Friday, March 16, 2012

AugieDog's Half the Day is Night

Heading into the weekend with an oldie but a goodie, originally posted at EqD almost exactly one year ago. Another unique take on how well the recently-freed Luna reintegrates with Equestrian society... but also looks at how society handles having her back.

[Adventure] • 60,700 words
Romance, palace intrigue, and swashbuckling adventure await our six heroines when Princess Luna summons the Elements of Harmony to Canterlot.

Hit the break for an equally well-written interview from AugieDog, as well as links to Half the Day is Night around the 'net. Don't forget to check out the Downloads page if you want your very own ebook copy!

Where do you live?

Down along the southern California coast. In fact, every house I've lived in, every school I've attended, every job I've ever held, they've all been located within 10 miles of the hospital where I was born. I don't get around much, in other words.

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

I have four part-time jobs: I'm a clerk at the local library; I sing and play guitar at the local Catholic church; I host a Sunday afternoon radio program at the local university; and I write and draw comics and stories.

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

The first reference I recall seeing to the show was from Casey Young at the bottom of the December 15, 2010 page of her webcomic Altermeta. I'd been a fan of the original Pony show back in the 1980s - I still have the VHS tapes I recorded of it during my college years - but I didn't manage to carve out the time I needed to track the new show down on YouTube 'til the end of January, 2011.

As for realizing I was a fan, the first minute and a half did it. As I said in the review of the show I had published on Strange Horizons back in May of 2011, "Sibling rivalry, cosmic warfare, magic, myth, legend... and we haven't even come to the first episode's opening titles yet!"

Do you have a favorite episode?

What appeals to me most about the show is the way the writers take what are fairly standard children's show stories, let these six wonderfully realized and peculiar characters loose in them, and spin them into places I've never seen a cartoon go before. Which is why Lesson Zero has inched into place above Suited for Success, Sonic Rainboom, Green Isn't Your Color and Sweet and Elite for me. That the writers allow their characters to have flaws that lead them into conflict with themselves and each other makes this such a fine and unusual show!

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'm madly in love with all six of the main characters, of course - they have so much storytelling potential! But I find Twilight's arc so far to be the most compelling, the growth she's shown since the first episode and all.

As for the fandom, I'm Fluttershy when it comes to anything even remotely social. I read Equestria Daily and Chris's reviews at, but other than that, I have no idea what's going on in the fan community that surrounds the show.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

AugieDog is the nickname of Gus Lancer, a character I began writing about 25 years ago when I was in college - I reckon I'm in the running for "world's oldest brony."

But it was only after discovering Friendship is Magic that I was able to finish any of Gus's stories. Deciding that he was a brony seemed to open him up to me in an entirely new way, and my first completed story about him, "Thoughts on Early Spring," will appear in May in the anthology Bronies for the Love of Ponies from Kazka Press.

So when I noticed that everyone at Equestria Daily used fake names, I pretended to be Gus and submitted my stuff under his pseudonym. Since then, though, I've become quite open about him being completely fictional and me being less so.

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

I've been writing stories for as long as I've been able to write, but in college, I realized that my style was too florid and sticky, full of useless adjectives and sentences that tended to sink under their own weight. So I started reading writers like Roger Zelazny, Margery Sharp, and Raymond Chandler, folks known for their lean prose, to see if I could figure out what they were doing.

The first story I wrote after that was a talking animal adventure called "Rat's Reputation," and it was published in 1989 in a fanzine called Fur Version. The second story I wrote, a semi-sequel called "Crow's Curse," then won 3rd place in the 1990 Writers of the Future contest, made me $1,500, and was published in vol. 7 of the contest's anthology.

Since then, I've sold stories to places like Asimov's SF magazine and Marion Zimmer Bradley's annual Sword and Sorceress collection while my novel The Blood Jaguar came out from Tor Books a baker's dozen years ago and is scheduled to be reprinted in an illustrated edition later this year from Sofawolf Press. I also do two webcomics a cumulative seven days a week even though I don't draw all that well: Daily Grind with two pages every day Monday through Friday and Terebinth with a page every Monday and Thursday.

If anyone's interested, you can find a selection of my stories for sale in various e-book formats on my bookshelf at

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

When I'm not writing, I usually find myself wishing I was. It's one of my several character flaws: I'd rather be working on my own stuff than looking at anyone else's. Even sitting down to watch a movie gets me itchy 'cause that's a couple hours I could've spent getting some pages done!

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

Margery Sharp's first three "Miss Bianca" books - The Rescuers, Miss Bianca, and The Turret - and her last two, Bernard the Brave and Bernard into Battle, are little gems of what can be done with talking animal fiction. And her regular novels about human beings aren't bad, either.

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 don't know that I have any specific person in mind. But anyone who doesn't mind talking animals being treated in a thoughtful fashion rather than as simple sidekicks or comedy relief, I guess, might enjoy my stuff.

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

Read your stuff out loud. If your tongue trips over the lines or the words don't sound right, go back and rewrite 'til your ear tells you they work.

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

Any time I have an idea, I need to work out the basics before I can begin writing. This means that I have to know the beginning - a person in a place with a problem - have to know generally how the middle stretches out, and have to have a vague notion of what ending I'm aiming for.

Sometimes these things will change during the writing process, but since I'm one of the apparent minority of writers who loves rewriting, I don't mind going back and monkeying with earlier parts 'til it all fits. Still, having a crude road map when I start, I find, gives me the guidance I need when the inevitable "OK. What happens next?" comes up.

I belong to a writing group, too, and their comments are always helpful when I'm hammering something together.

What inspired you to write Half the Day is Night?

After watching the first two episodes on YouTube back at the end of January, 2011, I found myself asking, "So what happens with Celestia and Luna?" Watching the next few episodes showed me clearly that the show's writers weren't going to answer that question any time soon, and I began to feel something I had never felt before: the urge to write fan fiction.

I told myself I wouldn't do it, couldn't do it, had too many projects of my own to work on to spend time on something that I could never show to anyone or do anything with. And then, Googling for information about the show, I found Equestria Daily, at that point just about a month old.

So I spent some time during the month of February writing a short story, The Biggest Little Pony, as an exercise to get a handle on the characters and submitted it to EqD. And while Sethisto liked it - this was before pre-readers - he said he wouldn't post it since folks tended to complain when he put up stories with "OC ponies" in them.

But by then, I'd been assembling the rough plot outline for Half the Day is Night for more than a month, and since I liked how it was coming together, I decided to put my other projects on hold for as long as it took - 12 to 15 chapters, I told Sethisto in the e-mail with links to the Prologue and first two chapters that I sent him on March 22, 2011. And I sent in the last chapter and the Epilogue three-and-a-half months later over the July 4th weekend.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Half the Day is Night?

Poor Spike, actually. I had all these scenes in my head for him, working his way through the tangled web of lies floating around Canterlot and bringing the information back to the others in the palace, but every time I started writing one of those scenes, it just slowed the story's pace so much, I ended up throwing them all out. Not a single scene from Spike's point of view made it into the final story!

Other than that, though, I found writing something with pre-existing characters and an already designed world to be a lot easier than my regular writing where I have to make up everything on my own. Stringing those 60,000 words into Half the Day is Night was the fastest writing I've ever done!

When you set out to write Half the Day is Night, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

When I started, I just wanted to write about what happened when Luna got back to Canterlot after a thousand years away. But as I went along, I started thinking more about Celestia and Luna and the magical land of Equestria, and by the time I finished the last chapter, I knew that I needed the Epilogue to show what the story had really been about.

Where can readers drop you a line?

I set up for the fictional Gus Lancer years and years ago and only started using it when I was sending chapter in to Equestria Daily. So, yeah, folks can use that.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Looking at Half the Day is Night now, I almost think it could use a 16th chapter set back in Ponyville with Twilight going around and gathering the others' thoughts for her report to the princesses. I can't imagine I'll ever do it, of course, but, well, as somebody once said, a piece of creative work is never finished: it's just abandoned. :)


  1. Ahh, so someone actually got in on the Kazka Press anthology! I was rather put off when they changed the topic from "bronies" to "men who like horses and don't you dare mention anything Hasbro-owned". I mean, I understand why, but it immediately stopped being interesting to me. I'm just glad I never finished rewriting my piece for it.

    1. I took the guidelines:

      Pretty literally and wrote about a character whose life has been changed for the better by his being a fan of "that pony show." And the talking cat and talking crows, well, if you can't have talking ponies... :)


  2. Half the Day is Night was the first MLP fanfic I ever read and it both ensured I would read many more and be disappointed in a lot of them.

    It's still the first fic I name when anyone asks for a recommendation.

    1. Thanks!

      I'm glad folks still find it a fun read!


  3. A well deserved 4 out of 5 for me.

    While I felt Pinkie's dialogue felt frequently uncharacteristic, the wider sense of how Pinkie actually works well very well done, and thoroughly satisfying. Especially the 'uncles' explanation...perfect way to present Pinkie as making far more sense than most people give her credit for.

    I couldn't really work out why the Rarity romance plot was there at all, since it really had nothing to do with the overall story. However, for what it was, it was far more delicately and sensibly handled than almost any dedicated shipping fic I've read, so it still added to the whole for me, if only marginally.

    It did bring up one of my recently discovered new pet peeves (in fairness, I have a LOT of those). I really don't like sentences cutting off in narrative, and that happened quite a few times. I'm sure many readers won't care, but it definitely stood out to me.

    Otherwise, very well edited, sufficiently in-character to never raise and eyebrow, and I really liked this rendition of Luna. I could say that I found the realisations of personal discovery a bit 'twee', but to be honest, it's perfectly in keeping with the show. Therefore it's just personal opinion and I won't mark down for that.

    The epilogue kinda ruined it for me though. Finishing a story on such a hollow 'get-out-of-jail-free' note really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I was looking forward to a really good answer to Luna's question, and then the answer actually diminished the strength of Celestia's character, in my opinion. It's a very valid, real-world problem we all face, so the 'we're magic, we get to cheat' instead of a hard-won lesson felt like a massive cop-out.

    Such a shame, since I really did enjoy the rest of it, and I'm not one to sugar-coat my opinions.

    I'd definitely recommend it as a read though. Good work AugieDog!

    (If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't give Past Sins or FO:E 5/5 either)

    Scott 'Inquisitor' Mence

    1. Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the parts of it that you did.

      My thoughts on the whole "Equestrian afterlife" situation have evolved a bit since finishing Half the Day, especially after the "Hearth's Warming Eve" episode and all the talk about Cadence, the third winged unicorn princess, who's apparently scheduled to show up in the final two episodes of the current series.

      My not-entirely-successful short story exploring those thoughts, "The Birth of Harmony," was posted to EqD a few months back, but I really needed more than the week I had to put it together. A 27 or 28 hour day would be handy, I find, for getting in all the projects I'd like to be working on! :)