Today’s story is a thing of beauty.

[Sad] • 3,252 words

Sometimes, dreams are all we have. Sometimes, that’s enough.

Hidden deep within a maze, well away from prying eyes, there is a statue. The last great work of an artist long forgotten, her time-worn visage watches the raising and setting of the sun and the moon as though enraptured.

Who created such a marvel, this sculpture of copper and brass, of crystal and cog, and why, is unknown, lost to the mists of time … until now.

This is the tale of a painter and a clockmaker, and the love they shared.

This is the tale of a dreamer, who knew only her dream.

FROM THE CURATORS: Dream is “one part fairy tale and one part adventure, wrapped around lyrical, flawless prose and some really powerful storytelling,” as Present Perfect said, and that combination easily won over our hearts.  “This is one of the best stories I’ve seen in a good, long while,” Chris said.

One of the major contributors to that was a unique and exemplary narrative voice.  “The prose in this is just perfect,” JohnPerry said.  “Never too much detail, never too little, always just the right amount to evoke that sense of awe and wonder that makes it so powerful.”  Chris agreed: “There’s a tricky balance to maintain when writing a story where the narrator is a character, and the author absolutely nails it.  The addressing of the reader at the start evokes just the right sense of fairytale wonder, and the clipped but vivid descriptions call to mind a mix of grandeur and ephemeralness which perfectly complements the tale being told.”

But the story is more than the sum of its prose.  “The ideas tackled are big ones — what is beauty? — and the ending gave me a bunch of feels,” Present Perfect said.  “I was shocked to find out it was only 3,000 words long; it feels so much grander.”  JohnPerry summed it up: “The fact that the author can evoke so much out of so few words is amazing.”

Read on for our author interview, in which CascadeJackal discusses fairy tale situations, villainous infatuations, and appellation combinations.

Give us the standard biography.

Not much to say, really. I’m just your average Aussie bloke that likes small horses, video games, books and not being attacked by strange animals. Being from Australia, that last part happens more than I’d like.

Anyway, I came into the FiM fandom from Fallout Equestria. I’d heard about the crossover, and was curious enough to give it a read. But what good was reading a crossover if I didn’t know anything about the source material?

I watched the first two episodes, and liked it enough to keep watching. Pretty soon I was hooked, and then I remembered what had gotten me interested in the first place.

Spent a week reading Fallout Equestria, and was inspired to start writing myself. Two years later, and here we are.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Hoo-boy, I might need a time machine for this one.

Way back in the day, when I was in high school, I used to play Quake 3 under the name Cascade and Unreal Tournament under the name Jackal.

Then one day, I just put the two together and got Cascadejackal. It stuck, and I’ve used it ever since.

Not the most exciting story, I know.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Nightmare Moon. I really like her mane.

Seriously, though, she’s an interesting character, and her few appearances have shown her to be different enough from Luna to make me curious about her.

Although, if we’re being a bit more lenient on the “pony” part of the question, Chrysalis may just edge her out. Best Bug Pony.

I seem to have a thing for tall, villainous mares.

What’s your favorite episode?

Canterlot Wedding. The musical numbers are an absolute standout, but we also got the changelings! And who could forget Chrysalis’ evil giggle?

Winter Wrap Up is a close second, though. Gotta love a good singalong, even if it could use more changelings. Everything could use more changelings.

What do you get from the show?

A smile.

No, really. Almost every episode leaves me with a smile.

Part of it’s the characters, some of it’s the music, to say nothing of the (usually) well-written stories. Just as important is knowing there’s an incredible community out there, doing amazing things with our favorite ponies.

Oh, and catchy tunes to hum or sing. Can’t forget that.

What do you want from life?

My very own changeling to snuggle.

But if I can’t have that, I’ll settle for having a good time, good friends and a plush pone.

Maybe world domination, too. I’m working on that, but it’s gonna take a while.

Why do you write?

I enjoy it.

I wish I could say something more philosophical, but that’s really the main reason. The act of writing itself, of bringing worlds and characters to life, is a pleasure. Seeing the characters change as time goes on, often growing in unexpected ways and taking on a life of their own… it’s something special.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Nobody is perfect, especially when they’re just starting out.

Stick with it. Learn from your mistakes, talk with other authors and your readers to see where you can improve, and don’t be afraid to rethink things in your story. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got some experience, or if you’ve never written anything before. You never stop learning or improving, and you should never want to stop.

Don’t take it too seriously, either. Have fun!

In terms of prose, was there a particular story or style of story that you were attempting to emulate when you wrote this?  If not, what would you describe as your biggest influences in terms of writing and story style when it comes to Dream?

This is a little embarrassing, but when I sat down to write Dream… I had something completely different in mind. It was meant to be much longer and in a completely different style, similar to The Last Unicorn.

But then I started writing, and it just felt wrong to write it like that. I erased what I’d written and started again, letting it come naturally instead of forcing it.

If I had to point to something and say “This influenced me”, I’d say Bohemian Rhapsody and Blade Runner, strangely enough. It’s probably not all that obvious an influence, but it’s there if you know where to look.

Do you think of the story as having a sad ending, or a hopeful one?  More broadly, do you think that the dream’s life was tragic, or do you have a more optimistic take on it?

This is one of those things that depends on the reader, but my own personal take on it… I find it bittersweet.

It was a dream fulfilled, and what could be happier or more sad than that?

Okay, I admit that’s a bit vague. Tragedy is measured by regrets, and when all was said and done, the dream had none. It had found what it was looking for.

A happy ending? Maybe not, but it was peaceful, and sometimes that’s enough.

What is it about Equestria that you feel lends itself to fairytales, or at least to fairytale-type stories like this?

It’s a world filled with real magic, where myths are true and immortal beings walk the earth. Where great heroes wield powerful magic against unstoppable villains.

But fairytales aren’t about that. They’re about the overlooked or the forgotten, the abandoned house filled with memories, the young girl wandering through a forest, or a clocksmith whose final work lives on well after he has passed.

The small stories.

In a world like Equestria, in a world where magic is real, who’s to say those things aren’t as real as Celestia and Luna?

I noticed that, throught the story, “Father” is capitalized, but “the dream” isn’t.  What’s the significance of this?

I had a really good reason when I wrote it, but I seem to have forgotten what is was since then.

I’m a derp sometimes.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Shoo be doo, shoo shoo be doo!

To be a little more serious, I’d like to thank all of my friends, and the wonderful people I’ve met through FiMFiction. Without you, I’d never have come so far or realised how much I love writing. After all, Friendship is Magic.

You can read Dream at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.