Uncommon Dazzling Ships 231 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 chillbook1, who has been on fimfiction for several years and has more than a dozen stories under their belt.

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

So, chillbook, I think you're most widely known in siren circles here for your Love Beats Stupid stories, which, alas, we shouldn't really dwell on here as they're focused on shipping Aria and Sonata together. Which other siren story of yours are you most proud of, and feel best sums up your take on the characters? I'm just thinking that'd be a good thing to establish first, so people know where to look if they're unfamiliar with your work and would like a taste.

Despite my borderline obsessive love for the Sirens, it really feels like, as far as Siren shipping goes, I haven't written anywhere near as much as I'd like. Part of the reason I love these three is that they're so dynamic, and I feel like I can slot them into any situation with any character and make something unique and interesting that still makes sense (relatively speaking. This is fanfiction, nothing makes total sense!)

By that token, I think the Siren story I'm most proud of is Dinner With Her Family. It's a fairly strange pairing (Princess Twilight/Sonata) in a classic "first time meeting the girlfriend's parents" scenario. I enjoyed that one a lot because it let me mess around with the trio in ways I don't normally elect to portray them.

Honorable mention goes to Punch Therapy, which isn't so much romance as it is friendshipping between my two favorite tough girls, Aria and Sunset. It's not quite as "good" as Dinner With Her Family, and in fact is kinda rough around the edges, but it's pretty different from anything I'd ever done before involving a Siren.

TDinner With Her Family
Twilight is nervous to meet with her girlfriend's family for the first time
chillbook1 · 11k words  ·  196  16 · 3.8k views
TPunch Therapy
Aria used to take out her anger by training on a punching bag. Now, she has a sparring partner.
chillbook1 · 5.3k words  ·  69  3 · 1.7k views
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7232849 It's been said before that the sirens have just enough character in Rainbow Rocks to be compelling, but not so much as to close doors on how they can be used in fan fiction. To me there's definitely a right and wrong way to characterise them, based on who they are in my head- do you find the same thing, or can their characterisation be altered wildly to fit the story? If so, do you feel that some of your stories pitch them closer to who they 'really' are than others, or are all characterisations equally plausible to you?

'Rough around the edges' sounds a pretty good fit for Aria and Sunset!

The way I elect to look at the Sirens is how I like to look at characters in general, and that's that there's a certain framework or aura that they each possess and, as long as you match that "flavor", you did your job well. Take Aria and Sonata. They're shown to be somewhat petty and hostile to one another, bickering endlessly while Adagio tries to keep everything from falling apart. Once you hit those notes, anything else is fair game. Are the two sisters? Do they actually hate each other? Do they have a reluctant friendship? As long as you capture the feelings of "cats and dogs fighting", then your depiction of the two is just as valid as anyone's could be. What matters more than anything, in my mind, is the trio's overall chemistry.

The entire point of writing fanfiction is to see characters you love doing things you wouldn't ordinarily be able to see them to do, and see them do it your way. Sticking close to their depicted characters is important, but moreso than that is staying true to the spirit of the characters. I say avoid canon, as closely as possible.

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7233651 Right, yep, it's the chemistry between them that makes them feel like those three, and they're lacking something if it's not there.

What do you think the most important qualities to assess are when deciding on which character to ship with a siren? What was it that prompted you to choose Twilight for Sonata in Dinner With Her Family?

For me, the most important thing is making sure that, within the universe of the story, there's a reason for the two characters to like each other. I kinda hate when people make weird "crack" ships just to be different. You need to make the relationship logical, at least within the confines of your story.

Dinner With Her Family was actually a commission from Majin Syeekoh, so he's the one to ask about that pair. If I were to guess, it was probably the most random ship he could think of that made even a modicum of sense and included a Siren (he knows how much I love the Dazzlings). I'm glad he thought of these two, because I don't know if it would've ever occurred to me to ship the two were it not for him paying me to write it. And, as it turns out, it's my favorite thing I've written in a good while. This is why you should branch out and try new things, eh?

Huh, the Dinner one looks fun, I'll put it on the list.

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7234783 I agree, and I think it's especially important to highlight that they have to like each other. On too many occasions I've seen shipping stories all about why one character likes the other, but they've completely neglected to mention why the attraction might be mutual. Often when it's a good-aligned character shipped with a villain, it's just taken for granted that, if the hero falls for the villain, of course the villain wants them in return.

Hm, I remember Syeekoh wrote one himself shipping Adagio with Twilight, so I guess Sonata and Twilight continues the theme. Trying new things, with writing, is almost always worth doing!

Which of the sirens do you find easiest for setting up in new ships, and which do you think would be the most challenging?

I think the easiest would be Sonata. Her character, to me, just screams dreamy, hopeless romantic. Since she's not all that bright, it feels easy to put her into strange situations and interactions with other characters. Out of the three, I always felt Sonata was the most harmless, the least likely to cause trouble if left to her own devices. Since she's so inoffensive, she can mesh well with anyone, for the most part.

Hardest would probably be Adagio. Vanity and ego are typically seen as unattractive, and when I think of Adagio Dazzle, those are the first two traits to come to mind. That would be why I don't think I've ever written a story with Adagio and her romantic partner in the foreground (that and I just really like Aria and would write about her every single day if I could)

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7235813 Sonata is nothing if not dreamy! I could see the romantic angle for her, yeah. I always thought her too vapid to be interested in things like commitment, but yeah, that approach could work.

Aria is grateful for your support and needs more people like you. Well, not grateful, but, I mean, maybe she hates you a bit less than she hates everyone else.

What do you think the ideal traits Aria looks for a partner are in a shipping story? Who best fulfils them?

Aria is like fire. Angry, feisty, and liable to put you in the hospital if you're not careful. What she needs is someone to ground her, curb that sharp edge. Someone with a sense of humor, a brighter demeanor, and a half-full attitude. It's why my go-to partner for Aria is Sonata, they just yin-yang too perfectly (it's also why I'm working on a super secret Aria/Pinkie fic, don't tell anyone).

Something else that works very well, in my opinion, is someone who can match Aria in terms of toughness, but is significantly more agreeable (basically, just Sunset Shimmer tbh)

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7237373 As far as super-secret projects go, that one sounds like it could be interesting! Challenging, too. Aria and Sunset make a well-balanced pair, definitely. Sunset in her past was much closer to Aria than to Adagio, I think, so that makes sense to me.

What, if any, changes would you make to your method for going about writing an unusual ship compared to a common one?

That's actually a really good question.

The thing about shipping is that it's an inherently ridiculous practice if you really examine it, so the functional difference between a common ship and a "weird" ship is much thinner than people probably think. So, if all shipping is silly, then none of it is. I like to approach my stranger ships the same way I approach the more traditional ones. Treat the characters, and the relationship, with the same respect and dignity you would any other pair. As I said previously, your goal should be to make the strange pair make sense. So, within the universe of your story, it's not actually all that weird.

If you're only writing about a particular ship because it's a weird pairing, and you make no effort to treat them as anything more than a crackship, then I don't think the story is going to be particularly good.

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7238631 I agree, a crackship has to make just as much sense as a more common one, and anytime the characters aren't treated seriously by the author, the story will probably suffer.

Often one issue surrounding stories shipping characters who have little or no canon interaction is the limited number of ways in which those characters might meet. Workplace, nightclub, blind date etc - any thoughts on how one might overcome that in a story? However necessary it is for the characters to meet, no one really wants their first chapter to provoke reader responses along the lines of, "Yawn, seen this a dozen times before."

I've always been really bad at starting stories, so this is a legitimate struggle of mine. How to get these characters together and get the ball rolling? The wonderful thing about these characters, and in fact people in general, is that we are much more alike than people probably realize. Give me any two characters and I'm willing to bet I can find a decent way for them to meet that is not only logical, but is also true to the character (or your version of the character, at least)

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7239934 Hmmmm, Sonata Dusk and Applejack, assuming the sirens don't return to CHS after Rainbow Rocks?

What advice would you have for keeping Aria true to her general level of hostility, while also making her approachable enough for a relationship to get off the ground? That is, while avoiding all the uncomfortable tsundere tendencies people foist onto her?

Welllllllll... I love me a tsundere, which is something I will not be apologizing for.

If you want to avoid that, though, the way to go is simple. Find the root of Aria's hostility and explore it in a way greater than "she's mad and she might punch you in the face". At the end of the day, Aria lends herself towards being a sort of tortured soul very easily. You can look at the way she bickers with the others and start to imagine that she's got some turmoil and resentment. Since it's never identified, it can be whatever you want to make it. She could be hostile because she hates that Adagio failed them, or just because they lost in general. She can be sick of being second fiddle, the backup dancer to the main act that is Adagio. She could be grappling with the idea that she's considered "evil" for doing the only thing she knew she could do to survive. Once you begin to understand and explore a character's anger or hostility (or any vice, really) it stops being an obstacle to the writer, and becomes an advantage.

Sonata and AJ is easy. A few years after the Battle, things have settled down. It's autumn, leaves are changing, pumpkin spice is abound, and everyone's favorite basic bitch Sonata is just head over heels for human culture ("I just, like, love fall, don't you?"). So, what do basic bitches like to do in the fall, aside from drink copious amounts of coffee that tastes vaguely like candles?

Why, they go apple-picking, of course.

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7242578 Sure, but I don't know the extent to which that actually helps open her up? Aria I'd think would respond with a middle finger whenever people try relating to her, even if they hit the nail on the head.

Now that Sonata and Applejack story is absolutely one I would read, that's the best premise I've heard in quite a while! You should totally write that. I can practically hear Applejack grinding her teeth already.

What do you think would matter to each of the sirens most in a shipping partner? What traits just wouldn't appeal to them in the slightest?

For Adagio, I think what she needs most is attention. Someone willing and able to engage with her, make her feel important. She's a bit vain and maybe a little shallow, and I imagine the type of person she'd be romantically interested in would be the one who would bend over backwards to treat her like a goddess. Something that would be a deal breaker for her would be... I suppose a lack of ambition. Adagio fancies herself a powerful woman, both in terms of magical/musical superiority as well as control of her trio. I see her as looking for a powerful, influential, perhaps wealthy man (or woman, depending).

Sonata has a much simpler answer: kindness. Her floaty, bubbly, sort of dreamy demeanor lends itself to a kind, gentle soul. I like to believe that she elects to see the good in everyone, whether it be Adagio's drive or Aria's toughness, or maybe something that we haven't seen of the Dazzlings (like, for instance, I like to imagine Adagio as being somewhat maternal and protective, something Sonata would gravitate towards and admire). Just as simply, she doesn't like a meanie. A bully, someone who's just kinda a dick all the time. The obvious exception being Aria, because I adore that odd-couple, yin-yang type of dynamics (besides, with how long they've known each other, Sonata has probably seen something in Aria that she's not likely to let slip out otherwise).

Aria's a little trickier, and that's due in no small part to the fact that she has like 4 lines of dialogue, and they're all telling Sonata to shut up (quick tangent, did you know that Aria's name is not spoken aloud at any point during Rainbow Rocks? It's infuriating!). But I bet she's a fan of confidence, and she's probably not fond of cowards. She values someone who doesn't back down, and she can't stand a yes-man.

This is just making me realize that Aria needs more content, which means I need to get to work...

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7243414 I think after this long we can safely say that the site will always need more Aria content. For what it's worth, I think content focused on her probably has the highest average quality level of the three sirens, but no, there's never enough of it. You're right, her name isn't said aloud, but it does say it in full in the opening titles, before Twilight and the girls have even shown up.

How important do you think it is for siren stories to keep all three of them together? Could any of them truly be happy with a future apart?

That's a toughie. On one hand, I think any character worth their salt should be engaging even in a vacuum, as in without the context of any particular character. No one should need to lean on someone else simply to justify their existence. At the same time, is Adagio really Adagio without the other two? How can she be the lead singer without her backup dancers?

Whether you keep them together or split them up, I think it's very important that you in some way acknowledge that, like it or not, these three have been together a lot. Even if, for whatever reason, Adagio decides to fuck off to Canada, it would be just ridiculous for her to be like "Ah, living on my own just like always, so glad I never had two morons to take care of for the past couple thousand years!". These three undoubtedly would leave an impact on one another, change them on some level, and so even if split up, they're all still kinda connected. That's kinda nice, I think.

To give a more definitive answer, I prefer seeing them at least in contact, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they would too. No matter how you slice it, my girls love each other (even if Adagio and Aria could never swallow their pride and actually say it)

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7245657 I agree, if part of their appeal is their chemistry then either keep that, or focus on how its absence changes them.

How much do you find a story's rating affects the sirens' characterisation, and the focus between the three of them, and in what ways? Is one, for example, more prominent in child-friendly stories while another is more suited to more grown up stories?

Given Aria's rough nature and Adagio's downright sensual demeanor, I think the best pocket for more "real" explorations of their character is the upper Teens to lower Mature. I think the natural trajectory of any slice of life, what I like to call Domestic Dazzling, story is going to steer them towards the more mature end of the spectrum. I can't imagine Adagio without her being sort of flirty and seductive, and Aria just isn't Aria to me unless she has a foul mouth and is ready to drop a few F-Bombs. Sonata is normally rather innocent, compared to the others, but the argument can be made for her filling in the "dumb bimbo" role, which I think has its place.

I think, if anyone was going to excel in an E rated story, it'd be Sonata. She's just so easy to make family-friendly, while the other two take some doing. I certainly think the three can work in any context including E rating (particularly if the tone is more cartoon-y and over the top), but roughly around Teen rating is my personal sweet spot for the trio

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7248591 I think Aria's vocabulary can be covered without profanity when necessary, but taking it all the way into E-rated territory (literally nothing you wouldn't see in the show) is tricky, yeah. Sonata would most likely be the best fit for family friendly, yeah. Though I like the thought she doesn't really have any boundaries or situational awareness there, and would suggest orgies in the same breath as ice cream.

One of the main issues of contention among the siren fandom is whether the three are teenagers thrown forwards in time or immortals who've been on Earth since Star Swirl's time. What's your take on that, and does that stay consistent across all your stories involving them?

Oh, you opened Pandora's Box with this one.

I wrote something a while ago, can't currently recall what, that made an allusion to the fact that the Sirens are 1,000+ years old. Someone in the comments corrected me, citing that some comic confirms them as having just got to the Mirror World a few days prior to Twilight's battle with Sunset, as Starswirl sent them forward in time as well as to another dimension. This... This doesn't make any sort of sense to me at all, for a number of reasons. First off, the way the three talk to each other in that diner gives the implication that they had been stuck away from home for a very long time. Aria says something about being sick and tired of "fast food" and needing a real meal, which isn't something I'd imagine she'd say if they were only in the Mirror World for a week. Adagio also alludes to the idea that she had been stuck there with the others for some time, long enough that she was about to snap (granted, given the personalities involved, they could probably get Adagio to that point in an hour). Most damningly, in my mind, is just... Why would Starswirl do that? What purpose would sending them forward a thousand years serve? He just barely managed to master time travel anyway, how could he send them that far forward? If the implication is that the switch from reality to reality caused them to jump forward in time, how come Sunset and Twilight weren't effected when they went through the mirror? The only logical answer is that the Dazzlings are immortal, or close enough, and have been kicking it for hundreds of years prior to their run-in with Sunset and Co.

I like to write the Dazzlings a bit different from story to story. Sometimes they're sisters, sometimes they're not. Sometimes they hate the Rainbooms, sometimes they end up friends. Sometimes they're still getting on with their wicked ways, and sometimes they're living a domestic life of peace and minding their own damn business. No matter what, though, they're always 1,000+ years old. It's the only thing that makes sense to me.

I feel very strongly about this

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7253063 I try to remain somewhat neutral in these things so discussion is encouraged across the board, but I think on the subject of the comics I can probably speak up: They're not canon! Never have been! If an author - not a reader - wants to include ideas from the comics and think their story will be better as a result, then good for them. But every single thing I have ever heard about which cites the FIM comics as inspiration has made characters and situations worse, not better. I can't speak for the drawing artistry of the comics, but the writing sounds terribly sub-par, and I'd trust most siren authors on fimfiction to do a better job.

So, uh, generally stories are better when they ignore everything the comics claim.

How does the sirens' immortality reflect how you approach them for shipping? What does someone over a millennia old see in a high school student, and where is that relationship likely to go?

That's actually kinda interesting, because it's something I like about the Dazzlings that I don't think I've ever previously verbalized. I related to their situation a quite a bit way back when. When Rainbow Rocks came out, I was 14 and I think I was starting my second year of high school. I was always the youngest of my group of friends, but I also (not so humble brag) was the most mentally mature and rational of almost all of them, of most students and a few teachers in the whole school. This says less about me and more a out the school I went to, honestly, but I still felt the way the Dazzlings must: much older than your body seems.

My approach to shipping these very old characters, which is indicative of how I write pretty much everything, is a simple mantra: Realism is important until it isn't. Because, realistically, these things don't work out. Realistically, you're very unlikely to end up marrying your high school sweetheart, and if you do there's a decent chance that it doesn't go well. These are the sorts of things I elect to ignore, because they tend to get in the way of what I'm writing.

You don't want to ignore the age gap entirely, because there's some interesting stuff you can do with that. But, if it looks like a teenage girl, and quacks like a teenage girl, then it's probably close enough to a teenage girl to ship with other teenage girls and not worry too much. If you know what you're doing, you can make people forget the age gap when it benefits the story, without undermining it later when it could serve the story instead.

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7257759 It is definitely always good to keep in mind that you're writing a story rather than portraying events as if they were real, and that brings different priorities into focus. Sure, I could see Sonata quacking like a teenage girl. I think I've written her honking like a goose before, but not quacking like a duck and/or teenage girl.

What do you think a happy ending might look like for each of the three? How would you balance that with the ending also being happy for the rest of the cast/world?

Well, what does anyone really want in their own "happily ever after"? Find The One, get hitched, and live out the rest of their lives with their soulmate, right? I think the Dazzlings are probably similar, even if the routes they take differing routes to get to that same destination. Maybe they don't even notice that's what they want, but hey, their one desire in taking over the world was the adoration of their underlings. Who's gonna adore you more than your spouse?

Romance is gonna be different to all three of the girls. Sonata might see it as a rom-com, while Adagio might elect to view it as a game of chess. No matter what, they all seek the same things as the rest of us. Fulfilment, companionship, happiness, and love.

So sorry for letting my interview sprawl from June to July. You would not believe the week I've had...

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7266496 No worries! Thanks for hanging out and answering questions for the month :twilightsmile:

Hope your next week is better!

Thanks for having me!

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