It’s always the season for a fic as great as today’s story.
The Celestial Mechanics in Midsummer
[Slice of Life] • 8,716 words
“My dear Twilight Sparkle,
Thank you for your recent letters. And I must apologize to you first and foremost that I have not responded back in kind to each and every one. I imagine has this concerned you, but please don’t worry. Things have been very unsettled here in the castle as of late. Princess Luna has been researching Equestrian history, and I find myself in a strange kind of mood…”
FROM THE CURATORS: One of My Little Pony’s greatest strengths was always offering us characters we loved to spend screen time with. And when it comes to fanfic, sometimes a story can earn its power simply by giving us that quality time. “This story is absolutely gorgeous,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “Very little actually happens, but through these glimpses of day-to-day life, we see just how much Celestia and Luna love and care for each other.” AugieDog was similarly enchanted: “The ‘slicier’ a slice of life piece is, the better I’m likely to like it. And this one’s that in droves.” That was also wrapped around excellent character work, RBDash47 said: “It’s all a perfect exploration of how Luna might have evolved in the early seasons of the show.”
But while we were united in our appreciation, there was one issue on which we split down the middle. “It’s told from Celestia’s and Luna’s perspectives in turn, and though Celestia’s scenes are the stronger, each princess has her own unique voice that suits her perfectly,” Present Perfect said. Horizon immediately disagreed: “I think the Luna scenes are stronger, thanks in part to the pitch-perfect Rarity cameo. But both parts work in concert to set up a fascinating portrait of reconciliation.” That led RBDash47 to quip, “it’s so interesting to see how the same story affects different people,” before agreeing with Horizon: “I absolutely loved the middle section, from Luna’s POV. Everything from the worldbuilding vis-à-vis seasonal day/night cycles to the wonderful Rarity appearance to the celestial scarf-gift.”
Ultimately, all those things anchored an exemplary exploration of the show’s mythic princesses. “What struck me especially was how the story starts with the easy characterizations of the sisters — Luna the bratty younger, Celestia the patient elder — and then starts deepening them, opening them up as they become reacquainted with each other and in the process become reacquainted with themselves,” AugieDog said. That added up to a classic, Horizon said: “Later canon developed the sisters in different directions, but this nevertheless stands the test of time.”
Read on for our author interview, in which TwilightFlopple discusses film shooting, Nintendo inspiration, and Disney distaste.
Give us the standard biography.
Very well, I’m Foxxy, a self-taught illustrator and essayist from the deep, dark wilds of New England. I grew up pretty much in the middle of nowhere — nearest grocery store was a 30-minute drive. Growing up where I did, you either had to be creative or crazy, and thankfully I was both.
After quitting art school (twice!), I moved to Central Florida to go to film school and have more or less rattled around the place since. My passions are cooking, theme parks, classic cinema, coffee, and everything cute and cuddly.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I pretty much had been playing Star Fox 64 a few minutes before creating my first-ever e-mail address, and this being the 90s, I just added “x”s onto the end of “fox” until I found an address that was available. I probably should have changed it, but very soon I became pretty well known for my artwork online, and it stuck. Today I prefer “Foxxy” because it’s a little more distinct than “Foxx” and better fits my feminine identity.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Rarity, for sure. While my fashion sense is very limited, I love her kind heart, her take-no-shit attitude, and her total dedication to her craft. She’s also my favorite pony to draw, and perhaps some of her has rubbed off on me because I really enjoy designing outfits for characters to wear in my art!
What’s your favorite episode?
I probably have a favorite for each season of the show, but maybe “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” is the best overall? It’s tight, executed flawlessly, and has a symmetry about it that pleases my ordered creative mind. I’m not even all that crazy about the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but that episode is a higher form of children’s television. Speaking of, it’s sort of a shame that the character arcs for Apple Bloom, et all crested halfway through the run of the show.
What do you get from the show?
I mostly view the show as a relaxed excuse to hang out with characters I like in a world I find pleasant. I tend to have less interest in the adventure episodes and strongly prefer the comedy/slice-of-life episodes. It’s basically, to me, Disney in a decade where most of what Disney has done has not been to my taste. Sorry, Zootopia, but it’s true! I came to MLP at a point where a lot of things in my life were falling apart, and it was exactly the antidote I needed to lift my spirits. Actually, it’s surprising to me how many of us early adopters of the show had the same story. I began watching in November 2010.
What do you want from life?
Honestly, I want to make people happy. Art is just one way I try to do this, but I feel so honored and happy that the place the universe found for me was in creating.
Why do you write?
That’s hard to say because I really kinda don’t! XD I’m primarily an essayist on Disney history; the four MLP fics I wrote earlier this decade were kind of an outlier to me. For the record I’ve written two other complete stories not set in the MLP universe since then, both too personal to post. I draw very often, however!
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
(The author declined to answer, for reasons outlined above. -Ed.)
What inspired “The Celestial Mechanics in Midsummer”?
This is going back a long way now, so this may not be entirely correct. My memory is that I simply began writing from the perspective of Celestia with no particular plan in mind and the story seemed to suggest itself as I went along. It took me a long time to bring it to a satisfying conclusion, because there really was no plan from the start, and if I recall I had to stop writing for at least a few months until I hit on the idea of Celestia flying to a desolate cottage where she was born. That gave me the emotional keynote I needed to find the ending, then I backtracked to get the first few bits of the story to point towards that conclusion.
“Mechanics” was something of an effort to revisit my first ponyfic “Twilight Sky Over Canterlot”, which I wrote during Season One. Twilight Sky is a very atmospheric ramble, nearly all of which was destroyed by Seasons 2 – 9, which I began writing because I was laid up in bed for ten days with a very painful abcess on my backside. I was in enough pain that I couldn’t sleep, and had recently begun watching MLP and was in love with the world. It began as an excuse to get myself out of my head and into somebody else’s, which is more or less always my core motivation for writing. I ended up continuing it and tying it together with my interest in Trixie, who I felt had been badly treated in Season One. It read well in its time, but even just two years later Seasons Two and Three had made much of it questionable. So in part, “Mechanics” was an effort to take the lyrical qualities of Twilight Sky, tighten up the narrative, and apply it to Celestia.
Celly has always been my favorite princess, and if you think back to the interval between Season 3 and 4 when I wrote this story, had really barely been developed as a character at all. I love what they did with her in later seasons, but all of that was still in the future, and I wanted to explore how she felt. I’m fairly sure that was the motivation.
What is it about these sort of “Slice of Life” stories that so attracts you?
The flip answer is because I’m bad at narrative structure and good at atmosphere! But no, really, these stories are extensions of my desire to “hang out” in Equestria. I’m not trying to alter the characters or come up with clever twists on what’s there already as I am trying to feel the sun on my face and the grass underhoof. It’s a very soothing place to escape to, and so much of it hasn’t really been fully explored that it’s pretty easy to come up with new angles and ideas that could be just offscreen in any given episode.
Do you find that your artwork influences your storytelling and vice versa?
Pretty much entirely. If you go back and read all of my stories, you’ll see they’re pretty much a series of strongly rendered images, and I use the flow of the prose as a proxy for editing rhythms you’d find in a film (I specialized in editing in film school). Speed up, slow down, trying to keep the audience interested. Perhaps that’s why they stand out? I find that many writers have a lot of trouble visualizing things and tend to prefer to build up character depth. I have no ability to do that, but I know how to create an emotional tone through striking imagery.
What’s been occupying your time since you posted your last piece of Ponyfic?
I’m still happily drawing! Oh, and I grew a beak and became a hippogriff before those were a thing on the show. My cute and pinup work is on DeviantArt under the username “foxxy-arts”. Lately I’ve been back to doing more stuff for the furry community, but I still love to draw ponies! In 2017 I completed an independent feature film shot in Orlando, and since then I’ve pretty much been drawing and enjoying travelling. I’ve also written a book about some local history I’m hoping to publish!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I was surprised and honestly quite moved to receive this notice. As I’ve said many times in this interview, I in no way consider myself to be a writer of fiction, and ponyfic was a very interesting but short lived part of my life. I had in no way considered that some were coming back to that work, six years later. Thank you very much for thinking that highly of my work, it really does mean a lot to me.