Today’s story examines a young woman hoping that someday her prints will come.
Tracks in the Sand
[Equestria Girls] [Drama] [Alternate Universe] • 9,590 words
Scavenging isn’t just a hobby, it’s a means of survival in the ruins of the old world. When you go scavenging, though, you’ll never know what you’ll find.
Pinkie Pie is about to find more than she bargained for.
FROM THE CURATORS: Like all good AU fics, this stood out with a combination of the comfortable and the unusual. “I love the setting here — the sandy ruins are practically a character, they’re described so well — and Pinkie, while being very much the character we’ve come to know over the past few years, is also someone who’s lived her life on the fringes of a society that’s barely hanging on to the concept of civilization,” AugieDog said in his nomination. And while those two elements accumulated most of our praise, Present Perfect found even more to like. “This has the two things you need to really get me into a story: a post-apocalyptic wasteland and friendship,” he said. “Girls kissing each other doesn’t hurt. Neither does an unreliable narrator.”
But there was a great deal of emotional depth to the story, as well. “As the depths of Pinkie’s loneliness and delusions come to light, I was struck by the tragedy,” Present Perfect said, and Chris agreed: “I really enjoyed the tragedy here; Pinkie’s seeing the world she wants to see, and yet, her world is so terrible that the best she can summon up is ‘everything’s still awful, but at least I have a friend, sorta.’ Her delusions are a macrocosm of Gummy: a grand idea, but feeble and helpless underneath that.”
And it was that fine balancing act between the bleakness of the world and the authenticity of the protagonist that solidified our appreciation of the story. “Everything about the story was showing us how much Pinkie needs companionship, how much she needs hope in this world that’s utterly inimical to her personality … and then, twice, taking it away from her,” Chris said. And that worked both ways, Soge said: “I enjoyed Pinkie’s characterization. You get the sense she’s a stone’s throw away from a breakdown, which helps sell the post-apocalyptic setting.”
Read on for our author interview, in which DwarvishPony discusses space creation, compensatory delusions, and Hobbit mounts.
Give us the standard biography.
Standard human guy born and raised in California. I started watching the show around the end of season 3 after stumbling across a certain Fallout crossover fic and wanted to understand the pony half of the story a bit better. Eventually I got caught up with the show and started reading more fanfiction. At one point I decided ‘Hey, I want to try this!’, and the rest is history.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I stewed on it for a while since I didn’t want to use the handle I use for games and stuff on the off chance someone I knew stumbled across it. Eventually it kinda just came to me while I was rewatching The Hobbit. The fact that dwarves had to ride ponies struck me as funny for some reason, so I went with it.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Yeesh, that’s a tough one. It’s a close call between Pinkie and Rarity, ironically enough. When I first started watching the show they were the two who I initially wrote off as the silly one and the diva. As the show went on, I had to change my opinions.
Pinkie’s got this exuberance and outgoing personality that I’m a little envious of. In some ways, she’s a character I strive to be more like, simply because at the end of the day she wants everyone to be happy and that’s a noble enough goal to emulate.
Rarity, on the other hand, is a character who grew on me. I hated her with a passion at the start of season one. She just came off as haughty and self-centered. But as she developed in the show, I came to really appreciate her. She’s probably one of the most well-rounded characters now, and the fact that she dreams of creating new things is something I can get behind, too.
What’s your favorite episode?
Crusaders of the Lost Mark, hands down. It’s a lovely redemption episode for Diamond Tiara, I adore the songs, and it brings a story arc to a close in such a satisfying way that I can’t help but smile.
What really sets the episode apart for me is the moment right after the CMC gets their cutie marks. One of the first things they say is “Cutie Mark Crusaders forever!” and there’s this relief in their voices and you just know that the idea of drifting away from each other terrified them. Seeing that moment between close friends still makes me tear up when I watch it.
What do you get from the show?
Something to smile about. The show is one of those things that, for just a few moments, can help me unwind and forget about things like a bad day at work.
What do you want from life?
Stability, happiness, financial security. Same stuff as everyone else trying to get by. In a perfect world I’d be able to write for a living.
Why do you write?
You could ask me this once a day for a week and I’d give you a different answer each time. I write for me, to make people happy, to tell a story I feel needs to be told… The list goes on.
If I had to boil it down to one reason, though, it would have to be for satisfaction. Being able to sit down and just create something is a feeling that I don’t think I have the words to fully describe. It just feels right, I guess?
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
If someone tells you they think you’d do well at something, don’t be afraid to try it. Back in high school, I had an English teacher who kept telling me they thought I had the talent to get into writing. I look back at the years between high school and when I started to write with a tinge of regret, and sometimes I catch myself wondering how much better of a writer I could be right now if I’d just listened.
What inspired ”Tracks in the Sand”?
Tracks in the Sand is a kinda-sorta sequel/offshoot of another story I’d written for a contest that took place in the same alternate universe. The world itself just kinda sank its teeth in me and wouldn’t let me shake it. Eventually I just sat down and tried to figure out what the rest of the Equestria Girls cast would be doing in this world and it snowballed from there.
Why choose Pinkie Pie as the main character for a story set in a post-apocalyptic doomscape?
Pinkie Pie is one of those characters that I feel could be thrown into almost any situation and still find a way to try to make others happy. In a world where things aren’t always safe, someone’s got to go out and gather things to keep people going. Pinkie just seemed like the natural choice for it.
How much of the story did you intend to be part of Pinkie’s delusion?
Originally, just Gummy. Early on in developing the story, I knew Pinkie Pie was going to be a lonely person. But since Pinkie is naturally a very social character, she needed someone to talk to. So she dreamed up Gummy. At some point, I realized that sometimes things can’t turn out the way you want them to, and Pinkie’s delusions started compensating for that.
What elements do you feel are necessary to make a good alternate Pony universe?
I’d say that the most important aspect to keep in mind is “how?”
Throughout writing the story, the questions I would stop and ask myself most are “How did things get to this point?” and “How does the world affect the characters?” The first question is never answered in the story in regards to what happened to create this post-apocalyptica, but just knowing what happened helps to ground the story a bit and make it a bit more real to me.
As for how the world affects the characters, it really helped me keep Pinkie and Sunset consistent through the story. Because it’s a different world, you can’t have characters that are exactly like the ones from the show (or movies in this case), and you have to develop them in a way that creates a space for them in the world, rather than altering the world to fit the characters.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s always going to be someone who can offer a perspective on things that isn’t like yours, and sometimes they’ll offer advice that could help you see things in a completely different light.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to R5h for his input on the story. It really helped me flesh out the world.