Today’s story will éclair-ify what it means to truly have friends.
[Slice of Life] • 13,097 words
My name is Twilight Sprinkle, and my passion is donuts—from the delicate morsels I serve at elegant cocktail parties to the hearty pastries enjoyed by hard-working ponies who get up early. I don’t have friends, I don’t have books, and I sure as the sun don’t have any wings. I don’t care whether you’re here for revenge, for romance, or for a favor. My name is Twilight Sprinkle and I’m not who you think I am, so either buy a donut or get the hay out of my store!
FROM THE CURATORS: Collectively, we had the broadest range of reactions (and votes!) to The Donutier that we’ve ever had to a successfully featured fic — which included disagreeing on such basics as the story’s primary genre. “Despite lacking a Comedy tag, this is a really funny story with an immense heart,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “I don’t see this as a Comedy,” Soge countered. “It’s a solid, entertaining fic, a lighthearted slice-of-life-cum-adventure wrapped in a light and fluffy mistaken identity story.”
Our most vigorous debate centered around the characters (especially the justifiability of Twilight Sprinkle’s actions), but the ultimate consensus was that they were a showcase for strong writing. “In its modest length this manages to introduce us to the life of two very distinct ponies, who go through a full character arc — and, in Twilight Sprinkle’s case, the Hero’s Journey — while simultaneously exploring really well the themes of friendship, destiny, and finding one’s place in the world,” Soge said. Present Perfect appreciated both of the protagonists: “While snarky, Twilight Sprinkle never becomes tiresome, unless you just really hate donut puns,” he said. “And ‘Ravenwing Bloodmane’ is a perfect foil for her. The real story is about them becoming friends, and it flows very naturally.” Horizon praised their interplay: “PP noted that there’s a Trixie and Starlight dynamic here … it’s to this story’s credit that it can capture that dynamic without recapitulating the canon relationship, and then give a subtle nod to it with Starlight’s cameo.”
As our debate went on, Death Of The Author ultimately got invoked: “I enjoyed the heck outta this … though I hafta admit, I’m unsure if the author meant to portray Twilight Sprinkle as an unreliable narrator or if it’s something my brain decided for reasons of its own,” AugieDog said. Regardless of the debate, it provoked near-unanimous enjoyment, and Horizon took a stab at summing up why we all read it so differently. “The Donutier isn’t afraid to advance its storytelling through implication,” he said, “and while that leads to a lower-key storytelling style with a surprising economy of words — it packs eight chapters and an epilogue into its 13K — there’s still enough happening on-screen to keep it consistently compelling.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Hap discusses homemade mayonnaise, stripper boxing, and idyllic adventure apocalypses.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m not sure exactly what a “standard biography” is, so I’m just going to list a bunch of cool stuff about me. I’m a physics professor. I once worked at NASA, where I helped redesign part of the Space Shuttle after STS-107 broke up on re-entry. I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been shot, I’ve been on fire. Once, I was temporarily blinded by a flashbang grenade. I boxed a redhead stripper, and got my nose broken. I killed a possum with a box cutter when I worked at a swimming pool store. I have Fluttershy engraved on a rifle that wears a silencer. I’m allergic to corn. I can drift pretty well, but have only done it in a 1980 Plymouth Gran Fury and a 1994 Nissan Sentra. I’ve been married for 13 years and for some odd reason she still likes me.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I don’t honestly remember, not completely anyway. I think it was originally short for something else, but also a bit of an homage to a spiritual mentor to whom I looked up at the time.
Who’s your favorite pony?
I think I have to say Rainbow Sherbet, because that’s my wife. Of the mane six (or seven? Eight?) it changes based on what’s the most recent episode I’ve seen, story I’ve read, or art I’ve seen. In the end, I think I always come back to Twilight Sparkle. She just has this unique mix of competence and insecurity; she’s well-read but still approaches everything with a wide-eyed sense of wonder.
What’s your favorite episode?
“Putting Your Hoof Down.”
This was one of the early Fluttershy episodes. It’s a good one. She turns into a monster, and who among us hasn’t? I think most of my favorite episodes are Fluttershy episodes.
What do you get from the show?
Escape, for one. Equestria is a wonderful blend of idyllic pastoral life, high adventure, and regular apocalyptic events. Real life is harsh and, more often than not, mind-numbingly boring. I know it’s not real, but just the idea that there’s this place where everyone’s that friendly and that’s enough, is just really nice. Hope, I suppose also, that one day maybe our world might be closer to that ideal.
Also, ponies are adorable. That screencap of Twilight from season one, where she’s on a balcony with her legs folded under her, reading a book? How can you not just want to be there?
What do you want from life?
That’s a good question. It’s one I think about a lot.
In engineering, we can express objectives in terms like, “more of X quantifiable is better than less of it.” Nobody wants more pain, but… life without pain wouldn’t really be life, would it?
I know it’s cliche to say that you don’t win anything if you die with the most money, or the most upvotes, or the biggest bestseller. So what would I be happy to look back upon, when I’m lying on my deathbed? I don’t know.
One idea that comforts me is that, in a hundred years, probably nobody will remember that I even existed. Don’t ask me why that’s comforting, I have no idea. Blame Lyra.
Why do you write?
Because I have a story. Sometimes it’s a story that I want to read, but I have to write it first (or because someone else wants to read it, like Belle of the 7.62x51mm Ball). Sometimes I know there’s a character rattling around in my head, but I just don’t know who she is until I write the story (The Donutier).
For my upcoming sci-fi story Twilight’s Rose, I saw an anime music video with incredible visuals, and I spent hours lying awake in bed, just thinking about what the story behind it could possibly have been… and when I finally found the anime and watched it, I was soooo disappointed. The story wasn’t nearly as cool as the one I had imagined. So I wrote the story I wanted to see.
And sometimes I just have to write to process my own emotional issues, and I pour my heart and soul into a story because I need to get it out of my head even though I know that practically nobody else will want to read it (Lilies of the Field).
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Read a lot. Visit your local library, and read the classics. Read novels. Take an actual college course on literature appreciation, even if you’re not getting a degree. Read about reading. Read about writing.
And then, most importantly, write. And get feedback. Then listen to the feedback.
What inspired “The Donutier”?
Exactly what you think. The dumb pun that is her name.
Twilight Sprinkle is the protagonist of the story, but do you consider her “the hero”?
Absolutely not. The hero is the red-and-black aspiring alicorn who showed up to defeat her, but ended up saving her instead.
How reliable a narrator did you mean for Twilight Sprinkle to be?
Not very. She doesn’t lie to the reader outright, but she’s grumpy, she’s cynical, she’s melodramatic, and that colors everything she sees. For instance, in the scene that takes place in the palace, her impression of Celestia changes as the discussion progresses. A beneficent deity (and the subject of her crush) changed into a stalking predator by the end of a short conversation.
Why write a story about a Canterlot donut maker without ever showing us Donut Joe? What do you think he makes of this story’s events?
Donut Joe has had some good stories about him, but this story was about someone else. If he was even aware of anything in this story, he probably just rolled his eyes. Although, I hear there just might be an even-grumpier pony out there who hates Sprinkle’s donuts, and if, say, Sprinkle needed a favor from her, she just might have to stop by Donut Joe’s shop to pick up a peace offering. So it’s possible they may meet… or maybe they already know each other.
What’s the worst pun you didn’t get to make in the story?
Oh, goodness. My pun game was so weak compared to the folks in the comments. They absolutely destroyed it. Nothing I could come up with will beat those puns.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Mayo. Everything’s better with homemade mayo added to it. Homemade ketchup is even better.