Today’s story is a stirring, inspirational tale about courage in the face of the unknown … or, more accurately, the complete lack thereof.
Twilight, There’s A Ghost In Your Basement
[Comedy] [Drama] [Mystery] • 8,636 words
Twilight firmly believes that ghosts belong in the realm of fantasy. But after multiple brushes with the supernatural in her home, she turns to the one pony who can help. Now Fluttershy, Twilight and Spike must banish the spirit before it starts flinging her pans and clogging the toilets.
FROM THE CURATORS: “I spent my lunch break today desperately trying not to break out into laughter as I read this story,” Chris said with the vote that earned this story its feature. “Kitsune’s got a way with deliciously ridiculous metaphors which puts a neat little bow on the jokes proper.” The rest of us agreed. “It’s certainly funny,” Present Perfect said, “a remarkable example of wordplay.”
It also shone in its thoughtful presentation of the characters. “My goodness, Twilight and Spike had the perfect, funny but real brother-sister dynamic going the whole way through,” Chris said. Horizon appreciated that more broadly: “There are some magnificent character moments for Twilight that come out of nowhere and leave an impact regardless. … Digging into characters’ heads in a comedy takes some tonal juggling, but it keeps all the balls in the air.”
Our disagreement over this fic centered, of all things, on ladybugs. “The scene with the ladybug tiptoes over the line from funny into simply bizarre, but it’s that same straight-faced presentation of the absurd that led to some of the moments I found most hysterical,” Horizon said. Chris countered: “By the ladybug’s fourth or fifth mention, the sheer contrast it made to the events proper (and the fic’s dogged insistence on including it) had me nearly in stitches.” And Present Perfect offered a laconic dissent: “What.”
Read on for our author interview, in which KitsuneRisu discusses Twist, pie, mud, and the unholy fusion of two creatures that should never have seen the light of day.
Give us the standard biography.
I am a Chinese Singaporean who was born in Singapore, a tiny little island of no real significance that lies somewhere in Asia that you will never be able to find. From a young age, I travelled a lot, and moved around from country to country a bit, but ended up back here eventually.
My life has always been a sort of flippy-turny sort of deal between two worlds — after Secondary School (high school for you guys who use the US system), I pursued a diploma for Business from a local polytechnic. But after that, I then decided to go get a (pointless) degree in Writing, Behavioural Studies and Communications at Monash University in Melbourne, where I stayed for 3 years and learnt how to be afraid of spiders.
Through my entire life, I have been leaving bits of writing everywhere. I’ve been published in editorials, magazines, and my essays are currently being used as models in both my Secondary School and University.
But somehow, after all this, I did some odd jobs here and there for a while and then eventually ended up going back to business and started a trading company that dealt with the trade of precious metals, before I sold the company and decided to go pursue creative exploits again.
Unfortunately, due to bad health, I had to give up a lot of options, and I now currently work as a freelance copywriter and I do pony stuff on the side.
Besides writing, I also do things in other spheres: I also work on games, music and creative design.
To summarize, I never really decided if I wanted to do business or art, and I ended up on ponies.
That’s how most things go.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I have been using this nickname since 1997. A lot of people think it’s because I’m some kind of weirdo furry (no offence to the weirdo furries) but the name comes from a little creature that was found in two Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli) films.
I know it was 1997 because that was the year that Princess Mononoke came out, and that was the first movie of Miyazaki’s that I watched. After that, I binged most of the other films. In the two films in question, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Laputa: Castle in the Sky, there was this little yellow creature thing that was around and about, and was a sort of pet-companion to the main character of Valley.
Its name was ‘kitsunerisu’, and I adopted it as an online handle and have been using it ever since.
Directly translated from Japanese, ‘kitsune’ (pronounced ‘key-tsu-nay’) means ‘fox’ and ‘risu’ (pronounced ree-soo) means ‘squirrel’.
Essentially, I am a horrible unholy fusion of two creatures that should never have seen the light of day.
Who’s your favorite pony?
What’s your favorite episode?
Probably Sisterhooves Social. It’s really hard to pick a favourite episode out of so many, considering that there’s a lot of them which have a lot of good merits. But on a personal side, I really find the concept of family important, and I like how sweet the episode is in regards to the theme of familial values. It was funny, sad, touching, and I also really like narratives that can capture a spectrum of emotions within itself as well.
Also, Rarity covered in mud is just the icing on the cake.
Heh. Hehehe. Heheh. HEhhheheheheHEHe.
What do you get from the show?
But besides that, just the average thing that I get from a lot of other shows. And I watch a lot of cartoons. I was already following this show even before it came out because I follow Lauren Faust, and I was already a big fan of PPG and Foster’s long before she broke out for this project. I found the show really cute and I found the animation smooth and appealing, and along with the fact that I’m also a big Tara Strong fan, there wasn’t a reason for me not to watch it.
But in the end, it’s just one of the many shows, and I take from this a bit of enjoyment, some fun, a bit of distraction, and an interesting world in which to put my stories. The reason why I chose to enter this world to be creative over other fandoms is because of how incredibly large the fanbase is, not to mention the amazing things people have done with MLP as a basis of inspiration.
It’s kinda scary, really, how big it’s become, but I think I made the right choice.
What do you want from life?
This is kind of a broad question, isn’t it? Money… fame… power… I could go for all of those, really, but in the larger scope, what is it that we really need from this thing called ‘life’?
Life changes. What we want changes. I guess we always have goals, but flexibility is necessary in today’s day and age and so what we want from life always twists and turns and changes in this unfathomable ether.
Sometimes we can never tell when a single day might change our outlook, or a single windfall or accident might change our course forever. The wise man knows ho—
Nah, screw that. I want money, fame, and power.
Why do you write?
I like telling stories. I like sharing thoughts, concepts and ideas with others. I like sending messages across to people, and I like making people think. Any form of art is a good platform to do this.
But as for writing in particular, I’ve always enjoyed the art of storytelling in general, and writing is the richest medium for those who have a boisterous imagination.
And as I mentioned, I do other things besides writing too. I play music, I draw a little (badly), and I also am currently working on the script and doing voice acting for a pony-themed classic adventure game.
So really, it’s just about doing fun things and expressing ideas and thoughts, and writing is just one of the many ways that I do it in.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Always learn. Always be open to take advice, take criticism, and take a bit of it on the chin. Ultimately, if one is serious about one’s art, they never get satisfied with what they have in the sense that they know that there’s room for improvement.
A lot of difficulty is knowing when and where to apply criticism. A lot of people will say many different things that clash. The more you practice and the more you expose yourself, then the more you will learn how to apply these criticisms to yourself. Criticism is basically something that allows you to approach your writing in a way that you might not have considered before. Sometimes it works better, sometimes it doesn’t. But with experience, you learn how to apply things and judge for yourself what might work better and what won’t, and you can tell when someone has given you advice to follow or discard.
But no matter what, never ever discard what anyone has to say without at least spending some time considering it and logically seeing if it applies to your vision or not. Be it a positive or negative comment, it’s all worth thinking about at least a little. you shouldn’t blindly follow, nor should you blindly discard.
And seriously. Don’t just read fanfics. Go out there and read actual books. Read things by great authors who know what they’re doing. Get a foundation first, and don’t just follow patterns. Once you get the basics, then you can start to play around and push the boundaries. A lot of authors on fimfic who want to be serious need to be able to explore writing more than just on this level. Be humble. Read more. Read a lot. Learn, and never stop learning.
Also, eat a lot of pie. Pie is good.
Why did you focus the story on Twilight facing her fears, rather than the more obvious choice of Fluttershy?
Hey, it’s her ghost. She gets to deal with it.
The story does lend itself to it being more of a struggle for Twilight rather than Fluttershy, considering the themes and topics involved are really a lot of what Twilight doesn’t believe in, and a lot of what Fluttershy is all too ready to.
And in that lies the source of the conflict and eventual resolution. If Fluttershy’s role in the story was to have the ‘moment’ instead, then it would probably have ended up a very different story, considering individual motivations.
It’d also have broken the ending, since it was Twilight specifically who was being targeted by the ghost because reasons.
What’s the role of the supernatural in Equestria?
To make things 2spooky.
I reckon the idea isn’t that foreign to ponies. We’ve all seen supernatural creatures (mythological/cryptids) in the show, and they’re pretty much just considered regular creatures that are likely to eat your face.
Magic, which is considered by some people to be a ‘supernatural’ element, is rampant and widely part of culture, life, and all that jazz.
So really, it’s probably just a thing that doesn’t have a role outside of ‘It’s there. Deal with it.’
Ghosts, on the other hand, concern itself with the idea of the dead. And the dead is a place that is always foreign to a lot of people (and ponies), and so in that there is still a modicum of fear through the associative issue of ‘the unknown’.
Therefore, I went with ghosts in the story as the primary ‘antagonist’, and I don’t have any specific thoughts as to what their role might be, if they in fact exist in the MLP universe, since they fulfilled the purpose of being something that Twilight and Fluttershy would be afraid of and unable to understand.
What were the challenges you faced in mixing an absurd comedy with a deeper character piece?
Haha, I don’t know if I’d call this a deeper character piece. Some of the other things I write are far more introspective, personally. To be honest, the whole deal about the story was that it was meant to also be a lampooning of the genre in general. I was kinda poking fun at the fact that all these sorts of stories always somehow require this ‘emotional bridge’ to be crossed in order to reach a resolution.
The whole scene with the ‘getting over the childhood trauma’ and all the hugging and stuff was all pretty satirical.
But the idea of mixing genres, which is what I do a lot in my writing, always has the same basic problem of how much attention you want to give to the functions of each genre. The main issue is tone – it’s very easy to get tone horribly wrong when you try to mix comedy with an idea that is serious. Too much comedy, and people don’t take the issues seriously; too little comedy, and the comedy acts as a tone-breaker that doesn’t help to prop up the serious bits.
Most of my process with my comedies involve me setting from the start exactly what tone and what I want to accomplish, which allows me to set a base-line for how much jokes and what kind of jokes I want to put in, and I write accordingly.
In essence, if you’re writing a serious character piece, you don’t want your comedy to distract the reader but rather prop up the situation and be a bit ironic and draw attention to the situation. If you’re writing a comedy with that as a focus, you want to make sure every serious situation is exaggerated and ‘plays along’, and that is probably the main challenge of writing things with clashing genres.
I’m still trying to practice, though! I fully admit that I’m not the best at writing comedic pieces, but I hope to be able to get better.
You’ve said you enjoy writing experimentally. What did this story teach you? What about it surprised you?
Well, anyone who’s read me before would know that I tend to write things that have gimmicks, although not necessarily loose ones. I at least try to connect them thematically to the story itself, or have them lend themselves to the accent of the plot.
I like to try new things, and I don’t like to commit myself to being a specific writer of one single type, although I know exactly where my weakness lies (romance), and I so far have not been able to bring myself to write something lovey-dovey or mushy, as they say.
I wrote this story because I wanted to write a parody of the genre. Something satirical that also could function as a story on its own. I don’t think this story surprised me that much because it came out more or less what I wanted it to be, and I think it works. I’ve had a lot of failures, though, and those are the ones that I tend to learn a lot more from.
If I have to say I learned something from writing this, is that I managed to get a new understanding of the idea of exaggerated comedy and how it works with serious topics.
There is a story I’m working on that will have this sort of comedy but will have a much deeper focus on character in which I play the serious parts completely straight, so that in on itself is just going to be another challenge altogether.
What do you see as Spike’s fundamental role in the show, and how does that compare to the way you used him in this story?
Spike’s role in the series has always been sort of… a doormat, I guess. I don’t think they really pay him much respect in the show ofttimes, although he is a strong and very good straight man. He plays the straight to everypony’s foil, which allows the otherwise normally straight characters (Twilight especially) to have their little bits of insanity.
I believe his role in the show is that of the universal sidekick, really. Everything’s always bouncing off him, and he has a lot of trouble solving issues for himself even in eps where he is (one of the) main character(s).
However, I did make him a lot more intelligent in the story (Twilight’s spell really does need work), because I actually think they really make him out to be a bit of a dummy in the show sometimes.
I’ve always wanted him to be smarter and more capable than he lets on, but he is still a child fundamentally, so that’s what I went for, and he remains the straight guy in the narrative, always pointing out when something weird is going on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you very much for considering me for the Royal Canterlot Library. This came as a great honour and a surprise, and I’m very happy to have been accepted.
Thank you to the readers for reading, thank you to the fans for all your continued support – I wouldn’t be able to do this without you guys.
If you enjoyed this story, I have a lot of other things across many different genres, and I sincerely hope to be able to continue to entertain with my multiple ramblings in the form of silly pony fiction.
Peace and Love
tl;dr this entire interview: I <3 Twist; eat moar pie.
You can read Twilight, There’s A Ghost In Your Basement at FIMFiction.net.