around. Stay on target...

[Adventure] • 14,100 words
Rainbow Dash faces off against her hero, Spitfire, in a one-on-one race through a relic of Nightmare Moon's past.

Hit the break for an enlightening interview with Titan Rising, and links to Moonspire Run out on the ponyweb. Ebook copies await you on the Downloads page, hot off the presses!

Where do you live?

Currently in Phoenix, AZ.

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

I’m a counselor for At Risk Youth at a group home. A very... interesting job for someone who freely admits to watching My Little Pony. You can imagine what kind of hell delinquent teenagers can conjure up for a brony, but I do my best to pass on the lessons from Equestria. Hey, even little wannabe gang-bangers deserve some caring and kindness, no?

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

I went to school for animation, so I make a point of checking out new cartoon series, but I somehow missed MLP:FIM’s debut. Near the end of Season 1 I read an article about the growing popularity of the show and how it was attracting more males 18 - 35 than its intended demographic, and curiosity got the better of me. I remember feeling embarrassed when watching the first episode (I think I actually put my hand over my face when Pinkie Pie started singing, although I now know that song by heart), but felt compelled to watch the next. And then the next. And the next. Five episodes later I was a brony.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Tough question. I have several favorites, but Swarm of the Century is up there at the top. I love Pinkie Pie’s misunderstood randomness in that episode, and her line “You’ve got a problem all right, and a banjo is the only answer!” is one of my favorites. I made a t-shirt with a banjo and the line ‘The Only Answer’ underneath it, but eventually lost it on a camping trip. I cried. Hopefully it made some coyote very happy.

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)?

If I had to choose one, I’d say Fluttershy. Her cute moments of vulnerability and self-effacing demeanor offset by surges of a repressed alpha-female ego are awesome. As far as fandom goes, I’d probably say the snarky-little-sister persona that fans bestowed upon Luna before the episode Luna Eclipsed aired and she became all royal. And of course... Derpy. You gotta love Derpy.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It’s from the logo for my video production company: Saturn’s moon Titan rising up from behind its rings. So, no, my pen name is not a statement of ego, more like laziness for not bothering to think up something pony-related.

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

Eeeyup. I wrote some scripts for indy films when I lived in LA, I’ve written a couple novels, and am working on a third. Nothing published as of yet, but I’m seeking representation for one of the finished novels... the other has been shelved indefinitely as being a good ‘first try’ at writing a full-length novel. (In other words, it was 140k words of suckfest. Well, it had its moments, but overall... meh.)

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

Ultra Pony Roller Derby! I wish. Umm... besides working, I’m into martial arts (I have black belts in a couple styles), going hiking with my dog, road trips on my motorcycle, I recently went to alligator wrestling school (Seriously. I have pictures.), and now that I’m finally sick of playing Skyrim, I’m going snowboarding next weekend.

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

Webster. His Dictionary and his Thesaurus are both fantastic reads. My favorite fiction authors, however, are probably Neil Gaiman and Kurt Vonnegut. I read Sirens of Titan when I was ten and it totally blew my mind. And I think I just discovered the probable origin of my pen name. Weird.

As for favorite story, at the moment I’d have to say Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.) But ask me again tomorrow and I’ll probably say something different. Like Orson Scott Card and Ender’s Game.

I haven’t read enough fanfics to confidently pick out a favorite, but My Little Dashie definitely left an impression. *sniffle* And Wingmares was great. After rifling through the fics included on this site, I see a few I definitely will be checking out soon.

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?

Hmm... I personally don’t think of one specific individual as much as envision the intended audience as a whole and what someone from that group might think. I try to write something that I think I would be entertained by, and then see what reactions I get from my initial readers. So, to answer the question I guess I write for an imaginary friend. *sigh* Forever alone.

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

First, the obvious: read. And read a lot of books about writing. Not just one, mind you, don’t only read Stephen King’s On Writing and call it a day (nothing against that book, it’s great). Get multiple views on the subject so as to help develop your own. The Writer’s Journey is a great book to help build a basic understanding of modern storytelling in regards to classic mythological story structure, in my opinion, and The Elements of Style of course is a must have. There are tons of books on the subject of writing out there written by successful authors, try to read them all.

Get as much feedback as you can and listen to all of it even if you disagree. You don’t necessarily have to follow it, but listen. Feedback sucks, I know, but it always... always helps. Pure haters on the other hand can go eat a plate of Baked Bads.

And write. A lot. Experience is everything. If you’re struggling with a story, put it down and write something else, then come back and pick it up again.

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

I tend to favor the ‘organic’ writing process, where I start with a pretty good idea of idea of beginning, ending, certain scenes, and overall arc, but I try to let the characters drive the story and not restrict myself too much. I use the first draft to solidify/discover the story, knowing that it’s not the final product. Then I leave it and work on something else, so when I come back to it I can be more objective about the entire piece as a whole and sculpt the structure. And then the rewrites start to streamline plot, character, word choice, etc. Around the second draft or so I will start having people read it to get feedback, and then make the major changes before concentrating on details. As for editing, I’m on my own for that.

Some writers love a rigid structure, and although I’ve tried it, it just doesn’t work for me. I like the feeling of living the story at the same time the characters are, where things can surprise me just as much as it does them.

What inspired you to write Moonspire Run?

I was writing a really dark scene in a novel I was working on in which a twelve year old girl has to go through some seriously sinister crap (she ends up fine, I’m not evil), and I felt the need to write something light and happy to cleanse my soul. I was on Equestria Daily and saw a comic that absolutely blew me away and got me thinking about Rainbow Dash’s insecurities. I’ll see if I can find the link. Yeah, that one. Beautiful.

At the time, most of the pony-fics being submitted were all dark, gloomy stuff, and I didn’t really see any good ol’ happy straight-forward action/adventure pieces that were for pure entertainment. So I wrote one. I set out intending to write a piece that could pass for a regular episode, but with a strong action pace.

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

Probably the biggest was deciding what to cut. I wanted to write a simple, fast-paced story, but realized after my first draft that I had way too much extra stuff, like I went too far into RD’s internal monologue, I had a whole Elements of Harmony sub-plot that was more distracting than entertaining, and there were several scenes with the others back in Ponyville that just killed the pace.

As this is an action-oriented story, whittling down the language and word choice was difficult at times as well. I wanted to stick to a simpler, visual style, and in adherence to that I found myself having to cut a lot of flowery words and worry about syllable count more than usual. I still want to make changes whenever I give it a read-through, but I think I’ll just drive myself insane if I start doing that.

Oh yeah, another huge problem was that I’m the only brony I know, so I had nopony to pre-read it. This one was pretty much a solo venture with the one pre-read by two EQD volunteers.

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

Mostly, I just wanted to entertain, but I tried to keep the theme as true as possible to an actual MLP;FIM episode.

Where can readers drop you a line?

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read Moonspire Run, and especially thank you to those who took the time to email me or leave comments. The feedback has been enormously helpful, and seeing that I was able to entertain a few people with my ramblings makes it all worthwhile.

1 comment :

  1. This was an excellent read for me, and I'm quite jealous of all the different obstacles TitanRising conjured for his fic. I wish I was that creative. I also notice he pokes around in his document even today, and I assume he's either fixing things or making them better. Go read his story again if you only did so when it came out last August.