Friday, August 24, 2012

Horse Voice's The Savage Way

It's an odd combination, this - a background character and a human, trapped alone on a deserted isle. Who'll crack first, the pony or the man?

[Human Crossover] • 5,000 words
A disaster at sea strands Caramel on an island with one other survivor: a human immigrant. They agree to work together, but Caramel's new friend may not be as benevolent as he seems.

Hit the break for a cheerful chat with Horse Voice, and links to The Savage Way out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab a copy in your preferred ebook format over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

In a top-secret compound, surrounded by razor wire, fierce dogs, and a small army of winos instructed to shoot anyone who tries to visit – unless they're wearing a pony shirt.

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

I'm a full-time collector of publishers' rejection letters.

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

I promised myself I wouldn't start watching, since everyone who tried it seemed to get addicted. But I go on the Internet for the same reason regular people go to zoos: to look at the exhibits. I thought, what could be the harm in checking out some fandom weirdness?

I happened to go to Equestria Daily when The Thessalonica Legacy was posted. That story crossed ponies over with a franchise I had fond memories of, so I thought, "Why not?" Well, it kept alluding to stuff in the show canon, so I had to start watching to understand it. At first, I was only modestly amused when I wasn't annoyed, and intended to only watch enough to understand Thessalonica.

But a funny thing happened. While I was out and about, my mind began drifting back to what I had been watching, and even looking forward to seeing what came next.

They get under your skin, man, and then they've got you.

Do you have a favorite episode?

You mean, besides the two-parters? Ponyville Confidential. It brought back memories, and it was so, so true.

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)?

Celestia. She has emotional maturity, a kind heart, and a sense of humor. For that, I could look past the horse face.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Before I discovered vitamin D, I got sick all the time – mumps, swine flu, bronchitis, all sorts – and often had frogs in the throat. Also, I enjoy lame puns.

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

I majored in creative writing, thinking a ravenous consumer of a medium would be able to easily produce it. Being completely wrong, I spent a couple of years as the classes' whipping boy before people finally started laughing with me instead of at me. After they beat the suckiness out of me, I got hand-picked for the college newspaper. Eventually, I reached the point where my work consistently got rave reviews.

When I graduated, my muse promptly ran away. Months later, she came back smelling like a horse. And here we are.

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

I actually read more nonfiction than fiction. Since the real world isn't constrained by genre conventions, it's a great place to find ideas.

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

Hunter S. Thompson, and his nonfiction novel, Hell's Angels: the Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

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 write the type of stories I want to read, but no one else seems to want to write. Other people liking my stuff is an unexpected bonus.

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

Master English mechanics first. That way, you won't write a zillion-word epic, only to find out half the sentences need to be re-structured. Plus, once you know the rules well enough, you can start finding good places to bend them.

Read every damn type of thing you can find – fiction and nonfiction; stuff you agree with and stuff you don't; stuff you like and stuff you don't.

Everyone has his own way of going about the actual writing. The key is to figure out what works for you.

Most important, remember to think outside the box.

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

When I get ideas, I describe them to a friend of mine, who also loves storytelling. If his eyes bug out when I reveal the ending, I know it's a good one.

It's usually best to write an outline first, but Savage was short enough that I didn't find it necessary. On a given day, I work on whatever part I feel like, and later stitch them together, piece by piece (damn it, now that song's stuck in my head).

I don't publish as soon as it's done. I wait until the next morning, then look at it with a fresh eye to catch mechanical errors, plot holes, and so on.

What inspired you to write The Savage Way?

While reading about horses one day, I saw them described as "a prey species with a strong fear reaction." That phrase stuck in my mind, and I wondered how such a creature, given advanced mental faculties, would react to a similarly intelligent apex predator, especially when things turned ugly.

Further, how would you or I react in the human's position? It's easy to talk bravely now, but desperation can turn you into a whole different person.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing The Savage Way?

Procrastination has always been my weakness. That's why it took six weeks to write my new story, The Writing on the Wall, despite it being only 5,700-odd words.

When you set out to write The Savage Way, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

Two pieces of advice I've heard, from different people, are "paranoia will destroy you" and "paranoia will save your ass." I initially wanted to show the latter as true, but my friend convinced me an ambiguous ending would be better. Big props to him; I might not be doing this interview otherwise.

Now, I'm not even sure which of these sayings is right.

Where can readers drop you a line?

PM me on FIMFic. PROTIP: If it's a long message, back it up in case of 502 errors.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

(Man, I hope these red bumps are just heat rash.) ...What? Were you still recording? Oh shi–

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