“Through Storm and Night” Chapter Eight 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 OfficalHello, beloved readers! 🙂  I hope you’re having a great day.

Before I get to the commentary, there are a couple things I’d like to mention briefly.  If you’ll be so kind to indulge me.

First, Women in Horror Month (also known as “WiHM”) is fast approaching.  Every February, the organization celebrates the contributions of women in horror.  Dear readers, I have received so much support from this community.  The genre feminists who work in horror are some of the most badass, generous, dedicated, and talented women one can ever have the pleasure of meeting.  I have a lot of friends in the horror filmmaking community who have always been so wonderfully encouraging to this little indie author and I’m lucky to know such amazing women.  This event was started by Hannah Neurotica and she keeps it up and running to this day.  I really can’t say enough good things about her or Women in Horror Month.

Anyway, WiHM can always use a little extra help and support.  If you are interested in helping spread the word or could afford to donate a little money, there’s a contact form on the website.  Please consider helping out this incredibly worthwhile cause.  Show the ladies of horror some love 🙂

Second, I’ve been trying to think of a way to make this blog a little easier to navigate.  The commentary on Sere from the Green has been all but buried.  This might be a bit of a premature announcement, but I’m currently trying to figure out a way to make these novel commentaries downloadable (a PDF document for each completed novel commentary).  Ideally, I’d like to have a download section on the site where you could find the completed commentary for each novel.  I’ll still be posting daily.  Once I finish a novel’s commentary, I’ll collect the chapters and make them into a PDF document, which readers can then download from the site.  Again, I still have to figure out exactly how to do this, but I hope to have a download section on this site one day soon 🙂

That’s all the announcements for now.  Thank you, dear reader.

Chapter eight doesn’t have many scenes, but it’s still a rather long chapter.  There are a couple important moments and it keeps the story moving along.  Like I mentioned in the previous chapter commentary, this was originally chapter seven but became chapter eight after I realized it read too rushed.

Shall we?

Page 144 – 145

Isis has managed to talk herself into a less than stellar idea.  She’s a lot bolder than she was in Sere from the Green.  She’s a stronger character and can certainly handle herself a lot better than she could in book one.  Unfortunately, with this new confidence, she has developed a bit of a reckless streak.  Isis is very smart but she can also be quite impulsive at times.

I found that Isis had a really interesting thought process in book two.  Halley Waterson would be wary about talking to Jet (after his talk with Cara).  However, she doesn’t know Isis.  Also, if Halley is connected to Coop, she might be more willing to talk to the woman who let him go than she would be with the man who imprisoned him briefly.

The mystery of Coop is eating at Isis.  She feels connected to it and she doesn’t like that there are so many unanswered questions.  Isis is a very driven woman, one who’s not easily deterred.  Readers later find out that Electra shares this trait.

I always pictured Isis rationalizing this decision to investigate on her own.  She’s only going to meet one potential witness in a very public place (in broad daylight).  There’s bound to be people around, so technically she’s not going to be alone.  Therefore she’s not technically breaking her word to Jade.  Cue multiple face palms 😉

Page 145 – 154

This is one of the very few scenes both my brother and I liked (though we liked different parts of it).

Shape shifters are susceptible to insomnia.  Isis has been struggling with it lately (it’s revealed in book four that Shae also struggles with it on occasion).  I always pictured Isis dealing with bouts of insomnia throughout her life.

Isis does not like children.  At all.  She is a character that has never been interested in motherhood.  When I started writing this series, there were a few plot lines I decided early on that I wasn’t going to do.  I would never do a cheating/unfaithful plot (so boring and cliche) and I won’t do a pregnancy storyline (there are so many stories out there involving pregnancy, especially of the unintended variety.  As a plot device, I find it to be rather dull).  Too often women characters are portrayed as mothers-to-be.  I was interested in having a variety of women who had no interest in motherhood.  There are a lot of mothers in my series, who I find very interesting.  I wanted to have an equal number of women who just never desired becoming parents.  Like in reality 🙂

I wanted Through Storm and Night to have a sense of paranoia (since From the Ashes needed to have a real feeling of danger).  Characters are watched and some don’t even realize it.  There are shape shifters who are terrified of an unseen, unnamed threat.

And Jensen manages to embarrass Isis again.  He’s really good at that.  Jensen is willing to make a spectacle of himself, just to annoy her.  And he succeeds 🙂

Isis is really regretting saving his life 😀

Isis does not like being the center of attention.  Ever.  Jensen has obviously noticed this.  I may have mentioned before but Jensen is a character who gives absolutely no fucks.

A small character print:  Jensen dislikes his hands being dirty or sticky.  He’s very neat and clean.  He likes to keep his appearance tidy.  Also, he’s very charming and well-mannered.

Jensen and Isis are both incredibly perceptive characters.  It’s almost impossible to follow either of them without their noticing.  Isis has also learned how to be subtle when observing (such as when she wants to check out a potential tail).  Jensen has had a lot more training and has more experience than Isis, but she’s still basically his equal.  Remember, she learns at an unusually fast rate.

I can’t really point out Isis’ impulsiveness enough.  She’s prepared to smash the hell out of a car in broad daylight (again, not a great idea).  She’s actually thinking more about the people in the car.  Isis doesn’t like being watched.

When the car speeds away, Jensen has a very unusual reaction.  It’s up to the reader to decipher it.  I have my own ideas, but this is one of those times where there is no wrong interpretation.

Jensen decides to try and make a fresh start with Isis.  If they’re going to be working together regularly, it would be a lot better if they trusted each other.  Making a fresh start with Isis is a little like climbing Everest with little to no equipment:  it might be possible, but it sure as hell isn’t likely.

Going through this novel again, I can’t help but notice that Jensen seems to have a lot of luck.  He manages to get Isis to come with him because she hates the cold weather only slightly more than she does him.

In the beginning, the dialogue in this scene was a pain in the ass to write.  I must have written at least twenty different versions.  It’s really difficult to write a conversation where one character doesn’t want to talk at all and the other is incredibly chatty.

My brother loved Jensen’s overly cautious driving (and Isis noticing it immediately).  He’s going to drag this out for as long as possible 🙂

“[Isis looked] up at the red light in an attempt to turn it green through sheer will power.  It didn’t work.” [150].  My brother also liked this bit.  Really, who hasn’t done something like this at least once in their life? 😉

I loved writing Jensen’s guessing game when he’s attempting to figure out why Isis went out to the diner.  He’s really good at making up a story by reading things in a certain way and then making it about himself.  He’s playing conceited in this scene.  For example, his stating Isis took a bullet for him (to which she almost replied, “I was grazed, you ass.”).  Also, I loved the visual of him dramatically declaring it can never be while Isis just rolls her eyes.

“You have a type?  One that doesn’t run on batteries?” [151].  Okay, this line always, always, always makes me laugh.  When editing, my brother just rolled his eyes.  My sense of humor can be a little juvenile at times 😀

After his teasing, Isis lashes out with a bit of a low blow.  When we were editing, my brother said she could have been a little meaner to Jensen.  I didn’t want her to come off as nasty or cruel.  Isis tends to be aloof, but she’s not a bully.  Her offhand remark about Jensen annoying the assassins to death isn’t something she really thinks about before saying it.  Isis doesn’t know Jensen well enough to understand how traumatized he is.  To her, he’s just some privileged pain in the ass.

Jensen has a very brief flashback, which nearly results in a car accident.  I’ve noticed that people sometimes underestimate how intense a flashback, even a mild one, can be.  Flashbacks can be paralyzing for people who have survived traumas.

It was important to me that Isis showed regret after this exchange.  She’s not heartless and she is very empathetic.  She would never intentionally cause harm like this.  Isis realizes that she went just a little too far and it makes her feel bad.  She still finds Jensen annoying as hell, but she does attempt to apologize (a bit clumsily).

Jensen and Isis manage to find common ground when it comes to a hatred of cold weather and Christmas  😀

Jensen mentions that he owes Jet his life.  Jet is probably the one Jensen is most loyal to (along with the Deverells).  Most protectors are loyal to Jet because he’s their leader and the guardians chosen liaison.  Jensen is loyal to Jet because of all he did for him.  Even if Jet wasn’t the leader of the protectors, Jensen would still be completely loyal to him.

In a strange way, Jensen’s loyalty to Jet is why he agreed to look out for Isis.  Jet’s promise to Passion is extremely important to him.  Since the Four are important to Jet, they’re important to Jensen.  The same is true of Jet’s promise to Passion.

Jensen winds up offering Isis a deal.  He has his reasons, which readers can hypothesize about 🙂

Page 155 – 157

This was a hard scene for me to write.  There are a few things that I’m not capable of or uncomfortable writing.  Torture is one of these things.

I knew I had to introduce Halley Waterson and show why she didn’t meet Isis at the diner.  The Waterson story is an incredibly sad one, which is seen in a later chapter.  Halley has been completely broken by Grenich.  Her hair is graying, which is almost unheard of in shape shifters, and she’s basically alone.  Shape shifters are social beings.  They don’t do well when isolated.

Halley isn’t scared for her own life.  She knows they’re probably going to kill her.  Her only concern is for her daughter, Cara.

The answering machine:  I wanted Halley to be kind of trapped in the past.  This is a woman who just doesn’t care anymore.  She hasn’t bothered updating anything or getting any new technologies.  Halley basically died when Grenich tore her family apart and now lives with remnants of better times.

[SPOILER!  Tracy and Caleb Brown are there to clean up some loose ends and remind those who know of Grenich exactly who is in charge.]

[SPOILER!  Almost all Grenich employees dress very conservatively.  Think politicians and you have some idea of what they wear.  Nothing flashy, but not shabby either.]

[SPOILER!  Tracy is the only woman the Big Bad allows to carry weapons.  She’s one of only two women he sees as people.  The Big Bad is a man who believes women shouldn’t be seen or heard for the most part.  The only reason the Big Bad respects Tracy is because she’s willing to be completely subservient to him.  She does what he orders without question and knows her place.]

Isis calls at the worst possible time.  At this point, Halley has given up whatever small hope she had of surviving.  Unfortunately, Grenich isn’t in the habit of killing shape shifters.  There are more effective methods of sending a message.

[SPOILER!  I tried to use a lot of sharp imagery and descriptors when describing Tracy.  She’s Grenich’s enforcer.  She’s not a sociopath or a livewire.  She’s very controlled and precise.]

Despite being broken, Halley still demonstrates some last vestiges of defiance.  She won’t show fear.

[SPOILER!  The Big Bad really doesn’t give a damn about making the world a better place for others.  Taking over the Earth and conquering the Meadows is all about claiming what he sees as rightfully his.  His followers believe he can make the world a better place for them.  There’s a lot of martyr complexes going on.]

Cruel people rarely ever think of themselves as cruel.  That’s an idea that I’ve always found somewhat unsettling.  I was listening to a commentary recently and one commenter observed that villains are almost always able to justify what they do, no matter how heinous (not many people think of themselves as bad guys, even when they do a lot of shitty and/or fucked up things).

Page 157 – 159

I try not to write graphically violent scenes if I can help it.  There are plenty of fights, some more brutal than others.  For a scene like this, I follow the Stephen King school of thought:  the reader’s imagination can come up with more horrifying things than you could ever show (Tobe Hooper used this method masterfully in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”).

This scene is basically meant to give a couple hints and clues about what the villains are plotting.  It also kind of sets up book three.  Caleb Brown makes an appearance in that book.

[SPOILER!  I wanted to give readers a glimpse into another lair of Grenich.  Tracy holds a higher position than Caleb.  She’s basically acting as a supervisor and an enforcer on this mission.]

Grenich doesn’t think highly of shape shifters.  They see them as cattle and use them as lab rats.  The experiments are merely tools in the eyes of Grenich and its clientele.

Grenich experiments are identified by numbers.  The earliest products have letters before their ID numbers (ex. L-series).  I have a spiral somewhere on my desk that has the identifications of every experiment in the series.  Holy shit, would it be confusing without those notes.  I’ll have to upload them on my site at some point.

Page 159 – 160

I wanted to end the chapter with the 2nd Man.  He’s an interesting character and surprisingly easy to write.  The 2nd Man is an incredibly conflicted character and he’s got a lot to make up for.

The 2nd Man is one of the most reflective characters in this series.  He has a couple abilities most shape shifters don’t have.  It’s revealed over the course of the series why this is (it has a bit to do with his yet unseen allies).

[SPOILER!  It’s revealed that Grenich is after Isis, which was suggested at the end of the first novel.  How they know about her and why they want her isn’t known yet]

The 2nd Man is kind of meant to show that the sins of the past don’t just negatively affect the sinner.  The 2nd Man used to be a really horrible person and there are still some really horrible parts of his personality.  He’s not a good guy.

The 2nd Man is in a really horrible position where he has to stand on the sidelines and wait.  He’s too stubborn to even consider talking to anyone but Jet.  That stubbornness is making him helpless in a weird way.

So ends commentary for chapter eight.  That was another oddly difficult commentary to write.  As we get further into the story, it’s really fucking hard to hide all the plot twists and reveals.

I wish more authors did this.  I feel like I’m so boring, just yammering on and on about my work.  It would be so cool to hear the process of more creative people.  I guess as an indie author, I have more flexibility and room to experiment with a project like this.  Oh god, I hope that didn’t make me sound like a complete asshole.  Is my foot in my mouth yet? 

Hey the holidays are fast approaching (fuck, fuck, fuckity, fucking fuck).  Well, books make great gifts.  Indie published books look absolutely beautiful on shelves and you can totally claim to have read us before anyone even knew we existed.  Like I mentioned yesterday, you’d be helping a little indie genre feminist author.  That automatically makes you one of the most awesome people on the planet 🙂

As always, 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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