Originally posted at the Vault on 4/20/12.
Do you love Groundhog Day? Of course you do. What isn't to love? However, let's say - just for the sake of argument, of course - that you are less than enthusiastic about Groundhog Day: Bill Murray's not your kind of actor, Harold Ramis isn't your idea of comedic genius, Andie MacDowell doesn't do it for you as a love interest. Even given all that... you like ponies, right? Of course you do - you're here.
[Adventure][Comedy][Shipping] • 50,700 words
Prince Blueblood thought the Grand Galloping Gala was over. He thought he could just go to sleep and put it behind him. He never expected to be reliving the same disaster of a day, over and over... and over.
Hit the break for an interview with Capn Chryssalid, and links to The Best Night Ever around the ponywebs. Don't forget to grab an ebook over at the Vault's Downloads page!
Where do you live?
The Northeast USA.
What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)
I'm a biomedical engineer. Currently that means pharmacology labwork.
Not what you were expecting? I do enjoy smattering technical stuff in my fics from time to time.
How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?
I... can't quite recall. I think it must have been the memes. They were all over the place and I had no idea what it was about. Pictures and videos and music and gifs, oh my! I caved in, put on some headphones and checked it out on youtube. Lol. It was like googling a pornographic term you've heard at work or in an email: you're shamefully curious. After a few episodes, the insidious singing ponies had me.
Do you have a favorite episode?
Hard to say with season two still in progress, but Suited for Success struck me as insightful. Many of us have been in the position of being pressured to meet some unreasonable or impossible deadline or objective, or to bow to silly demands that make our work harder - or that make the end result something we're unhappy with. Dog and Pony Show was also, I think, among the most outright entertaining for me, and damn but I rewatched The Best Night Ever so many times thanks to a certain fanfic I decided to write! Return of Harmony is also up there for, well, Q!
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, Twilight and Pinkie Pie are all in a broad "big three."
I guess I have a bias towards unicorns?
In terms of fandom-based stuff, I do love me some Lyra. The human obsession is too hilarious. I can't resist it.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Capn Chryssalid is my second penname. You won't find my first, I expect. I've buried it; only the people who knew me from, god, I guess it was a decade and a half ago... only they'll know it. I don't like to be reminded of my very early writing, even if it did win some awards on a certain site. I can't bear to read it!
But Capn Chryssalid has roots in when my little brother and I wrote fanmade mods for a classic game called X-COM UFO Defense (we also did TFTD mods). This was long before mods became accepted or normal tweaks to games, and then there was doing half the stuff in DOS! Lol. Chryssalids were biological terror units in the game: crab like things, very fast and tough, that turned civilians and soldiers into zombies. Those zombies then exploded when you killed them, releasing a new Chryssalid. I released the mods under a different name, but then registered for some boards online and thought: Chryssalid was taken, so I added a Capn to it. Like Capn Crunch, except with an armor piercing wang.
Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for basically two decades, and yes I've written for quite a few fandoms. Whatever struck my fancy, really. The first ones to go online, and not just to a mailing list back in the dark ages of the internet, were for Beast Wars. You won't find them on any archive I have a say in. Sonic followed (I loved the classic games and watched SatAM as a kid), though I didn't put any of my Sonic stuff online for years. Ranma was really my first major fic project that I put online, all because of watching anime as a freshman in college.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
"Like" to do? As in hobbies? If I can burn the time, I'll play some PC games, catch up with various people, do yard work to clear my head. I enjoy gardening; there's something very visceral and satisfying about eating or cooking with stuff you've grown. Just assorted stuff in general.
Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?
I've been asked this before, but it isn't really easy to answer. Are there authors who, if I see their name attached to a title, incline me by experience to purchase or read their book/fic? Yes. Do I have a favorite author? I really don't think so. Most books I read once then I'm done with them. There are only a few I've re-read numerous times, and most of those were from when I was younger. I think my tastes are too random to come close to having a favorite genre much less a favorite writer within a given genre.
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?
Maybe. I do generally write a fic based on my own issues with fics I've read. The Best Night Ever for example, which is why most folks will be reading this, was written because there were so very few fics starring Blueblood. He was so universally hated, I couldn't resist! At the time there were "redemption fics" in progress, but I didn't want it to be quite like those. I thought: "This would amuse me! Maybe it'll amuse some other people, too?" So I guess my ideal reader is myself? That sounds so narcissistic.
Maybe my ideal reader is someone who loves action, a bit of comedy, a pinch of romance and a dash of drama, topped off with more fighting and action.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?
Just practice, I guess. Reading helps, but no one can really be content copying how another person writes because we all think differently and express ourselves differently. You see? Writing is a reflection of thinking, no matter the POV or the character. If you try to write in a way that isn't comfortable or natural, you'll get worn out really quickly.
What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)
It varies. But "typically" I come up with a general idea or two (or three), identify how to implement it within a story framework, then identify any additions to the story, then fill in the details. This last part is really the only one where I "outline" the story. Too many people, I think, bind themselves to a story outline too early, often right from the get-go. Flexibility is key. Keep yourself - not just the reader - guessing on as much as you can! Right up and until the end.
I don't usually have many, if any, proof-readers. I've been lucky lately to have one or two to help catch my mistakes, and I've been using a forum for some creative responses to raw chapters.
What inspired you to write The Best Night Ever?
I kind of covered this in my response to the "ideal reader" question.
To summarize and reiterate, it was mostly because Blueblood's character was so hated. I had thought of a 'time loop' story before, and even pitched the idea to anyone who wanted to do it on a brainstorming thread. No one did, though a few people thought it could be done with Princess Luna.
After thinking about it, and re-watching Groundhog Day, I disagreed. The one who most fit the character of Phil was Blueblood - our egotistical jerk of a character everyone loves to hate. This presented me the chance to write a story starring a character very rarely used and even widely disliked, which I saw as an opportunity and a challenge. A lot of comments from readers express dismay that I somehow got them to like Blueblood - which I see as "job well done!" Like Phil, you're not supposed to like him at the start.
Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing The Best Night Ever?
Actually, very few! TBNE was one of the smoothest fics I've had to write. I did a hell of a lot of planning beforehand, and I had the movie on iTunes and the MLP episode handy. All the references I needed were right there. Everything else flowed very easily and organically. I wish every fic could be so smooth to write! TBNE is even shorter than my usual epic fics at under 60k words. This smooth process of design, execution and presentation may also be reflected in the reception to the story.
I still think it is the most streamlined, organized fanfic I've written to date, with little to no excess fat or wasted space. The biggest hurdle to overcome was ordering and paying for a copy of Groundhog Day.
When you set out to write The Best Night Ever, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?
I wanted to write a Groundhog Day type time-loop fic that didn't get mired in "power leveling" or character bashing or harem-making - the usual pitfalls of these kinds of stories. My point is that I didn't want the fic to deviate from the core messages of Groundhog Day. Self-improvement and self-discovery, not in terms of what skills you have or what amazing things you can do (because of the loops) but because of your outlook on life and in how you relate to other people. Or ponies in this case. As a part of that, I had smaller themes based around Luna and Celestia, and I wanted to show the effect on Blueblood of ponies he met and befriended within the loops, from the castle gardener to Spitfire and Soarin' to the mane six. None of them know it, but they had a tremendous impact on the Blueblood that emerged from the time loop.
Where can readers drop you a line?
Email or PM (via FFN) is quick and easy. I have a devart page, too, but it doesn't alert me to messages. I have to actually visit the page, which I don't do every day. Now that I've set up a FIMFiction account, that may be handy as well for folks in this fandom.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'm really honored and pleased that so many people have come away from this fic not just entertained, but with a sense that they learned a little something or felt a little something. There is no more that an author can ask for than that. Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies, and it really touched me when I watched it. If I can use that inspiration to reach others with my writing, then that's... hell, that's just awesome.
Thanks for reading, everyone!
- Capn Chryssalid