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The Destiny Trap
[Adventure] • 7,746 words
Returning from a trip to Manehattan, Trixie has a brand new magic trick that she’s all too eager to share with Starlight.
Unfortunately, when things don’t work quite as expected, Trixie and Starlight are forced to go on a journey across Equestria to find the pony that gave her the trick and make things right once more.
FROM THE CURATORS: We look far and wide for the best of MLP fanfiction, but sometimes great stories are right under our noses. “As soon as I saw this nomination, I said to myself, ‘A great story, sure, but of course we’ve already featured AndrewRogue. Haven’t we?’ Then I went and looked at our archive, and I can only say that my shock knew no bounds,” AugieDog said. The reason why is readily apparent from the fic. “It is a perfectly executed show-tone adventure story, exciting in all the right ways, with some amazing characterization for Trixie and Starlight, and a villain which works perfectly as a foil to both,” Soge said in his nomination, and it didn’t take us long to agree: “Even with the time it took me to re-read this, it’s going to go in our shortest-time-to-feature bin with a four-hour turnaround,” Horizon noted.
Our praise was wide-ranging, but one of the repeated comments was how gracefully the story extended the show. “This has got everything that makes recent seasons great, wrapped up in a tidy package with a bow on top,” Horizon said. “Which is to say, this is a Season 7 story with a Season 1 aesthetic, perfectly capturing the core friendship message of the show through a cast of redeemed villains who have learned those lessons the hard way.” And that cast hit all the right notes. “The character work for all three characters is solid, from Blackstone’s motivation to Trixie showing the true friend that lurks beneath her veneer of bluster and arrogance,” Present Perfect said. “I even appreciated how well the street magic patter was worked into the narrative; that’s not something I’ve seen in prose before.”
That wasn’t the story’s only claim to novelty. “Given how standard the ‘disappearing magic shop full of monkey’s paws’ setup is, I wasn’t expecting to be surprised, yet I got surprises in spades,” Present Perfect said, prompting Horizon to note: “Its Writeoff Association gold medal was a well-deserved win against tough competition.” There was so much to appreciate here, as Soge said, that “how it works in a very well-crafted thematic element surrounding Starlight’s and Trixie’s redemption is only icing on the cake.”
Read on for our author interview, in which AndrewRogue discusses friendship mines, earthbound prompts, and Smackdown jams.
Give us the standard biography.
I am a human male. I possess average physical qualities. I attended school, where I learned to write. I like writing. I have other hobbies. There are many people who love me. I appreciate all the help and support they have provided.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Frankly, I barely remember anymore, what with the halcyon days of school being so far behind me. It has something to do with the fact that my name is Andrew and rogue was my favorite D&D class. Dunno how I jammed them together. It sounded good, I thought? I want to say I first used it on the create-a-wrestler mode in Smackdown for the PS1 and it just stuck.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Well, I mean, if you know much about me, it is a very obvious tie between Vinyl and Octavia, because you can’t have the one without the other.
If you want me to stretch it to more major characters, I think the award goes to Glim Glam. Fight me.
What’s your favorite episode?
The tough questions come early! Honestly, I really don’t have a true, decisive favorite. There are lots of episodes I like, but no particular one I point to and go “this is my favorite!” The Cutie Mark Chronicles, Lesson Zero, Magical Mystery Cure, Rarity Takes Manehattan, Slice of Life, No Second Prances, and All Bottled Up are pretty top-tier in their respective seasons though.
What do you get from the show?
The same sappy friendship-and-love-beats-everything-else messages that I get in from my shonen and my Persona. The world is a rough place. Positive, upbeat messages about triumph over adversity, the power of friendship, and being a good person will always remain welcome to me.
Also, the animation is pretty great. Pony has some excellent expressions.
What do you want from life?
To be happy.
Why do you write?
Because I like to. I got stories in my soul!
Seriously though, media is a powerful force for good and I like being part of that. Even pulp stuff inspires and lifts moods. In the same way that stuff I read (and still read) affects me, I want to do the same for others.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Get a good pre-reader/editor. Find someone whose opinions on writing you respect and trust and who isn’t afraid to be open, honest, and blunt with you. You don’t have to agree with everything they say or make all the changes they suggest, but having that sort of person around to challenge you and force you to reevaluate your own work is going to help you grow as a writer.
What inspired “The Destiny Trap”?
A completely different prompt than the one we ended up with.
I’d been about 90% sure we were going to end up with the prompt “Earthbound”, so I’d gotten the idea of a story about Starlight getting turned into an earth pony in my head and was pretty excited to write it.
Unfortunately, that prompt wasn’t chosen, but I still liked the core idea (Starlight loses her magical ability — more than almost any other pony, she is defined by her magic and the fact that she stripped others of their special abilities, so losing hers was a pretty fun idea to me) enough to hang onto it.
How exactly I actually arrived at the idea of a magic trick that stole her magic and her cutie mark, though? That I totally can’t recall.
What is it about the sort of “odd couple” pairings — Vinyl & Octavia, Trixie & Starlight — that attracts you as a writer?
Contrast makes relationships interesting. People are obviously going to have things in common in a relationship, but the differences they have are what really makes it interesting. Where do their differences serve to buoy each other up? Where do they interfere in their relationship? How much can two very different people have in common? How can we celebrate each others’ differences?
Those are the sorts of questions I find compelling, and that make for interesting couples.
Where do you see Blackstone going from here?
She probably gets a pretty light sentence in the friendship mines, all things considered. From there I believe she returns to the Crystal Empire and works with Cadance and Shining Armor to help reintroduce crystal magic as well as reopen her magic shop.
Sans the Destiny Trap, of course.
I don’t think she really ever fully mends the bridge with Starlight and Trixie, but I think she comes away from their encounter with a grudging respect for the two of them.
You’re ranked in the top 5 for both the Pony and non-Pony story contests at writeoff.me. Do you find that format to be especially helpful to your writing?
Yes and no. The format presents a lot of advantages (perhaps most importantly, an excuse to sit down and put out some words — a real boon for someone externally motivated like me), but it also has a fair amount of disadvantages (limited time to write, no real revision practice).
Still, on the whole, I’d say the Writeoff has been a definite plus for me. Plus the people there can be a lot of fun.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for reading and enjoying!