Site Post » [Interview] RedSquirrel456's Whisper Sun, Silent Moon · 2:14am
Originally posted to the Vault on 4/12/13.
A beautiful story about the very early days and challenges of Celestia and Luna.
[Adventure] • 13,800 words
A snapshot of the millennial lives of a young Celestia and Luna, as they prepare to do battle with Discord and fight to keep the Harmony they have only so recently mastered, and learn lessons they will struggle with all their days. In a journey that has no end, what matters most is who walks beside you.
Hit the break for a chat with RedSquirrel456 and links to Whisper Sun, Silent Moon out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab yourself an ebook copy over at the Downloads page!
Where do you live?
Sometimes in the state of Colorado. Sometimes in the far reaches of wherever my imagination goes.
What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)
I’m currently funemployed, but I do some volunteer busywork here and there.
How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?
It started in a small IRC chat group I talk with on a regular basis. One day, a member of the group came in and announced that a remake of My Little Pony had been made. This was around... late February 2011, fairly soon after the show got started. We all thought it couldn’t possibly be that good, and I decided to take a peek myself. I was willing to give it a chance at least, since I enjoyed a good cartoon here and there, but it was mostly to satisfy that weird desire most everyone had: to see how bad it was and how they’d mangled the idea.
I watched the first two episodes that very night, and realized it actually wasn’t bad at all. More than that, I’d enjoyed it immensely for a reason I couldn’t quite place. As I moved on to the third episode, I realized I was hooked and simply had to watch the rest. It wasn’t until “Winter Wrap Up” (I watched most of the first season within a couple of days) that I finally admitted that I was going to start following this thing.
Then I heard a place called Equestria Daily had popped up, and it was the final nail on the coffin.
Do you have a favorite episode?
Favorite is such a strong word. I don’t actually have one!
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 tie between Applejack and Rarity. They both have qualities I identify with, or at least strongly admire: a strong love of family, a good work ethic, the ability to handle stressful situations, and sporadic, wild creativity. Also they’re both very adorable.
Fandom wise, Pinkie Pie. Who else would actually be able to have a conversation with the fandom despite being a nonexistent cartoon?
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
One day, many years ago, I was sitting around wondering what I was going to call myself when I first downloaded AOL Instant Messenger. Then, I decided I kind of liked squirrels. Then, I added a string of numbers because “RedSquirrel” was already taken. It stuck because I’m terribly unimaginative when it comes to this kind of thing.
Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?
Writing has always been a big part of my life. I always loved reading, which soon got me thinking that I could make stories of my own. It started with my love of dinosaurs, which most little kids have. I was a huge fan of dinosaurs and read voraciously about them. Big surprise, I forgot most of what I learned, but the craft of writing itself left its mark. It wasn’t long before I saw that one of my favorite scientists, Robert Bakker, had written a novel of his own: Raptor Red. I got it when I was around nine years old, read that book in just under two days, and then I read it again and again and again. I finally began to realize that I could write creatively about things that interested me, and I never looked back.
I’ve written a few other fanfics, and started serious creative writing after I started moving through the Redwall series. I started on Fanfiction.net the moment I discovered it, though I’m not afraid to say some if it was so horrible I deleted it from my account there. But I’m going to post my pony fic there too once I stop procrastinating about it.
As for professional writing... I’m working on bringing that day closer.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Think about writing.
Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?
I don’t like to say I have a “favorite” this or that, because it implies I’ll always come back to something in spite of how it might apply to a current situation... so no, I do not.
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 don’t necessarily agree with this, since I write mostly to satisfy my desire to tell a good story. You could say I write for myself in that case, but then why would I bother posting it actually hoping to entertain other people? In general, I write for anyone who enjoys reading a good story, and that’s all.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Never stop doing either of those things. Read about a wide variety of subjects in a wide variety of styles. Write in different ways and write about different characters. Keep new thoughts coming.
Don’t be afraid to listen to criticism. Don’t be afraid to take an axe and hew the passages you are most proud of. Don’t be afraid to eat your own words once in awhile.
Be afraid of not approaching writing with a healthy, fearful respect. Be afraid of becoming prideful.
Get pre-readers and editors who don’t just give critique on grammar, but characters, ideas, and storylines. Don’t be afraid to admit that sometimes an idea just won’t work and you have to toss it. Don’t be afraid to say an idea is brilliant and you have to find a way to work with it.
Most of all, don’t be afraid of the idea that you can one day admit that you are a good writer.
What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)
It starts with the idea of a story, generally prompted by a phrase or song or emotion or even a dream. I don’t usually think of the entire story then and there. These kernels of ideas can be in the beginning, middle, or even end of a story, and the story itself is grown from around those idea kernels. Generally, I just sit around until inspiration strikes. I will then spit out a burst of several hundred or even several thousand words depending on my stamina.
It’s kind of an organized chaos, but without the organized. I like to think that my stories grow on their own without much guidance from me. The story has already happened. I just need to figure out how best to present it.
Multiple drafts are almost unheard of. I usually take a single draft and edit it over and over until it’s to my satisfaction, often dropping it and coming back to it later. Though in those single edits I have a lot of help from feedback I get from friends and much needed revisions from my first and only prereader/editor, RazgrizS57. Go check the guy out. He’s a cool brony.
What inspired you to write Whisper Sun, Silent Moon?
A great many things. Chief among them the writing prompt for one of /mlp/’s write-offs! That’s where the story got started, and I’m almost glad I didn’t submit it or I might have just ignored it after the contest was over. But stylistically, I would say it was a combination of stories I’d already read, coupled with finally believing that these stories could become very personal and still be grounded in Friendship is Magic.
Major inspirations are some gems from the fandom’s earlier days... It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door by Jetfire had an inexplicably huge impact on how I saw ponyfic. It could be epic while still having heart, it could dare to build its own worlds while remaining true to the show, and it could just be totally awesome. That story convinced me to begin my own work and not be embarrassed to share it. It still stands as one of my favorite fics of all time, and I still hope for the day I see more by that author. I love you Jetfire! *tears at mane*
Twilight Sky Over Canterlot by TwilightFlopple is an unavoidable inspiration. The sheer amount of tenderness and warm fuzzy feelings I got from that story knows no bounds. It was only a slice of life and yet it still contained so much in a relatively small amount of words. I knew I had to write a story like that too someday. Luna’s depiction in that fic played a part in all this too. I had to explore a Luna and a Celestia who were just more vast than any one story could say, who sang old songs of times gone by and supped with young ponies while being ageless creatures that have seen more than most can imagine.
Apart from those, I think a lot of it has to do with my general love for mystery combined with grand worldbuilding. I love to explore when I play a game or even look around a forest, and I adore the idea of delving into ruins or sifting through history books. I love the idea of things just being bigger than we can possibly imagine, that the world will always be unknown and interesting and chaotic, and things have happened and will happen that none of us will ever know. Whisper Sun, Silent Moon is sort of my ode to anything and everything that involves grand adventure with a dash of epic mystery added to it.
Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Whisper Sun, Silent Moon?
None that would have ended the story! I think what was hardest was trying to make Celestia and Luna shine through with their dialogue and actions. This story is about a point in their lives where they are both still adjusting and changing but bring their unique personalities to the situation. The dream sequence where everything is wrapped up had its own unique problems. I had some trouble trying to figure out how to make their interaction succinct and yet pack it with enough meaning to let everyone know that this was where everything is resolved. It’s still the most experimental thing I ever did.
When you set out to write Whisper Sun, Silent Moon, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?
That the world is a big, big place, and even the seemingly “important” people don’t fully know their roles in it. Not every story will be told, in fact, nearly every story that’s ever happened will be lost to the flow of history, but all of them deserve to be heard as all of them have in some way impacted the world. It is that humility that we must never forget when great things come our way, whether it be success in a venture or even just a chance to help a friend by giving them a shoulder to cry on.
Also, of course, is the idea that love is a power greater than most can imagine. It transcends everything and it is love that gives us our greatest strength when the going gets tough. As the Good Book says, if I “do not have love, I am nothing.” It’s one of the reasons I was so glad to see the Canterlot Wedding episode allow love to get its day in the spotlight. Plus, it let me use the idea that in the Pony World, you can literally weaponize the power of love and use it to shoot things.
And that’s just awesome.
Where can readers drop you a line?
For any and all pony fiction needs, my message box on FIMFiction is open to all. Occasionally I still check my message box at Fanfiction.net, and there I’m under the title “Red Squirrel Writer.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?