Today’s story offers us some vivid characterization straight from the horse’s mouth.
Fluttershy’s Secret Kissing Story
[Romance] [Slice of Life] • 11,064 words
Fluttershy remembers the kisses she’d shared over her lifetime, reflecting on the different circumstances and how she’d grown as a pony.
FROM THE CURATORS: “This is an experience,” Present Perfect warned us along with his nomination. And, indeed, this was one of those rare features where our fellow curators’ reactions were nearly as engrossing as the story itself. Horizon flailed for adjectives: “Visceral, tactile, disquieting, and memorable as all get out.” Chris tempered his dislike with respect for the story’s effectiveness: “In many places, it’s disgusting, and occasionally deeply disturbing … and yet, I can’t argue with either those things’ effectiveness, nor their appropriateness in context.” AugieDog, meanwhile, assigned it his first-ever top score: “This story hit me right between the eyes, drilled through my head, and popped out the other side like a perfect, dew-bedecked daisy.”
What made the story so effective? “It takes all the tropes and trappings of a romance story and uses them powerfully to create something very different,” Horizon said. “It does supremely awkward things and then doesn’t shrink from the consequences.” But it’s not just a shock story, as Present Perfect noted: “It exists in this weird Schrödingerian realm of not making sense and making perfect sense all at once. The writing is that weird, awkwardly discordant style you get from trollfics, but it’s all straightforward and serious.” And if you take the story seriously, it will reward you with unexpected depth, he added: “The strangeness of the kissing ties together not only Fluttershy’s character, but some major elements from the show.”
It was ultimately that depth that most impressed us. “The prose — such as the passage from Chapter 1 about the way kissing changed as she grew into adolescence — shows a level of insight that I find deeply appealing,” Chris said. “There are a lot of powerful moments in this story.” And underneath it all, as AugieDog noted, was a core earnestness that was most powerful of all: “I support wholeheartedly any story that shows how even the most damaged of us can maybe turn out all right.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Ara discusses spurious inspirations, soonish horses, and self-imposed sticky conceits.