• BABSCon 2017 Interview: Mike Vogel: Writer MLP Chapter Books, MLP Televsion Episodes, Awesome!

    By far the person having the most fun at BABSCon this year was former Vice President of Development for Hasbro Studios, current My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Writer, and My Little Pony: The Movie Executive Producer—those are a lot of long impressive titles—Mike Vogel. Considering that this was his first Brony Convention ever, that is a very good sign.

    I'm pretty sure not an hour went by at the con where he wasn't making someone laugh or smile with his stories, keen insight, and overall upbeat attitude. And Equestria Daily had the honor of being the first organization to interview him at the con.

    After the break you'll be able to see him talk about writing for the show, an announcement regarding a new book series he is the co-author of, and what he thought of a certain movie teaser we all saw about two weeks ago.

    See you there!

    The Illustrious Q: Mike, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.

    Mike Vogel: No problem.

    TIQ: How has your first Brony convention been treating you?

    MV: It's been a blast! Everyone here is so great, and so nice, and so welcoming. It's exactly what you would hope for your first Con for something that you've worked on. Where you get to just talk to people about your love for what you worked on and their love for what they liked about it. Just to see the friendships and everything that has developed through different people at the cons.

    I was talking to somebody this morning about how he really came out of his shell through Pony, and then coming to these Cons, has made these friends that would be his friends for life. That's just a warm and fuzzy feeling. How can you not feel good about that?

    TIQ: I have no idea how I couldn't feel warm and fuzzy about it, cause I'm pretty much the same way. I've made so many good friends through Equestria Daily that it's like, "Hey, these people are basically family."

    MV: Yeah. And that's a great testament to what we try and do with the show. When you're writing a show—or working on a show—that's all [about] how important friendship is, and then to come to an event and hear so many stories of people who took those lessons, really brought it into the real world, made friendships in real life, and really made their lives better and more fulfilled, is awesome.

    TIQ: Which is the favorite word of one Rainbow Dash.

    MV: And one Michael Vogel.

    TIQ: *laughs* True, very true.

    MV: I do overuse it a good bit. I oftentimes have to go through scripts that I write and go, "Eh. Yeah. 20% less awesome needs to be in this script." Because I've said it way too many times. *laughs*

    TIQ: What has been the highlight of the Con so far?

    MV: There was a ton of highlights. I will say, one of the things that I was not expecting, was to drink a drink in a Klingon bar. I did not know that was something that would be at the Con! *laughs*

    I was talking to somebody [about the relationships] between the voice actors and even us writers—who live in LA—don't always get a lot of time to hang out. We're all working on the same show, but because of the way animation works, if you're writing one episode and I'm writing one episode, we often times don't see each other. To spend so much of the weekend with Nick, or Tara, or Ashley, or Tabitha, or just to see all these people that you don't really tend to see, is great to catch up and hang out.

    TIQ: Plus it gives you a chance to meet new people and make friends.

    MV: One hundred percent! A lot of times [with] people that you kind of made friends with on Twitter, or talk to on Twitter, when you meet them in real life, you're like, "Oh, that's you!"

    TIQ: Case in point: me. *laughs*

    MV: Case in point. *laughs*

    TIQ: Are there anymore conventions you're looking forward to attending this year? You've mentioned San Diego Comic-Con at least once. Could you possibly be going to Hascon in September, or another Brony Convention in the future?

    MV: Yeah. Anything's on the table. It's fun and unique to experience and this. I tend to go to [San Diego] Comic-Con a lot, not just through work, but as a fan. Definitely open to other Con's, not any scheduled in stone right now, but open to it.

    TIQ: If you're gonna be at San Diego Comic-Con, I'm currently planning on being there for Equestria Daily, so hopefully we'll be able to hook up again.

    MV: Awesome! See? I said it again! *laughs*

    TIQ: *laughs* So, My Little Pony: Ponyville Mysteries is the brand new chapter book series coming out from Little Brown. First question. How did this series come about?

    MV: I had written the Baby Flurry Heart book [My Little Pony: Good Night Baby Flurry Heart], which is a picture book. I did another picture book in the pony realm for them, that will be coming out closer to the movie, I believe.

    TIQ: Oooh.

    MV: They had asked me if I had any interest in writing chapter books and I said I was interested. Because I had never done it before and it’s an interesting challenge to do something new. They said they wanted to do something that was a little bit older, a little bit of a bigger story, surrounding the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I believe they asked me if I wanted to write one book, and I said, "Yeah, I would love to." And they're like, "Well, send us some ideas." And because of the way my brain works, I ended up sending them an idea for a six book arc about the Cutie Mark Crusaders, this bigger mystery, and how each mystery built into the next one. And they were like, "Yeah. Okay. That's great. Let's do that." *laughs*

    I'm fortunate to get to work with Nicole Dubuc, who's another great writer, and we're very, very excited. The other bonus is, because Little Brown decided they wanted to do a pen name, the books are written by Penumbra Quill, who is a pony! I think we had as much fun coming up with the author's back story as we did working on the story itself.

    For us, it's almost a story within a story. We were trying to come up with her back story and I was talking to Nicole and I was like, "Well, you do realize that if she's a pony, as she's writing a book about the Cutie Mark Crusaders, it's not fiction. Because they live over in Ponyville." And she was like, "Oh my gosh. You're right!" So, then we're like, "Oh, this just blew it all wide open. This is crazy." Who knows. Maybe Penumbra Quill will end up in an episode one day.

    TIQ: Hey. That'd be fun. Yeah. Sort of like how A.K. Yearling writes about the fictional adventures of Daring Do.

    MV: Apparently there's not a lot of fiction in Equestria. It's just a bunch of people writing the awesome stories that actually happen. Maybe Penumbra Quill and A.K. Yearling can do some cons together. It'll be great.

    TIQ: Oh, I could just see that. Dang it. That would actually be a really good concept for an episode.

    MV: I think maybe it'll become one. I wish I knew someone who wrote on the show.

    TIQ: Hmm.

    MV: Hmm.

    TIQ: I don't know anyone. *laughs*

    MV: *laughs*I am really, really excited and it was fun to figure out a new story with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I'm really curious to see what you guys think about it. I think it's gonna be a lot of fun.

    TIQ: Oh, we're looking forward to it, especially with the two books that are coming out in July: “The Schoolhouse of Secrets,” and “The Tail of the Timber Wolf.”

    MV: Yep!

    TIQ: What can you tell us about those books, from a writing perspective?

    MV: Well, the first one takes place in the school house, and the second has a timber wolf in it. *laughs*

    TIQ: *laughs*

    MV: Spoilers you guys. Obviously the overall book series title is Ponyville Mysteries. And so, it is about a series of mysteries in Ponyville that at first seems like their own things, but over time you realize that these mysteries are all sort of interconnected.

    TIQ: Sort of like how Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated worked.

    MV: Little bit. Definitely kind of a Scooby Doo vibe to the stories. It's a really fun way to focus on the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but because each mystery is kind of its own thing. There's a lot of cameos, from a lot of your other favorite ponies in Ponyville and Equestria.

    TIQ: Well, some obvious characters to make cameos would be Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash.

    MV: Of course. A lot of the series, at least when Nicole and I were discussing it, did deal with how when you have these older sisters—or role models—who more or less save Equestria every other day can be a bit daunting. Those are big hooves to fill. What is it like having these people and constantly living in their shadow? That's a big aspect of the sort of the bigger emotional arc of the series.

    TIQ: Well, that’s certainly a lot of information to chew through…

    MV: Yeah.

    TIQ: And should definitely get people excited for these new chapter books!

    MV: I'm very, very stoked about them! Nicole and I are super, super excited about them coming out and to see what you guys think.

    TIQ: So you and Nicole are basically gonna be the third writers to actually write chapter books for My Little Pony after G.M Berrow and Perdita Finn. How does that feel?

    MV: It's great. It's a fun club to be in. G.M. is awesome. We've hung out a good bit.

    TIQ: And to think, G.M. went from writing chapter books to writing the show …

    MV: Yep!

    TIQ: And now you went from writing the show to writing chapter books.

    MV: And it's great! One of the fun things about that is how there is a little bit of a ... The world of people that know these characters. You know, the world of people that ... It's always fun to bring new people in to get some new insight, some new ideas, some new thoughts, but when you are part of this club, and you are able to bounce back and forth between books and comics and everything else, but ... As long as you're remaining true to the characters, I think it's good.

    TIQ: Awesome! So, the third book has been listed on Amazon. It's coming out in October of this year, but the listing doesn't have much in the way of a description, aside from Ponyville Mysteries book number three. Is there anything you can possibly tease about the upcoming book, without getting in trouble?

    MV: There is a mystery, and it is the third mystery the Cutie Mark Crusaders deal with. *laughs* You'll see when you read these first two books, even though they involve each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, obviously, each one is told from a different perspective. The first one is Apple Bloom's perspective. The second one is Sweetie Bell's perspective. So, the third one will be Scootaloo's perspective.

    Other that I can't say too much, cause Nicole and I are currently working it out right now!

    TIQ: Oh! So, I’m asking you about really current events!

    MV: So, let me go up to my room. Let me and Nicole work some things out. I’ll come back down and then tell you. Cause we're not sure yet. *laughs*

    TIQ: *laughs* Out of what you've had planned, which book are you looking forward to the most?

    MV: Out of the rough plan—which could obviously change—the fifth and sixth. The fun part about it is, knock on wood, if it works out, hopefully if we do everything right, there really is a nice build to it. So when you get to those final books, everything comes together and looks amazing! And we look like we were super smart, but really were just stumbling along, trying to make sure we figured it out along the way! *laughs* That's the exciting thing. If this does all come together and works the way that we're planning for it to work, it should be a pretty big story.

    TIQ: Looking forward to it!

    Now, let's move onto your other job with My Little Pony, which is, you being one of the executive producers on My Little Pony: The Movie. Which is scheduled to come out in October of this year. How excited are you for the movie to actually come out in theaters?

    MV: The feeling that I have about this movie coming out is what the word “nervouscited” was designed for! *laughs* Very, very excited.

    With a TV episode of Pony—from the time you turn in the script, to when you guys actually see it—there's a year. That's like, "Oh god, I can't wait for the thing to come out." The movie is like that times four. I was about four years from the beginning of us starting to talk about these things to [the premiere in] October. To go from those beginning conversations and now getting close to that finish line is so exciting and also just nerve wracking, cause it's like ... I don't know if you guys [at Equestria Daily] know this, but your fandom is very opinionated on both sides.

    TIQ: No. I wasn't aware of that fact. At all. Not Bronies. Never.

    MV: *laughs*Definitely excited and scared to see what everybody thinks of the movie, but we're all very proud of it.

    TIQ: We finally got a teaser trailer for the movie that actually dropped last week. So what did you think of it?

    MV: It was definitely a teaser. *laughs* It was a great way to let the world at large know there's a pony movie coming out. I know for a lot of the fans—and this is true of any teaser—there's this feeling of, "That's great. Show me more." It purposely didn't show a lot. A lot of people that aren't in the fandom now are aware of it, and I've been hearing from a lot of people who I know that didn't even know there was a pony movie coming out. So that's great.

    I'm very excited for the full trailer to come out, which I have no idea when it's happening! I think the movie looks great and that Jayson [Thiessen]—from a directing standpoint, everyone up at DHX, and everyone working on the movie has just put so much work into remaining true to the feel and vibe of the show, but really making it look like a beautiful, lush experience on the big screen. You really see Ponyville, the ponies, and the world of Equestria in a way that you really haven't before. So I'm excited for guys to see the next trailer that's coming up.

    TIQ: Oh, I'm looking forward to it, Mike. Thank you so much for your time.

    MV: Thank you.

    You can follow Mike Vogel on Twitter here. It is doctor recommend you do so to make your twitter feed 20% more awesome. 

    My Little Pony: The Movie opens in theaters everywhere on October 6th, 2017.

    My Little Pony: Ponyville Mysteries Book One and Book Two will be available everywhere books are sold on July 3rd, 2017.