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We hope our appreciation for today’s story colors your expectations.

Spectrum of Gray
[Romance] [Drama] • 17,470 words

Rainbow Dash and Applejack have cherished the years gone by at one another’s side, but beneath the wear of time, the fuel that is love can turn to ash and smother the flames they hold dear.

Beyond the smoke rising from the cinders, they face an uncertain future. Now, they must come to terms with the harsh truth that, sometimes, love alone isn’t enough to keep a marriage burning bright.

FROM THE CURATORS: There’s a classic proverb that you always find missing things in the last place you look.  “I can’t believe we haven’t featured Novel-Idea before,” Present Perfect noted after a comment in our recommendation thread brought Spectrum of Gray to our attention.  (It was also hard to believe we’d missed this story’s first-place finish in the “Second Chances” AppleDash contest — but as the proverb says, hindsight is 20/20.)

What earned it those accolades?  As RBDash47 said in his nomination: “Spectrum won me over for two big reasons — its deft handling of four different character POVs all focused on the same problem, giving us a progression of different insights and perspectives; and the maturity of the problem the characters are dealing with, which is reinforced for me by the realism of not actually presenting the answer to the problem at hoof.”  Horizon concurred — “It sets up a heck of a situation” — and Present Perfect noted the story’s breadth: “This handles so many issues with such a deft hand.”

It was not just Spectrum’s maturity but also its use of tension which drew our praise.  “The thing that I like best about the story is that it takes place over such a brief period of time, like the whole story is an indrawn breath, suspended and not quite ready to exhale,” AugieDog said.  “The problem’s been building and building and building, but this is the crisis point, the moment where everything pivots because the characters are finally ready for it to pivot.”  That led to solid emotional engagement, RBDash47 said: “You’re left wondering how Dash and AJ will move forward, just as the characters in the story are wondering.”

Exemplary character work rounded out the story’s virtues.  “The character voices are all strong, and Granny Smith is especially written well,” Present Perfect said.  “This might also be the best future fic I’ve ever read, in terms of making the characters feel like themselves while still giving us the weight of time passed.  It was fantastic on so many levels.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Novel-Idea discusses musical suckers, squee notes, and fandom concussions.


 

Give us the standard biography.

“This is going to take a while. I’m a fantasy author. We have trouble with the concept of brevity.” — Brandon Sanderson

I write and I tend to flail a lot. Does that count? No? Oh, fine!

Let’s see. This coming March, I’ll have been married to the wonderful (and endlessly patient) Painted Heart for 14 years. Yup. 14. We have two fillies, our 5-year-old named Sunny Stage and our 8-year-old, Primary Colour. I’ve lived in Southern California for most of my life.  I work at my dream company, though I haven’t landed my dream job yet. Still a work in progress, that.

I’ve been writing stories since elementary school, original and fanfic. My first fanfic was based on — believe it or not — The Cat From Outer Space (look it up).

I still have a copy of that somewhere. No one will see it until I’m 10 years dead.

Then there are those Star Trek fanfics … yeah, no one will ever see them. Ever.

Video games and books (usually Star Trek) filled most of my young life. As a kid with ADHD — among other things — I had trouble making friends. I found solace in stories, both ones in video games and the paper variety. Hell, my best friend in 3rd and 4th grade was the school librarian. But it wasn’t until after high school I wrote my first ‘real’ novel, loosely inspired on the classic point-and-click adventure video game series The Journeyman Project (it’s like Myst only a thousand times better).

In 2009, I rewrote it for my very first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and it’s so much better now. Nowhere near publishable, but still, it showed I’d developed!

After that though, I went more and more into original fiction, usually inspired by other worlds such as Elder Scrolls, Discworld and online original fiction. Eventually, I started creating massive worlds with unique magic systems of my very own. Not to mention flash fiction, short stories, novellas and full novels. I even published two short stories on Kindle, including one about why cats are always scampering randomly all over the place (shockingly, it’s not actually space monkeys as my parents claimed).

But I should probably talk about why I’m here.

I started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic toward the end of Season 3 and quickly got hooked, mostly because of Twilight’s levels of snark in the pilot. I watched it with Primary, who was around 2 at the time. When “Winter Wrap Up” hit, I was gone, hook, line and sinker.

At first, I was embarrassed. Then I figured out why: I was worried what my coworkers would think of me. But I didn’t even like my coworkers, so I said screw it, and I owned it. Guess what? They didn’t actually care.

I didn’t get into the fandom itself until 2014. I founded the fan group at my workplace (including hanging a Rainbow Dash balloon for a group photo in our company central courtyard).

I’d read some of the early legends like It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Outside Your Door, Hard Reset, The Best Night Ever, and stories of that ilk. These stories taught me MLP “fanfics” aren’t all cringy self-inserts, but actually solid, well-told stories full of original ideas, interesting concepts and riveting characters.

Still, I didn’t consider myself a part of the fandom until I took a blow to the head (literally).

In January 2015, I slammed my left temple into the top of a computer through a freak accident at work. Because of the aftereffects, I ended up having to stay in a dark room for half the day, every day. Fallout: Equestria eventually saved my sanity, as it was a huge audiobook.

This led to me founding Gardens of Equestria: This Coming Storm, a DLC-style mod for Fallout: New Vegas (which is currently on hold due to a lack of needed personnel). It’s a massive project that spans half the globe. During our busiest times, we worked endlessly on creating something that’s never before been attempted: a MLP mod with an original story, voiced characters, custom sound and music and so much more.

All of this connected me to MLP conventions (EQLA, to start with), to new friends through FimFiction and beyond, and eventually brought me here, to writing stories. Albinocorn’s Sunset of Time pushed me over the edge and sparked the creation of The Application of Unified Harmony Magics, which would grow to become the massive series of short stories and novels called The Wavelengths Timeline.

But more than anything, it let me to a whole new level of friendship. Friends who have literally saved my life just by being there. Friends I cherish. Friends I can’t imagine living without.

TL;DR: Novel-Idea: Daddy, Author, Reader, Gamer, Dreamer, Friend.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I wracked my brain for a good few days on this one, trying to remember to answer. And I can’t figure it out!

I’m fairly sure the name predated the Gardens of Equestria game project, but only by a little. And it was related to a large pencil drawing my wife, Painted Heart, did in 2014 for my birthday with the entire family as ponies (I was a purple Shining Armor recolor).

I’m still the one who chose it though, of course. And despite the pun that everyone makes upon first meeting me, I never thought of that joke (if I have to explain it, bless you). I really didn’t. Instead, I was going with the phrase and the multiple meanings. Since I was a novelist before coming into the fandom at all, Novel Idea simply meant coming up with ideas for novels.

And sounded like a perfect pony name.

I never realized how much of my personal identity would become wrapped up in those two small words.

Who’s your favorite pony?

Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer, of course! (I can’t pick one. Seriously. It’s impossible.)

Twilight and I have always jived. Probably for the same reasons she does for so many!

She’s socially awkward. (Sometimes even inept, which is even more fun!) She’s sometimes too smart for her own good. She’s always got something to learn. She has anxiety (I legitimately believe she has an anxiety disorder) and sometimes shows signs of depression. She’s got her own version of snark (which admittedly pales in comparison to Sunset’s). And she’s versatile as a character, having experienced so much, yet still there to try and learn new things. Heck, I even love that she’s a leader even though she never intended to be one (I especially love that, because somehow it keeps happening to me)!

She is so very flawed and yet so very much still trying.

Yeah, I get Twi.

Sunset? Before Sunset’s redemption in Rainbow Rocks, my tied-for-first pony used to be Fluttershy (because she’s so damn cute). However, Sunset’s journey over the course of that movie transformed her to me, just as it did for so many others. We’ve seen a character who had to literally crawl out of a freaking crater caused by her own mistakes. Rainbow Rocks showed that she was trying to be a better person, but the students at CHS weren’t having any of it. And then … she ends up being the key to the salvation of the school and maybe even more. I cry every time she ponies up.

Also? My shipping of Twilight and Sunset started when they sing together there (Albinocorn is responsible for sparking the rest of my obsession with SunLight shipping).

And Sunset keeps getting better! Only one with a new magic that doesn’t work on its own? Check. Having a new double power of inspiration and empathy (she only ponied up in Legend of Everfree when encouraging Twi)? Check. Taking a freaking magical bullet for friends who don’t even remember her? Check.

She gets more amazing with every turn, while still having flaws, such as a nasty, violent temper (especially when her friends are threatened), moments of self-doubt, a bit of a cocky streak …

But the two of them together are special. Twilight and Sunset both represent different paths as Celestia’s students: the faithful and the rebel. From other materials, it’s pretty clear Sunset was Plan A for dealing with Nightmare Moon, but something went horribly wrong — namely Sunset’s ego. Twilight was Plan B and thankfully one that worked at the last second.

It’s this dynamic that inspired so many of my stories, including Wavelengths!

What’s your favorite episode?

Without hesitation, Crusaders of the Lost Mark.

Here’s my secret confession: I’m a total sucker for musicals. Musical numbers and then those full musical episodes. People give Magical Mystery Cure a bad rap sometimes, but I adore it because it’s a musical. Any musical episode I’m pretty much guaranteed to love.

But not only is Crusaders of the Lost Mark a musical … it’s the culmination of five years of storytelling and character development. The Crusaders (Scootaloo best, Sweetie cutest, Apple Bloom keeps them together) have been through all sorts of chaos and trouble together. Yes, mostly their own fault, but they’ve never stopped, never given up. That’s what their opening number is about, in fact!

And then, who is our antagonist? None other than Diamond Tiara, the very pony who drove them together. Diamond’s story is nearly tragic, having a verbally abusive and extremely demanding mother. Diamond’s solo broke my heart and transformed a wholly unredeemable character in a matter of moments. A song so good, that the Crusaders had to reach out and help. That moment, where they took in their personal bully? Talk about major character development! Not to mention the song as they race to the school …

I remember thinking that I personally tend to get things when I finally let go of the fear and worry and just accept things happen when they happen. Scoots (because best CMC), does this when she says “I don’t care if I ever get my mark, as long as it’s with my best friends.” As Diamond turns herself around (in another song that makes me cry) and they finally get what they’ve worked for? Well, at that point, I’m just bawling my eyes out.

As I said in my biography, I started watching at the end of Season 3, but I began the series from the beginning. So I understood the depth of this moment. That was an amazing, singular moment in MLP:FiM. Those three deserved the heck out of those marks. They earned them, through and through, even if they earned them by making me constantly sob in happiness.

What do you get from the show?

Hope.

I still watch the show religiously and I still love it. Sometimes, episodes give me new ideas for stories. Sometimes they shape the stories I’m already working on. Sometimes, they just make me laugh.

But if I look deeper than that, what I get from the show is what humanity could be. We live in a world where toxicity is practically a sport. Where people are driven to tear down and destroy what others have created, be it show, movie or story. Where things like kindness and honesty and generosity and empathy are considered “weak.” Somethings, they don’t even enter people’s minds.

Then we have Equestria, where the world exists because of the magic these elements have. We see the ponies of Equestria usually living together at a fantastic level of harmony. Our heroines were chosen because they uniquely embodied these elements, but they’re far from the only ponies (or creatures!) who show these traits.

More than anything, MLP gives me hope. The show resonates with so many people. It still does to this day. I think that emotional resonances comes from these characters, these storylines, these passions. People respond to these things. I believe humanity can be better than what we are. And I believe instilling these traits and concepts in our children and then reflecting them in the way we live our lives is how we’re going to become better than what we are.

What do you want from life?

Seriously, how the heck do you answer a question like that?

Okay, okay. I’ll give it a go. I can do this. I totally can.

Once upon a time, I used to have three goals. I don’t remember when I made these up, but I think it was when I was a teenager or in my early twenties.

  1. Be a spouse
  2. Be a parent
  3. Make a difference/leave a legacy

I’ve done the first two, but I figured out that they’re not milestones, but roads. You don’t ever stop being a parent or trying to be a good spouse. You have good days and bad. But you keep going.

The third I thought wouldn’t happen until I had a book published that you could buy at your local bookstore.

I was wrong.

I’ve made a difference. Through my stories and my actions. I’ve helped be a bridge to create new friendships through cons, Discord and more. I might actually be terrified of meeting new people, but I’m happy to drag someone over to meet someone I already know. Awesome things happen when I do stuff like that.

My legacy is my stories and my two girls. They will be here after I’m gone. So will — hopefully — the connections I so love seeing in people. Nothing makes me prouder than playing some small part in why two people have become friends.

We always want more, a house, a better job, new cars … I know I do. But really, those things don’t last.

Give me those connections and my writing? I think I’ll be okay.

Why do you write?

I write because it’s who I am. It sounds trite, but it’s true.

I’ve been writing for most of my life. It’s a natural expression of who I am as a person. It’s a way for me to process and understand the world around me.

To me, it’s more important to think about why I continue to write.

It’s funny, because this is a question that’s been on my mind a lot recently. I often see people worried about upvotes/downvotes, comments, views and the Feature Box on FimFiction. Don’t get me wrong, all of that stuff can be good, but I believe all of that — save comments — are for readers, not authors. These systems can be demoralizing and sometimes even degrading, despite their original purpose being totally awesome!

People tend to focus too much on this, and it gets linked to their self-worth as a writer. Sometimes even as a person. That’s dangerous … and horribly damaging.

I think a lot of people write for fame. Some write for validation. Some write for shock value. Some write because they’re screwing around. Some for their friends.

There are more reasons, of course, but I think those are the most popular.

And I would be lying if I said I hadn’t written for every one of the reasons I listed above.

But there’s another key reason. In the end, I write for myself. If a story does poorly in my eyes, I’ll be down about it, sure! But I’m already halfway through another one and probably have two more that need editing. So, there’s always another story to look forward to. I’ve only reached what I consider the heights of “fame” in one story, and that one came out of the blue.

I constantly need to be mindful of this and watch myself so I don’t get too wrapped up in the ratings. When I do, I talk to my friends who understand how I’m feeling. Between those things, I tend to get my head on straight, after a good few whacks, at least.

Part of the reason I started writing on FimFiction was to learn. After a while, I realized I was becoming a better author by writing here. By listening to readers and reading comments. By teaming up with brilliant (and patient) editors. By being forced to take a hard look at my stories and figuring out how they could be better.

FimFiction is fantastic for that. If you publish a novel or short story on Amazon, the amount of back-and-forth you get with your readers is nearly nonexistent. But FimFiction has been so well-designed when it comes to the comment system, that any author can reply as much or as little as they want! It’s awesome!

But, back to the original question. All of the above are reasons why I write, but there’s a single core truth I want to recognize. Cards on the table, the real heart of the matter, all that jazz.

Why do I write?

I write because I love my characters, I love my stories, I love my settings and I’m excited about them. I think they’re awesome. And I write them down because I want to share them! I want to take other people with me on this epic journey, be it through space and time, a quiet day on the farm, an intense negotiation, or a coming-of-age saga. I want people to meet my versions of Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle, Blue Venture, Princess Celestia, Rarity, Princess Skystar or Pinkie Pie. And I want them to squee about it all just as much as I do.

I write because I’m excited about my stories and I can’t wait for others to read them, too!

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

I could write a book on this topic alone. Many people, far more qualified than I, have done exactly that. So first part, I’ll give you my takes, then I’ll give you my favorite resources.

1. Respect your characters. MLP gives us rich, interesting characters with complex and complicated personalities. Some of you may roll your eyes at that, and that’s okay. But get down to the essence of a character. Is Pinkie only about baked goods and parties? Well, how to account for her incredible filing system and party cave? That takes an incredible about of insight and observation into the ponies around her to realize that. Depending on your story, you might need to reflect that. She’s not an idiot.

Rarity isn’t a fashion-obsessed gold-digger (if you want good Rarity examples, head to any of Monochromatic’s stories). Applejack isn’t just an apple-obsessed farming hick. Rainbow Dash isn’t just a jock who cares only about speed. Fluttershy isn’t only a terrified cowering wallflower. Twilight isn’t just the nerd.

Even if the show occasionally trips up in how they portray these characters, take a look at the big picture of the characters. They deserve it.

2. Let your characters do what they do naturally. Don’t “make” them do things. Twilight isn’t going to act the same way as Fluttershy in a certain situation. Understand the characters and let them lead you down the path you want. Sometimes it’ll lead you somewhere awesome. My best stuff has come from this.

3. Remember that you determine how successful you are at this. Take a hard look at what you want out of writing My Little Pony fanfiction. My mother has been gently trying to get me to go back to my original works for years now, but I’m happy here. What measures success for you, realistically? And then, think long and hard about how much control you have over that success. Remember that there are hundreds of variables, from other authors publishing at the same time, to the day of the week, to the quality of your synopsis or cover art, to your tags and almost anything else.

You determine if you win, because you determine the rules of the game. And you don’t have to play the game everyone else is playing. Play your game.

4. Be consistent with your writing. Get a little done every day. It’s hard, believe me, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Even if it’s just 250 words, it’s something!

5. Write what you love, not what’s popular. If they’re one and the same, cool, but passion is always going to attract way more attention than pandering.

Finally, here are my three “musts” for every author:

1. Read Stephen King’s On Writing (The only Stephen King book I will ever read)

2. Listen to Writing Excuses (www.writingexcuses.com), the best writing podcast in the world. It’s only 15 minutes long and it features my personal writing god, Brandon Sanderson!

3. Read Stuff! A writer who doesn’t read is going to crash and burn hard. Read great fanfics, read epic fantasy, read thrilling sci-fi, read heartwarming Victorian dramas. No matter what, read a little of everything, and your writing will be even more awesome! (Also, read everything that Brandon Sanderson ever wrote. Like … right after reading this. Seriously. Do it.)

What inspired “Spectrum of Gray”?

The answer to that question is both the easiest and the hardest question in this interview.

When I first wrote Gray, I’d been married twelve years and we had our two girls. And about a year before, I had taken a blow to the head that forced me to remain in the bedroom with the lights off most of the time due to the massive headaches I would get. I was like that for nine months. I couldn’t do anything with anyone because of the pain. It was a nightmare for me, but even more of one for family. It severely damaged my relationship with Painted, as it essentially turned her into a single mom. And yes, Red Pine’s injury in Granny Smith’s story is based directly on those events.

In March of 2017, there was an event that shook my already damaged marriage far harder. The specifics, we will skip, but I found out that Painted was massively unhappy, at a level I wasn’t prepared for. A level that could actually destroy everything I believed in. Everything I had.

I wrote a few stories during this time. One of them is still in my backlog because I haven’t had the courage to edit it. There were one or two others as well, but all during this, my thoughts were a mess. Eventually, when the AppleDash contest came around, I decided to try and enter it. But none of my stories were working. I tried it five different times, but they just felt wrong.

What I realize now is that the emotions and thoughts and fears still boiling inside of me still needed to get out. And all of that’s linked to my creativity. So, after a time, I threw out the box I’d forced myself to write in and just let myself write.

I simply began with Twilight looking out over a balcony … and let her take control of the story. I never expected it to turn into something so brutal or raw. Even to me. Especially to me.

I pushed myself a little harder by tackling characters I’d never done before (namely everyone but Twilight) and then I worked my tail off to get them right. I think it was the only way I could distance myself enough to actually edit that story.

I’m glad I did it.

I also hope I never have to write something inspired like that again.

With so many of your stories taking place in various AUs, why did you decide to set this one in a possibly not-too-distant future of the canon universe?

First, I’d say there’s one more category, though even I’ll admit it’s splitting hairs. My primary series, Wavelengths (which begins with The Alchemy of Chemistry), I don’t consider an AU, but an AT, as in Alternate Timeline. AUs can be anything from startravel to Equestria as a warmongering nation to … anything you can imagine. Alternate Timelines are much more specific, namely that there is a specific divergence point in the timeline. Everything that happened before that point must stay true to canon and events after that point must stay as close to canon as possible while taking into account the changes. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but ATs take a lot more work to get done right, because it still needs to make logical sense to both author and reader.

ATs, AUs and Near-Future Canon settings are both similar in a lot of ways. AUs with known ponies allow you to take those ponies and then put them in radically different situations or even radically different lives, only to see what they’ll do there (The Enchanted Library is a great example of this). It’s a fantastic challenge to keep the heart and soul of a character recognizable while in this situation. And when you pull it off, it’s simply wonderful.

Near-Future Canons (which I find myself writing more and more of) are something I truly love writing. Namely because I need to “age” the characters in question. Fifteen years is a long time. Ponies change. Lives differ. In Gray, Applejack and Rainbow Dash have been married for years. Sunset and Twilight have been married for a little under two. What does that do to their temperament? To their attitudes about friendship? Are they still going on missions? What’s Rarity’s business like now? How’s Dash doing in the Wonderbolts? What else is happening in the world? In this case, moments like Big Mac’s relationship with Sugar Belle developing into a marriage with a foal on the way, have major repercussions on the story. The key is that those repercussions feel natural to the show as we see it now.

Of course, the catch is that at any moment, the show could change something I’m not ready for and it would make the story “less” canon. But it’s a risk I have to take.

This particular story could have only ever been told in a Near-Future setting. An AU or AT wouldn’t have the same impact and it would require me to do a lot of worldbuilding that would distract from the core of the story: the plight of Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s marriage.

All three settings allow me to explore beyond what’s strictly canon, but only Near-Future could have worked for Gray.

Do you feel that AJ and Rainbow have what it takes to do the work the story presents them with?

I … honestly never thought I’d be asked this question. I guess I should have.

I think so, but I’m honestly not sure.

Both of them have a stubborn streak a mile wide. Dash is at the point of showing a martyrdom complex, which is actually a really bad sign. Applejack’s simply numb, yet still aching considering everything that’s happened. Hers was the most difficult chapter to write, as it represented Painted’s role in our personal struggles. And all around them are friends eager to help … yet still not sure what to do.

In truth, it depends on if they’re willing to start a new dialogue, likely with third-parties that have no vested interest in what’s going on (meaning it can’t be any of the Mane 6). They need unbiased opinions and truth. They also need to realize — and I think they do — that this isn’t a situation where there’s a goal marker. This isn’t a race or a marathon.

This is something they’re going to have to work on for the rest of their lives, finding small ways to be there for one another. And that’s what’s really going to make it work: both of them stay.   

Being willing to work is the first step on a very long road. Being willing to get help is the next. If they can take those steps, they can do it.

… at least, I really hope they can.

Not only for them … but for me, too.

What got you started putting together cover images?

Heh, wow. The thing I first started doing on FimFiction … long before I wrote any of my stories. Well, the thing is, I don’t actually like reading on FimFiction itself. I early on made friends with Djazz and Nyerguds, who created ePub converters for FimFiction stories; that way I could easily read them on my iPhone and iPad (I worked at Apple Retail for 7 years, so I had mostly Apple products). I spent weeks trying to get this system working, because I found out I could leave notes in Apple’s iBooks app, making little blow-by-blow comments on everything from me just going “squee” to deeper thoughts about potential story vectors, character traits and things like that.

You see, in iBooks on the iPhone, iPad or Mac, it does not show author or the title of the story when you’re browsing through your story library. You can search for that data, but only if you know it.

As I had designed my own covers for the two short stories I have published on Amazon Kindle platform, I decided to make my own covers for these ePubs to first, make it easier for me to identify the story (I would download like 15 and then spend the next 2 weeks reading 1, then forget what I’d downloaded and why) and second, just because they looked better than random screenshots, vectors, art pieces and other things of every shape and size!

I spent a lot of time on FimFiction doing this. I’m still proud there are at least 80 stories that are using my cover designs, including many you folks know (Text on MrNumber’s The Mare Who Once Lived On the Moon, total redesign on Albinocorn’s Long Road to Friendship, all of Oroboro’s original Sunset Shipping Stories, and much, much more!). My interactions with these authors ended up creating friendships that still last to this day (and ended up with me moving in the circles of some of the best authors around).

I actually still do cover designs (and I prefer design versus art, because I don’t want to take away from the artists who do such amazing work). I always do the title and the author byline.

Fair warning: I still hate horizontal covers. Even if I sometimes love the stories. But all of mine shall remain pure and vertical, as a true book cover should be!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Definitely! First of all, I want to thank my editors. Without them, this would have been impossible. EbonQuill, Cursori, Beltorn, Jayman155 and Little Tinker. In addition, I’ve had so many kind people who’ve come in as a beta-reader or a guest editor for me over the years: Monochromatic, Albinocorn, Crystal Wishes, Swan Song, Rose Quill, Corejo, Tchernobog, Tsitra, Heartshine, Quantum State, Ladrian, Oroboro, Captain Croissandwich, and, of course, Painted Heart.

I have fought with them, I have cried with them, I have laughed with them. I’ve hissed, growled, shouted and screamed in the past. But they stuck by me. I don’t deserve such amazing editors, but maybe I do deserve such amazing friends. Either way, I’m so grateful to each and every one for their individual contributions and helping me make every story the best it can be.

To all my readers: you’re amazing. Thank you for your comments and your kindness. I love screwing with you folks and teasing you until you probably want to strangle me. But you knew that, didn’t you? Don’t worry, I don’t plan on stopping.

Finally, as I just came back from a six-month hiatus due to needing intensive psychiatric therapy, I’ll say this: I often write about broken people and broken ponies because I believe we’re all broken in some way. There’s no shame in it. There is only shame in not admitting it. I’ve worked long and hard to try and get help for my troubles. Writing is an outlet, but it’s not the only outlet and it’s definitely not the solution. I can’t fix the problems in my marriage with an AppleDash (with a side of SunLight) story. That requires real work. Same goes for anything else.

If you’d like to hear more about my story struggling with mental health, I strongly recommend you read The Quiet War. These issues didn’t make me a writer, but they did inform who I am today. If I could, I’d like to offer you a shortcut on that long road.

Thank you to all the RCL curators for selecting Spectrum of Gray! I am so absolutely thrilled, insanely honored and so intensely proud!

And lastly, thank you to Undome Tinwe for suggesting the story to the RCL. Words can’t express my gratitude, my friend.

Thank you!

-Novel

You can read Spectrum of Gray 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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