Grab today’s story, and take a bite of Equestrian folk mythology, with a side order of mystery and comedy.

sandwichIn Which Twilight Sparkle Attempts to Eat a Sandwich
[Slice of Life] • 8,379 words

Twilight Sparkle, Element of Magic and student of Princess Celestia, has braved many dangers and defeated powerful foes. But on a peaceful afternoon, she will face her greatest challenge: eating some lunch.

FROM THE CURATORS: When you see a fic with a “Pony Verbs Noun” title, you’re most likely going to expect a forgettable featurebox-bait comedy — but this is a story that transcends its roots. “The whimsicality of the ‘Pony Does X’ format belies a deep look into the power of folklore,” Present Perfect said.  Of course, that doesn’t stop it from being funny.  “It’s the kind of silly that’s easy to enjoy,” Chris said, “but it doesn’t collapse in on itself when subjected to more than a modicum of thought.”

For such light reading, in fact, it withstands thought amazingly well. “The characterizations of the Mane Six feel spot-on, the stories are great, and Twilight’s investigative approach not only feels fitting to her character but also lends the story a very pleasant ending,” JohnPerry said.  Horizon also appreciated that “great tale of rational investigation,” but our consensus was that this story was most exemplary in how crisply it evoked the show.  As JohnPerry put it, “it’s not often that I utter the words ‘could be an episode,’ but this one earns them.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Maphysto discusses local flavor, poison ghosts, and the other Faust.

Give us the standard biography.

Well, I’m a 27-year-old man living in Alabama, USA. I got into MLP around the middle of season 2, and have been hooked ever since.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

In Goethe’s Faust, the titular character is tempted by a demon named Mephistopheles. In the text of the play, his name is usually shortened to Mephisto. And several years ago, during some Googling, I found about the Center for Mathematical Physics and Stochastics, whose name is shortened to MaPhySto. I thought it was neat that they had, intentionally or no, named their organization after a famous demon from literature, and started using it as my handle on various sites.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Ooh, tough one. I love all of the Mane 6, but I’d probably have to settle between Twilight and Rainbow Dash. I love Twilight for her adorkable bookishness and her leadership skills when the brown stuff hits the spinny thing. Rainbow Dash I love for her devil-may-care attitude and near-absolute confidence, as well as how plain awesome she looks doing stunts.

What’s your favorite episode?

Another toughie. Dragonshy was probably the point in the series where I realized, yeah, this is gonna be something special. And of course, I have to at least mention Sonic Rainboom. Then there’s all the Discord episodes, and the This Day Aria in the Season 2 finale, and Twilight’s DBZ fight in the last one… Yeah, it’s hard to pick.

What do you get from the show?

For me, it’s mainly just a cute show with great animation and well-written characters. The volume and quality of the stuff the fandom has produced is certainly a factor, but ultimately, it’s the show that captured my heart.

What do you want from life?

To be happy, I suppose. I think I would call myself successful if I could make a living doing something I enjoy, and having friends and loved ones I care about in my life.

Why do you write?

I was always a bookish kid growing up, and it’s a small step from enjoying what others wrote to wanting to write something of your own. As for why I got into Pony fics in particular, I wanted to get some experience writing short stories, and Fimfiction seemed like a good place to get that.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

If you’re already an author, keep writing. If you want to be an author, start writing. For either of you, get an editor or pre-reader, and above all else, PAY ATTENTION TO CRITICISM. Most people will offer criticism out of a desire to see you become a better writer. Don’t be big-headed and think you have no room for improvement, because everyone does.

How did you go about pairing each of Twilight’s friends with the particular story they would tell?

A little trivia: My original idea for the story was to just have a series of contrived, slapstick events happen to prevent Twilight from eating her lunch, but I realized pretty fast that such a story wouldn’t be particularly funny or interesting. Then I hit on the idea of the cafe being “cursed”, and each pony telling a different story of how the curse originated.

While I had some basic ideas for a couple of the stories before I started writing, most of them took shape as I wrote the first draft. When it came time to actually have the stories told, and by which pony, I decided that each pony had probably heard at least one or two of the other rumors, but chose to believe the ones they found most plausible or compelling.

Applejack understands the value of hard work, and is a little superstitious, so a restaurant being mysteriously unable to serve sandwiches thanks to the failings of its founding chef make sense to her. Rarity, of course, would have to gravitate towards the tragic romance. Rainbow Dash probably understands very little about magic, so she would believe the one that takes the word “curse” literally. Fluttershy, with all her fears and her love for animals, would latch on to the story about meat being served to ponies.

Pinkie’s story, appropriately enough, was the most “on-the-fly.” My basic thought process went: How should Pinkie enter the scene? She should burst in doing something zany, and ruin Twilight’s sandwich. Why would she do that? Her Pinkie Sense warned her the sandwich might be poisoned. Why might the sandwich be poisoned? Because of GHOSTS.

This story is very much in the style of an episode.  Where there any challenges writing something so close to the show?

Surprisingly few. The characters of FiM are so well-written for this format that it’s just a matter of coming up with a decent premise and understanding how the characters would behave. The Mane 6 are very well characterized, to the point that all you really have to do is put them in a room together and watch the dialogue write itself.

The biggest challenge I faced with this story was the ending. In an early draft, the story just ended with Twilight eating her sandwich and realizing it wasn’t very good. But that was far too abrupt, so I decided to try tying all the urban legends into a single story from which they had all been derived. That allowed me to bring everything to a nice, satisfying resolution, complete with a moral.

To your mind, are self-perpetuating rumors like those in this story a good thing, a bad thing, or just “a thing?”

Just a “thing”, taken by and large. Whether or not they’re good or bad have to be judged based on the rumor itself and the context of the situation. Even today, you’ll get these “cursed corners”; locations where restaurants or businesses will open and go out of business every few months, usually because everyone just assumes that whatever business is there now will be gone before long. But rumors and folklore can also add a lot to the local flavor and culture of an area.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nah, nothing springs to mind. I enjoyed the interview, though!

You can read In Which Twilight Sparkle Attempts To Eat A Sandwich at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories to feature at our Fimfiction group.