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When it comes to romance, today’s story aims high.

The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon
[Alternate Universe] [Romance] [Sci-Fi] [Slice of Life] • 150,923 words

In a world of brass and steam, Twilight Sparkle had thought she had made a life-changing discovery with the invention of the telescope. For better or worse, she was correct.

Now her discovery has not only changed her life, but the lives of those she seeks out in her desperate attempt to contact the only other creature as lonely as Twilight herself.

It all would have been much simpler, but it had to be the one Twilight could only call The Mare on the Moon.

Decidedly not within walking distance, then.

FROM THE CURATORS: Part of the problem in featuring longfics is that we have to wait for them to be completed — but in cases like this, the payoff is worth the wait.  “I’ve been salivating over the prospect of being able to nominate this for months,” Horizon said.  “It’s almost outrageously fun.”  As it sailed through our voting process, it accumulated further superlatives — AugieDog’s among them: “In a few places the plot machinery creaks a bit too loudly, so I can only call the story really, really, really good instead of mind-bogglingly excellent.”

In a way, there was almost too much to like about this fic.  “It is, in fact, two stories, in tone and style; the first is a steampunk slice-of-life about Twilight meeting the girls and falling in love with an idea, while the second is a rollicking intrigue/adventure tale of plots, counterplots, lust, and occasionally massive explosions,” Chris said.  “But although there’s a fair bit of awkwardness to the way those two things are put together, the piece as a whole remains a rewarding reading experience.”  Horizon appreciated it all: “Even though its central romance had me cheering, the real highlight here is the inventors’ tense struggle against both physics and government attention.”  And AugieDog praised the sharp writing throughout both halves: “The narrative voice has just the right mix of snark, seriousness, and ‘sense of wonder’ to carry the piece through the emotional — and literal — roller-coaster of the storyline.”

We all agreed that among the highlights was the story’s treatment of its dynamic and memorable cast.  “The characters are all unmistakably themselves, but they’ve been bent in a number of interesting ways by the world the author has conjured up,” AugieDog said. “That world is the star of the show, especially since — for all the setting’s enormous differences — it all hinges, as a proper AU should, around one simple change to the canon chronology.”  Chris agreed:  “Seeing how the setting has changed the characters is a source of continuous interest.  This story builds them up, bit by bit, slowly revealing layers to each of their personalities, in an organic manner which mirrors Twilight’s own learning about them.”  And, as Horizon noted, it does that without losing sight of its essential poniness: “The story walks the tightrope over the chasm of grim Tyrantlestia without ever straying from a world where friendship is an active, driving and redemptive force.”

Read on for our author interview, in which MrNumbers (and several guest footnoters!) discuss ugly oil-lamp beauty, copyright-compliant weapons, and grand theft bat.


 

Give us the standard biography.

I don’t remember much before my twelfth birthday. Realizing it back then was the moment I decided I needed to get sober1.

In all seriousness.

Once upon a time, in a magical far-off land called Australia, there lived a kid raised on Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson, and that kid got to go to Disneyland. Really, that was the high point.

Can we end it there? When I was seven? Because it’s pretty much all downhill from there2. No?

Here’s a highlight reel then: The moment I decided I wanted to be a writer for real was when I got an internship at 16, as an animator/coder at a local iPhone app-store game studio. In the six months I was there I did a bunch of animation and code, but I was asked to write loading screen gags and the achievement names and all that in my lunch break.

At the end of my internship, I wasn’t hired on because I hadn’t learned enough — I’d been too busy helping bring other interns in my intake up to minimum level before they let me progress my own tasks, fine — and they didn’t use any of the official work I did. However, they did use all my gags and writing. Which they didn’t credit me for, because they didn’t legally have to.

When the red mist cleared, I realized that meant my animation and coding wasn’t worth the money they’d been paying me, but my ideas were worth stealing. I’ve been doubling down on that ever since.

Actually, that’s not true. I decided I’d double down on that as a hobby and instead become an electrical engineer to pay the bills. Then, at the same time, I barely survived being beaten to death (you could hear my skull crack from the other side of an auditorium building, police reports said), then in the next year or so I got mugged three times, so I’ve been a crippled agoraphobic ever since and formal employment a distant dream.

That’s not nearly quite as romantic.

On the bright side, only one of the muggings ended really really badly. One I fucking karate flipped holy shit, and the other guy came at me with a steel baseball bat, and I stepped into the swing, he wasn’t expecting it, and I rolled him over my shoulder like every good Australian boy should know how to do, and went home with the bat. Think I still have it somewhere …3

But yeah.

In my 22 years so far I have: Been published for a few short stories and a kid’s book, graduated night classes with a film degree, did screenwriting for a while. A script of mine got picked up by Kevan Brighting (AKA the narrator from Stanley Parable), I’ve met the guys responsible for Iron Sky (they’re idiots), the dude responsible for ruining the X-Files (Monster-of-the-week obviously wasn’t working out because it couldn’t be understood with the Hero’s Journey oh my God I have never wanted to punch someone more than the moment he said that to me), and overall did fairly okay for myself for a while with a corporate scriptwriting job that I ended up quitting after the employer accused me of being too autistic to work a coffee machine (because making coffee is a social skill4, obviously, it wasn’t that I didn’t have barista training).5

Film industry ended up doing the same thing to me that games did — US film crews call Australians “White Mexicans,” which is like an onion of racism, and cutting into it just makes everyone cry anyway — I’m getting my second degree in journalism (I see absolutely no way that could go wrong) and I’m an electronics teacher for mentally disabled kids in my spare time6.

I have also, in that time, been on and developed an immunity to every relevant psychiatric medication available and don’t expect to live past twenty-five7. Look, can we go back to Disneyland? Back when the hardest shit I had to deal with was beating up giant birds that tried to steal my baby brother’s Bob the Builder doll?

Oh!

I have a little brother! I say little, but he’s six-foot-fuck-off-inches, 120 kilos of solid muscle, and flamingly homosexual. He has also tried to blow up a hospital and a police station to save the world from the cat people. Lovely chap when he’s medicated, incredible sense of humour. I wrote an incredibly racist blogpost for him once.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

So, here’s me, doing balance mods on an Evil Genius forum. And I decided a funny joke would be if I were just another nameless minion, so I used my student number at the time, 19126. I do that for a while, I make enough of a lack-of-name for myself, people start giving me the affectionate nickname “Numbers”. This suited me just fine, and I’ve been MrNumbers ever since.

Fun fact about my real birth name though: So I’m born Ross Liddell8, but then my Dad’s side of the family is full of awful people and the genetics that made me and my brother the broken toys we are. So after he leaves my Mum for an Amsterdam pole dancer9 I think, fuck it, I want a name most people don’t mispronounce. I was short, and a name that looks like “Little” sticks in most people’s minds and my craw.

So I take my middle name, “James,” and I’m legally Ross James now. Here’s the kicker:

James is Old English for “The replacer, the supplicant”. Fantastic. I replaced my family name with the word for “Replacement in a lineage”. That’s some funny stuff by itself right?

But Ross is Gaelic for “Horse”.

My name means Horse Replacer.

My name is olde Englishe for Changeling.

The difference between real life and fiction is, fiction has to follow a believable sequence of events10.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Oh how do I love the ponies, let me count the ways …

Twilight is the pony I see the most of myself in, which makes her my favourite protagonist. Boring answer, that, so I’m not going to leave it at that. I’ve got options here.

Rarity is my strongest to write, I think. Everyone else is a fundamentally good person with flaws. Rarity, in a vacuum, is a terrible person. Awful. In the words of my communist friend:11 “I kinda just saw her as a spoiled brat narcissist with no perspective or common sense, and she’s not not that”.

Being good doesn’t come naturally to her, and yet I don’t think anyone could argue that she doesn’t try to do as much good or more as any of the other Elements. This is what happens when you try to be a good person through willpower and brute force. Trying to be likable despite being a terrible person is, essentially, my whole jam12.

Pinkie I feel I need to list, because of all the characters she’s who I most want to be like. People focus way too much on her whackiness13 — Aragon let me write this, go back to bed, I’m not shittalking your Pinkie I promise14 — like Aragon writes her. It can be very entertaining when done well, but it’s candy. It’s sweet but it isn’t filling.

Also like Aragon.15

Hear me out, people; Pinkie is, fundamentally, about the conscious decision to be happy and share happiness.16 There’s a naivete to her, and a childlike optimism, but there’s also wisdom and a passion of belief. She doesn’t act the way she does because she’s stupid, and she’s shown to be very intelligent at times. It’s a mistake to think that her optimism is the result of childishness.

She simply believes, until proven otherwise, everybody fundamentally wants to be a good person, and their mistakes are just from not trying hard enough, or not knowing how to do better. And that the best thing you can do is make them want to be their best possible self.

That’s a person I find it very hard to be, but admire greatly17.

What’s your favorite episode?

“Return of Harmony, Part 2”. The Discord one.

Seriously. Drinking a glass of chocolate milk. That joke had so many levels I had to watch it three times the first time I saw it, knowing I had glimpsed true visual gag perfection.

What do you get from the show?

A reason to live.

I am a horribly depressed person, I truly am.18 And pony is ruthlessly optimistic, in a way that shows that being happy and being stupid aren’t the same thing. Think about how many other authors and series and shows write that being happy is simply not knowing the thing that would make you miserable? That to be smart is to be miserable? Or, to be smart and not miserable is simply because you aren’t socially aware enough to know how much other people hate you?

Pony is the opposite, in a really mature way. If you’re sad, it’s simply because you haven’t learned how to be happy yet, and that usually just comes down to wanting yourself to be a better person. And then actually trying to become that better person.

Fantastic.

What do you want from life?

A slice of my life, here.  I just stared at this question and blinked.

“HEY MUM!”19

“Yes?”

“WHAT DO I WANT FROM LIFE?20

“Ahh, a successful writing career? Moving to Canada or New Zealand and having a comfortable life there?”

“THANKS MUM.”

She’s a lovely woman. It’s not her fault she raised two fuckups. One of her fuckups is a successful mattress salesman, at least, when he’s not planning terrorist acts. So that’s nice.

Honestly? Live long enough to pay her back for all the bullshit and heartache of raising me. Then keep going and see if I can’t get happiness neutral for all the bullshit I’ve had to live through up until now.

Definitely want to see Europe, tour it, meet up with all the best friends I’ve never been able to make. Spend at least a week in Spain just kicking it with Aragon, another week in England, and then head East and see if I can’t damn near hug some self-esteem into GhostOfHeraclitus21. Not great odds, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Life goals, you know?

Why do you write?

Because if I stop, Aragon won’t love me anymore, and I can’t go on without him.22

Honestly? It’s because I want to make other people happy. It’s why most of my stories ultimately tend to be about happiness.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Fail. Repeatedly.23

Don’t write to be good, that comes later. That comes with experience, experience you’re not getting if you’re too terrified to show people your work, too stuck on what you’re writing not being good enough. No, instead write to experiment, and practice, and to create.

Aragon and I reached an agreement three or four years ago; He was the better comedian, I was the better author, that was that. We took two different approaches in the time since: I helped him with his storytelling, him helping me with my jokes and largely understanding my intent better than I do — he’s my soulmate, my second half, he knows me better than I know myself24 25, and I would fuck my way clean through a mountain to get inside that tasty Spanish man. And what happened was super interesting.

I tried to perfect my authorial voice, practice my own style of writing, take for-fucking-ever to write anything and only accept the best from myself. That’s how I got the first half of Moonfic, the best stuff I’ve ever written, and that’s why I burned out hard on Demesne and the second half of The Mare Who Lived on the Moon, because it’s so exhausting and hateful and miserable to write like that. Even if you love the work, you hate yourself for not living up to the potential of it.

Aragon? Aragon tried to write in as many different styles as he could, in as many different ways as he could, expecting it all to be garbage. He knew that a lot of people would like it anyway, because ‘something he wrote’ is still better to his audience than ‘something he didn’t write’, and went fuck it. Don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m going to experiment and refine and improve by ramming my head into a wall repeatedly and seeing what happens.

Aragon, I will remind you, has slammed his head into the edge of a coffee table to see what happens as well.26 No matter how many stitches he needed for it, about two years ago I would have said it was the less painful of the two headslamming options to attempt.

As of this month, I think he might actually be a better author than me, for serious and for real. He asked me to cut down Evil is Easy, Governing is Harder and I could only trim three paragraphs in 50 pages. Because his work was so tight, and interconnected, and meticulously crafted — I’m so proud of him, I really am — and I just went:

Shit.

Shit what the fuck just happened.27 28

Would have been worse if he could still write a title or a short description worth a damn. I still do that for him. That eases the loss a little.

But his biggest flaw back then, we could both point out, was that he couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t do drama, and he couldn’t let the story speak for itself. His jokes were strong and fierce, but he was too … nervous? Anxious? About letting an audience read anything that wasn’t a punchline — his strength — so his stories ended up just being a string of jokes as a result, because he didn’t want to risk showing his weaknesses.

So he started doing that anyway, even though it scared the shit out of him at first, just like writing Late Fees as a straight comedy scared the shit out of me the first time I did it. That story ended up being Top 40 All-Time when it came out, and it still fucking terrified me to post, I’ll add. I should have learned this lesson then, but I didn’t, and now Aragon’s overtaking me because he did.

Now he’s written one of the tightest simultaneous plots I’ve seen29, and I’ve worked with professional screenwriters.

By doing this shit, he’s figured out what works from all these different styles, where they could improve on his own, and just seamlessly blended them all together to become just so much stronger. And I haven’t improved nearly as much in the same time, despite having a head start.

Because I was so afraid of writing badly, and he wasn’t.

This is advice I’ve learned recently, and wish I’d known about years ago. Dan Harmon said it fantastically, so I’m not even going to try paraphrasing him, but it’s especially great advice especially for those with clinical depression.

Get an editor you like and respect, and trust them instead. You are probably your own worst critic, whether you like or dislike your own work by default.

Additionally, being ashamed of your past work is normal, and healthy. Regret is the feeling you get when you try to change something that’s already happened, and what happened was you learned something. In doing that, in your work since, you’ve learned how you’d do it better and you can’t apply those lessons retroactively. Don’t feel ashamed of the work: Feel proud you’ve learned so much since then to understand how you’d do it better.

What inspired “The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon”?

Like all the worst mistakes in my life, it involved a challenge from GhostOfHeraclitus30 and poetry.

There was also a Twiluna challenge at the time, and I wanted to write something serious. Something to show just how much I’d learned from writing The Demesne of the Reluctant Twilight Sparkle, which I’d burned out on hard. That’s getting a proper ending soon, by the way, now that I have enough distance from it to work on it again.

At the time I thought if I wanted to prove I was a good author, to prove I was more than just a comedian, I had to write an AU. Break the universe down into its component parts, figure out which tones and themes to keep and which to twist, and build it back up from there, a work that was recognizable for what it was, but still uniquely its own.

Seriously, folks: Good comedy is damn hard, and it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. But you can’t fight City Hall on that one.

I was largely inspired to do steampunk by a story Cory Doctorow wrote called “A Clockwork Faggin”, one of my favourite short stories … ever? Ever. Orphanage of mangled children is haphazardly run by an abusive shitheel. Then a new kid comes in, smiling and jolly, and makes the shitheel’s life hell. Gets beaten to a bloody pulp every time he does it, but spends the whole beating taunting and laughing and joking, even though he comes out of it mangled each time.

So the new kid just up and murders the old bastard one day and says he’s got a plan, but everyone’s gotta work together with him on it. Basically they string the shitheel up like a puppet, and the kids work together to make him more and more sophisticated. Starts off just being a dude sitting on a chair with an empty bottle of booze next to him to just think he’s a little wasted, then they start figuring out how to work his vocal cords, then they make him clockwork underneath so he can do simple autonomous tasks and look the part. The kids pocket all the money the nuns keep sending after making sure he’s still alive and whatnot, and they end up making the orphanage into a technical college of sorts.

And I basically looked at that and thought “What if that, but NASA instead of corpse-androids?”

Talk about the challenges of spending two years putting together a 150,000 word AU that also crosses the pastoral fantasy of MLP with the urban genre of steampunk.

Let me talk about steampunk first, just to follow on from the last question.31

Steampunk is beautiful in its ugliness, to me, it really is. It’s like an oil lantern: The light is that much brighter for the shadows it keeps. It has a warmth and character to it. The work and attitudes of the pre-WW1 era are so optimistic and wondrous, but the realities of the era are so miserable. The poverty, the crime, the Dickensian stories that get told … all that contrasts so wonderfully with the hope for a better world, the belief things are changing for the better, and the idea that science really can solve everything.

It’s light and it’s shadow. It’s bright hope and dark realities.32 It’s optimistic futures and cynical presents, all sharing the same tragic past everyone hopes desperately to escape from.

And I thought that sort of thing was perfect for an adult audience of My Little Pony: Acknowledging that happiness, that optimism, isn’t just about ignoring the bad things, or thinking the bad things don’t happen. It isn’t about thinking the world doesn’t suck. It’s about knowing that it sucks, and knowing you’re trying to fix it, and be better, and not let it crush you or anyone else you care about. It’s about looking at the overwhelming bleakness of it all and going: “I can help.”

It’s about being a light shining in the darkness, not in ignorance but in defiance.33

Every chapter of Mare on the Moon that introduces a new Element of Harmony starts with Twilight not respecting them or their circumstances, and it’s only by learning their stories that she can progress her own. I think that’s important.

But there were other challenges, besides making it fit that aesthetic.

The burnout on working so hard on something for so long with so many people shouting at you about how slow you are, however, is real. The last chapters really suffer for it, I know, but again I’m doing a rewrite now that it’s finished. Consider the story as it is a first draft. I certainly do.

There was also the issue of, as I got further and further from the original storyboard working linearly, I got some wires crossed and some plot holes appeared. It became harder and harder to remember what parts of the original storyboard had happened and which were still on the list. As stuff got moved around in the later chapters, as priorities shifted, tone needed to be balanced … the usual stuff that you can’t plan that well in advance, that changes in the writing process.34

Yeah — it turns out 14 months down the line, it doesn’t matter how well you made the initial notes, that stuff becomes strictly impossible to manage exactly. And when you’re publishing it chapter by chapter, you don’t have the option to polish the whole thing to correct for it35.

Fun fact: Originally I wanted to only publish this story when it was finished, after I had a chance to settle into it and polish it in its entirety, but then Equestria Daily jumped the gun and put it on their front page with the story password for the first six chapters or so. As a result, I was forced to do it the way I did. Don’t know what would have happened differently if that hadn’t happened, but it’s interesting to think about.

Did your original idea of the story change much during the writing process?

Sort of. So I was on a mania high between medications when I started writing36, it came to me in a flurry of inspiration I have never since matched. I intricately planned and storyboarded everything up until the point of the actual launch, and that plan pretty much got followed through to the letter.

Apparently, 40-hour days, five coffees an hour and wide-eyed craziness was conducive to my best work. Who knew?37 38

After that point though, things fell apart, because I was under the impression at the planning stage that would be mostly perfunctory, and sort itself out. I’d know what the ending needed to be when I got there. But I was fairly locked into it, because it took me about 14 months to even realize that was ever going to be a problem. I’d never written anything like this before, and in short form usually knowing what the ending should be was enough to do it well. I forgot this was a whole different beast.

Go see my writing advice above. You learn the lessons you do from your failures, and you shouldn’t be afraid to learn from them. It’s not a mistake I’m making twice.

Still, I’d say the most drastic change would be Luna and Twilight were meant to be super awkward when they finally met at the ending, and end up deciding to just be friends. It was supposed to be a criticism and subversion of how the era romance worked. But then I realized, when I got there, that that didn’t make sense for the characters or the story framework — which was otherwise almost a straight homage and pastiche of the turn-of-the-century pulp era — and so we have the happy ending we do where instead Rainbow Dash doesn’t let them boink for three days.

I’ve gotten a lot of criticism for that change, but I’m not sure how I could have written it differently when I got there. That was just bad planning on my part, and I’m going to have to tighten it up significantly in the rewrite.

Oh yeah by the way I’m totally rewriting this story.

How does your cinema training influence your approach to prose writing?

The one most important one I’ve learned is: People hate reading. You’ve just got to write something so good they’ll make an exception for this.

Any paragraph longer than five lines doesn’t get read. Skimmed, yes, but not read. It’s why I’m a big fan of writing more staccato paragraphs like I do, and single-line emphasis.39 40.

Honestly, it’s all storytelling. Screenwriting just forces you to think a lot more visually, without being able to describe anything. That’s not your job. You can’t voice the characters. That’s not your job, you only write what they say not how they say it. All you do is write the story underneath it all, and that’s your entire focus.

That’s your job.41

So coming back to prose, where you can wrap up a bad story with enjoyable writing, with a strong narrative voice … there’s strengths and weaknesses to both, but it’s important I feel to study them so that you can explore both skill sets. You become a much stronger writer for it, I honestly believe.

Screenwriting forces you to write the most boring, godawfully dry story you can put on the page in the fewest words possible, and still make the story shine through. Nobody likes reading a screenplay, it’s an utter chore, which is why it’s so hard to write them well. It’s fantastic practice if you feel like your basics are weak, or that you find it hard to reduce your work.

Honestly? Writing scripts teaches you how to refine your stories at their most base, core level. It’s great if you want to be more consistent in your writing, rather than better.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My candle burns at both ends42, it will not last the night, but I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.43

So, you may have noticed this thing is covered in footnotes and commentary. There’s a good reason for that; I’m horribly insecure. There’s nothing left to burn for the self-esteem engine here, folks. What keeps me posting, what allows me to face the day, are the wonderful friends I have and have made through writing, through this community.

Ferret has been my prereader since about the very beginning, and is the anthropomorphization of the self-esteem boost. Without her, I simply wouldn’t have been brave enough to do and learn as much as I have. She’s also super cute, seriously44.

Aragon I messaged about four years ago, telling him that I really enjoyed the ideas behind Today Is A Good Day to Die, not just the jokes, and then we proceeded to have a dead baby joke competition for a few days. We’ve been desperately in love ever since45.

GhostOfHeraclitus has been as long, if not longer, though we don’t have the same equality of relationship I have with Aragon. With Aragon, we see each other as equals. With Ghost we more see each other as mutual superiors46, which is super interesting. I remember telling him the moment I got more followers than him, being horrified about that, and his response was “Good. About time47.” He’s a fucking idiot48 who needs to understand he is simply better than me49, and handle our friendship with that implicit understanding50.

ScarletWeather is a new addition to my Power Squad of Super Friends, but no less valued for it. She did an essay on why my Sad story was the textbook example of a fucking terrible story. This has solidified her, in my mind, as a Pretty Awesome Person.

I didn’t bother bringing in Chuck Finley — friends almost as long as with Aragon I think — because I was under the suspicion he’d do my interview better. He keeps doing that to me. So instead I got his girlfriend and his number one fan. True story: I organized the meeting between Aragon and Chuck, Aragon panicked for literally an hour thinking of what to say, and after literally an hour of panic and terror, he settled on the perfect message; “I WILL LITERALLY SUCK YOUR DICK51.”

I love them both dearly, and they make me question my heterosexuality daily.

I am not, and couldn’t be, the person I am without them. This means they are at least partially accountable52.

Enough footnotes to drown GhostOfHeraclitus53:

You can read The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.


  1.  Isn’t that illegal in Australia? —Ghost of Heraclitus 
  2. Nonsense! Surely the high point is basking in the glory of my magnificence? Admittedly, afterwards, it has been a precipitous decline back to the mean… —GoH 
  3. Remember, reader, you think that these are remarkable circumstances. And, for you, they are, I’m sure. But for Australians, beating a mugger senseless and going home with his bat as a trophy is technically known as a ‘Tuesday.’ In Redactedstan we don’t have muggings. It’s not considered sporting on the foreigners and we’re all far too terrified of each other to try. —GoH 
  4. It’s a team-building exercise. First you give inspirational speeches to the beans, then you coax them, gently, into the fire, convince them to stay there, then coax them further by promising an exciting career in high-pressure sales, and lead them into the grinder. Then you serve their shattered remains to other people. It’s why HR managers make the best coffee. Fact. —GoH 
  5.  ScarletWeather: The impressive thing wasn’t just the obvious bigotry and more that this person went through the effort to assign the wrong stereotype entirely. 
  6. Lies! Not the high-achieving selflessness. That I buy. That he has spare time. Pull the other one, MrNumbers. —GoH. 
  7. Nonsense. You are far too handsome to die. —GoH 
  8.  Aragon: For the audience in the back, here’s a list of nicknames I’ve used to talk to MrNumbers — whom I obviously don’t call ‘MrNumbers’ in private:
    Ross
    Albatross
    Rosseanne
    Bross
    Brosseanne
    Cross
    Lacrosse
    Moss
    Toss
    Floss
    Tosser (on Sundays)
    Rossonovan
    And I think I’ve actually never called him “Rossephanie” but I’m writing it down for later.54 
  9.  Aragon: Ah. The famous Amsterdam style of eloping. Always a classic. 
  10. The Plonkl School of Theological Criticism developed a radical notion of the world and all in it as simply a story being told by God, and subjected said text to serious intertextual criticism which, generally, devolved into calling the almighty a hack repeatedly. Even today tourists come to see the Plonkl crater, which is quite remarkable — it formed when the town was hit with an earthquake, volcanic eruption, and tsunami despite being five hundred miles inland. In the centre of the crater is a lone promontory with the Plonkl School of Theological Criticism sitting forlornly at the top. Needless to say, they really didn’t like that and spent quite a lot of ink saying so. —GoH 
  11.  ScarletWeather: The surprising thing for me was finding out he only has the one communist friend.
    MrNumbers: Oh, there were a few of them, but then they formed a collective.
    (GhostOfHeraclitus didn’t scroll down, and so made the exact same joke. This either says a lot of good things about our friendship, or something miserable about the joke.) 
  12. MrNumbers: Virtue through being too stubborn to quit. Hey, say what you will about the tenets of Rossian Stubbornism at least it’s an ethos. —GoH 
  13.  Aragon: FUCKING EXCUSE ME
    The Ferret: also, should be wackiness, unless you literally mean her skill in hitting folks.
    MrNumbers It’s a reference to Crime and Funishment, so yes. Also known as: “What happens when Aragon picks his own titles”
    Aragon: FUCKING EXCUSE ME 
  14.  Aragon: Oh. Okay. Fucking excused. 
  15.  Aragon: “YOU WEREN’T SAYING THIS LAST NIGHT”
    MrNumbers: “Yeah because I was doing the filling.”
    Aragon: “NOT THE POINT” 
  16. The happiness of a mare is: I will. Thus Spoke Pinkie. —GoH 
  17. Remember, kids: Pinkie says “Imagine Sisyphus as Happy.” (Pinkie Pie is the best philosophy teaching aid ever envisioned.)  —GoH 
  18.  Aragon: It’s a good thing you told them straight, they might not have figured it out otherwise. 
  19.  Aragon: I call her MrMumbers! 
  20. “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.” “THANKS MUM! OFF TO GO PILLAGING!” “Blood for the blood god, son.” —GoH 
  21. “What are you doing?” “Hugging self-esteem into you.” “Intriguing. Does that imply that self-esteem can be transmitted osmotically?” “I… I guess that… hold on, are you doing calculus mid-hug?” “A bit.” “Normal people don’t.” “Normal people don’t have osmotic self-esteem infusions. Look, if we are using osmosis for self-esteem transfer, does it not follow that a higher concentration will cause more rapid transfer and a later point of equilibrium?” “I… guess?” “We must kidnap Kanye West.” —GoH, with Current Affairs Joke inserted by an UNKNOWN ASSAILANT. 
  22.  ScarletWeather: Since meeting these two I have found myself whispering “kisssss” under my breath far more often than usual. 
  23. I always take the advice of my friends. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. —GoH 
  24.  ScarletWeather: You know that extended joke in Scrubs, where Turk and JD sing a song about their totally platonic bromance? They’re like that but way closer. 
  25. ♫When two authors who care switch their styles on a dare
    ….that’s amore!♫ —GoH 
  26.  Aragon: Twice.
    Not a joke. I still have the scars. 
  27. The circle is now complete. Now he is the master. Now he’s going to cut in you in half with a lightsa… with a Copyright Compliant Electromagnetic Falchion. —GoH 
  28.  ScarletWeather: KISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
    MrNumbers: Ow my fucking ears what happened to whispering 
  29.  MrNumbers: I mean I planned out the initial storyboard for him, before he gets too ahead of himself here in the peanut gallery.
    Aragon:  CrissCross, you planned ‘Yo what if Celestia goes cray cray’ and then I did the actual work. You were the Tim Burton to my Nightmare Before Christmas.
    Scarlet Weather: OH SNAP 
  30. It’s true. I demanded satisfaction and threw down my gauntlet. It was, of course, pure accident that it happened to strike and, subsequently, amputate his toe. —GoH 
  31.  Aragon: I love how this is not a question the RCL are asking. It’s an order.
    And LipGloss here goes ‘nah I’mma go about my business’ and just ignores them.
    Like.
    People, this is not how interviews work. How are you fucking up an interview.
    MrNumbers: It’s not my fault, they asked two different questions in the same sentence! 
  32.  Aragon: It’s wit and pedantic purple in the same interview.
    MrNumbers: Go back to bed now, sweetie, or you’re sleeping on the couch for the rest of the night. 
  33. I was supposed to write something funny here, but I just cheered wildly every time I read this sentence instead so nothing got written in the end. Sorry. In partial apology, please have a list of inherently funny words: kumquat, pickle, barrel, chimi-cherry-changa. —GoH 
  34.  ScarletWeather: So basically almost everything but the concept and your vague outline?
    MrNumbers: The outline, notes on the setting, and general storyboard was 12,000 words by itself.
    Scarlet Weather: You fool! Set yourself up a Patreon and make seeing that one of your backer tiers! Stop throwing money in the bin!
    The Ferret: He has a Patreon … He’s like the only one i’m giving more than a fiver too because I love him that much. Also i bossed him into doing it. 
  35. Computer programmers (in whose accursed company I, regretfully, must number myself) have a leg up on writing large projects because the idea of making a plan for a project and then finishing that project even remotely according to that plan provokes gales of laughter, sobs of anguish, and the odd suicide attempt. —GoH 
  36. Promising start. —GoH 
  37. We did. —GoH 
  38.  Aragon: Rossetta wrote around 40k words in four days. He didn’t walk as much as he twitched in specific directions.
    MrNumbers: They’re widely regarded to be the best 40K of the piece, yes. 
  39.  Aragon: I do six lines, but that’s just because I overwrite. This is great advice, but adjust it to your own style. I think six is the absolute maximum number of lines you should allow yourself to write in a single paragraph, though. 
  40.  …Dear reader, do you ever get one of those moments where you realize you just plain don’t know what you are doing? I have not the slightest idea what my longest paragraph is. I just went and looked. The first paragraph of “Whom The Princesses Would Destroy” is eight lines on my screen. I better stop here. —GoH 
  41.  ScarletWeather: That and praying to God that whoever does get your script doesn’t eviscerate it the moment shooting begins.
    MrNumbers: And that’s why I quit the film industry, yes.
    “You don’t pay me to write. I’d do that for free. You pay me not to slit the throat of everyone else on set.” ~ A screenwriter friend of mine. 
  42. This (fusion) candle burning at both ends thing is a remarkably efficient design for a sublight large-scale colonization effort. You will need the technological wherewithal to move planetoids about and a spare gas giant but, otherwise, it’s quite practical. —GoH 
  43.  ScarletWeather: I knew it! I knew you couldn’t make it through without ONE uncredited Mountain Goats lyric quote!
    MrNumbers: The first half was Edna St Vincent Millay’s “First Fig” because My Chemical Romance is just too mainstream pop-rock to truly convey my angst. 
  44. Can confirm. —GoH 
  45. ♫When two authors ally to make babies (die)
    ….that’s amore!♫ —GoH 
  46. I call it “No, After You” The Relationship! —GoH 
  47. And it was. —GoH 
  48. Yes. —GoH 
  49. No. —GoH 
  50. Over your dead body. No, wait, I like you. Damn. We need a dead body now. Um… who’s the CEO of BP? —GoH 
  51.  Smooth. —GoH 
  52. Hey! What! No! You aren’t laying the blame on me, you bastard! I had nothing to do with it! They were already like that when I got there! I was only following orders! I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the Writer’s Guild Of Ruinous Purpose and Sinister Power. Honest. —GoH. 
  53. Nice try, sunshine, but no cigar. —GoH 
  54. (Yes, I’m footnoting a footnote. TRY TO STOP ME NUMBERS, I DARE YA) Seriously, man, you are Spanish and it didn’t occur to you to call him Rossinante? —GoH 
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