Today’s story will leave a monster of an impression.
She Kills Monsters
[Adventure] [Drama] [Equestria Girls] • 15,000 words
After losing her sister, Rarity buries herself in her work.
Just as lost, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, armed with a personal Ogres & Oubliettes module, try to help the seamstress open more than just her boutique.
FROM THE CURATORS: We have an informal policy not to nominate contest entries until after the judging is complete — but with this silver medalist in FanOfMostEverything’s “Imposing Sovereigns II” contest, it was hard to restrain ourselves. “I see positive comments from one or two of you on it already, so maybe I’m stealing this out from under you,” RBDash47 said in his nomination, “but you snooze, you lose!”
The story sailed through our process even after recusals from the contest judges, and it wasn’t hard to see why. “This has more depth than any story I’ve read in recent memory, and not only begs but rewards rereading,” Horizon said, while Present Perfect called it “absolutely devastating. … An excellent story, tackling a difficult subject in an unusual and memorable way.” All of us commented on the strength of the story’s rigid structure: “The bare fact of of making each chapter precisely 500 words reinforces that a lot of care and work was put into this,” RBDash47 said, while FanOfMostEverything noted in the contest judging: “This is a master class in how to say a lot with a little.”
There were plenty of other things to praise, too. RBDash47 lauded the breadth of its emotional impact: “A fantastic hook. The first few chapters set a melancholy mood without being maudlin or melodramatic. And then out of nowhere, some of the funniest comic relief I’ve read in recent memory, that made me laugh out loud at my desk.” Horizon appreciated the way it re-envisioned its source material: “It deserves kudos for using the play as a base and finding a way to build from it that brought the story out.” (“The fic uses the play’s premise and pretty much nothing else,” Present Perfect added.) And FanOfMostEverything appreciated its construction in his judge’s commentary: “The framing device, the flashbacks, and the many ways Rarity needs to come to peace with Sweetie Belle’s death come together into an incredible work.”
And an already exemplary fic was enhanced by the reading experience. “This is a beautiful, tragic kaleidoscope of a story,” Horizon said, “in the sense that reading through story comments is almost as enlightening as the story itself: everyone seems to be seeing it from a slightly different angle, and all of them are giving me new and awesome things to consider that I never saw myself.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Chiko discusses Herzog narration, Starlight confusion, and Playstation Portable storytelling.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a 21 year-old film student, chilling under the sunny skies of Southern California. I’m hoping to edit feature films as a career, and over the past few years I even wrote, directed, and edited my own original projects.
As for my writing career, I’ve been scrambling words in the fanfiction game since I was like eight or nine. God bless anyone out there who’s been exposed to my early, early stuff. Just absolutely awful Pokemon and Professor Layton fanfiction. It hasn’t survived, but my god was it rough. My writing instrument of choice? A PlayStation Portable. It never had a chance of being any good.
I’ve been in the MLP fandom on and off (off for far longer) over the years. But I first came to posting on the site with some encouragement from a long since inactive user named McSqueakers when he first began his only work Lost Time. I guess that dates me a bit. He patiently told me that my “first” stuff sucked, and my “firsts” have been getting better ever since.
I also learned not finishing fanfics from him.
Thanks dad. (He’s not my dad, but I think I annoyed him with that at some point.)
Since 2010, I’ve sort of been a journeyman author writing under different names, different websites, for different fandoms and sub-communities. Chiko is just one chapter out of many.
Maybe I’ll compile all my surviving works someday.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Chico in Spanish means boy or small. I added a K for extra flair because I’m a small boy with a knack for flair. I really wish this was one of my many other pennames from around the internet so I have a more interesting story to tell, but that’s really it.
When you’ve gone through so many different names, you start to lose the value in them.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Sunset Shimmer. She’s an absolute sweetheart. I think she might be the most interesting to write about and explore as a character, especially during the earlier EqG days where her backstory and where she could go from each film were much more open.
Twilight Sparkle is a very close second (both her main show and EqG counterpart). I guess it really depends on the mood and how I’m feeling at the time, but she’s also been very fun to write.
What’s your favorite episode?
Season Two is my personal favorite season. It’s the one that premiered when I first got into the show. Out of that bunch, “Lesson Zero” is my favorite since it’s absolutely hilarious the whole way through. “Sisterhooves Social” is a very close second because it’s a really sweet episode about family, which hits a weak spot in me. No surprise there.
If we’re going EqG, I enjoyed Friendship Games so much that it brought me back into the fandom for a short time because I loved how much the songs borrow from musicals and everything about Sci-Twi. However, Sunset’s Backstage Pass really is everything I want from EqG: very little world ending magic, lots of fun character moments. So that’s my top favorite from that series
What do you get from the show?
The show lasted through some very formative years, and it felt and still feels like visiting friends. It also introduced me to some friends in real life and on the digi-sphere, so I’m grateful for that.
I also just love the characters to death, the Equestria Girls versions even more so. I just love stories about dumb kids being dumb kids because I am a dumb kid. She Kills Monsters is most definitely not that, but my other works on the internet have been.
What do you want from life?
Oof. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Maybe what I want from life is an answer to that question. I’ve kinda just been winging it, and it’s been working out for me so far. Life’s a journey with no destination, after all. Maybe I’d like a map.
Why do you write?
I’ve been a storyteller ever since I could speak. My parents called it lying, but I disagree. I’ve just been very interested in storytelling and the many forms it could take, deception being one of them. Medium doesn’t matter to me, and I want to try my hand at telling stories in all the ways that I can.
I also want to make something that resonates with someone and stands some sort of test of time. My favorite documentary is Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. It’s the slowest, most excruciatingly dull film about fragile ancient cave paintings, narrated by Herzog in all his sleepy glory — but it’s art, and I loved every second of it. It’s a genuine appreciation of art in its earliest form and since then I’ve believed that we’ve been put on this planet to create art for each other.
I’m just doing my part.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Write something only you can write.
The most important thing an author can have is their voice, and the only thing that colors in those lines are the author’s life experiences, influences, and perspective. Get weird, get emotionally vulnerable, get out there, get specific.
You’ll be surprised to see how much it will resonate with other people.
Oh, and the obligatory: “Go read a book.”
What inspired you to take the basic idea behind Qui Nguyen’s play and apply it not just to My Little Pony but to the prompt of FanOfMostEverything’s second “Imposing Sovereigns” contest?
It was a perfect storm of events, to be honest. I first experienced the play in 2016 and practically wrote the “Ice Queen” chapter in my head as the climax of the stage play went on. As Agnes had a big bombastic battle with the dragon Tiamat, I envisioned a quiet meeting between a resigned princess and her sister’s player character.
Most of the inspiration came from me wanting the story to be something else. The original She Kills Monsters is a comedy, believe it or not. I personally felt that the humor kind of was inappropriate for the heavy subject matter, especially regarding its treatment of queerness. And considering how I couldn’t change the issues without directly adapting and acknowledging the original story, I didn’t have much reason to write it, so I stashed the story away.
Fast forward to October of 2019, and I came back to revisit the fandom for nostalgia’s sake since the show was ending. Then I stumbled into the contest. The prompt The Princess Herself just dug up the idea of that story from the deepest recesses of my mind, and for some reason 15k words seemed like the perfect amount to spur me into action.
A story like this really should be several times as long as it is, but my thought process at the time seemed to be: do it in 15k or not at all. So I took a risk and went for it.
I don’t believe in fate, but had the word limit been set to anything else, I wouldn’t be doing this interview.
Why was it important for each chapter to be exactly 500 words long?
Horizon felt that the 500 words reflected Rarity’s life being fragmented. Daedalus Aegle thought they represented the lack of time the sisters shared told in fleeting moments. Those are both lovely and hold just as much truth to them as my own thoughts on chapter lengths. I mean, the story can be interpreted as an argument for Death of the Author featuring a literal death of an author. Does my input really matter?
Okay, I’ll do it.
It started out of necessity, as lame as that sounds. The outlining process told me that it was 20 chapters minimum to get each character inside the O&O game and out. Then it ballooned to 30 to get the whole story, and forced me at 500 words per chapter to keep it from breaching the word limit. Limitations breed creativity, so I took it as a necessary evil.
But then, I fell in love with the idea of cold, unforgiving, and calculated 500 word chapters (with some chapters having a hard page break at exactly the 250 word mark) on the surface containing all sorts of pain, regret, love, forgiveness, and warmth in them.
I’d like to think that a running theme in the story is that words matter. And when you only have 500 at a time, they really do.
Do you feel more inspired by the Equestria Girls part of the show than the original series?
Absolutely. I’ve always liked the characters more than the actual setting of Equestria, so EqG quickly became my preferred series. I don’t know if that’s a blasphemous opinion to hold or not, especially since I haven’t watched the main show since season four (excluding the episodes with Ogres and Oubliettes for research). Imagine my confusion regarding all the new characters and developments when I tuned in to the final episodes. (Who the hell is Starlight????)
Now that you’ve got a Fimfiction account, might more stories be forthcoming?
As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’ve written fanfic before, and I’ve been dancing around the idea that this may not be my first rodeo with horsewords.
A lot of my works still exist and are out there somewhere. Heck, I even steal and reuse my own ideas and lines all the time. Surprisingly, I’ve actually been recognized before for doing that — twice, actually. It happened years removed on different websites, so it’s possible to figure out what I’ve done.
All I can say is that there’s more of me out there already, and stories from me will come and continue. Whether or not it’s Chiko posting them is up in the air.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just… thank you all. I appreciate each and every adventurer that takes the journey.
This story means a lot to me, and I’m still in shock that it’s gotten all this attention. I never seriously expected to place in Imposing Sovereigns II. And now I’m taking a spot in the Library, an accolade I can’t say of any of my other selves.
… Well, one got into Seattl— whoops, I’ve said too much! c:
Come find me if ye dare, brave adventurers.