• Equestria Daily Interviews Kkat (Author of Fallout: Equestia)!

    Interview by Allyster Black

    Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down for an extensive interview with Fallout: Equestria's author Kkat. Check after the break for Kkat's opinions on the show and how it is progressing, how they view their novel, and what they think of the community surrounding it.

    Question: I figured we would start with an easy one to get the ball rolling. Who is your favorite pony in the show and why?

    Kkat: Rarity. She has been since “Suited for Success”.

    As I’ve commented elsewhere: bronies are a highly creative group, filled with artists, writers, musical composers and more. A great many of us want to give back to this wonderful community of friends that we find ourselves part of.

    Rarity is an artist. And in “Suited for Success”, we see her desire to create something beautiful for her friends. We see the effort that went into this labor of love. And we can relate.

    Likewise, we can empathize with the hurt of pouring ourselves into a project only to receive a lukewarm reaction. We know the frustration of trying to get proper feedback. (Virtually every artist understands the need and emotion behind “Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”)

    The reason “Suited for Success” was such a marvelous episode was because it wasn’t really about making dresses... it was about generosity and giving back.

    And then, Rarity went a step beyond that, sacrificing her career, her livelihood and one could even say childhood dream in order to give her friends what they wanted. And when everything came crashing down, she still walked out onto that runway and took the blame.

    Rarity may be occasionally greedy and a drama queen, but where it really counts, she is the soul of generosity, and a character who I can not only empathize with but admire.

    What got you into writing MLP fan-fictions?

    Kkat: I had done some “shared universe” writing prior, but my first foray into actual fanfiction was for a fan group dedicated to Don Bluth movie The Secret of NIMH and the base novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. At the time I discovered Friendship is Magic, I was already writing Fallout stories as part of the Fallout fan community.

    The choice to write a story like Fallout: Equestria is what brought me into writing fanfiction for the MLP universe.

    Question: What lead to you to writing of Fallout: Equestria? What gave you the idea to write Fallout: Equestria?

    Kkat: I love My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I love Fallout. A large part of the initial motivation was to see if I could really merge the two and do it right. Could I blend the two together in a way that was reverent to Friendship is Magic and respectful of its characters. And could I do it in a way that made sense in relation to the show? These questions were first inspired by a picture by Dan Shive called “Pony Vegas”.

    However, the reason I actually started writing the story was to share My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with my friends in the Fallout fan community that I was part of. I decided to write a story that showcased what I loved about the show while presenting it in the familiar packaging of Fallout.

    While I garnered several readers, the amount of feedback I received from the members of the forum was almost non-existent, and I was struggling to press on. I felt the story had enough merit to continue, so I looked for advice on where an appropriate place to post the story where I might get more response. I was directed to Equestria Daily.

    Question: How did you first discover My Little Pony Friendship is Magic?

    Kkat: I hate to admit it, but I was teasing a friend of mine for loving My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. He rightly pointed out that if I hadn’t seen the show, I had no grounds to judge it. So he challenged me to watch five episodes, just a couple hours worth... and then, if I still wanted to mock him, he would willingly take it.

    I have a lot to thank him for. Not only for introducing me to such a wonderful show, and by extension this community, but for hammering home a crucial life lesson about judging something without having taken the time to experience it. Even more than that, he later became one of my editors for Fallout: Equestria.

    Question: Littlepip and her friends have become fan favorites since the start of Fallout: Equestria. How do you feel about their reception and there recognition throughout the MLP community?

    Kkat: Amazed, humbled and deeply honored.

    Question: When you wrote Fallout Equestria, the show was still fairly “new”. As of right now we have many years behind us and new ideas and concepts that have been introduced to the show. Of these things, is there something you think would have fit well in the Fallout: Equestria Universe?

    Rarely has an episode introduced something that would have been troublesome to integrate into the Fallout: Equestria world – the map being perhaps the most significant. And there have been even fewer which outright conflicted, as Twilight’s ascension to alicorn status does.

    Things like the Crystal Empire and the changelings open up a lot of fun possibilities, and I have definitely developed my own headcanon for how they fit into the universe and backstory of Fallout: Equestria And many things introduced make me wish that the episodes had aired earlier so that I could have used them.

    The two that I most regret not having the chance to integrate into the story were The Crystal Empire and The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000.

    The biggest boon, lore-wise, to the universe would have been the Super Speedy Cider Squeezie 6000. Wartime Equestria could have seen the proliferation of motorized carriages based on that design, with "Flam and Sons" being the Equestrian equivalent of Fallout's Chryslus Motors. The aesthetic of parking lots and highways in Equestria is greatly enhanced if you picture them filled not just with wagons and carriages, but with many makes and models of such motorwagons, some running on magic while others run on steam -- the cider makers replaced by coal-dependent boilers. And I guarantee that if I had been able to include those in the world-building, at some point in the story there would have been a “car chase” with Super Speedy motorwagons.

    A very close second would have been the Crystal Empire. I am somewhat thankful that I didn't have to incorporate all of the elements of the Canterlot Wedding episodes. But the Crystal Empire itself would add a lot to the Fallout: Equestria universe, particularly as it gives us the genesis of megaspells.

    Consider: a city built along arcane geometry, designed to focus magical energy into a central point to amplify the size of a single spell several orders of magnitude, and with a side effect of magical radiation that transforms regular ponies into an alternate kind of pony. Basically, what a megaspell is.

    As such, in the Fallout: Equestria universe, my headcanon is that the Crystal Empire and its Crystal Heart form a proto-megaspell, and this makes crystal ponies a unique variant of "ghoul". It is understandable that Equestria’s medically-oriented Ministry would try to learn everything they could about crystal ponies in order for their hospitals to better render medical aid. And it is easy to see how that would have thus been set on the path to unlocking the mysteries of megaspell frameworks, not to mention justify some pony’s expectations that megaspells would be used for peace and defense.

    Question: Is there any other type of fic, or even another type of crossover you have thought of doing, or maybe would just like to see?

    I've thought of a few. The most notable ideas were for stories called "Once Upon a Time in the Magical Land of Equestria" and "Origin Story". The former was an initially bad idea (an attempt to come up with a good way to do a human world/Equestria crossover that became a fusion of MLP and "Once Upon a Time) that got more unpalatable the more it was developed, and thus deserves to be abandoned to the fires of pretending I never thought of it. The latter story idea was inspired by "Daring Don't" which attempted to re-frame the elements of the episode that I didn't like and give them deeper meaning. That story was eventually reworked to fit into the Fallout: Equestria universe, and it is now up on FIMfiction.

    Naturally, there are often ideas that I would like to see, but I must admit no specific ones are springing to mind at the moment. And I have such a massive backlog of stories to read that my cup runneth over without tossing out suggestions for more.

    Do you have anyone in the writing world that you look up to?

    There are several authors who influenced my overall writing style. Obviously, the greatest inspirations for Fallout: Equestria are the writers of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Fallout series of games. As such, the first names on any list of inspiring writers would have to be the writers who worked on those.

    But as for the style of my writing and the nature of my storytelling, the largest influences were Stephen King, Joss Whedon, S. Andrew Swann and J. Michael Straczynski. Straczynski, with his phenomenal television series Babylon 5, is by far the greatest influence on the way I craft epic stories.

    I should also give special mention to J.K. Rowling and H.P. Lovecraft. While neither had the level of influence of the authors above, I have a great amount of love for their stories and respect for both of them. Lovecraft in particular inspired how I handled a few aspects of my story’s world-building.

    What is your favorite thing to see in the fandom?

    Kkat: People helping people. That is the greatest thing to see, in or out of the fandom. Other than that: charity, compassion, devotion, integrity, optimism and friendship.

    Question: Sparkle Cola or Sunrise Sarsaparilla?

    Kkat: Sunrise Sarsaparilla in the summer. Sparkle~Cola during the rest of the year.

    Question: Any words of advice to people who are starting writing, or maybe just starting out with creating content who may seem unsure of themselves or what they hope to accomplish?

    Kkat: I’ve actually been asked this a lot. Here's my advice for aspiring writers:

    First: I find that it is important to take some time to plot out major themes, events and other important notes you want in that story. (This applies as much to individual chapters as to the story as a whole.) Think of it as similar to playing “connect the dots” -- not only should you have a good idea of what the final picture will be, but you should also jot down on a notepad all the “dots” you want to be sure to include. Then, when you start writing, begin at the first “dot” and work your way towards the second.

    Personally, I find it’s just as important to not have everything plotted out before you start writing. By playing “connect the dots”, you give yourself room for inspiration and creativity while you are actually writing. (For me, if I knew everything I was going to write before I started typing, I would get bored. By only knowing the key points to each chapter, the story becomes an adventure for me as well.)

    Second: Start writing. Regularly. The hardest part of writing is actually beginning. Once you've started, I've found, the words come more easily. But putting down that first sentence, or even just the title, can be the most daunting part of a day's work. Particularly for new writers, it is a great idea to commit yourself to writing a little bit each day. Even if it is just a few paragraphs. You should do this even if what you are writing isn't your story. Perhaps keep writing journal, and jot down anything from creative ideas to thoughts of the day. Whatever it takes to not fall out of practice. Keep writing, even if you don't like what you have written -- your writing will improve. The more you write, the better you will become at it.

    Third: Write about something you love. You will find writing a lot more fulfilling, and a lot easier to continue, if you are writing about something you enjoy or care about.

    Fourth: Read. Find authors whose works you enjoy and read them. Occasionally pause to think about what made writing work for you. We learn how to write through reading as we absorb techniques that appeal to us or that strike us as effective. The more exposure you give yourself to the writings of different authors, the larger a toolbox you will develop for your own writing.

    Fifth: Be familiar with some of the pitfalls that writers, particularly new ones, fall prey to and make it a point to avoid them. For example: know what a self-insert character is and what a Mary Sue character is and put effort into making sure your characters aren’t either of those.

    Sixth: If possible, find friends or other supportive individuals who will critique your work. This can easily be the hardest suggestion to follow, however. Don't be dismayed or dissuaded from writing if you can't find the response you are looking for. Continue to write; continue to improve.

    Likewise, welcome and listen to helpful feedback. Quality feedback and criticism are invaluable tools for helping you improve. But just as importantly, strive to ignore harmful feedback. The internet is full of people who are only interested in tearing you down for their own amusement or ego. You must learn to separate good critics from bad ones. Artists crave feedback, but you have a responsibility -- to yourself, your art and your fans -- to try to improve. And that includes both listening to good advice and avoiding bad advice that will do your work harm.

    Of course, this is not the only or even most important advice new writers can receive. When asked this question, I often link people to An Introductory Guide to Fanfiction: Writing by the Bronyshow and the Pony Writing Guide by Cereal Velocity.

    What gave you the idea of making your main character, the heroine of the wastes a lesbian?

    Kkat: The dynamic of the character relationships inspired this. Considering the cast and empowering themes of the cartoon, I believed the protagonist needed to be a mare.

    It is also worth noting that at the time, male protagonists were unheard of in the show’s fanfiction. Since Fallout: Equestria already had "grimdark", "crossover" and "OC characters" going against it, a male protagonist might have been too much to ask the fandom to accept. This is also why, when Calamity joined Littlepip, I tackled the gender issue immediately and directly through Stable 24.

    Littlepip's sexual orientation was first considered when planning how Littlepip, Velvet Remedy and Calamity would play off each other as characters. Since Littlepip was a mare, in order for her crush on Velvet to be the sort of hopeless fantasy that I wanted it to be, either Littlepip needed to be a lesbian and Velvet a straight mare, or Littlepip needed to be straight and Velvet be a gay stallion. I considered both, but decided that a lesbian Littlepip felt true to her character while a gay stallion Velvet felt like a stereotype. That decided, I wanted to create a story that featured strong, heroic LGBT protagonist.

    Question: How would you recommend the story to someone new to it?

    Cautiously. Fallout: Equestria is a story about standing up against evil no matter the cost. It is a story about lighting candles in the darkness. About the value and vulnerability of virtue, and the necessity and strength of friendship.

    Fallout: Equestria is definitely not for everyone. It contains darkness and mature (in the true sense of the word) themes, not to mention a great deal of violence. However, these things are used in service to a story that puts the themes and morals of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to the acid test and shows how they stand up… and even shine.

    I recommend reading the first dozen chapters. They are short and easy to read. (The third chapter holds the worst of the gore in the story, so if you can get through that, you have nothing to worry about.) If the story hasn’t caught your interest by the chapter “Must Go On”, leave it be. You’ve given it a true chance. But if it has… well, then you are in for a treat, because the story only gets better and better from there.

    Is there anything in Fallout: Equestria you would change if given the chance?

    Kkat: Of course. There are many things I would love to fix or change if I went back and reworked the story. I wouldn't want to change any plot points, but there are numerous typos and wrong or missing words, especially in the first few chapters before I had my editing staff. I would replace a lot of uses of "buck". I would reaffirm Littlepip's gender in the first chapter, since it is easily missed in the prologue. I feel that Deadeye’s name is too close to Red Eye, so I would change it. I would seriously cut down on exclamation points in the first third of the story. I would make elements like the capitalization of Littlepip (as opposed to LittlePip) and the italicizing of Sky Bandit consistent.

    And there are some bits that I would add or rework. In the fifth chapter, Calamity mentions his mother in a statement that the story later reveals to be untrue. I wish I had addressed that lie directly in the story. I would extend the battle scene with the crashing Pinkie Pie balloon a couple paragraphs in which I would depict the crash, then I would expand the beginning of the next scene so the transition isn't as awkward. I would add in a new segment in the beginning of the fourth chapter so that the transition between chapters wasn't so abrupt, and include in that a mention of how much time had passed and the phrase "The name of the town had apparently been a four-letter word, but the welcoming sign had been written over with so many other four-letter words that I couldn't glean the original."

    What has been your favorite season of MLP and why?

    Kkat: My favorite seasons have been the first season and the fifth. I think I’m going to tentatively call Season 5 my favorite. Some of my favorite episodes are in Season 5, including my favorite episode of the series, “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”.

    I consider the season's opening, "Cutie Markless" (or, if you insist, "The Cutie Map") to be my favorite season opener. The tone was so unique, and the themes really intrigued me. The writers took us someplace that felt very different for the show, and they did it superbly well. I also really appreciated that Starlight Glimmer was an antagonist rather than a villain. Instead of going for another big bad, they gave us someone who was actually trying to do what she believed was better for ponies. She wasn't evil; she was just wrong.

    And that made the finale more poignant than usual. The blame she laid at the hooves of the Mane Six was not unjustified, and her desire for revenge was understandable. Even when her past was revealed, making her hatred of cutie marks look petulant and silly, I think we all understand how an emotional wound can grow into something much worse if that hurt is allowed to fester for years.

    And this was not the only time in the season that the show examined someone allowing the pain of a broken friendship to do long-term damage. Last season, in "Rarity Takes Manehattan", we got a lesson in how important it is not to wall yourself off or let bad experiences poison you. Season 5 applied that lesson directly to friendships in a meaningful way with “Amending Fences”.

    Season 5 was also the season of other characters. From the season opener, they laid out this theme as we got to see the Mane Six rescued by background ponies. Throughout the season, we were treated to a lot more attention being given to other characters. We revisited fan favorites like the Pie Family, Gilda and Coco Pommel. Several secondary characters were even given episodes of their own, including Luna, Big Macintosh and Discord. Both Luna and Discord had also appeared in several other episodes, but always as a vehicle for other characters to learn lessons or otherwise star. Season 5 actually gave us a brilliant Luna-centric episode and a Discord episode about Discord.

    Finally, the season gave us some of the most poignant and most mature lessons, not the least of which being an episode dedicated to dealing with the loss of a loved one and the stages of grief. Personally, I find the lesson of "Brotherhooves Social" to be one of the most important lessons in the series: who and what you are doesn't matter. Behavior does.

    Question: What are your hopes for the show and where it is going?

    Kkat: The show continues to surpass my hopes. I have been very impressed by the maturity of the lessons that increasingly form the core of episodes, and they way the show has been handling transitions in life. My greatest hope for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is that it continues in that vein that it has, with continuing high quality and continuing progression. So far, Season 6 has been succeeding quite enjoyably.

    Question: What are your opinions on the larger Fallout fanfictions that have surfaced since your own creation?

    Kkat: Few things make me happier than knowing that I have inspired others to write.

    Unfortunately, I am possible the world’s slowest reader, and my “free” time is largely already committed. As a result, I am so far behind on my reading list that I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the vast majority of these stores, regardless of size. There are just a few that I have read part of, much less the entire stories.

    There are a few that I have recommended or given shout-outs to on my blog; but for the most part, I am hesitant to put any story on a pedestal above the others when I have read so few.

    Do you have any plans to write any more stories based off of the world you have created?

    Kkat: Last November, I posted “Origin Story” on FIMfiction. It is a short tale set in the same universe as Fallout: Equestria. I don’t have any further stories planned at this time, but I am open to the possibility should the right story grab me.

    Question: Do you have anything outside of MLP you have found yourself “hooked” on?

    Well, Fallout is the obvious answer. But yes, there are other shows, stories and games that I have become invested in. Some examples: I love the Harry Potter series, Avatar: the Last Airbender and Babylon 5. I am currently very much enjoying Steven Universe. But it is rare that I remain interested in them for as long as I have been in both My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Fallout.

    Question: As many know, the name behind Kkat has always been a mystery. Many would say that adds quite a bit to the experience, but why did you decide to go the route of anonymous?

    Kkat: I want Fallout: Equestria to stand on its own and to be read without suffering from any filters of conception or bias regarding the author, particularly in regards to things like race, gender or sexual orientation.

    That is the last of my questions. Thank you very much for reading! If you would like to thank KKat for taking the time to do this interview you can message them here. You can message me here if you have any questions. To read Fallout: Equestria you can visit here.

    This has been Allyster Black, once more, thanks for stopping by!