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Today’s story is breezy, lighthearted, and utterly endearing.  Moreover, it’s a perfect complement to the winter season in which we’re now embroiled, and a refreshingly fun look at childhood–and the tribulations which spring therefrom.

cranberry-hillThe Fight for Cranberry Hill
[Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 9,539 words

It’s winter in Ponyville, and Diamond Tiara is queen of the Hill. Can the Cutie-Mark Crusaders cast her from her snowy fortress?

FROM THE CURATORS: “It’s a happy story about happy ponies doing happy things,” said Ben, and sometimes that’s all a story needs to be.  All of us noted its native sincerity, resulting in a fic which is pleasantly satisfying without being cloying.  Moreover, we found it to be genuinely funny: “The foals’ earnest delivery of war-movie clichés is just the right amount of absurd,” said Horizon, and although Present Perfect was less eloquent, he concurred.  “All the war jokes are amazing,” as he put it.

Read on for our interview, in which Insert Pen Name discusses his standards for what he publishes, waxes nostalgic about his childhood, and reveals how he deals with memes in his works.

Give us the standard biography.

I’m twenty-four years old and a proud Canadian living in Ottawa. I’ve been watching FiM since halfway through the first season. My brother first introduced me the the show, and after a while I started to get into the fandom as well. I wrote my first FiM fic just over two years ago, and I’ve done my best to keep writing (fics and otherwise) ever since.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Honestly, I never did. I’ve just been using a placeholder all this time. Ha!

Who’s your favorite pony?

Derpy Hooves, and I mean from the show itself. To me, everytime I see her, it’s not just a shout-out or a cute cameo, but almost a potential story in itself. Like, what’s she doin’ there? Where’s she goin’ to? Why was she in Fluttershy’s henhouse?! I really wish there were more episode-style fics about her! Maybe I should write one…

What’s your favorite episode?

Can’t say I have one. It’s not something I’ve really thought about. That said, I do enjoy episodes like Dragonshy, Sisterhooves Social, Read It and Weep; episodes that push the main characters beyond their neat little archetypes. Those are always fun.

What do you get from the show?

It’s a good show. I enjoy watching it, I clearly enjoy writing about it, and it’s fun to see how each episode plays around with its subject matter.

What do you want from life?

I think if anyone honestly knew that, the world would be a much more sensible (or at least very different) place.

Why do you write?

I write because I enjoy it. Or at least that’s why I write now. To be honest, I don’t know what drove me to first start writing fanfics for FiM, but I’m thankful that I did, because I had never really bothered with writing before then. It also helps that so many people seem to enjoy what I write as well.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

My advice is to write with yourself in mind. Try to write something you’d actually enjoy reading and rereading yourself. Read your work over frequently, even aloud at times. Look over the characters, the jokes, the plot points, et cetera. If something doesn’t work for you, it’s a pretty safe bet it won’t work for anyone else.

What childhood memories most strongly inspired “Cranberry Hill”?

Definitely my memories from Grades 5 and 6. I was at a different school for those grades, and during that time, I was a member of one of many “forts” scattered around the school grounds during winter recess. Cranberry Hill itself (though not its fort) was inspired by one such snowpile that we built a fort on in Grade 6. Everyone else thought our fort was the greatest, and naturally we had a lot of enemies as a result. We weren’t allowed to have epic snowball wars, though, so once the fort was finished, we didn’t really have anything to do with it. In the end we’d just get bored and go build another fort somewhere else, but that was where all the fun was anyway. We also like giving ourselves and each other these imaginary “ranks”, so you can see where that part of the story came from.

What’s the secret to authentic portrayal of children in fiction?

If I actually knew that, I’d bottle that stuff, sell it to Hollywood, live like a king, and never have to witness another terrible child character ever again. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve really done an “authentic portrayal of children” in this fic. Really, I think this is more like Calvin and Hobbes, or that one episode of South Park where they pretend to be ninja; it’s not so much about the kids as it is about their imaginations and the products thereof.

The story’s full of subtle referential humor, both played straight (like the Wilhelm scream) and subverted (like Sweetie Belle shutting down a dictionary joke).  How do you work those in without memes taking over the story?

Good question. There’s definitely a fine line to had there. Moderation is obviously important, but I think a lot of it also has to do with the fact that the fic isn’t all that serious to begin with, so it’s able to roll with those kind of jokes instead of stopping dead. Apart from that, it’s all about how and why a reference is used. The Wilhelm Scream, for example, is in there because it fit the action and the tone, and because the whole scene totally invokes that one moment from Star Wars (you know the one)! Ultimately, I’d say the aim is to make the reference part of the joke, rather than the joke itself.

What made you choose to only publish fics approved by Equestria Daily?

Bit of a story here. I started writing before Fimfiction was around. At the time, EqD just seemed like the best way to get my stuff out. I wrote a couple of half-baked fics on Google.docs before my first real fic, The Fraternal Brotherhood of Mann, was approved pretty much straight away. After that, it was like “I know I’m capable of this level of work, so why settle for less?” Have I had fics rejected by EqD? Of course! And yes, it’s a downer. But looking back, I’m glad they didn’t make the cut, and believe me when I say you would be too! Not to speak ill of other writers, but there’re enough crappy fics out there without me adding to the pile.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yep. Thank-you all for reading, keep your stick on the ice.

You can read The Fight for Cranberry Hill at FIMFiction.net.