Having made the jump from writing the MLP Novels to writing for the show, Gillian (G.M.) Berrow is a writer that should be fairly familiar to most of the readers of this site. From her beginnings with Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell to the Daring Do Trilogy all the way to her television debut with The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows we as a community have watched her grow as a writer on the franchise.
With a couple more episodes and books coming down the pipeline, Gillian was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule at BABSCon and sit down for an interview with Equestria Daily. To see what she has to say about her transition from working on the books to writing for the show, and a plethora of other topics, you can find that after the break!
I would just like to thank you for agreeing to this interview here with Equestria Daily while at BABSCon.
G.M. Berrow: Of course. Yeah. Gladly.
How large of a transition was it to move from writing the MLP books to writing episodes for the show?
G.M.B.: It was not that big of a transition. There were definite differences between the two but I felt like I had practiced that structure a lot with my books because I tried to make them in the three-act structure of the show. I see each of my books as little mini episodes in prose format.
It felt natural. The biggest difference is the more collaborative aspect of the show. That was fun for me because it's nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of or they might think of things that would never occur to you. Also, to rein things in and focus on different aspects of it. It is pretty cool. It wasn't that bad.
With all of the experience that you have gained now from working on the show and with all of the books that you have under your belt, have you ever gone back to some of the earlier books that you’ve had published and go, "I can't believe I did that. I should have done this instead?"
G.M.B.: Definitely. Every artist looks at their work from when they've had less experience and kind of cringes. Since with time and with practice, you get better and better. There were definitely a few choices I made that I might change now but when I wrote them, I wouldn't have had that knowledge. I try not to get too hung up on it.
You just learned from that and will do better next time.
G.M.B.: It is great to see how I have grown. It's a whole process.
Seth would kill me if I didn't ask this question, since we’re still on the topic of the books—
G.M.B.: It's about Trixie, isn't it?
Yes. Is there anything you can say about Trixie's book being delayed?
G.M.B.: There is really not much I can say about it. I take direction from my publisher and I do things in the order in which they request them. There was just a shift in the schedule for reasons that I do not know. It was nothing about Trixie because she is a lovely wonderful character. No, I really do like Trixie, and she has got a great story.
What was it like writing the episode, "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows?"
G.M.B.: So much fun! I knew when I was given that premise that it would be big news. It was great because it was big news about Shining Armor and Cadance but it was Pinkie Pie's story and that was really exciting for me because she is my favorite pony! When I got assigned that, I was really excited. It is just fun to make her act very old-school cartoony and watch her kind of struggle with something a little bit—even though it pains me to watch her in pain! It was a really actually sweet, heart-warming episode and it was nice.
You’d get along swimmingly with Agnes Garbowska.
G.M.B.: We actually are very good friends. I saw her a couple weeks ago! *laughs*
That is good to know! *laughs*
Were the comics used as the inspiration to give Shining Armor a little bit of a nerd characterization in the episode?
G.M.B.: Yes and no. I actually took the inspiration behind that part of it more from my brother, who is a nerd in his own way. He loves comics. He has got hundreds of comics. I drew upon my own experiences with my brother with Twilight and her brother because he is older than me and our relationship is very similar. I thought it fit his character, and I thought it was cute.
Two writers, apparently, agreed on it. Happy coincidence.
When you were writing the episode, did you know Baby Flurry Heart was going to be in the premiere for Season 6??
G.M.B.: I did. I knew that it was supposed to be setting up that story. The whole episode wasn't necessarily about her but it was about setting it up. An event that large needs to have some sort of a precursor. You can't just all of a sudden be like, "Oh, here she is." I felt it would be out of left field a little bit. Everybody sort of expected them to have a baby at some point. Setting it up is a nice way to introduce the idea, show how that news affects Twilight, and how she has to process it for a minute. It is a big change for her life too.
She is now an aunt!
G.M.B.: I thought it was very cute to give that sort of brother/sister relationship. Give the news in that way and have us experience that along with her.
It was a really fun episode.
G.M.B.: Thank you.
What has been the most memorable story for you to work on from either the show or the books?
G.M.B.: They're all memorable to me because I put lots of hours into it. I often talk a lot about the Daring Do books because they were such a departure from what I had previously done. It is an adventure book series. It was really cool because it was within the Pony Universe but I got to play around a little more with locations and villains and just that that Indiana Jones sort of stuff.
It was cool because it was a challenge for me but it was definitely something that I felt I grew from the experience. I got a good response from people and they seem to enjoy it, so that is always good.
I honestly hope that we get to see more Daring Do books come out soon. After I read those three books, I was like, "Okay. More please."
G.M.B.: Thank you! That makes me feel awesome!
Speaking of world adventure, you have been to Brony conventions all around the world because of My Little Pony. When you first got involved with the franchise, could you have possibly imagined it opening up as many doors to you as it has?
G.M.B.: No. Obviously, not! *laughs* It would be crazy for me to have imagined that any of this would happen. I just thought I was doing an assignment and having fun with it, but I never thought it would take my anywhere. It has been an incredible gift. I have gotten to go to lots of cool places and met people and I don't take any of that for granted. It is unreal. It really is. It really, really is.
Have there been any moments that really stuck out to you from any of the conventions that you have gone to?
G.M.B.: One of the things other than the witnessing all of these people coming together and becoming friends and building these lasting friendships, that has really made an impact on me. People and kids and parents really come up and say that their kids wouldn't normally want to read but they've got the ponies and they love the ponies. That feels really special to me. It makes me feel like I have made an impact in some small way. I definitely have some interactions that I will never forget in that way.
Andy Price had told me earlier that one of the things that really touched him the most is when he ends up having a little kid come up to him with a ratty, beat-up comic that been read over and over and over again. It shows how much that kid just loves the books.
G.M.B.: Yeah. There is this one little girl that goes to BronyCon every year. I feel like I have just watched her grow up. Every year, she comes to see me and her books are always bent and tattered and she gets me to sign that book. It is not about getting a signature, like on this pristine thing, it is about a well-loved story. It is just always so great to see her. I always look forward to it. That is really, really cool.
Hopefully, you will see her again this year.
G.M.B.: Yeah, I hope so.
What was the first Brony convention you went to, assuming you went to any before your books came out?
G.M.B.: I went to BronyCon, the one in New Jersey.
The one in 2012?
G.M.B.: For an afternoon.
G.M.B.: Yeah. I knew about Bronies and I just wanted to meet some, see what they cared about, what they liked, and just kind of understand the fandom a little bit. I think it is important when you are working on something that very deeply matters to people to give it the respect it deserves. I wanted to get a full scope of understanding before I delved into something. It was awesome. I went and everybody was so excited. I was unbelievably pumped to get to work.
This was when you were working on the books?
G.M.B.: I was working on one at the time. I had contacted Feulner. Do you know him?
G.M.B.: I found his email or something through one of the websites. I contacted him and asked him if I could come by. He arranged for it.
It was great. I always have this funny story because the first panel I ever saw was Lauren Faust’s panel at that convention. I was like, "What? Is this what they're all like?" Everybody was standing up, cheering, tears. It was very intense but it was cool. It was like a nice moment. It felt like the end scene in a movie or something. Then, something lit on fire. It was very dramatic.
Yeah. It was awesome.
And that's it for today's interview with G.M. Berrow! If you want to send a shoutout to her you can find her on twitter @gmberrow. Tune in tomorrow at the same pony time on the same pony website to see Equestria Daily's Interview with IDW MLP Comic Artist Jenn Blake. Till then, this has been The Illustrious Q. See you later guys.
Twitter: The Illustrious Q