Today’s story offers a whimsical Equestrian take on an equally whimsical holiday.
The Life And Death Of April Fool
[Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 2,132 words
Under a rock in the Everfree Forest, there lived a pony.
Once a year, she came out to play.
FROM THE CURATORS: While this fic’s title might make it sound like the sort of clickbait that floods in when a holiday rolls around, what’s inside is worth reading at any time of year. “This one is goofy and whimsical, without ever getting random/stupid or dragging,” Chris said. “The fun here is in the lighthearted, Equestria-esque surreality that pervades it.”
We all agreed it was exemplary light reading which offered several experiences without breaking its tone. “The way the narrative switches back and forth between fairy tale, normal comedy fic, and almost nursery rhyme is kind of astounding,” Present Perfect said, and Bradel added: “it never feels off to me, which is almost a wonder.” Even our doubters found things to be impressed by. “I’m pretty clearly not the target audience here,” Horizon said, “but the mythology is great, and the ending redeems a lot.”
While it’s difficult to point to a single standout moment, the story earned its feature on the strength of its overall execution — and in how effortlessly pony it felt. “There’s some really clever jokes in here, and the tone is very fitting to the show,” JohnPerry said. “Something about this one just sucks you in by the power of its charm.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Prak discusses extra-dimensional yodeling, reader lobotomies, and the black humor this story almost had.
Give us the standard biography.
In real life, I’m a 30-something office worker, born and raised in the southern U.S. I’m happily single, to the dismay of my parents, who are getting desperate for grandchildren. My interests include reading, video and tabletop gaming, professional wrestling, and ranting about politics. I’m also a lifelong fan of quality animation, so after learning about FiM in early 2013, I blew through the series and joined the fandom.
In this community, I’m known as an author, reviewer, editor, mafia enforcer, king of the dragons, extra-dimensional yodeler, Cthulhu’s unplanned 667th son, and Grand High Muckymuck of the Venerable Order of the Declawed Gerbil.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I ripped it off from a minor character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. To say why I love it would spoil a hilarious scene, so I won’t.
Who’s your favorite pony?
That’d have to be Scootaloo. I don’t have a particular reason for it — at least, not one I can nail down — but I’m always happy to see her on screen, and I watch episodes focusing on her more than any others.
What’s your favorite episode?
The Best Night Ever. In addition to being a fun little romp that crammed a lot of content into its allotted time, it’s also the only time I felt like a multi-episode arc was resolved in a satisfying way.
What do you get from the show?
It’s a bit of innocent fun, and that’s a nice break from the dreck that passes for popular entertainment. It’s nothing life-changing for me, and I don’t claim to have learned anything from it, but it’s a quality show with entertaining characters and a lot of creativity on display.
Of course, the show led me to this community, and I’ll always love it for that.
What do you want from life?
Just its wallet. I don’t want to hurt it, but if it doesn’t hand it over, I’ll have to … Oh, you meant … Sorry.
Seriously though, I don’t ask for much. I just want to make a comfortable living and be free to enjoy it in any way I want, provided it doesn’t hurt someone else.
Why do you write?
I see myself as an entertainer, and I especially love making people laugh. Alas, I’d never make it as an actor, and the only time I get positive reactions to my attempts at music are when I stop singing. Since I ran out of other options, I had to fall back on writing.
Okay, I exaggerated. I’ve always been interested in writing, and when I was younger, I dreamed about making a career of it. I was never willing to put in the effort to make it happen, though. My old document folders are a wasteland of aborted starts and incomplete outlines.
Eventually, that dream faded into irrelevance as I settled into adulthood, and it was all but forgotten for the next decade.
When I got into pony, though, that started to change. For the first time, I started reading fanfiction, even though I had always (ignorantly) looked down on it in the past. That was enough to reignite the old flame, and this time, I was willing to do the work. Since I started writing again in mid-2013, I’ve spent hundreds of hours learning the skills necessary to do it reasonably well.
And you know what? It doesn’t matter if I ever make money from writing. I just want to entertain people — whether it’s one person, a hundred, or a million — and every time I get someone to smile or laugh, it makes all the effort worthwhile.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
While there’s truth in the usual platitudes — read and write a lot, write what you know, accept constructive criticism, etc. — you’ve undoubtedly heard them all before. I’d rather focus on a more personal idea.
Don’t regard writing as something you do just for yourself. When a story is in your head, it belongs only to you, so it doesn’t matter what form it’s in. When you write it down and publish it, though, you’re putting it into a form that others are meant to see, so you should do everything possible to make it worth their time.
Also, remember that a story is no longer your exclusive property after someone reads it. That story etches itself into the minds of its readers, and you can’t take it back from them. Well, not without a lobotomy, and if you’re thinking about that, please let me know so I can get a head start on filling out the paperwork for a restraining order.
What was the inspiration for The Life and Death of April Fool?
Near the end of March, I wondered how many people were going to write April Fool’s Day stories, and it occurred to me that they were probably all going to be about ponies pranking one another. I figured it would be fun to do something different.
As for the actual story, I didn’t draw inspiration from anything in particular. The first thing I thought of was naming a character April Fool. Since the name sounds whimsical, it stood to reason that the story should carry that tone. Then, since I’m a bastard this way, I chose to subvert that tone with pitch-black humor.
Obviously, that didn’t make it to the final version, but we’ll come back to that.
Something that intrigued us about this story was how it effortlessly transitions between a fairy-tale vibe and more of a random comedy. What prompted your prose choices in this story?
In the beginning, I was going to try to maintain the fairy-tale feel, but I decided it would be obtrusive if I overused it, and it was definitely going to limit the comedic potential. Instead, I decided to blend that style with a more direct one.
As for how effective it is, I guess that will vary according to each reader’s preferences. I’m happy with the result, though.
The tone of this is pretty gentle for an April Fool’s-related piece. Was there a conscious decision not to go for a more typical pranking-centric April Fool’s story here?
Yep. I wanted to subvert the expectation of pranking and explore a completely different concept of the “holiday.” However, the tone in the published story bears almost no similarity to what I originally set out to write.
It was conceived and initially written as a black comedy, but when I read through the completed work, I hated it. It completely failed to be funny, and it wound up being downright unpleasant. With that document banished to a folder that will never see the light of day, I started making some changes to the premise. The dark humor was eliminated, the whimsy was played up, and the ending was completely changed.
The title and the rock are probably the only things that carried over.
So when you say pitch-black humor … did The Life and Death of April Fool originally have April Fool die?
Actually, she was already dead, so the title still wasn’t 100% literal. In a nutshell, she would come back to life every year and inadvertently terrorize the living. She was just trying to have a little fun, you see, but a cosmic force was determined to put her back in the grave by any means necessary, and that put any nearby ponies in constant danger as she narrowly escaped one accident after another. And of course, she eventually “dies.”
I came to dislike the premise, the backstory, the inadvertent fridge horror, and the excessive grimness that overshadowed my attempts at humor. I’m sure that some people would like it, but the idea of having that out in the world with my name attached to it… No.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
When I think back on how much effort went into that story, it’s hard to believe it was done in only two days. At a little over 2,000 words, it may not seem particularly daunting, but the amount of material I threw away was ridiculous. The first draft was twice as long as the version I ultimately released, and even after the rewrite, I wound up cutting over a thousand words while editing it.
Overall, the final product is less ambitious than I intended, but it’s far more accessible, and since I always prefer to leave a reader with a smile, I’m happy with my choices.