Friday, September 21, 2012

Jetfire's It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door

I love every story included here at the Vault - obviously, that's kind of the point - but today's story might be my all-time favorite. Wonderful imagery, characterization, character development... this is one of the stories that I originally created the Vault for, to ensure it's never lost. It was also the story that convinced my girlfriend that pony fanfic was more that just silly wastes of time - no mean feat!

[Adventure] • 143,000 words
When an accident leaves Twilight Sparkle seriously ill, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity must undertake a perilous journey to find her a cure. What adventures await them beyond Equestria's borders?

Hit the break for a chat with Jetfire, and links to Dangerous Business online. Don't forget to grab your own copy in your favorite ebook format over at the Downloads page! (And if you've read it before, you might want to revisit it at either the PFA or via an ebook - it's been through a fairly major edit since getting posted at EqD, and the individual chapter links there are out of date!)

Where do you live?

Sadly, nowhere glamorous at the moment. For now I'm in Waco, Texas, though I hope that changes soon.

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

At the moment I'm a freelance writer, but that's not paying the bills. I'm hoping to get into an advertising school, after which I'll be on my way as a copywriter and climbing the agency ladder. Of course, if I could get a book published and make my living as an author, that would be nice too.

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

I discovered the show when 4chan's Comics & Cartoons board, /co/, discovered it. The funny thing is that I almost didn't watch it at all! I really loved the heavy magical girl elements of the first two-parter, and when I found out the rest of the show would be more slice-of-life, I got discouraged and didn't watch any more episodes for a while. But it persisted in popularity, so I thought I would give it another chance. Lucky thing, too.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Suited for Success, because I feel it's one of the better written episodes of the series, with great lines and snappy banter throughout. It also happens to be about fashion, one of my side interests, which is why...

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)?

...Rarity, without question, is my favorite character. I love her meticulous nature, I love the way she treats fashion as an art form, I love her persistence in getting things just right. I see a lot of myself in Rarity, and even when taking the fandom into account, she's still my girl.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I've used the handle "Jumpjet" once or twice over the years, and "Jetfire" was a natural permutation of the theme. Plus, I love Transformers. I actually had the beginnings of a Transformers/MLP crossover in mind, once upon a time...

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

My first fanfic was a Pokémon fanfic I wrote way, way back when on IGN's Pokémon board. The Wrath of Mewtrix was its title, and it was while working on it that I discovered how much I loved to write. Over the years I've worked on a number of fanfics across fandoms. I wrote a few fanfics for Avatar: The Last Airbender, including an unfinished AU fanfic called Object Lesson, which I believe is still kicking around somewhere.

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

Read, watch football, work out, play the occasional video game. I'm not that special.

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

I'll say that my favorite book, or book series, is The Lord of the Rings, which should be obvious for anyone who read Dangerous Business. But for all that I love him, J.R.R. Tolkien's not my favorite author. That honor goes to Ray Bradbury, who shaped my childhood imagination more powerfully than any other writer. I'm also a big Evelyn Waugh fan.

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?

Yes, I always keep in mind my best friend, a guy I've known since way back in elementary school.

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

Whatever you do, however you struggle, do not give up! You only cease to be a writer when you cease to write. If you have the hunger to write, the burning desire to tell stories no matter what, then you can work through every trouble you encounter. All it takes is patience, some guidance, and sheer will.

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

I've learned the hard way to go through at least one draft before the finished product. Generally I work without an editor, as I'm very meticulous in my spelling, grammar, syntax. The process of writing, for me, is a bit like eating a big meal. I'll start the week taking nibbles, small bites, making a few inches of progress here and there. Then when the weekend arrives, and I have more free time, my mental floodgates will open, and I'll pound out thousands of words over the course of a few hours.

What inspired you to write It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door?

A combination of things drove me. For one, the Elder Scrolls VI: Equestria trailer was making the rounds everywhere at the time. It helped me recognize that there's a lot of high fantasy elements in the Pony World, and the music interspersed with clips from the show conjured visions of great journeys and terrible monsters. Beyond that, the world around Equestria seemed to lend itself to a larger fantasy setting, particularly a Tolkien-inspired one. Lauren Faust has said that Canterlot was based on Minas Tirith, so I thought: does that make Equestria, as a whole, Pony Gondor? And if so, is there a Pony Rohan? Is there a Lothlorien, and what lives there? I couldn't leave such questions unanswered, so I wrote.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Dangerous Business?

I knew once Applejack and Rarity had their life-changing moments planned out, I'd need one for Rainbow Dash, but I struggled to add real meaning to hers. From the start I knew it would have something to do with controlling lightning, but it lacked the emotional weight of what AJ and Rarity were going to go through. My help came, interestingly enough, from the commenters on Equestria Daily. They were all curious about why learning to control lightning meant so much to Dash, and I started to wonder about it myself, and then I hit upon an origin story involving Firefly. I'm quite proud of how that turned out, because it let me write the sequence in the Dreaming, and it let me introduce a bit of Gen One MLP lore.

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

The power of friendship, naturally, was a theme; the story wouldn't be a Friendship is Magic story without that. I especially wanted to draw my three main characters closer together, because at the time I started writing, Dash and Rarity hadn't spent much time together in the show. Another theme that gradually developed was the trust that things will work out in the end. Rarity states this pretty plainly to Falalauria in their midnight encounter, but I think it pervades the story. If you do the right thing, it will never be for nothing. Have hope that the world will land on its feet, and be true to yourself.

Where can readers drop you a line?

I think Sethisto over at EqD still has my e-mail address, but keep in mind: I may be busy writing, so there could be a delay in my response.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I am immensely grateful to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Pony Fandom for getting me back into writing. The fanfics I wrote for MLP were the first substantial works I'd written in years, and Dangerous Business was the first novel-length story I had completed since that very old Pokémon story. It inspired me to start working on my own worlds, with my own characters, and such stories now occupy the bulk of my time. After a long detour through several career options, I finally realized that writing is what I am meant to do. For that, bronies will have my eternal gratitude.


  1. You have no idea how long I've been waiting for this interview.

    Congratulations on finally tracking down Jetfire, RBD. And Jetfire, thank you for writing Dangerous Business. It is no exaggeration to say that it is one of my favorite works of fiction, never mind pony fiction.

    1. I've been waiting, oh, ten months or so myself. :)

  2. I loved Dangerous Business. The world building in the fic was amazing, and I could just see all the different lands and creatures that the trio encountered on their journey. And the character development was extraordinary - in the early chapters, I was predicting Rarity to be more of a hassle to the quest than anything (you have to admit - adventures to far off lands in unknown territories does not seem like her forte), but the way she worked with AJ and Dash, the the bonds formed between the three, simply magnificent!

    Equally as much, I loved the followup story as well, "A Day for Spike and Twilight". There was no epic adventure, no action, just Twilight and Spike spending time together - something we see surprisingly little of. It was very refreshing and beautiful to see the relationship between the two get some exploration, and it stayed very true to the show's message of love and friendship.

  3. Easily one of the three best pony stories in the fandom. I know it's been a huge inspiration for me. Love this story to pieces, and it's awesome to see it up here!

    (Oh, and RBD, any chance I can convince you to please get rid of having to complete a captcha before posting comments? I just got this sucker:

    How can you answer that?! D: )

  4. I wish that these authors who create non-pony work did more to promote their stuff. I definitely would like to read more by Jetfire, but there isn't even a website, email, or even real name attached to this interview. What a shame.

  5. Ah, the fic that will always be special. The one that got me back into writing fanfics, reading fanfics, and reading long multichapter ones without worring about time or length. Thank you for creating this, and getting me out of a rut Jetfire, wherever you are and please...put this on FIMfiction.