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Today’s story starts with a bang.

Twilight Sparkle Was Shot
[Adventure] [Equestria Girls] [Alternate Universe] • 9,173 words

After the reformation of Sunset Shimmer, the Mane Six united their powers against all manner of threats. Then, Twilight Sparkle joined their number, and over time the bonds between the Mane Seven have become stronger than ever.

They have called upon their power to aid their friends, to protect the innocent, and even to defend their world.

Never have they called upon their power out of anger, or to seek revenge.

Until now.

FROM THE CURATORS: Vengeance isn’t a goal typically associated with a hero, especially a hero in the My Little Pony franchise. And yet in this week’s feature, the drive for vengeance that binds together our protagonist and antagonist in a yin and yang of pain feels almost breathtakingly real.

FanOfMostEverything saw this immediately: “It tackles serious issues with the severity they deserve,” he said in his nomination. “For all this story is about violence and vengeance, it handles them in a very pony way, even if most of the cast isn’t technically equine.” AugieDog applauded “how the author neither shies away from that darkness nor takes it all the way off the edge into grim territory. The world, the characters, the themes, they’ve all been shoved way over to the far end of the scale, but they’re still on the scale, are still recognizably Pony.” PresentPerfect was drawn in immediately: “This is a gritty, hard-hitting drama that utilizes tension like a master chef utilizes spice. I was not prepared to be gripped by the shoulders from word one, but I loved every moment of it.”

The story uses this powerful self-assurance to explore something canon has chosen to ignore, in perfect fanfiction fashion. “Its inventive solution to the Two-Sunsets Problem is so simple, I’m shocked I’ve never seen it before,” PresentPerfect said, and AugieDog also praised “the way the story deals the basic question of what happened to the EQG-world’s Sunset Shimmer.” “What I really love is the attempt to address where exactly Sunset’s human-born counterpart has been,” said RBDash47, “and the completely believable character work that went into both her backstory and her reaction to discovering this interloper in her world.”

The deft characterization on display was a highlight for everyone. “The perspective work is also done very well, placing the reader firmly behind a given character’s eyes and letting us appreciate everything they’re going through,” FanOfMostEverything said. RBDash47 “really felt for everyone involved,” and found that “all the characters’ behaviors in this painful situation are completely believable.” AugieDog pointed out “the author is even able to take Fluttershy into this darker world and still have her be one hundred percent Fluttershy—nothing short of impressive.”

In the end, PresentPerfect summed things up neatly for the curators when he said, “This is what I look for in EQG stories.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Coyote discusses the draw of My Little Pony, the importance of research, and the joys of alternate realities.

Give us the standard biography.

I was born in New York in 1970. I was telling stories as soon as I could speak. I started reading and writing early, and never stopped. I’ve also been fascinated (obsessed) with self-mastery and the martial arts all my life. In 1977 I moved to Kansas, saw Carradine’s Kung Fu, and was enraptured by the training flashbacks. Lacking funds for martial arts, I dove headlong into books, studying what they could teach me on yoga and meditation.

Later, as a parent, I delighted in alternating between entertaining and terrifying my children with stories. Now they are grown, so I entertain and terrify whoever I can through my writing.

In 2005 I got involved with a small movie operation, and started collaborating with another author. The project collapsed, but we were friends for a time and wrote some books together, all of which are excellent. In 2007 I was finally able to study Shorinji Goju Karate. My dojo closed due to financial strain and the Sensei’s health in 2009, so I am still training here and there, whenever and however I can.

Now I write; practice martial arts, yoga, and music; continue to pursue my own self-mastery; and learn all I can in general. Pursuant to that, I recently got my Bachelor’s in Psychology, and am seeking employment in the field while preparing to continue my quest for a PhD. Life is full of upheavals, and continues to be the greatest adventure.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Well, it starts off with my name actually being Coyote. Honest. 8{D~

Additionally, when I was in high school, I was in a performance of Man of La Mancha. I found the struggles of the titular character moving, especially as illustrated by his song, “To Dream the Impossible Dream.” My sympathies are almost always with the underdog, and metaphorically tilting at windmills is a thing I love to do. Much like Cyrano de Bergerac’s speech about his refusal to accept noble patronage, I may not climb as high, but whatever I accomplish will be genuinely mine… and whatever I do, I shall truly be me.

And besides, what else are windmills for?

Who’s your favorite pony?

Luna, without hesitation. Princess of the Moon, Lady of Night, Guide of Dreams and Bane of Nightmares. Celestia is a fine lady, to be certain, and all the Mane Six are excellent characters as well. But in my heart of hearts, it is the night that beckons, not the day.

What’s your favorite episode?

My favorite is a tie between “A Royal Problem” and “Luna Eclipsed”. Not just because of their featuring Best Pony Luna, but also because of the character depth they provide for her.

What do you get from the show?

Many things. The previous generations of MLP were… I will be generous and say that, IMO, they were hit-or-miss. There were a few good things here and there, but on the whole it was rather lackluster. Yet they did have their moments… or, at least one I can recall easily. So, when I had children, I showed it to them in the form of a CD of Princess Promenade.

(By which I mean I experienced it every day for a year or so after purchase because they were kids and played it constantly, but oh, well…)

Anyway. Fast forward a number of years, and now my son is telling me I have got to check out the new generation of MLP because he is a Brony and it is The Most Awesome Thing Evar and so forth and so on. And, well, he’d been right about a lot of other things, so I checked it out, and…

MLP:FIM is well-made, and on the whole well-written (they’re on a schedule, so you’ve got to expect the occasional “Spike at Your Service” rubbish). The characters are likeable, and more importantly they’re interesting, three-dimensional, and they grow and change as the stories develop. And the world the writers have created is enticing enough to encourage world-building.

Plus, it is written intelligently. The MLP:FIM writers don’t usually think they have to dumb things down for a kids’ show… and in fact, some episodes seem to be at least as much for the parents watching as for their kids (“Forever Filly” is just one example).

Even the music is beautiful and well-thought out. The composers (Daniel Ingram and Will Anderson I think; I had to look it up) do an exquisite job, and many beautiful moments in the series are thanks to them and the musicians and voice actors who bring their art to life.

Lastly, there is a philosophy behind Equestria that is hard to argue with. You can watch the show and see a culture that maintains, as some of its cornerstones: acceptance, understanding, forgiveness, compassion, and self-actualization. Which in turn gave rise to the Brony / Pegasister subculture, which also lays claim to those same cornerstones, and generally seems pretty spectacular as such things go.

So. It’s a smart, funny, compassionate, well-written family-friendly series that tries to make the world a little bit better without talking down to anyone; has inspired a benevolent subculture to which some of my family belongs; offers moments of beauty; and prompts fascinating philosophical and analytical discussions with my various Magnificent Offspring as well as the continual conversation between writers as manifested by fanfiction.

There really isn’t much not to like here.

What do you want from life?

Basically, everything.

Absolute self-mastery is chief among my goals. But I am also seeking a way to make a good living doing what I love in a way that helps others, while also perpetually growing in every way there is and helping others to do likewise, all the while enjoying myself in the process.

So, yeah. Basically everything.

Why do you write?

Writing is simultaneously a mental exercise and a means of sharing stories, as well as an opportunity for philosophical experimentation, psychological reflection, and research. All of which I adore. Especially research.

Writing is also an art, and as such it allows one to express ideas and viewpoints, questions, and what-hast-thous to share and stimulate thought, both within one’s self and within others. It is also an act of creation, and it is when we create that we are most like the gods. With any art, the world is illuminated a little more through the fires of the mind. Writing is not only a platform for learning, it is also one of my arts.

So for me, without writing, life is less.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

First, set aside your writing time, and defend it against all comers.

In any art, be it creative, performing, martial, or whatever else, you must dedicate time to it. This is not to say your writing needs to run your life by any means, or that there can be no flexibility. But other people simply do not have the right to your time that you do. If writing is something you love, then you have a right to it. And you have the right to say ‘no.’

Second, sleep with a notepad or your computer nearby, so if you wake up inspired you can jot some notes down.

And lastly—and I sincerely hope I do not hurt any feelings with my opinions on this one—please, please, please, please… ignore NaNoWriMo.

With all due respect, little good gets cranked out in haste. Please, do some research, and see how long literature’s great works—along with your favorite novels—took to write. It was almost certainly longer than a month. Corollary to this: please don’t worry about how fast you can crank out your stories. Please just take your time, and do it right until it’s done. We’ll wait.

What inspired “Twilight Sparkle Was Shot”?


Many years ago, when this ancient land was not quite so ancient, rock legend Alice Cooper was giving an interview. And in this interview, he described looking at the blank performance stages that bands were using during the 1960’s. There was usually a blank white wall or curtain behind them, the performers would just be wearing t-shirts or whatever, and they were just walking on, doing a few sets, then walking off again. And looking at this, he allegedly had a moment where he looked at the performance potential of that space and time and asked the immortal question:

“Wait, why is no one painting on this canvas?”

And so, the band Alice Cooper was born.

Alice Cooper, as a performer, is one of my great inspirations as an artist. I have no idea if that moment actually happened in the way he described; he is infamous for how he has loved to lie to the press in the past. But as I was exploring the canon media and the fanfics about Sunset and Sci-Twi, I saw something that struck me as a blank canvas.

Sunset Shimmer is a fascinating character, and I’m glad that they developed her character in the later movies. Yet, she exists in such a near-vacuum in Equestria that the idea of her having been a foundling who was raised—at least to a large extent—by Princess Celestia seems almost inevitable to me.

At the same time, Principal Celestia of the human world has no Sunset Shimmer. In fact, Sunset appears nowhere at all.


To me, there were some interesting implications in her not having another self in the human world. After all, everypony else did. Was Sunset Shimmer, like Thanos and Adam Warlock from Marvel Comics, a creature born “outside of fate” and thus capable of fantastic things? Was she a singularity, never meant to exist at all, some cosmic fluke that appears in one world and no others?

Then again, without powerful unicorn magic to draw the attention of Celestia (as happened in my continuities), was human infant Sunset perhaps found by others? In a human world, what would happen then? And what would her life have been like, to keep her completely away from CHS all this time?

Simultaneous to these ponderings, I was also pondering Sunset and Sci-Twi. I love what some of the FIMFiction writers have done with them, and I adore them as a couple. Sci-Twi in particular is my favorite EG character, as well as being part of my favorite ship ever (seriously, I traditionally never shipped fictional characters at all, but in their case I so do—they were my first). So there I was, pondering the ponderables, minding my own business, writing out a mage duel between multiple master-level mages on a dying world with my thoughts rambling on and on rather like this sentence, when suddenly…

Brain: I say, Coyote old chap?

Me: Yes, dear Brain, oh ever-present bosom companion of mine?

Brain: Do you happen to recall that favoritest of all favorite ships you have, perchance perhaps?

Me: Why, yes, Brain, with your help, I most certainly do. Pray tell, old bean, why do you ask?


Me: Oh, nasty, unscrupulous Brain, whyfore do you think such diabolical thoughts???

Me: No!

Me: Never!

Me: Well, maybe just a little…

Brain: Bwahahahahahahahahaha…!

Chillingly, the collision of these concepts made sense. A Sunset who had fallen through the cracks, seeing pony Sunset as the confident young woman she has become… what tragedies might happen then? And what further tragedies might follow?

So, I had found a blank canvas, and had also determined something I wanted to say by painting upon it. The result is “Twilight Sparkle Was Shot”.

How did you keep the characters true to their canon selves in a setting that’s so much darker than anything the show would ever attempt?

Why, thank you.

I was rather nervous about this story, actually, and that’s something that doesn’t happen very often with me. I knew that I was messing about in territory that would be sacred to some fans, and I wanted to do it right. I didn’t mind offending per se, but I did mind offending through ignorance or mischaracterization. It was the environment that I wanted to change, and the nature of the challenges the Rainbooms faced. Not the characters themselves.

So, I watched and listened to as much of the EG songs and shorts on YouTube as I could. I tried to hear their voices in my mind while I wrote. I role-played out silent arguments and conversations as them while at work. During this time, I also wasn’t reading almost anything that anyone else had written; I didn’t want to amplify someone else’s interpretation into mischaracterization.

In addition to speech patterns, I thought about the strengths and weaknesses of Sunset’s friends, and about the Elements their pony counterparts represented. I especially wanted their strengths to shine through—that is why the canon characters are so loved, after all. (As an aside: of all Sunset’s friends, I’m proudest of the role Fluttershy played. I consider true pacifists to be among the strongest people ever.) Sunset herself had love and compassion acting as both her strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strength of someone who has faced her own inner demons and come out the other side.

And all of the ladies are smart characters, bless them.

I also cross-referenced this with my own experiences and observations. I’ve known people who got into some bad scenes here and there, were hospitalized by violence, and so forth. So, I’ve also observed people in crisis. I’m no expert by any means, but it gave me a perspective I could use on how people sometimes shift mental gears under such stress.

And I edited… man, I edited a lot. Seriously, I was working on that thing for weeks before I posted Chapter 1; the others came as quickly as they did because they were mostly done by that point. I read it out loud, over and over. I kept reading and re-reading, looking for things that might need explaining later, and then trying to show them enough that they would be both self-evident and in character.

At the end, well, I knew I liked it. But my ego is self-inflating; I knew I would feel that way regardless. The question before the house was: was the story actually any good? No way to tell, really. I was a little scared to post it.

Yet in my experience, fear is one of the best ways for me to know when something is worth a gamble. Such gambles haven’t always panned out, but at the same time the best things in my life were done in the face of that fear.

I’m glad it worked.

That being said, it seems to me that the franchise has gotten into some pretty dark stuff as it stands. Wallflower Blush stealing people’s memories is one of the most terrifying violations one might do to a person: she didn’t just potentially destroy lives, she violated people’s minds and their free wills, and through that violation, their identities. The scene where Sunset loses all her memories of the human world is positively chilling.

Sci-Twi being forcibly changed by the magic she unleashed in Friendship Games was another horrific violation—the loss of identity and self—accompanied by one of the ultimate betrayals that any mentor or authority figure can do to a minor: silent abandonment to harm.

Yet Twilight getting shot was dark on a physical level, so it seems more real and therefore darker to us, who generally concern ourselves more with physical matters. That was one of several things I was pointing out with the story. As the tale acknowledged about Sunset herself: in canon, she’s actually done far worse than “merely” shooting an individual in her time. To me, MLP is full of some incredibly dark events. I just didn’t particularly gloss over the darkness in my story, nor its possible ramifications.

Do you have any tips about making a story stand on its own even when it’s part of a series?

I do think that writing fanfics makes the process much easier, of course. After all, we all know and love the characters in the show already: that’s why we write and read these tales.

That being said, I grew up reading silver-age comics, when Stan Lee said that every comic book is someone’s first. So I do try to bear in mind as I write that some of my readers might be coming in, in the middle. I try to quietly acknowledge deviations from the canon that have already been shown in my storyline, even if it’s just in a line or a character’s idle thought.

As my continuities continue to grow, that will become a greater and greater concern. And it will also be a greater challenge to make the later stories accessible to first-time readers. Time will tell to what degree I am up to the challenge.

What is it that attracts you to writing multiple alternate continuities?

There was a time when I was contemplating taking a double-major in Psych and History. During this time, I asked my History professor, “So, if (this one decision made almost by chance) hadn’t happened, what do you think the world might be like today?”

She looked at me and said, in a perfect Maude Pie deadpan, “So, you’re asking me, if everything was different, would everything be different?”

“No, I’m asking how you think it might be different.”

She shook her head, still deadpan. “I’m a historian. I deal in facts.” Walked off.

So, point the first: I did not take the double major.

Point the second: I love asking not just “why,” but “what-if?” What-If was the title of one of my favorite comic books growing up, in fact. I love exploring alternate realities. The possibilities are endless, not just in what happens differently, but why. It’s a mental toy with infinite games locked inside.

My two primary continuities, Elsequestria and Sunset Rising, are very close neighbors. There are a lot of ways in which each one is a “what-if” of the other. This allows me to explore the characters from many different angles, and play with expectations any number of ways. For example, in “Twilight Doesn’t” from the Elsequestria continuity, Applejack and Twilight are both single. But in another story I am working on in the Sunset Rising timeline, things worked out quite differently: the “TD” conversation never happens, in part because Applejack is already with somepony at the end of Season One! And I get to show how and why that difference happened. Which is tremendous fun.

And sometimes, one wants to create a world for a completely different purpose than what one has been writing in the past. In that vein, I also have a third timeline which is pure comedy, not so much a what-if as an oh-why-not, just because sometimes silliness is a blessed thing.

And sometimes, a stand-alone story inspires new plotlines arcing off in a whole new direction. Plot lines come to me in a scattershot fashion, and continue to develop within my fevered brain until I write them out. For example, there is also yet another continuity I have been fiddling with here and there, an SF piece which takes place many centuries after the canon series ends. I haven’t posted any of it yet, but when I do it will also introduce a danger which will threaten both of the other main timelines (of my corner of the MLP multiverse), allowing for a crossover event between both realities.

The crossover itself will be at least a year from now though. I have so much ground work in each timeline to establish first, to allow such a structure to stand!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only to thank you all for the honor of being featured, and to thank all readers for dealing patiently with my maximum verbosity.

Sometime again.

You can read Twilight Sparkle Was Shot at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.