Friday, April 26, 2013

D G D Davidson's Forever

In a land where females vastly outnumber males, is friendship magic... or a necessity? What do you do when your best friend leaves?

[Slice-of-Life] • 5,200 words
On the eve of her departure, Lyra pledges her love to Bon Bon.

Hit the break for a chat with D G D Davidson and a link to Forever online. Don't forget to grab your own ebook copy over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

I move around the American Midwest. I’m transitioning up to Montana at the moment.

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

I’m an archaeologist. I spend most of my time hiking, digging, or researching.

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

I was a My Little Pony fan before it was cool, sort of. I used to watch G1 back when I was probably five or six years old. Sometime around 2008 I got nostalgic for it, though all I remembered about it was that it was unexpectedly gritty for a cartoon about bright, brushable ponies. I looked it up; G3 was current then, of course, and it was a far cry from the Pony I remembered, so I didn’t think much more about it until 2011, when I made a joke on my blog about how the original My Little Pony show had been a “gore fest,” which is of course an exaggeration. One of my readers suggested I watch the new show, which I hadn’t heard of. I learned a little about the fandom and downloaded the first season. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was addictive. I’d say I was a fan as soon as I started watching it.

Do you have a favorite episode?

“Secret of My Excess.” That’s the best episode about Spike and Rarity, but it is also, in a way, the end of Spike and Rarity. It was clear from the beginning that the show only intended to play Spike’s infatuation for laughs, so once “Secret” has Spike dragging Rarity out of her boutique and afterwards confessing his feelings, there’s nowhere else for the writers to take it, which I think is why we’ve seen no development in their relationship, such as it is, since then.

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)?

It’s a tough choice, but I’ll say Rainbow Dash. I like the contrast between her braggadocio and her insecurities. They played that quite well in “Sonic Rainboom,” “Fall Weather Friends,” and “The Mysterious Mare Do Well.” Of the Mane Six, Dash has arguably had the most character development.

My favorite head-canon character is Princess Luna, who I imagine remaining aloof even after her return. I’ve envisioned her practicing black magic and spending her nights hunting down nightmare monsters. Canon has at least partially justified some of my conceptions.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

A lot of authors I like use their initials and last names, and I was already doing the same before I wrote pony fan fiction.

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

I started writing in Kindergarten. My first story was about pirates. I have a few professionally published short stories, and, after five years of toil, I have a complete rough draft of a blood-soaked magical girl novel that needs me to pay attention to it again. In the world of fan fiction, I might be most (in)famous for The Chronicles of Fone Bone Oathbreaker, a novel based on Jeff Smith’s Bone comics.

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

Read! In my line of work, spare time is precious. I mostly spend it reading and writing.

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

Right now, my favorite author is probably John C. Wright, writer of excruciatingly dense science fiction novels, but my answer might be different next week. When I’m asked my favorite novel, my go-to is Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. I’ve read nothing else quite like it, either in terms of the bizarre style that manages to be purple without being overblown, or in terms of the complex storytelling.

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?

More than once, I’ve encountered writers who say they simply write stories that they themselves would like to read. I try to do the same. So my ideal reader is a fanboyish thirty-something archaeologist who likes ponies.

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

One piece of advice that I’ve received, and which I think might be the best, is about how to build characters. Every character needs, at a minimum, two conflicting traits and two conflicting desires. That’s how a character stops being flat—you can know everything about a character from his history to his favorite color, but he won’t come to life until he’s conflicted. We see this in the characters of the show: Rainbow Dash is loyal, but she’s also competitive and self-centered; Applejack is honest, but she’s also stubborn; Twilight gets her strength from her friends, but she’s also reclusive. Give a character a positive trait with which the audience can identify, and then give him a corresponding defect with which the audience can identify. Give him two mutually exclusive things he wants, and you already have drama even before you’ve come up with a plot.

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

I’m not an efficient writer. I tend to think stories through as I compose them, so most of what I write goes through multiple drafts as my ideas change and the story evolves. I research as I go, as well, so I constantly halt to look something up. I wrote several thousand words of early versions or spin-offs of my novel in progress before I brought it to its present stage. The current draft has already been edited heavily by a professional author. When it comes to fan fiction, the process varies depending on the size or complexity of the work I’m producing, but I sometimes go through multiple drafts or versions of a scene before I consider a chapter complete.

What inspired you to write Forever?

The story is set in the same universe as another tale, Chronomistress, which I wrote in two evenings for the monthly SALT contest. Within Chronomistress is what I call a “test run” for five background ponies I wanted to depict as friends who fight a lot, and who I intended to feature in one section of a long Human-in-Equestria novel I still have on the back burner. I used Chronomistress to see how well these ponies interacted with the personalities I’d given them. After that, I was discussing world-building with a friend, and he gave me the idea that ponies, with their culture’s heavy emphasis on friendship, might have a formal ritual to celebrate it. I wrote such a ritual into the unfinished HiE, but then decided I wanted to write another version of it using that same group of background ponies. That became “Forever.”

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

Not really. It’s quite short, I’d already developed the version of Equestria in which it takes place, and when I put these five characters together, I found their dialogue easy to compose.

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

It contains world-building speculations I’d originally developed for other stories, but if it’s about anything, it’s an attempt to imagine a culture where friendship is really seen as the bedrock of society. The story is simple: Lyra is moving and leaving Bon Bon behind, so, with the help of their friends, they perform this somewhat archaic ritual in the hopes that it will help keep their friendship intact despite the distance. Hovering in the background is the concept, possibly alien to the readers, that friendship isn’t something that can be maintained by people who don’t live in close proximity to each other. In that sense, perhaps, it’s a story about characters trying to beat the odds.

Where can readers drop you a line?

You can find me at my FIMFiction account. I tend to hang out there a lot.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only that I’m grateful to have this quirky little one-shot in the Vault.

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