[Tragedy] • 3,400 words
A grown-up Spike looks back on his life and on those who are no longer with him as the anniversary of a dear friend's death rolls around. Will he be able to deal with his grief and put the past behind him? Or will he need the help of someone even older?
Hit the break for a chat with Larathin, and links to A Summer Twilight all over the ponynet. (It's even been adapted into a comic.) And you can check out the Downloads page for your very own ebook copy!
Where do you live?
I live in Minnesota, just outside of the Twin Cities.
What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)
I'm a full-time student, but over the summer I've been working an absolutely terrible 7 to 5 job. Basically I go into foreclosed homes and clean them out so the bank/realtor can start trying to sell them. It's hot, tiring and disgusting work. Thankfully the school year is beginning soon and I can leave it behind me until next summer.
How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?
I came across it by accident, truthfully. Growing up I always had a bit of a soft spot for girly TV shows. I used to secretly watch Sailor Moon, The Powerpuff Girls and Tokyo Mew Mew (I think that was the name of it, anyway) and when I saw images of the new MLP I was intrigued. The animation was neat enough to catch my eye and I made a few half-hearted attempts to find out where the images were from but, since this was back at the very beginning of season one, I had no real luck finding it. Eventually, I made an actual effort to find the show around the time Over a Barrel came out and immediately hated it. It was so stupid and girly. It took me about four tries to watch A Dog and Pony Show (that was the newest episode that was up on the Hub website), and then I immediately went back to the beginning and watched the rest of the season over the course of the weekend.
The rest is, as they say, history.
Do you have a favorite episode?
A Dog and Pony Show holds a special place in my heart since it was the first episode I ever watched, but the Royal Wedding completely stole that title. Cadance and Shining Armor are just so cute together!
I mean, uh, awesome? Yeah, awesome. Not cute. I am a very manly man who likes watching awesome ponies fighting changelings, not an adorable couple being happily in love...
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)?
Princess Celestia. I know she came off as a bit cold in A Summer Twilight, but that wasn't intentional. I absolutely adore Celestia but, let's face it, she's been around a long time, she's probably used to losing those she loves. Well, not used, you never get used to that, but you understand what I'm saying. She never forgot Twilight, she was just able to move on better than Spike was.
And I'd say my answer would more or less stay the same even considering the fandom stuff. I know Celly tends to get a bit of a bad rap (Molestia/Trollestia, etc.) but I've read some really cool fics with her and she has some of the most mind blowingly awesome fanart.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Well Larathin was a name I used for my main character back when I had pledged my life and soul to that black hole known as World of Warcraft and eventually it just became my online handle. I added Bradley onto the end because it's: a) my actual middle name and b) I felt it gave the name a bit more heft.
Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?
I started writing back in middle school as a way of passing time in math class and, not counting the horrible Halo ripoffs I wrote around that time, FiM is really the only thing I've ever really written for. I write stories all the time, short stories, bits of "novels" and the like all the time, but ponies are the only thing that can drive me to fan-fiction. As for professionally, well, I'm trying. I'm not published yet but, damn it, I will be!
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I either stare at a blank Google Doc and tell myself I should be writing, or I just read, browse Reddit or game. Recently I've started getting into TF2. Oh, and sometimes I bake.
Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?
My favorite author isn't anyone in the fandom, I'm sorry to say. There are a lot of wonderful writers out there working their tales (heh, bad pun is bad) off to write wonderful pieces of fiction and many of them are simply amazing. However, Terry Pratchett continues to hold out as my favorite author of all time. Sorry.
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?
Honestly I think my ideal reader is me. That's not me being smug or narcissistic, but rather that I usually know exactly what I mean, I find my own humor hilarious and I'm interested in what I'm writing.
The non-flippant answer is the community. They're supportive and vocal. I got more feedback about A Summer Twilight than I ever imagined I'd receive, everything from strong and constructive criticisms (which I was happy to get) and simple notes saying I'd made them cry (which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside). I still get the occasional email/review and every one makes me smile. So yeah, you guys. Rock on.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?
Yes. The first one, the big one, I think, is that you're going to suck when you first start.
Writing is just like any other skill, you need to practice and work at it to get good at it. You need experience to learn what works and what doesn't. If it helps, my first writing project was a story about a squad of genetically-engineered space marines and the word ‘suddenly' appeared at least twice on every page.
Yeah, it was bad.
Also, never write in a vacuum. Find someone to read your work, even if that involves a rag and a bottle of chloroform. You may be able to feel the emotion in a piece, but that's because you know it's supposed to be there. Have someone else give it a look and then, and this is important, actually listen to what they have to say. They may pick up on things you missed or they might miss things which means you'll need to go back and rework something.
So, I guess my advice boils down to practice and seek advice.
What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)
My writing process can be laid out as such:
- Open Google Doc
- Type sentence
- Go onto Reddit
- Waste an hour
- Yell at myself for wasting time
- Go back to Reddit
- Finally get working and write a page or two.
- Get bored/excited about a different part of the story
- Switch to that part of story and write it
- Go back to where I was and keep working
Eventually I link up all the disparate parts and go through the whole doc smoothing things out and fighting to get the flow right. After that I leave the Doc for a bit and come back a day or two later. I reread the whole story, editing any errors I find, and make a few changes. Then I read the whole thing out loud to find any errors I missed the first few times through. If something is really bad I might end up deleting a page or two and redoing the whole thing, but for the most part I tend to work with only one draft. It's a pretty bad habit and one I'd avoiding getting into if you can.
What inspired you to write A Summer Twilight?
A picture. I'd link to it, but my harddrive recently crashed and I lost my pony folder (>.<). Anyway, it was an image of a grown up Spike holding a photo of the mane six and looking sad. It got me thinking about how he would handle the death of a friend (and he would have to handle it, dragons live a long time) and from there I wondered how he would handle the death of his closest friend/family member - Twilight. The idea bounced around in my head for a few days and once all the main points had clicked together I started writing.
Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing A Summer Twilight?
Yeah, and the toughest was actually self-inflicted. I was brand new to the community at that point and I hadn't read a lot of fanfiction and so I had no idea how people would react to a story all about the death of one of our pastel colored ponies. Right after I submitted it to EQD I actually worried for a while about whether or not I was going to receive any really nasty feedback (I never did. Like I said, you guys are awesome).
When you set out to write A Summer Twilight, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?
That friends aren't always forever. That was the big one. No matter how important your friends are, they may not always be there for you. The other one was that, while someone may be gone, that doesn't mean they're forgotten. Not the most uplifting of ideas, but interesting ones to play with, and ones that I felt the characters could handle.
Where can readers drop you a line?
Either at Larathin@gmail.com (though, I'll be honest, it could be a while before I respond) or send me a message through fanfiction.net or Steam (User: Larathin). I'm not the most outgoing person, but I'll always at least try to be social.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yes, I'd like to say something about the title, quick. Depending on where it's posted, A Summer Twilight might also be called Memory. This is because the story's working title was Memory and I completely forgot that I'd come up with a better title when I submitted it to FF.net.