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Today’s story cashes in on the show’s universe to teach a lesson worth its weight in gold.

paper-promisesPaper Promises
[Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 4,040 words

Filthy Rich has a problem. His daughter, Diamond Tiara, keeps breaking her promises to treat her classmates with more respect. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to really understand what a promise is. Since punishing her does not seem to have much effect, Mr Rich is forced to consider a more creative parenting method. But how can he make such a spoiled, materialistic little filly as Diamond Tiara see the value of a promise?

With money, of course!

FROM THE CURATORS: We were pleased to discover that this fic offers something greater than the sum of its pony parts.  “This is one of those rare stories that manages to mesh human history seamlessly with the things we like about the show,” Horizon said.  “It certainly feels true to the characters, but it combines that with a lesson so roundabout and engaging you barely realize that you’re learning about real-world economic collapse.”

The vivid writing of that central plot got our unanimous acclaim.  “The lesson itself is illustrated cleverly, and in a way that sticks thanks to how original it is,” Present Perfect said, while Chris agreed: “It’s a good message, and the ponies delivering it are suited to the task.”  AugieDog, meanwhile, found reason for nostalgia.  “I’m having flashbacks to this series of old Warner Bros. cartoons in which the virtues of capitalism are expounded upon by folks like Sylvester the Cat and Elmer Fudd,” AugieDog said. “This one worked better than those ever did for me, though, because it’s a bit larger in scope and fits in well with the world of Equestria.”

And that was far from the only thing to appreciate about the story.  “There are some nice bits of humor around the edges,” Chris said.  “Fluttershy’s bit made me grin.”  Horizon was impressed that this older fic still faithfully fit within canon post-Crusaders of the Lost Mark: “Clever move, leaving the resolution open-ended like that.”  And Present Perfect praised the character arcs: “A well-written Diamond Tiara learns an important lesson in a way that is tailor-made for her to understand,” he said.  “And for all that Filthy Rich has to confront that he’s failed as a parent at the outset, he redeems himself by the end with the little trick he plays on his daughter.”  Ultimately, that made this story not only clever but also heartwarming.  “This wonderfully showcases the breadth of fanfic, and uses the characters in ways that enrich us,” Horizon said.  “That’s worth celebrating.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Fervidor discusses alternate calendars, delusions of grandeur, and non-dramatic kidnappings.


 

Give us the standard biography.

Well, there’s not that much to say. I’m a thirty-something Swedish nerd with a mild case of Asperger Syndrome. I’m from a family of mostly creative people, and I’ve been interested in stories and fiction for as long as I can recall. I’ve been writing “seriously” since my early teens, minus a few years due to writer’s block. I picked up fanfiction around the turn of the century and it’s been a bit of an on-off thing for me since. Seems like I keep coming back to FiM, though, in large part thanks to the very active community.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Well, I wanted a fairly unique internet handle that was obscure enough to be rare but that also actually sounded like a proper name. I picked Fervidor, which is an alternate name for Thermidor, the second summer month of the French Republican Calendar used after the revolution. It has no real personal meaning to me, I just liked the sound of it.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Oh, that varies and shifts a bit. I’m not really the type of person who tends towards favoritism, there are many characters I like for different reason. I am very fond of Apple Bloom, though. She’s good kid with many admirable qualities.

What’s your favorite episode?

Tough one. I can list many that I really, really like but again, I don’t normally pick favorites.

I guess one that still stands out is A Dog and Pony Show. Not so much because I enjoyed it extra much, but because I like the style of it. It’s a nice little adventure — no particular friendship drama, just Rarity getting kidnapped by dog-people. It’s also pretty hilarious, and gives Spike a decent part.

If you’d asked me around season 2 or 3, that would have been my definitive answer. There’s been so many good episodes since then, though.

What do you get from the show?

It’s a fun cartoon with fun characters. I admit I was a bit lukewarm towards it a first, but everyone seemed to have so much fun with it that I knew I’d regret not getting on that bandwagon. Though, I think what really won me over was how easy it is to write fanfiction for this show. I had just come out of a long period of creative fatigue, and I think I really needed that.

What do you want from life?

As much as I can, I guess. I want to live as long as possible — preferably forever — and spend that time learning new things, writing stories and making friends.

Why do you write?

For various reason. It’s undoubtedly the one thing I do best, and I love creating things that bring joy to other people. The fact that I like it when those people say nice things about my stories is also a factor. But the simplest answer is probably that writing itself makes me happy. When you are mastering an art, there comes a point where the mastery itself becomes a source of immense satisfaction. Being able to use all the skills and tricks I’ve picked up over the years to get a positive response from my readers is just very, very gratifying.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Never doubt yourself. Foster an attitude of unflinching optimism and confidence, bordering delusions of grandeur if at all possible. Writing is a complex skill that takes time and effort to hone, and the most important thing of all is to keep writing. Don’t focus too much on what you are doing wrong, but strive to improve. Take an active interest in writing theory and the art of storytelling: It’s the process that matters, not the goal. Listen to advice, but trust your own judgement. Writing is not an exact science, after all. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because that’s part of learning.

Never let anyone discourage you. The world is full of dull, untalented, uncreative people who’ll try to tell you not to bother creating anything, as if it’s not worth the effort. The truth is, creating anything is better than creating nothing. There may come a time when you feel that you are not good enough, but writing is not about living up to some arbitrary standards. Writing is about passion, enthusiasm, and vision. Never let it become just another chore. They say you should write what you know. I say you should write what you love.

You’ve mentioned being a fan of Diamond Tiara and the Cutie Mark Crusaders (and have written other major stories about them).  What elements drew you to those characters?

I’ve always liked writing about kids. There’s just something about all that potential they have, all the experiences they still have ahead of them. The CMC almost seem to personify that quality, making them very dynamic characters to work with. As for Diamond Tiara, I have a particular love for this haughty, self-centered bully type of character who doesn’t even try to be likable. Maybe it’s a form of catharsis, but they’re just so much fun to write.

What was your reaction when the show introduced Spoiled Rich?  Is there anything you’d change about this story now that the show has given us a fuller picture of Diamond Tiara’s home life?

Not Paper Promises, no. However, it did force me to radically change some aspects of another story I’ve been thinking about. Luckily, it wasn’t a complete disaster. Honestly, Crusaders of the Lost Mark sorta did a number on much of my personal headcanon, because it was in many ways the episode I never expected to see. I forgive it, though, since I actually liked it a lot.

How did you make the leap from the bullying incident you mentioned in your Author’s Note to writing an illustration of hyperinflation?

The idea had been rolling around my skull for years. I figured that the problem with people who don’t understand promises — or any virtue, really — is that they can’t see the value of something so abstract. I tried to think of a concrete equivalent to use as an example, and ended up with money since it’s something most people have to understand as part of everyday life. Diamond Tiara just made the whole thing fall into place: She’s both a bully and intimately familiar with money. Using hyperinflation just seemed like the obvious way to illustrate how something loses its value when it can no longer be trusted.

Aside from the financial, what role do you see promises as having in the fabric of Equestrian life?

About the same role it serves in our real lives, I suppose. Trust and reliability will always be important qualities, for ponies and humans alike. That’s why it’s always unfortunate when people forget why they are important.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

No, I am content.

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

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