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An explosive sibling rivalry is at the center of today’s story.

Firebird Dahlia
[Drama] [Slice of Life] • 48,819 words

Life is looking up for Sunset Shimmer.

With her grandstanding at the Battle of the Bands, Canterlot High has taken a new approach to her. Amends have been made, friendships have been restored, and Sunset is on the fast track to becoming a better person.

But even now, there are still apologies that have to be said.

For her Spring Break, Sunset returns to Equestria to make up with her estranged family: the parents that raised and provided for her, and the sister she left behind. But a lot has changed since then, and some wounds won’t heal by just saying ‘I’m sorry.’

Fixing friendships is one thing. Sunset will be put through her hardest test yet when she tries to bring her family back together.

FROM THE CURATORS: Our immediate reaction to this story was exemplified by AugieDog’s joy of discovery.  “After seven years of reading ponyfic, I love it that I can still come across ideas that clang so happily against the bell in my brain,” he said.  “I mean, of course Sunset and Spitfire are sisters!  It’s perfect.”  But it takes more than a great premise to make a story exemplary, and Firebird Dahlia was happy to deliver more.  “I adore stories that delve into the whys and hows of Sunset’s downfall, and this is absolutely one of the best,” Present Perfect said in his nomination.  “Her rivalry with Spitfire, her inferiority complex in the shadow of her all-pegasus family, her goals as Celestia’s student: it all coalesces to turn a pony who was shy, nerdy and picked on into a megalomaniac trying to conquer Equestria.”

Our discussion repeatedly turned to the fine touch with which this fic handled its cast.  “It’s a triumph of characterization,” Soge said.  “Sunset’s characterization is marvelous, and the way it justifies her actions and personality was extremely well realized. All other characters are also stand-outs, from Spitfire to their parents, to all the mane cast that get involved in the proceedings.”  AugieDog agreed: “I’ve got an older sister and two younger brothers, and the family dynamic displayed here feels absolutely true and honest to me.”  And Horizon was impressed with their depth: “It’s exemplary work to have a redemption story handle such complex characters so sensitively, and the result is heartwarming.”

As we discussed various aspects of the story, it was hard to find an element that didn’t get singled out for accolades.  “We get a really well-paced story full of eye-popping moments, interesting revelations, and drama that always feels earned,” Soge said.  “The redemption arc works really well, and it left me wanting to see more in this continuity.”  Present Perfect praised the prose: “The writing was quite good, maybe a little flowery in places, but structured for deep crafting, whether of setting, backstory, or character.”  And even the things it didn’t say were well-chosen, Horizon said: “I am also a huge fan of how this acknowledges critical questions about what happens past the ending of the piece, and yet leaves them in the future.  That serves the theme of redemption as an ongoing struggle well.”

Read on for our author interview, in which The Albinocorn discusses worm cans, slow burns, and cross-country dreadlocks.


 

Give us the standard biography.

Standard, hm? Well, I’m The Albinocorn, many just call me Albi. I’ve been in the fandom since the summer of 2012. I’m currently in grad school to get a Masters of Library and Information Science, but my true career path is to one day write original fiction for young adults.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Well for starters, I really am albino in real life. (Look it up if you don’t know what it is, learn something.) Short version is, I’m extremely pale. Anyways, in high school I ran cross-country and had begun to grow out my dreadlocks. One of them just stuck up at the front like a horn, so, my teammates nicknamed me ‘the albinocorn.’ A few years later when I was coming up with my Fimfic handle, I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate.

Who’s your favorite pony?

I’ll give you three good guesses, and the first two don’t count.

It’s Sunset. It’s always Sunset. For a myriad of reasons. The main one being, she’s such a versatile character. I can think of any role, and she can fit into it and usually add a fun twist. I love exploring every possible angle of her backstory and character development. There’s always something new I feel I can bring to the table with her. Also, she’s just very pretty to look at.

What’s your favorite episode?

Luna Eclipsed. It was so much fun seeing Luna after her disappearing for all of season one. Everything she said was hilarious. Her interactions with Twilight and the rest of Ponyville were fun and heartwarming. Overall, it’s one of those episodes I can just go back and watch again and again. Amending Fences has become a close second, more for the feels than the comedy.

What do you get from the show?

Hope in humanity? The show has always resonated with virtues I truly believe in. I love that its core message is ‘friendship is magic.’ Sometimes it’s thrown at you like a brick, but it always means well.

Since I started writing, I guess now I look for new story ideas, new location, new lore, new creature, anything to keep the world fresh. But I also love seeing characters play off each other. Any episode that focuses on character dynamics like Twilight and Spike’s or Applejack and Rarity’s is a win in my book.

What do you want from life?

That’s a loaded question. Beyond the basic, I guess I want a group of friends as strong as the Mane 6 and Spike. I want to have an adventure with all of them by my side that we can look back and say ‘that was worth it.’ I want to create a world full of characters and places and events that will be remembered as fondly as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Most of all, I want to see people stop and put themselves in someone else’s place and maybe have a better understanding of where they’re coming from. A little empathy would make the world a better place.

Why do you write?

Really hitting hard with these questions, aren’t you? Because I have stories to tell, I guess. Because my own life is so decisively average that I need to write something exciting to feel like anything worthwhile is happening. And because, as I have discovered, writing is one of the few talents I actually possess. Don’t wanna squander this.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

God, I hate this question. I never have advice when you ask me, but in the middle of the night, I’ll have some profound revelation.

Have an editor. Editors are good. Don’t follow trends just because you think it’ll make you popular. Write something creative, original, inspiring to you. And read. Read a lot. I wish I had time to read more!

What inspired you to make Sunset Shimmer and Spitfire sisters?

When I first saw Sunset, I had a tiny voice in the back of my head tell me ‘she looks a little like Spitfire.’ I would later bring this up to a group chat but wouldn’t get a response. A year or so later, my friends and I were discussing pony pairings of the shipping and platonic kind. I then brought up the color scheme of Sunset and Spitfire being similar and them possibly being sisters. I was then promptly told to get to work.

I had written two other major Sunset stories at the time, in which Sunset was an orphan or single child. So the fun challenge was coming up with how Sunset would interact with Spitfire in a way that would still give justification to how she acted in the first Equestria Girls movie. It became sibling rivalry gone wrong.

Would you say there’s a difference between reformation and redemption?

I think the line can get a little blurry, but yes, there’s a difference. Reform implies change in some way, while redemption is just atoning for something you did. You can always atone and not change. We’ve started to take redemption and assume it means reformed as well. Throughout season 4, Discord had reformed himself (slightly) into being not as big a jerk, but he didn’t redeem himself until he gave Twilight the last key and really understood what friendship meant to him. On the flip side of the coin, in Star Wars, Darth Vader managed to redeem himself at the end of the sixth movie but didn’t have time to reform.

Reformation usually follows redemption. Sunset’s a character who had both go hand in hand with her performance in Rainbow Rocks. Yes, she said she was sorry in the first movie, but we didn’t see her do anything about it until the second. She tries to fix her image by being helpful, then atones for her mistake by rainbowing the Sirens.

Would you say it’s a good idea for children, even grown children, to meddle in their parents’ relationship?

Ooh, boy. Real life hardly ever works out the way movies and books do. Wanting to keep your parents together or get them back together is a sweet and noble thing. Sometimes, it can work. Other times, it’s best just to leave it to therapy.

As someone who watched their parents split up, you know that there’s nothing you can do. Not all love lasts. I think grown children might be able to help mediate a conversation since they can talk to their parents with that level of maturity. But actual ‘meddling’? No, it’s probably a bad idea. Cute, but bad.

Why not have Dawn and Zephyr get back together by the end?

Heh, this question. I don’t believe romance is a light switch. You can’t just flip it on and off and say ponies or people for that matter are in love. Love takes time; it’s a flame that has to be nurtured. Dawn and Zephyr were separated for a good five or so years before the story. That’s a big gap to fill. Realistically (and I know this is a show about magic ponies — my writing still has to have real elements in it) I felt like they wouldn’t just magically end up in each other’s arms again. They’d talk things out, start things over, see if they really were in love with each other again. I believe love is a slow burn.

What does the time dilation effect between the worlds mean for future correspondence with Sunset?

The time difference between worlds is a real can of worms. It would probably be a little jarring to Sunset when she gets Hearth’s Warming greetings in July and birthday wishes three months in advance. The journal correspondence was meant to only be a temporary solution to buy Sunset time before she had to make a decision. Because, in this universe that I’ve set up, she is going to have to choose one side or the other. And even I don’t know which she’ll choose.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

That depends, am I allowed to self-promote? New story titled Class Zero is on its way, and it’s going to be big! Tons of characters in a new AU Equestria with a new twist in its history. Friendship, war, political intrigue, magic, and secrets abound!

Other than that, thank you for allowing Firebird Dahlia a spot in the library. A big thanks to everyone who helped me write it and everyone who read and enjoyed it!

You can read Firebird Dahlia 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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