Friday, August 16, 2013

Sharaloth's The Archer and the Smith

In an Equestria where darkness has fallen, there is still a place for friendship.

[Adventure] • 11,900 words
The Shaper is a smith of unparalleled skill, her creations the most sought after in the fallen world. When a pony named Lyra comes to her with a unique commission she has to put all her skill to the test to craft a weapon of great power. For Lyra's goal is not an easy one, and it is not just any weapon that can kill a Dragon.

Hit the break for a few words from Sharaloth, and links to The Archer and the Smith out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab your own lovingly forged ebook copy over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

I live in Ottawa, Ontario.

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

I do contract work and write in my spare time.

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

I first heard of FIM on Fandom Wank. It was during the whole weird 'controversy' at the beginning of the show's run when Lauren Faust was being accused of racism and anti-feminism. I had a chuckle at the thought that anything as inoffensive as My Little Pony could generate anything close to the vitriol that had been directed at it. I let it go after that, uninterested in the show itself, until months later when I saw it popping up all over TvTropes. The cutesy names and general 'to sell toys to little girls' stigma associated with MLP kept me away at first. Then someone linked a video of the "Winter Wrap Up" song. I watched it, mused that it was better than I thought it would be, closed the browser tab and went on with my life. The song, however, would not leave my head. It stayed. It bounced joyfully through my skull as I tried in vain to remember exactly how it went, attempting to banish it by completing it. So I watched the video again. And again. Then I sought out the series, deciding that if I was going to enjoy a part of it, I might as well see what the whole was like.

I didn't realize I was a fan until somewhere around the last third of the first season. At the time I was ambivalent on just how much of a fan I was, however. I knew I liked the show, and that I would continue watching it. I didn't think I would be getting involved in the fandom and seeking out others who enjoyed it as well. It wasn't until "Return of Harmony" that I really got into it.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Difficult to say. I point to "Return of Harmony" as the episode where the show took off, where the mythology and depth of the show really began to take shape. It's the one that showed me how far the possibilities went with what they had created. I don't know if it's my favourite episode for pure enjoyment, however. I've got a big soft spot for episodes in which ponies (especially Twilight) go nuts, though: "Swarm of the Century", "Party of One", "Lesson Zero", "It's About Time", etc. Also any episode with a good song in it. I'm a sucker for musicals.

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)?

Also difficult to say. Rainbow Dash is my favourite character, but I don't dislike any of the characters. I couldn't rank them if pressed. Even though Dash is my favourite, that's only because of her attitude. As a character they are all very good, rounded characters with depth and range. They're people, not roles or cutouts, and that's what I like.

Considering the fandom in its entirety? Well, that's even more of a tall order. Is Rarity more huggably squishy because she's a marshmallow? Is Lyra more interesting than the main characters with her hoodie-wearing depression and manic anthrophilia? Exactly how Great and Powerful is Trixie? How is one supposed to decide? It is impossible, I say! Impossible!

Wait... no, I was wrong. It's Rainbow Dash. It's always Rainbow Dash.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I've been writing since a long, long time ago. Early on I had to name a fictional city, and after playing around a bit I arrived a nice-sounding word that worked for me. Then, after there was an internet, I needed a handle. That city name I had come up with popped into my head, so I used that. I've rarely used any other handle online since.

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

I've written other fanfiction. Some of it might even still be lying around on a account somewhere. I also write original fiction, which I am attempting to get published.

I first started writing in grade 5. There was a creative writing project, just your usual 'see if you can put together a couple pages of dialogue and description' deal. I decided I was going to write a horror story about a bunch of teens who go into a haunted cave and get eaten by a Lovecraftian horror. For a first attempt at writing, it was quite good. Also twenty times longer than expected, a tendency which has plagued me ever since. I even wrote ambitious sequels, and once bitten by the bug, one is never truly cured.

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

In my leisure time? Watch TV, play video games, read, hang out with friends. I do pen-and-paper roleplaying games three times a week, running one of the games. Generic stuff, really.

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

My favourite author changes depending on a lot of factors. Right now it's Brandon Sanderson. As for fanfic? I don't know. There are a lot of very good authors in the FIM community, and that's most of the fics I've been reading recently.

I couldn't really nail down a favourite novel, but my favourite novel series right now is The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. For my favourite fanfic? As far as pony fanfiction goes my FimFiction account has a favourites list that can be viewed by others, and I think that displays what I think of as the best I've read.

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?

My ideal reader is me. I write stories that I would like to read, about things that I am interested in and characters that I enjoy. In a less self-centered mode, I would like everyone to enjoy what I write, and I do care about the reactions of everyone who reads my stories. I'm always trying to improve my style and my storytelling skills so that more readers enjoy my work. I can't, however, say that I have one 'ideal reader' type who I write for. I write to tell the story, to let the characters live. I don't think of the readers when I write, I think of the story.

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

Writing is hard work. Whether you're talented and sure or novice and doubtful, it's a difficult and taxing thing to do. There are volumes of advice that are given for aspiring or struggling writers. Some work for some people, some don't work for anybody. None of it works for everyone. The best piece of advice I can give is to just write. Even when it's hard, even when you are stumped for ideas, even when the only thing that comes out is garbage, write. Just get words on the page. Then, once those words are in a halfway decent story form, get someone to edit the damn thing. Re-writing is a million times better than writing from nothing, and when you know what you did wrong, it's much easier to start doing it right.

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

The fanfiction process is fairly long for me, usually. I start with the idea, and then I go through a bunch of purely mental steps to figure out the basic plot, the characters, the background information on what leads to the plot, the world, and a few scenes. Once I start writing I tend to go chronologically through the story, from beginning to end, rather than jumping back and forth. When I'm done the initial writing, I will read through it all and edit scenes where I feel appropriate. Then I will read through it again and do more editing. Then I will send it to my pre-readers, who will go through it and point out the mistakes I've made. I'll correct the mistakes, then read through it all again and edit more stuff before finally posting it. There's usually no concrete 'drafts' that I go through. Anything can get changed at any time in the writing/editing process and I usually don't keep multiple versions of the same chapter or story around.

What inspired you to write The Archer and the Smith?

Another author, CDRW, had posted an image of an orange pony working at a forge. It's a very cool picture and the one I used as the title image for TAatS. CDRW liked it too and asked if someone could write a fic about it. I considered the request idly for a while before remembering that I had at some point gained a picture of Lyra standing upright and holding a bow with magical fingers. The two pictures connected in my mind and I started to imagine the ways in which both of these things could exist in a story.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing The Archer and the Smith?

No, TAatS went super-smooth. The hardest part was making sure I'd used the right number of arrows in the dragon fight.

When you set out to write The Archer and the Smith, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

The original idea was essentially D&D with ponies, sword and sorcery adventures and all that, but the more I thought about it, the more a theme began to emerge. I began to think about how such a thing as forging spears or using bows could come about in the FIM world. As the story developed the world became darker and bleaker. A pall of hopeless oppression began to permeate the world I was creating. Yet this is My Little Pony, and the ponies in those pictures did not look like the kind who would just let hopelessness take them. So the theme of Hope came to the fore.

A pony out for revenge against someone she cannot harm inspires hope in another pony who had long ago stopped thinking the world could be better. That pony in turn inspires the first by becoming a friend and sticking by her even when it seems all is lost. Hope and friendship can conquer great odds. They didn't change the world with what they did, but even small candles can shed light in a dark world. That was my theme.

Where can readers drop you a line?

A PM on my FimFiction account or a comment on my author page.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'm very glad that The Archer and the Smith is getting such attention. If I may be allowed some shameless self-promotion, I would also like to recommend the other story set in the same world, The Heart Thief, as well as my ongoing novel-length adventure story, Harmony Theory. I'm quite proud of both of them, and would like to see more people enjoying them as well.

Thanks to Pilate and Coandco for being my pre-readers (not for Archer and the Smith, but for most of my other stuff now). As well as a shout-out to the Jury. You know who you are.

But most of all I would like to thank the FiM fandom for being a place where this stuff can happen. I have read some amazing works in this fanfic community, and I am looking forward to reading many more!

1 comment :

  1. I read Archer and the Smith not long ago, and it really blew me away. :D I'm pleased to hear there are more stories in the same world, and I will be reading them (someday)!