Friday, June 29, 2012

Donny's Boy's Seeking Beauty

Rarity and Pinkie Pie? You'd think Rarity'd be too boring for Pinkie, and Pinkie'd be too crazy for Rarity... but they actually fit together pretty darn well.

[Shipping] • 30,600 words
Rarity has accomplished everything she’s dreamt of accomplishing, and she couldn’t be happier. At least, that’s what she thinks, until an old friend comes unexpectedly bouncing back into her life.

Hit the break for a sit-down with Donny's Boy, and links to Seeking Beauty out on the ponynet. As always, you can find lovingly hand-crafted ebooks over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

I live in the United States, in the Not So Deep South – Virginia.

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

I'm an attorney by education and work at a social justice flavored non-profit, but I'm currently considering a career change to pursue a reawakened desire to teach creative writing (preferably at the community college or four year university level). It's actually because of ponies, too, that I've been considering this – doing some pre-reading and editing for folks in the fandom has been a very rewarding experience and made me think that maybe I could teach.

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

My spouse introduced me to the show, and in turn the spouse was introduced by some online friends who kept referencing the show and posting gifs of it. I fell in love with the show pretty much instantly.

Do you have a favorite episode?

This is so hard! I love a lot of the episodes for different reasons, but I'm going to have to go with Friendship is Magic, Part 2. The very end of that episode, where Twilight feels the spark, is still one of my favorite moments in the entire series. I just think it's absolutely beautiful. Plus, we get to see our heroes show off their stuff – AJ's honesty, Fluttershy's kindness, Pinkie's laughter, Rarity's generosity, Dash's loyalty, and, of course, Twilight falling in love with five ridiculous, crazy, wonderful ponies.

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)?

Pinkie Pie is, now and forever, best pony. My answer doesn't change based on the fandom, although I'll admit that Serial Killer Pinkie and Crazy Schizophrenic Pinkie aren't among my preferred characterizations. But the fandom has also done a lot of really wonderful, beautiful, and nuanced things with Pinkie Pie, which I love.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It goes back to my early days in online fandom, when I started writing stories for Ninja Turtles. At the time, I didn't figure that I'd post more than a story or two, so I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about what penname to choose. It's actually just a joke name. There were lots of users in the Ninja Turtles fandom with names like "Raph's Luver" or "Leo's Girl" – many of whom wrote stories featuring their self-inserts having completely out of character adventures with the Turtles of their dreams – so, as Donatello was and is my favorite Turtle, I went with "Donny's Boy" as a kind of parody name.

If I'd known I'd end up writing more stories and getting as involved in various fandoms as I've gotten, I would have spent more time coming up with a better name, but c'est la vie. Besides, after years of using this as my fandom name, it feels very "me," so really I can't complain.

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

I began writing when I was in middle school and haven't stopped since. The main other fandom I've written for is Ninja Turtles, but I've also written assorted fanfics for a fandom here and a fandom there. I also wrote quite a bit back when I was in college, both fiction and non-fiction, and was published in various student publications. More recently, I had a bit of creative non-fiction writing published in a small 'zine that is published out of Canada and have written a few short news articles for a small, local newspaper.

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

I hang out with my spouse around the apartment, mostly. Occasionally I play guitar or make a well-meant but ill-fated decision to take up some creative hobby or another. (About a year ago, I decided I was going to design and make steampunk jewelry as a side business, but I got bored with that pretty quickly.) When I have access to cable, I watch hours upon hours of HGTV. House Hunters and Love It or List It are my kryptonite.

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

I'll stick with MLP writers, since that's what we all know. AbsoluteAnonymous is my favorite fandom writer, as I think she does some really wonderful psychological writing, and I'm also madly in love with Cloudy Skies, TheVulpineHero1, and Professor Piggy, among many, many others. In addition, I think quite highly of all of my co-moderators over at the writing prompt blog Thirty Minute Pony Stories.

My favorite MLP story is AbsoluteAnonymous' The Games We Play, though other faves include SleeplessBrony's Romance Reports, determamfidd's It Takes a Village, and Abalidoth's Causality.

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?

Generally, I try to write for the reader who wants a challenge, who wants to dig under the surface to find that nugget of truth, who wants to be an active participant in learning more about these characters we already think we know. I try to write for a reader who, basically, wants to read the same kinds of stories that I like to read. Whether I'm actually successful in these attempts isn't for me to say.

To answer more specifically, I write for my best buddy in the fandom and dearly beloved nemesis, Professor Piggy. He's one of the most thoughtful people I've met in the fandom and has some really great analyses of the show, its characters, it backstory, etc. He leaves the best comments, too, speculating on events that have occurred in a story and on characters' motivations, and I'm always pleased as punch whenever I see that he's left a review for one of my stories.

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

Read! Read everything you can get your little hooves on – good stories, bad stories, long stories, short stories, pony stories, non-pony stories, the backs of cereal boxes, everything. Reading all kinds of different stories, by different authors with different writing styles, is how I developed (and continue to develop) as a writer.

And to include something a bit more specific: Don't ever delete a single keystroke of what you write. Revise and edit ruthlessly, by all means, but copy and paste the writing you cut to another document or save it in some other way. So many times I've found that some bit of writing that didn't quite fit in one story (or in a certain chapter) is perfect somewhere else.

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

Everything I end up publishing always goes through a minimum of two revisions after the initial drafting, and many stories go through more than that. I do all of my own editing, at the moment, though I'm considering asking some trusted folks to preread for certain stories I'm currently writing. I grab writing time wherever and whenever I can – all of my writing is kept on Google Docs, so I can access it wherever there's an internet connection – and I almost always listen to music while both writing and editing.

What inspired you to write Seeking Beauty?

Seeking Beauty was a self-imposed challenge. At the time, I considered Rarity and Pinkie Pie the least compatible of the various possible Mane Six pairings, and I wanted to see if I could write a romance story with the two that would be believable and keep both ponies in-character.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Seeking Beauty?

I am generally averse to writing original characters, but the setting and other circumstances of the story seemed to require at least a few. I decided to keep the appearances of these OCs as minimal as possible.

One of these OCs began as a fairly two-dimensional Generic Antagonist, but about halfway through, I realized how much better the story would be if I complicated her character and her relationships to the protagonists. It resulted in that particular OC getting more “screen time” than I'd intended her to get, and that bothered me at first. Ultimately, though, I think the trade-off was worth it.

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

Mostly, I'd hoped that the story would be an interesting exploration of both Rarity as a character and the concept of “beauty.” What is beauty? What is beautiful? Who is beautiful? What is it that makes something, or someone, beautiful?

In particular, I tried to show that the Rarity at the beginning of the story and the Rarity at the end of the story wouldn't answer those questions in the same way. I also tried to show that there is beauty in complication – Rarity's world is relatively simple and straightforward in the very first chapter, but as the story progresses, Rarity learns that many of her perceptions of ponies and places are incomplete, if not outright incorrect.

Where can readers drop you a line?

Readers can drop me a line via PM at either or at I am also on Tumblr at and can be reached via email at (though I'm terribly negligent about checking my Gmail inbox, alas).

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'd just like to thank all of those wonderful folks in the fandom who have written amazing stories, lent a compassionate ear, penned penetrating analyses, drawn beautiful artwork, left thoughtful comments on others' stories and arts, just anything and everything. I have been privileged to meet and interact with so many lovely people, and I'm very grateful to each and every one of them. This really is a great fandom.

Also, thank you, RBDash47, for thinking highly enough of Seeking Beauty to include it in the Vault and for taking the time to interview me. [Editor's Note: I know I'm not the only one, DB!]

1 comment :

  1. Great interview! I really enjoyed this one, and it's always nice to read a bit more about the authors behind them. I have always had a real soft spot for DB's stories, and this fic was no exception!

    Although I have to say, I am still befuddled as to how anyone can do their own editing. How do you have the faith that you can pick up on your own mistakes?! Haha.