Fall into today’s story for some gripping drama.
[Dark] [Drama] • 2,466 words
When the pegasi lose their feathers, they also lose the ability to walk on clouds. The answer to ‘why’ is lost to time. The real question is … what happens to Cloudsdale?
FROM THE CURATORS: Some stories are compelling because they’re driven by a premise which grabs you right from the start. And when that happens, it’s doubly exciting to find execution which is just as exemplary. “The central idea of Feathers is immediately powerful and uniquely pony (if you spot it the existence of TV),” Horizon said in his nomination, “and it keeps a tight focus, driving a claustrophobic mood which is jarred quite effectively by the few outside encounters we see.” Feathers cruised to a feature amid a chorus of similar praise. “I compared this story to The Twilight Zone, with its ability to build tension through a sense of dread, which all pays off in one of the best final lines in this fandom,” Present Perfect said, while FanOfMostEverything agreed: “I have to say that this is an incredibly impactful story that gets a lot of mileage out of its oppressive atmosphere. This is far from my usual taste, but I’m happy to push this one over the edge … and given the subject matter, I apologize for the incidental puns.”
One element of the powerful mood was the story’s excellent framing, keeping the audience focused for maximum emotional punch. “It very much feels like a small slice of a much larger crisis, and the small stakes of the protagonists just underline their terror and lack of agency,” Horizon said. Soge noted that it did a remarkable job of drawing horror from the mundane: “The fic creates some wonderful atmosphere with a uniquely Equestrian plague, which turns a familiar environment into a hostile one, and the concept behind it is extremely interesting — being trapped in your own home, on your own furniture, no chance of escape.” Or, as Present Perfect put it, “Who cares about lava when the floor is clouds?”
But the character work also made a strong contribution. “Rainbow Dash’s parents feel distinctly true to their canon characters while having the over-the-top exuberance dialed back just a tad,” Present Perfect said. “They’re definitely about the last ponies you’d expect to star in a horror fic, but they work as the stars here.” FanOfMostEverything commented on that as well: “I think the moment that stands out the most for me is when Bow argues against helping the mare all but begging for assistance,” he said. “This is what this plague has done. This is how far this stallion has fallen. … I swear I’m not trying to make these puns. They just keep happening.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Flutterpriest discusses nice blankets, seen tomatoes, and Sparkledeath Metallidash.
Give us the standard biography.
Well, hello! My name is Flutterpriest and I’m a mid-twenties male from the US Midwest. On Fimfic you can find me alternating between serious stories and completely non-serious stories. I also am a part of the Barcast podcast where we interview Fimfic authors, brony analysts, and sometimes people from the show itself. I wouldn’t be half of the writer I am today without my dear friends that I developed since I started in 2013. Especially Anonpencil.
I like long walks on the beach, Cheez-Its, and … oh wait. Not that sort of interview? Okay. Sorry.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
There’s actually a funny story behind this.
So I originally began writing stories on an internet board that people don’t like to talk about. (That one.) And after I wrote my first AiE greentext story, I realized I needed a ‘name’ to separate myself from the crowd of Anons. So I called my friend, not realizing it was 2:30 am, to find the best name for my pony fanfiction. It was important. So, after going through different versions of ‘Pony + Metal Band’ names (Sparkledeath, Metallidash) we settled for Flutterpriest (Fluttershy and Judas Priest).
Of course, I completely neglected to realize the religious connotations, so people have just called me Priest ever since.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Princess Cadance. Now, hear me out. I see your tomatoes.
She has the special powers to change the way that people feel. Feelings can guide a way a person acts, thinks, decides. She has a power of pure manipulation. Which, of course, she uses for good. This is where a huge spree of my writing went for a long time. I wrote stories like Something You’d Regret or Parent’s Night Out not for self-fulfillment or something like that, but to deliver a message and to cause introspection within the reader. To make the reader feel a feeling. This nearly-blank-of-personality character has nearly limitless possibilities and traits you can assign to her. That sort of utility makes her extremely fun to write and even more interesting to read to see what other writers do with her.
What’s your favorite episode?
“Magical Mystery Cure” holds a very, very deep spot in my heart. I like to talk about concepts such as death and suicide in some of my more serious work, and that’s because these are topics that are very close to me. The Magical Mystery Cure episode came out at a time in my life when I was at my lowest. I lived and breathed the songs in that episode. Especially “Losing Focus”. Ponies and the resulting writing from it is a strong reason I’m still here today.
What do you get from the show?
Levity. The world is just too dark, dude. There’s so many things happening. All the time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or feel hopeless sometimes. The show helps shut the world out for awhile and just … be.
Oh man. This is getting serious. Uh. I’m … I’m going to go get a blanket. What’s your next question?
What do you want from life?
To be remembered. To be worth remembering. To create something that prevents someone from making the same mistakes I have made. To be responsible for keeping more lives in the world. Even if it’s just one.
This blanket is nice.
Why do you write?
The act of creation has always given me a sense of fulfillment. In addition to writing, I’m also a software engineer, musician, narrator, podcaster, game streamer, and general home repair person. I like the feeling that I can create, fix, or modify something that people can enjoy. I like making people think about themselves and change their way of thinking. Writing can help us not only learn more about others, but also discover things about ourselves. Not just the good things, either …
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Don’t overthink. Just sit and type. If you have an idea, or even an outline, just go and write. Sometimes writer’s block is simply that you’re judging yourself too hard.
You aren’t going to write perfect out of the gate. After my first story I ever wrote, I was told to ‘never write ever again.’ Well, clearly that didn’t happen. Now, some people like my stuff and I even have a published piece of writing. Never stop. Don’t beat yourself down. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. Just do it.
What inspired “Feathers”?
Feathers was written as an entry into Cynewulf’s Worldbuilding competition. Worldbuilding is an extremely open-ended concept. It’s not just about describing trees and fields, but also about creating tone and atmosphere. Usually when people think of “Alternate Universes” or “Alternate Worlds” they go directly to things like Fallout Equestria, or the time-travel episode.
The way that I approached this fic was very simple. I wanted to change one thing about the world of Equestria that currently existed, and suddenly take it away. I considered things such as a universal language which is such a convenience within the show, or Unicorns losing their magic, but creating this world and justifying why these things happened didn’t feel fluid or reasonable. I needed something that felt normal but was still hard-hitting. I believe I was in a conversation with Crystal Wishes when she was telling me about Mango (their bird) losing her feathers. And it hit me.
See, what appealed to me was that losing and shedding feathers is a natural thing for winged creatures. Similar to losing hair, you wouldn’t notice that they were coming out faster than they were growing back until there was already some damage done. Not only that, but feather-losing diseases are not unheard-of things. Trust me. My google search history has some serious horrors within it.
From there, it was all deciding the consequences of such an action. Clearly they couldn’t fly, but the question hit about what happened to their ability to walk on clouds. And from there, what happened to Cloudsdale. The idea was simply intoxicating to me. I had to write it.
Where do you see this version of Equestria going from here?
Well, spoilers be beyond this point.
Equestria is kind of in trouble after the events of the story. Their population of pegasi has been decimated. Once you move past the mass graves and national depression, there has to be something done about the weather, rainbows, and the part of the guards that are pegasus. Quickly. For example, if crops rely on regulated weather patterns from the pegasus, the unicorns can only really do so much to modify the weather. This could result in a deep, deep famine.
The story ends in a nearly purposefully ambiguous place, because none of these questions are answered. While a society in repairs is nearly as interesting as a society in decline, I really wanted to capture the fear of a national emergency. There’s going to be a lot of work that needs to be done in order to re-establish pegasus society, if it even can be. Legends could be told to children of children that can tell of the city in the sky, just waiting to be claimed by their children’s children, who can be immunized from the terrible disease.
Have you found that talking with writers on the Barcast has changed the way you approach your own writing?
The Barcast is one of the most interesting anomalies in the Brony communities, IMO. By all logic, it shouldn’t work. But by learning more about other writers, forming our own community, being able to community guest at some conventions, we’ve been able to learn a lot about the nature of creativity and what fuels other people’s writing processes.
The moral of the story is that, while there will always be similarities between people, the process is always going to be different for everyone. The only thing that we’ve successfully established is the key to becoming a better writer is to never consider yourself better than anyone else. Everyone has the potential to create the next award-winning story. Site algorithms aren’t always fair. Being able to work with other writers has really confirmed for me that a pride in your own work is paramount to feeling fulfilled in your writing.
I’d really recommend to take some time and check out the podcast on iTunes or to take a look at our Fimfic group to ask some questions. We’re a very open community and always willing to welcome in new folks who need help with writing, or just want to make a new friend.
What is it, do you think, about the current version of My Little Pony that has struck such a deep chord with so many of us?
I remember watching classic cartoons when I was a kid with my dad. Looney Tunes. Dexter’s Lab. Tom and Jerry. There were elements of these shows that wasn’t meant to appeal to just kids. The audience was for everyone. The characters are real, humanized personas. This season of My Little Pony feels like it was designed with an audience for all in mind.
I’d like to think that this show helped emphasize a desire in children’s programming to not only be for kids, but enjoyable for adults as well. I mean. Come on. Look at Steven Universe. They deal with deep social problems at least 2 or 3 times a season. There’s always going to be people who scoff at the idea of a cartoon not being for adults. I just went on a very personal journey about that subject a few months ago. But you can’t let that stop you from enjoying something you love.
Also, keep in mind that given the success of this generation, they’re likely going to take what they’ve learned and apply it to the next generation. Hint. Hint.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It’s quite the honor to be considered a part of the Royal Canterlot Library. It was extremely hard for me to believe when I heard those three gentle knocks at my d— …got the E-mail.
As those who follow my blog know, I have a bit of a confidence problem when it comes to my stories. I don’t consider my work to be ‘traditionally’ good as some other writers on the site like Skirts, Horizon, Cold in Gardez, and many more than I can list. But my writing makes me happy. I want to be good. Better, even. Being able to be a part of the RCL makes me feel like, well, validated. Maybe I’ve got some talent in this ‘writing’ thing. More than just writing memes, anyway.