Uncommon Dazzling Ships 232 members · 410 stories
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Hi everypony,

Welcome to our quarterly Author Spotlight! This month we have an interview lined up for you with Daniel-Gleebits, who has been on fimfiction for several years and writes almost exclusively about sirens.

As a warning, this discussion might include spoilers for his stories.

So, Daniel-Gleebits; you introduced us to Sonata x Sunset in The Evening Sonata (by far the most viewed and liked story allowed in our group), and I think Sonata was closer to Sunset than the other two were in Three Little Visitors, too. What is it about that pairing that particularly appeals to you?

Well, not to sound too self-gratifying, but a lot of what appeals to me about the pairing is really what I make of it myself. That is to say, the qualities that I give to the characters rather than those inherent in the characters as already written.

The sirens themselves, and consequently Sonata, were and rather still are relatively flat characters without much in the way of interests or explicit personality. As adult fans we have to keep in mind that these movies and this show are intended for a younger audience that must not be alienated by investing too deeply into a complex analysis of their characters and backgrounds. They're bad guys, that's all a kid really needs to know. Beyond that, they have some easily definable character features: Aria's recalcitrance, Adagio's manipulating, and Sonata's airheaded-ness.

From this a writer can basically make of the characters what they will. They simply have to be mindful enough to convince their readers that their interpretations of the characters are correct.

So why Sunset and Sonata? Of the limited amount we knew of the characters at the time (granted we know more about Sunset now), their personalities such as they were seemed to me at the time to be the most complimentary. I didn't want to write a story about breaking down barriers of hatred and distrust, and I knew that writing that about either of the other two was far more likely. Not necessary, there are examples of stories whose creative authors have used those feelings instead of working to remove them.

Then there's the fact that I just like both characters, which made them easy to write about. I don't dislike the other two sirens, and have written about them, but I find Sonata the easiest of them because I find her endearing. And as I say, a lot of that is what I've built up of her in my own mind.

Group Admin

6683414 Fair enough, yep, there's really a different level of character depth for tens of thousands of words of written story than there is for an hour and a half of movie aimed at kids, definitely. Where did you draw the expanded characterisation material from, and what prompted choosing those sources for it? Aside from the age difference, did you aim to keep the personalities for the sirens the same across The Evening Sonata and Three Little Visitors?

I can quite understand finding Sonata endearing, and I certainly think people undersell just liking the two characters as a great reason to ship them together, even if it hasn't been done before.

The interests I gave them actually came from this image of them I had that I never explicitly put into the story. After the movie there was a comic done (which I didn't much like) that had them in Equestria during what might fairly be called the classical period. From that I wanted to derive interests and skills they might have, but the comic didn't really furnish any.
It actually got quite complicated at one point, where I was going to have each of them specialising in some ancient craft, but then it occurred to me that despite my wanting to expand the story to include their backgrounds, it didn't really have any bearing on the story as such. So I stripped it back and gave Sonata a love of painting, Aria a liking for story-telling, and Adagio one of acting. Still skills iconic to the classical period, but ones that can still be expected to be found today.
A lot of my inspiration for things comes from history, and especially the classical period. Some people may have picked up on that.

As to their actual personalities and what happened to them in the story, most of it spiraled out from a single point that I merely expanded upon when thinking about writing the story. In chapter two of The Evening Sonata, there's a flashback to what happened right after the battle of the bands, and most of what each of the sirens did aferwards stemmed from that scenario, based on my impressions of their personalities, and what I thought might have been done by someone in their situations.

In Three Little Visitors it was a little different. That story was meant to allow me to devote time to actually looking into their backgrounds, and make that the focus of the story. I made it different to TES frankly so it would be less encumbering, and because I didn't want to keep riding the same mini-hype wave. I wanted it to stand as its own thing, even though it still follows the rhythm of what happened to the sirens.
As you might know, I did three different stories based on that notion, each with somewhat different premises and outcomes.

Their personalities between the two stories are different in both their contextual ages, and in their circumstance. The stories are different for different circumstances, so whilst I tried to make the characters recognisable by their movie depictions, I still had to alter them to their situations, which are different between the stories. I can't say I intended them to be the same.

Group Admin

6685729 Yeah, the historical inspiration offers a great wealth of detail, and it really sets your stories apart. How much does that classical influence tie in with the legends of the sirens themselves, those in the Odyssey and elsewhere, compared to simply drawing influence from the period of costumes, attitudes, locations and so on? Most of my Ancient Greek knowledge these days comes from God of War, so I tend to know a lot of the characters but from very different contexts :twilightoops:

I'm glad you were able to put that comic to some good use; I thought the comic was terrible, but with your story at least something good came of it.

As far as I remember, Sonata speaks to Sunset twice in Rainbow Rocks ("Hello, we sing, like, all the time, it's how we get people to do what we want" and "Too bad! So Sad!"), and I don't think Sunset ever says anything back to her directly, so there really isn't much chemistry to go on from the source material. Was it primarily a story about a relationship you were wanting to write with The Evening Sonata - and if so, what prompted choosing a crackship like that over a pairing we'd seen more interactions of in canon? Or was the intention mainly to write a story of what happened to the sirens next, and the relationship came as a result of that?

The classical inspiration for TLV came from seceral sources, but I'll begin with the Ancient Greek tradition of mystery cults (which isn't exclusive to Ancient Greece). Not to go into too much detail, for a true understanding of what these were would take a book or two to properly dissect, but in short, mystery cults were societies of people privy to particular information, or "mysteries". Many of these were religious, and most if not all had the tinge of theology about them, but Pythagoras formed a mystery cult around the divinity of mathematics, and later forms of philosophy such as the platonists formed similar societies.
The Lotus Society featured in the story is specifically based on an ancient Greek myth about an oasis in a desert where people become entrapped in permanent bliss by eating lotus flowers. These people would be trapped there eternally, and gain immortality at the sacrifice of their bodily and mental autonomy, and apparently losing their perspective of time. The Lotus Society's goal of immortality and imposing a pan-temporal rule over the world sprang from that.
Then there's the apotheostones themselves, which are more of an invention of my own. The name is a mixture of the word apotheosis, which is a Greek term which means "to become a god/assume godliness", and stone. Because it's a stone. In ancient Greek mythology (and indeed most mythologies) divine beings are incapable of truly dying. Even those who do die tend to return, or live on in some other fashion. The apotheostones are more intended to be the remnants of beings like Celestia, Luna, and Discord rather than gods of the pagan traditions, beings of immortal age who are still clearly mortal, and succumb to a natural wearing down that eventually reduces them to such states of immobility, but still a form of agency.

Initially TES was going to be shorter, and focus around the initial two chapters. I had ideas of expanding it before and after the time of writing it - writing tends to do that :pinkiesmile: - and it just naturally flowed so I continued.
As I've said, I don't think there's much chemistry between the sirens and anyone in the film. They're stock villains, sad but true. I paired them as I've said because I wanted the story to be from Sunset's perspective, since I had the most sympathy with her, and I found Sonata to be the siren I liked best, and found to be the least abrasive match. In short I just personally find them really cute together.
I did want to write about what happened to the sirens - that's a central theme of the story as a whole - but as I say, initially the story was going to focus on Sonata, and more imply what happened to the others. When I continued the story I was about to expand on it. I suppose it could be said that the relationship sprang from that, in that the relationship is what happened to Sonata in the what-happened-to-the-sirens motif.

Group Admin

6689563 Ooh, I had not heard of mystery cults before, but I like how you translated that into FIM territory for the story! And the apotheostones fitted in very naturally, I thought.

I came to MLP late, and had only watched the series once through when I started reading fan fiction. So it was TES and some of its spinoffs that first pointed Fleur De Lis out to me. Again, this is a character who neither of the leads have interacted with in canon, so, was she chosen as someone that would make sense in the situation, with a personality you then extrapolated/expanded/invented from the miniscule amount we see on screen? The end combination of Fleur, Sunset and Sonata was truly unique - the M-rated spinoff of yours remains the only story on here with those three tagged. I remember really liking your Fleur characterisation, though.

Speaking of that spinoff, between that, Fewer Monsters, Horrifying Mind Worms and The Smile, I notice you have a bit of a history of killing off various sirens! Is that intentional, or just something that's come up over time with different story ideas?

Ehh, heh, yeah. I don't know how to translate this into healthy human mental speech, but much like the Abrahamic God, I seem to have a tendency to make those I like suffer. I'm kind of an arsehole like that. Always have been ever since I started writing and drawing.

In all seriousness, yes, I do have this tendency to kill or injure the characters I'm using, for a number of variable reasons of course. In a story like the Threesome, I found it impactful to the atmosphere. I have a vampire fetish, so, naturally in that context it served its narrative purpose.
Fewer Monsters was a murder mystery (albeit a fairly simple one), so murder was required of course. In the Smile, I found it again to be the most impactful outcome.
Why do I make stories like that though? It's just what my preference is. I enjoy the pathos, the struggle, the loss, and even the hope to be found in that loss. I like sadness, at least in fiction. It's a powerful and stimulating emotion, and death and suffering can be a means of bringing out that feeling. I don't know if it's healthy, but I know I like to feel it.

Fleur De Lis is one of those characters that the fandom has pulled in many directions because of the inherent lack of information about her. Stemming from a number of these representations I derived a vision of her as being an assertive woman who could be suspected of being a fem fatale, but actually end up being a decent person. I find it difficult to make any MLP character truly unlikeable or outright evil or irredeemable because the show tends not to veer that way. With a few exceptions of course. It crosses a line in the fandom for me to make characters so different from their show counterparts that they're not recognisable as the characters in the show.
Many other talented individuals make versions of the characters that are more products of their minds than reflections of the show, but I confess I prefer to make my stories closer to the base material of the show

Group Admin

6698370 Hi, sorry, I really messed this up. In all the excitement surrounding the Christmas season; the travelling, shopping, cooking and fighting off winter illnesses, I completely let this interview slip my mind.

I'm afraid I have to cut the whole thing short there, as the group is moving onto a new focus for the new month, but thank you for the detailed and interesting answers and the insight into your writing.

Sorry again, totally my fault :facehoof:

That's fine. Can't complain when it comes to Christmas.

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