Originally posted to the Vault on 1/23/12.
Today's story is top-shelf stuff, a haunting tale that will stay with you for the rest of your day. It's been a while since we've had a tragic romance story, and this should certainly satiate lovers of the genre.
[Shipping][Tragedy] • 10,600 words
She is as beautiful and graceful as the moon, and just as hard to reach. He is a young artist with much to learn about the world. When he accepts her challenge to create an artistic masterpiece, will he win her heart, or learn a terrible lesson in the nature of beauty and love?
Hit the break for an interview with CiG, links to The Glass Blower on your favorite ponyfic sites, and head over to the Vault's Downloads page if you'd like a copy for your eReader or mobile device.
Where do you live?
I currently live in beautiful Ohio.
What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)
I'm a mid-grade member of the United States military.
How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?
Wired Magazine did a feature back in June '11 on Bronies and the show, which prompted me to view the series premier on YouTube. Pretty quickly I was watching an episode an evening, and shortly thereafter discovered the much, much larger mass of fan-created content on websites like Equestria Daily (and, of course, the Pony Fiction Archive). More than the episodes, it was the stories created by fans, for fans that drew me into writing.
Do you have a favorite episode?
There are quite a few I like, but my favorite is the Season One finale, The Best Night Ever.
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)?
Probably Twilight Sparkle. I realize that's a fairly vanilla answer, but she has more depth than any of the other main characters. I like the fact that the show's creators were willing to make an unabashedly intelligent and sarcastic person the star of the show.
I don't think my answer changes if you consider the fandom. Interestingly, the amount of character development and content generated by the fan community vastly outweighs the actual content of the show at this point, but the fan content hasn't greatly changed the characters in my eyes. It has only given them more depth.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
That's a long story I'll be happy to discuss over a beer. :)
Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?
I've written, very minimally, for a few other fandoms. Mostly fantasy RPGs (tabletop, online and MMO). I do a lot of technical writing in my professional capacity, which I think has given me a strong foundation for writing fiction.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
All sorts of things. My job demands that I stay physically fit, so I spend a lot of time running, playing sports, that sort of thing. I'm also an avid reader and occasional gamer, though I try to limit my game time as much as possible. There simply aren't enough hours in the day.
Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?
Iain M. Banks, a British sci-fi and fiction writer, is probably my current favorite author. His "Culture" series is an amazing, detailed, intelligent look at a speculative far future. Other authors I like are Neal Stephenson and Peter Hamilton, along with classical writers like John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost.
Within the fandom, I'm a huge fan of Kkat and her Fallout: Equestria.
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?
Stephen King is a successful writer who can afford to write for just one person :) Alas, I'm not as secure as him in my writing, and I'm always on the lookout for reviews, comments and criticism letting me know I'm on a somewhat right track with my stories.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?
Practice. When I look back at the first stories I wrote in high school, I cringe. They were bad, but the experience of writing them is what helped me develop as an author, to the point that people apparently look forward to my stuff.
A second, and related, tip is to always seek feedback. If all you do is write, and show your stuff to people unable or unwilling to criticize it, you'll never grow. Show your work to people unafraid to tell you how terrible it is.
What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)
Usually I write short stories with a firm idea of how I want them to begin and end, but without much detail on the middle. Sometimes this works out and I'm able to find a neat path from the front of the story to the back; other times, it leads to a mess and I have to start over.
The past few months I've had several reviewers go through my stuff before firing it off to EqD, and the difference has been amazing. They don't usually find errors -- I'm a fairly good technical writer -- but they find holes in the narrative, things that don't make sense, unclear transitions, silly phrases that sounded good in my head, etc. Reviewers help keep me grounded.
What inspired you to write The Glass Blower?
Most of my stories start with ideas that get stuck in my head. In this case, it was a pair of images: a broken, crazed man stuck on some obsessive task, unable to stop, and a beautiful, magical gift presented to a lady who subsequently destroyed it in a fit of rage.
The first image became the eponymous glass blower, an artist with an incredible gift but blinded by love. The second became Rarity destroying the glass blower's mirror.
Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing The Glass Blower?
Writing is easy for me. It's fixing the stuff I write and getting it ready for publication that is hard. In The Glass Blower's case, I spent almost twice as long going over the story with my reviewers as I did actually writing it. I went a bit overboard with some of my phrasing, and they had to pull me back.
When you set out to write The Glass Blower, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?
Obsession and pride were the two big themes. Throughout the story, the glass blower is obsessed with Rarity, unable to see the plain truth that she will never love him. Rarity's sin is pride -- she strings the glass blower along because she is unwilling to admit that her challenge to him was false, that she could never love him.
A side-theme was the idea of earth pony magic. I always thought it was unfair that unicorns and pegasi got all the neat stuff in the MLP universe. The Glass Blower, with its proposal that earth ponies can do magical things, is my counter-argument.
The Glass Blower also includes quite a few rhetorical devices. The lack of a name for the main character is the most obvious, but the writing is dense with similes, metaphors, and other devices. The final paragraph makes heavy use of anaphora, with its repeated use of the phrase "He worked."
Finally, some people have noted that the story reads almost like a fairy tale. That was very much the structure I was going for, and I'm glad to see it worked out.
Where can readers drop you a line?
I can usually be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Sometimes I'm asked why I write about ponies. The answer is that I don't: I write about people. The people happen to be four-legged and have pastel coats, but they are people nevertheless.
When we write about ponies, we're writing about humans. When we write about vampires or werewolves or ghosts or space aliens, we're really writing about humans. The forms we put our characters in are simply a literary short-hand, a way to give them attributes we wish we could have in life. All writing is, at its core, about humans. Ponies are simply humans with odd shapes, neat powers, and curious limitations.
The goal of the writer should be to make the reader ask a fundamental question about what it means to be human. To make them think about some essential element of ourselves. Many stories do not attempt this, but are nevertheless extremely popular (you can probably think of several examples).
The real stories, the best stories, are the ones that make the reader think, regardless of how popular they are.