“Through Storm and Night” Chapter Three Commentary

WARNING!  THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!

This post will make much more sense if you’ve already read the novel.  Help out a little indie author and pick up a copy of her book (or books).  You can find them on Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, or my personal online store.

Through Storm and Night Covers OfficalOooo, chapter three.  This is such an exciting chapter.  I’m almost giddy (as close as I get to giddy as I get anyway).  There’s a pretty big reveal in this chapter, which I’m going to keep secret by using code.  This is going to look fairly ridiculous, but oh well.  I’ll refer to the reveal as “the tiger.”  Originally this novel had a completely different title, but it was a massive spoiler so it had to change.  I was going through some poetry books and was drawn to the sonnets of Edgar Allan Poe.  I came across a sonnet entitled “A Dream.”  It had a line about a light being seen through storm and night, which I found to be a beautiful visual.  So I came up with the title for the second novel.

I always knew I was going to bring the tiger into the series fairly early.  I wanted a few really important things to happen early in the series, to make the reader feel like anything can and will happen.  The tiger is an interesting figure and also a kind of narrative decoder.  It helps solve a few mysteries while also uncovering a few more.  The tiger also has a very significant effect on a lot of the main characters.  Its appearance really drives the plot forward, which was exactly what I needed.

Well, shall we get started?

Page 30 – 32

We return to the two shadowy figures from the end of Sere from the Green.  These scenes were such a massive pain in the ass.  Anytime you write nameless characters, you risk causing confusion.  Thankfully, this is the last time they’re completely nameless (one is named and the other uses an alias).

These two are still plotting, but the older one is finally putting his plan into motion.  I always wrote this scene as two men who know they’re probably going to be unsuccessful, but they have to try anyway.  Neither one would ever throw in the towel.  This fight is too important.  As long there’s a chance, no matter how slim, they have to fight back.

As I mentioned in the first book’s commentary, these two are allies of necessity.  It’s truly a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

There’s a hint about the mystery of the Key, which is one of the central mysteries of this series.  Well, actually, its confirmed the disc is a red herring (I couldn’t get rid of this damn thing fast enough.  I always planned for there to be a red herring, but I kind of stumbled in the execution and then I couldn’t get rid of the damn thing).

The Big Bad is really starting to flex his muscles.  As I was revising this novel, I started adding in these small demonstrations/displays of strength from the Big Bad.  He really enjoys taunting the shape shifters, even though most of them are still completely unaware of him.

There’s a nice moment between the two reluctant allies at the end of the scene.  This is a tragic story.  These two had been brothers in the past, a bond that has been irreparably damaged.  There are still faint glimmers of this past though.

Page 32 – 39

My brother had me try something different in this novel.  He had me cut back on scene breaks, which he thought were really distracting in the first novel.  This scene was originally two separate scenes, but I took out a break and relied on words to indicate a passage of time.  It does seem to flow a bit smoother.  Scene breaks can become a crutch if used too frequently.  I’ve tried to use them sparingly in subsequent novels.

The two opposites who became best friends:  Isis and Shae.  I loved writing these scenes so much 🙂

Shape shifters and guardians don’t celebrate Christmas.  Because they’re fucking awesome.  Seriously, the amount of hatred I have for Christmas almost borders on irrational 😉

There was originally a small fight between Shae and Isis in this scene.  Shae enjoys the spirit of the holidays even if she doesn’t particularly care for Christmas itself.  Isis just hates all of it.

Shae is a very modern woman.  She doesn’t have any nostalgia for the past and takes full advantage of modern technology.  Isis much prefers things like newspapers and books (she has an attachment to tactile experiences).

Isis is still very much an introvert.  She prefers to be left to her own devices when she has free time.  This really baffles Shae sometimes.  Steve has grown used to it and so doesn’t really notice it.

Grenich is a name I made up (I wanted a harsh sounding name).  I imagined it to be a word from the secret language of the Big Bad.

There’s a bit of background on Steve revealed here.  He’s bisexual by human standards and (gasp) Isis actually gets along with his boyfriend 😀

Shae can obviously be a little nosy and she can’t resist teasing Isis about her dislike of most of the population.  Shae also has a wonderfully dirty sense of humor at times.  Her theory about shape shifter stamina was something that cracked me up, which is why it stayed in the novel.  I don’t often do that, but every now and again I will.

A lot of novels mentioned in this series are classics that I enjoyed or that fit into a particular scene.  There’s always a reason why characters are reading certain books, but I leave it up to the reader to figure out why 😉

Isis’ sarcastic response of “once we solve more pressing matters, I promise I’ll immediately go out and get laid” [36] still makes me laugh.  This might have been born out of my frustration with people treating me like I was broken, repressed, or abnormal when I came out as asexual.  Asexuals are still seen as somehow not human due to our lacking a sex drive and/or sexual attraction.  It’s fucked up and it needs to stop.  I’m aromantic asexual (aro-ace), I was born that way, and I’m damn proud of it!  🙂

Jade is very adventurous by nature and very open to experimenting with sexuality and desire.  She has never been shy or ashamed of her sexuality.  Unfortunately, this would probably lead to some labeling her slutty (among other things).  But Jade’s sexuality is only one part of her identity, which I have tried to get across.  As an aro-ace woman, writing different orientations can sometimes be a little challenging.  However, I think it’s extremely important to step outside one’s comfort zone when writing.

Poor Isis really can’t catch a break in this new life.  The rigidity of guardian laws is quite different from the flexibility of shape shifter rules.  Isis is a woman with a foot in both worlds, which means she has to navigate these clashing philosophies/laws.  Like she says, humans are more lenient.

Isis spends a good part of this novel somewhat distracted by her own personal investigation.  She doesn’t feel like she can ask for help because of the trouble she’s still in for letting Coop go.  Also, Isis isn’t used to asking for help.  This is a woman who has spent most of her life avoiding people as much as possible.  She’s still getting used to being part of a group.

Isis and Jade have become friends.  Isis enjoys familiarity and since Jade was the first shape shifter she encountered, Isis feels more comfortable with her.  Jade teases her a bit, but she’s also able to offer Isis advice about how to navigate the world of shape shifters and guardians.

For all her faults, and there are quite a few, Isis is extremely loyal to those she considers friends.  Isis does have a couple redeeming characteristics, which I mentioned in the commentary for the first book.  This doesn’t necessarily make her likeable, but Isis is a rather complex individual.

Things are a bit too quiet at the moment.  That never lasts in this series 😉

Page 39 – 44

This was one of the scenes I was looking forward to when I started working on this novel and it was one of the first scenes I wrote for this book.  It marks a turning point in the story.

Guardians don’t have the same definitions/terms for mental/psychological illnesses that humans do.  Neither do shape shifters or other supernatural species.  This isn’t to say they don’t occur, but they are dealt with somewhat differently.  Passion shows some symptoms of mild Seasonal Affective Disorder (though admittedly this is tied up with the trauma of the fallout from her relationship with Roan).

Yet another awful incident tied to Christmas (why is that making me laugh so much?  😀

Adonia is extremely compassionate.  She has a very maternal bond with Passion and is one of the only guardians Passion can confide in.

Passion desperately needs closure.  I’ve noticed that society sometimes disregards the importance of closure when it relates to traumatic experiences.  I had an extremely traumatic experience fairly early in my life that I never got closure for.  While it doesn’t affect me as much as it once did, I still have the occasional nightmare and flashback.  I can’t help but wonder if this is connected to my not getting closure.

There’s a small plot hole here.  Adonia knows more than she did originally.  I explained in the commentary for the first book that Donovan felt comfortable confiding in her and telling her what had happened (knowing she wouldn’t punish Passion for her attempt to alleviate the suffering of a dying shape shifter).  I wish I would have clarified this more here.  Oh well.  That’s one of the dangers of having so many characters:  you can sometimes lose track of who knows what 🙂  Actually, I really need to draw up a character glossary.  A reader (hi Dave!) suggested that at a con and I was like, “Dammit!  Why didn’t I think of that!?”

The tiger appears, seemingly out of nowhere.  I really like how this scene came out.  Something about the sudden quiet and the stillness just adds an eerie surrealism to the feel.  It could almost be a dream.

I wanted to spend a little time showing how the appearance of the tiger affected the characters it encounters.  I probably could have trimmed this a little, but it was such an important scene that I was loathe to take a chainsaw to it.

The tiger still inspires a lot of fear.  Even when it’s not physically threatening anyone.

Passion is fairly adept at containing her emotions, intense though they may be.  Passion is a very emotional character.  Not hysterical.  She does have some trouble when she experiences a lot of emotions at once.  When that happens, she tends to leave the situation, as she does here.

Nobody really knows what to do about the tiger.  They’re not even sure how it got there.  As usual, Adonia takes charge of the situation and orders the tiger brought to the dungeons.  She’s one of the few who has never been scared of the tiger.

And we have a somewhat dramatic moment here when Electra suddenly enters the scene and sees the tiger.  When I was writing this, I pictured this as one of the very few times in her life when Electra contemplates using violence.  Electra is not a violent person by nature.  The only time she ever considers using it is when a loved one is in danger (loyalty is a trait she and Isis share).  This was demonstrated in the first novel when she had a brief confrontation with Coop when Isis was in danger.

When Adonia orders the tiger to be taken to the dungeons, it’s as much for its protection as it is for Electra’s.

Once the drama is over, Electra goes to find her mother.  This is force of habit:  Electra is close to Passion.  She wants to make sure Passion’s all right and Electra is also looking for some reassurance (though she doesn’t realize this).  Passion and Electra have a really nice bond.  I really love writing the relationships between mothers and daughters 🙂

Page 44 – 47

I always imagined Passion’s room as being filled with books and art.  She would surround herself with beauty.  And of course the color red.  That’s her color.

Electra is unsettled when she’s unable to read her mother.  Passion tends to wear her heart on her sleeve and isn’t ashamed of her emotions.  When she hides them, it’s an indication something is wrong.

Passion tends to be selfless to a certain extent.  She worries about how the tiger’s appearance will affect others, even though she’s the one most likely to get in trouble with the High Council.

Okay, I admit:  letters sealed with wax, I find that to be so fucking cool.  And Passion seals it with her own personal crest (squealing).  Yeah, I’m a total writing nerd 😉

Oh Donovan, how I love him.  Donovan is the kind of guardian who will draw lewd pictures during High Council meetings.  He’s the only guardian who sends messengers away without even looking at whatever they bring him.  In order to get a message to him, Electra has to give it to his apprentice (and now I’ve made myself laugh.  I’ll write more about Donovan and Lucky in future commentaries.  Lucky is Donovan’s apprentice and they’re such a mismatched pair.  Lucky’s just completely adorable).

And this chapter ends on probably the mildest cliffhangers I’ve ever written 🙂

Thus ends commentary for chapter three.  Hopefully the use of code isn’t too weird.  It’s how I’m going to keep major plot twists and reveals secret.

This was a fun commentary to write.  I hope readers are finding these informative and fun.  I’m certainly enjoying myself (hopefully I’m not coming off as an arrogant douche nozzle.  I’m incredibly passionate about storytelling and I still have fun writing, even when I’m constantly cringing) 🙂

Questions and comments are welcome.  Spammers can fuck right off. 

Until next time . . .

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About Lauren Jankowski

Lauren Jankowski, an author from Illinois, has been an avid reader and a genre feminist for most of her life. She holds a degree in Women and Genders Studies from Beloit College. In 2015, she founded “Asexual Artists,” a Tumblr and WordPress site dedicated to highlighting the contributions of asexual identifying individuals to the arts. She has been writing fiction since high school, when she noticed a lack of strong women in the popular genre books. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys reading (particularly anything relating to ancient myths) or playing with her pets. She participates in activism for asexual visibility and feminist causes. She enjoys speaking about genre feminism, a topic she is quite passionate about, and hopes to bring more strong heroines to literature, including badass asexual women. Her debut novel was "Sere from the Green," the first volume in her ongoing series "The Shape Shifter Chronicles." The sequels, "Through Storm and Night," "From the Ashes," and "Haunted by the Keres" are also available. All books can be purchased through Amazon, CreateSpace, or Smashwords.
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