Today's story just wants a chance to get lodged inside your brain.
[Dark] [Horror] • 2,675 words
"Why is she standing out there? What does she want?"
"There's something off about her...."
"That's not Fluttershy..."
FROM THE CURATORS: One of the benefits of fanfiction is seeing how familiar ponies can end up in wildly different settings — and the fresh takes that those combinations can give us. "You've got Fluttershy used well as a horror device, Apple Bloom as our beleaguered protagonist, and a very thrilling catchphrase in 'It's cold out here'," Present Perfect said in his nomination, and there was quick agreement on how effective this story was at its chosen genre. "This does the most important thing a horror story can do: be creepy," Chris said, while AugieDog cited several other accomplishments. "There's a lot here to like," he said. "The atmosphere, Apple Bloom's dawning awareness that this thing's been stalking her for years, and the way almost the only line spoken aloud in the whole piece is the monster's repeated refrain."
Those weren't the only factors which went into the horror's core creepiness. "The excellent audio reading certainly helped, but there is much more than that at play here: Apple Bloom's fears felt visceral, as she vacillates between reacting to her terror with flight or fight," Soge said. "There is this constant atmosphere of irreality to the fic, as you are forced to guess just what is in her mind, and what isn't. That this stands even after the creature is defeated is really to the fic's advantage." Present Perfect also noted the strength of the ending despite its unusual reveal. "The one thing it does wrong is showing the monster near the end," he said. "That said, the scene comes with some much-needed vindication for Apple Bloom, and the epilogue's final line is just about perfect."
While several of us questioned the choice of that reveal, there were ample other scenes where this was stronger for its unusual choices. "The fact that the creature is seemingly able to invade Apple Bloom's home — her sanctuary — but chooses not to," Chris said, "gives the story a more fearful 'unknown' aspect than the more traditional trope of 'the sanctuary is inviolate, save by the failure of the protagonist.'" And Soge noted one way that it might be an entirely different sort of horror: "I'll also point out that, despite everything that happens, the monster doesn't actually do anything against anyone. There's an interesting interpretation of this fic where Apple Bloom and AJ lashed out at the creature out of irrational fear ... not that I think that that was what the story was about, but I think it's in the story's favor that such a thing can even be considered."
Read on for our author interview, in which TooShyShy discusses snoring dogs, basement grandmothers, and purges of pre-teens.
Give us the standard biography.
I started making up stories when I was very young. Back then it was making up stories to go with my picture books. By the time I reached the age of ten and got my hands on a computer, my head was already swimming with ideas. I wrote story after story, most of them original fiction but some of them teetering between simple short stories and what could be described as “fanfiction”, a term I at the time wasn’t familiar with.
Most of my old work has been lost to time. Literally lost to time. Most of it was saved on floppy discs, a form of data-saving that no modern computer can accommodate. My next step — at the naive age of eleven — was to give DeviantArt a go for my first try at writing fanfiction. I was promptly dragged through the coals for my awful attempts, then my account was permanently banned due to my age. Thus my first attempts at writing fanfiction were forever purged from the Internet.
The amount of writing I actually release to the mercy of the Internet versus the amount that will forever remain unfinished and unseen is staggering.
Outside of writing and the occasional excitement, I live a pretty boring and formulaic life in the good ol’ United States. I’m your standard millennial, complete with most of the stereotypes.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s a reference to the song “Too Shy” by the band Kajagoogoo. I first heard the song in “Ponies: the Anthology” and it happened to be stuck in my head when I was first creating my Fimfiction account.
Who's your favorite pony?
I have a hard time deciding most of the time because I like all of them. But if I have to choose one I tend to put above the rest, it’s probably either Maud or Twilight. The way Maud’s personality clashes with the overall colorful and energetic tone of the show is simply hilarious and Twilight’s dorkiness is adorable.
What's your favorite episode?
It used to be “Make New Friends, But Keep Discord”, but now it’s “The Saddle Row Review”. Both episodes are amazing, but “The Saddle Row Review” embodies everything I love about the show: The characters’ personalities, the comedy, the unique way each character overcomes their obstacles, etc. It gave me even more appreciation for the amount of work the writers and animators put into making this show what it is.
What do you get from the show?
A world so expansive and rich that almost any type of story can come of out of it. No other show I’ve watched has given me the opportunity to truly flex my creativity when writing mere fanfiction. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation and love for fantasy and world-building, both of which have influenced some of my original fiction.
What do you want from life?
A simple, quiet, yet fulfilling existence marked by the sound of a dog snoring and the tip-tap of keyboard keys at one in the morning.
Why do you write?
Because writing is something I am both good at and enjoy. I have been drawn to fiction ever since I was old enough to talk. When I discovered the ability to craft my own worlds and characters, it was as if I’d made some kind of pact with myself. The moment my fingers touched the keys, my fate was sealed. I knew I was going to write and keep writing until my hands were no longer able.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Don’t stress about being as original as possible. Originality died a long time ago. You don’t have to struggle to make your stories original simply because the concept has been done before. The important thing is that the story is yours. It’s fine to write vampires the same way they’ve been written for years, as long as the story and the characters are your own. Originality is fine, but not if attempting to make your story stand out is getting in the way of actually writing it.
What inspired “Let Her In”?
It was inspired by a NoSleep story entitled “My Grandma Lived Under the House”. I have read a lot of horror fiction, but that particular NoSleep story was one of the few to legitimately terrify me. The concept so thoroughly spooked me that I wanted to try to use it myself. The result was “Let Her In”.
Why choose to have so few lines of actual direct dialogue?
I wanted to focus more on the atmosphere and the creature’s behavior than anything else. I’m not a fan of an excessive amount of dialogue in horror because it seems to take away from the actual horror elements, so I decided to use as little as possible.
Do you prefer to plan a story ahead of time or to let it develop while typing it?
Having it develop while typing it also seems to work better for me. When I actually try to plan a story from Point A to Point Z, I end up losing sight of my plans somewhere around Point C. I prefer letting the story take me wherever it wants to go, even if that place isn’t where I expected.
Talk a little about the challenges of writing “pony horror”.
“Pony horror” is fraught with the same challenges of horror in general. I believe horror is one of the most difficult genres to write. With horror, it’s all about the atmosphere and the build-up. If you mess up either of those, the horror element is almost entirely ruined. There is also the fact that “fear” is such an abstract concept that is surprisingly difficult to get across in writing. Letting the readers use their imagination to an extent helps, but then you have to wonder to what extent you should allow the readers to fill in the blanks. Writing horror is a constant balancing act.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
“Let Her In” is my first “real” pony horror story. I wrote and posted about two others before, but out of all three of them this is the one I actually like. I’d even go so far to say it re-ignited my passion for writing.