“Through Storm and Night” Chapter Ten 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! 🙂

This novel is just flying by.  We only five more chapters left.  I’ll probably start on From the Ashes commentary immediately after I finish this one.  I’ve been looking forward to that one for quite a while now.

I hadn’t originally planned for the Big Bad to make an appearance in this novel.  So far, readers have only seen his henchmen and I planned for him to make his first appearance in the beginning of From the Ashes.  When I realized that I needed a new end scene for Through Storm and Night, I took a chance and brought in the Big Bad for a brief appearance.

I really wanted readers to feel uneasy about the Big Bad.  On the one hand, as a reader, you are always curious about what the monster looks like.  You want to know who he is.  But on the other hand, we’re always kind of scared of the monster revealing itself.  We may be curious about what the boogeyman looks like, but that doesn’t mean we ever want to actually see him.

In this series, the Big Bad is best when used sparingly and that really works with his character.  He enjoys remaining behind the curtain, pulling strings here and there.  He’s not flashy and doesn’t desire adulation.  So throughout the series, readers often only see the aftermath of him.

Like the first scene in chapter ten.

Shall we?

Page 177 – 179

Like I mentioned in the previous commentary, I tried to give the places the Big Bad passes through a dead feeling.  This house is meant to feel completely lifeless.  There is dirt and grime everywhere.  It’s empty and cold.  There are no signs that anyone has ever lived there.  It’s the shell of a house.

Even coniferous plants wither and die in the presence of the Big Bad.  By the way, when I was writing this, I couldn’t think of the term “coniferous” and spent a ridiculous amount of time on Wikipedia, muttering about “what are those fucking non-dying plants called?” 😀

Alex’s love of stories often comes in handy.  She was raised with the myths of shape shifters and her love of them comes from Remington.

There’s a brief mention of a detail from Sere from the Green.  The plants at Isis’ old apartment were all dead.  When Jade and Electra went to retrieve her, there was a similar heaviness felt in the building too.

[SPOILER!  The Four leave, not aware that Tracy has been watching their every move.  Tracy is a revenant, the very first one.  Revenants, like experiments, have no scent, which is why the Four were unaware of her presence.  Revenants are undead, but they’re not like zombies.  They retain some remnants of their original selves and appear to be normal humans.  They’re very strong and almost impossible to kill]

Page 179 – 181

This was a difficult scene to write.  I needed it to have an impact and I also had to avoid going over the top.  I was really nervous about approaching a sensitive topic like suicide.  God, I hope I didn’t fuck it up completely.

Ajax usually works with Malone or Nero.  Malone would insist on going with him into an unknown situation like this.  Like I mentioned earlier, Malone is the sheepdog of the Deverells 😉

Ajax is a very logical thinker.  Malone tends to be overly cautious.  The two of them make a good team.  In this scene, Malone really wants to get out of there as soon as possible.  He doesn’t like being in situations with a lot of unknown variables.

An unlocked door in this situation isn’t a good sign and that puts Malone on edge.  If it were up to him, they would leave right at that moment.

Separatists and assassins frequently target Jet’s more valuable allies, like the Deverells.  Malone and Ajax have dodged multiple attempts on their lives over the years.  They have seen a lot of violence and it makes them err on the side of caution.

Malone and Ajax (and their brothers) can communicate through non-verbal cues.  The Deverells are kind of like elite soldiers/operatives.  They have been in the field for years and sometimes need to use non-verbal communication (like when a mission requires stealth).

The two Deverells come upon a fairly awful scene.  Originally, I wrote this scene with Halley hanging (thinking it would be more disturbing if there was some ambiguity in the scene).  While editing, my brother pointed out that the mechanics just didn’t work at all, which would distract the reader.  Also, the scene worked better when there was no ambiguity (it actually helps a later scene).

The Deverells have been desensitized to death.  This happens to almost all protectors (if they live long enough), especially those who are constantly in the field like the Deverells.

Ajax and Malone work fast.  It’s generally not a great idea to hang out at the scene of a suicide.

I always imagined Ajax having some past experience as a combat medic.  This was another name I picked before I knew about the Greek myth (I liked the sound of this name).  It’s a bit difficult to link the two, but the Ajax in this series is strong in his own way.  He’s a healer who can work in adverse and dire situations.  In my notes, I mentioned that Ajax was trained by Orion (he always looked up to his oldest brother).  As a result, he’s able to work on both humans and shape shifters.  He has a knack for medicine.

Malone notices Halley’s graying hair.  This is extremely unusual for shape shifters (not unheard of, but rare).  Shape shifters tend to stop aging in their thirties (occasionally they stop aging in their late twenties, but this is also rare).  If under constant stress, they can start showing signs of their age, such as graying hair.  But it has to be unending and close to debilitating.  Malone points out that even the Deverells don’t have graying hair.

Jet having contacts in the police department is very useful.  Shape shifters rely on human (and human posing) allies for a number of things.

Page 181 – 183

I decided early on that I would never give an exact location for where this story takes place.  I wanted readers to feel like the series could be taking place in their town or city.  Obviously, there are a few places where it can’t be.  I doubt the middle of Arizona has snowy winters for example 😉

Jade’s line about “the object of [Isis’] indifference” is another of those lines that makes me chuckle.  The Four have grown close since first being formed.   At the risk of sounding completely and nauseatingly cliche, they really are a sisterhood.

Jensen is already back from his date, so Isis’ hope for peace and quiet is probably unlikely to happen 🙂  Actually, at this point, they’re fairly comfortable with each other.

The flirtation in this scene is probably the only one I actually like.  I’m really fucking awful at writing flirtation (I don’t flirt in reality or in writing.  Aro-ace, remember?).  When I write flirting, it almost always comes off as heavy-handed or clunky.  Sometimes both.

Jensen is attracted to intellect.  That probably sounds incredibly snooty/elitist, but intelligence is the most attractive quality to Jensen (it’s just how I wrote the character).  He’s also attracted to people who see him instead of his last name, which is part of the reason he has befriended Isis.

As usual, a nice moment is interrupted by more pressing matters.  It’s always something.

Page 183 – 185

Fuck.  There are a fuck lot of scenes in this chapter :-S

Alpha and the Doctor:  I really love writing scenes between these two.  Again, these are two interesting characters who just have interesting chemistry (not romantic, but in terms of being allies.  Characters can have chemistry without fucking).

My brother likes the line about forgotten desires.  It was one of those lines that gave me a good visual (something I could clearly picture).  I’m glad I was able to include it 🙂

Alpha has been providing the Doctor sanctuary.  Once I changed the Lair to a renovated hotel, I figured that if the mysterious men met in the back, it had some really interesting narrative/plot potential.  Alpha being part of this secret alliance was way too interesting to pass up and it would definitely be in character for her.

Like the Doctor and the 2nd Man, the alliance between Alpha and the Doctor is one of necessity instead of choice.  Unlike the 2nd Man, there’s not as much contempt and tension between these two.

Alpha really doesn’t like how callous the Doctor can be.  As a rebel, she tends to stand with the underdog.  Coop has been exploited and is now being hunted.  He’s alone.  With Halley dead and Cara missing (probably dead), Alpha wants to know when the Doctor is actually going to do something.

It should be noted that Alpha only knows a little more than the protectors.  She doesn’t know all the members of this alliance.  Only the Doctor and the 2nd Man.

Alpha is really furious with the Doctor because of his unwillingness to interfere when Grenich targets people.  Rebels are against people being used without their knowing.  To rebels, dying for a cause is easy (living for one is hard).  [SPOILER!  The Doctor essentially let Grenich target Coop’s family.  He could have interfered but didn’t].  I wrote the Doctor as having complete tunnel-vision when it comes to Grenich.  He has one goal:  dismantling the Corporation.  Shape shifters are inevitably going to be caught in the crossfire.  He knows this but doesn’t think about it (or how to perhaps lessen the number caught up in this war).

Alpha probably has the strongest sense of morality in this group.  Unlike the two men, she refuses to disregard the potential collateral damage.  Alpha doesn’t back down from arguing this with the Doctor.

There’s a funny moment between these two when Alpha basically tells the Doctor he needs to get laid (and offers to sleep with him).  The Doctor doesn’t think about anything but this fight with Grenich.  Alpha wants to make sure he doesn’t forget what he’s fighting for, which he’s really in danger of doing.  The Doctor has basically cut himself off from the world and is in hiding.  Now that the 2nd Man is in the Meadows, he doesn’t have regular contact with anyone (he only sees Alpha occasionally).  He’s completely alone and most of the time, he doesn’t even realize it.  Even when Alpha points out that this isn’t exactly healthy, his first response is to say he eats and drinks when he needs to.  The Doctor doesn’t take breaks, barely sleeps, and has almost lost the ability to think of anything outside of this fight.  In this series, I tried to explore the difference between living and just surviving.  Because there is a difference.  Right now, the Doctor is surviving.

The Doctor is kind of standing on the line between sanity and insanity in this novel.  Alpha notices that his room resembles a madman’s.  The Doctor is a very driven character, which isn’t always a great thing.  In my notes about him, I wrote that he’s trying to atone for something that no one would blame him for.  The Doctor carries a lot of guilt over things that he shouldn’t.  He’s another character who has a really sad back story and he has survived a fairly traumatic experience (which is shown more in Haunted by the Keres).

Alpha’s first concern is always her people.  Grenich doesn’t see shape shifters as individuals or even as groups.  They’re materials (either products or potential products).  This is a big reason why Alpha has allied with the Doctor and joined this fight.

The Doctor doesn’t lie to Alpha.  He may omit things or refuse to answer certain questions, but he will never outright lie to her.  They don’t see eye-to-eye on most things, but these two characters respect each other.  I pictured these two as having known each other for some time.  Alpha knew the Doctor before he started fighting against Grenich, so she remembers what he used to be like.  Her memories of him show how Grenich is like a poison that changes people.

Page 186 – 188

My brother wrote a really hilarious scene while editing this chapter.  The only way I can think of to describe it is “a car fucking the night” 😀  He was making a point, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what the hell it was.

Isis is feeling an enormous amount of guilt about Halley.  She thinks she may have gotten a woman killed (or driven her to suicide).  That’s something one can never get over.  Isis also thinks that this may endanger Coop even more somehow.  (Note:  and there’s more cold imagery.  Because cold is horrible.  Seriously, fuck snow).

I wrote this scene picturing Isis on the verge of having a panic attack.  She doesn’t think she can confide in anyone  and she doesn’t know if she can make this right.  Isis is in a really awful position at the moment and fully aware of it.

The character of Isis can be a bit of a dichotomy at times and she definitely is in this scene.  She wants to be alone but at the same time, she wants to confide in someone.

Of course Isis runs into Jensen.  The reader gets to see his more sensitive side in this scene.  He recognizes that she’s upset and sees that she needs a temporary change of scenery.  Jensen has often experienced that feeling and therefore can sympathize with her.

“I’m not going to sleep with you!” [187].  This is one of the very few lines that made both my brother and I laugh.  For slightly different reasons, but still, it was enough to ensure it stayed in the story.  Isis is unable to think of anything to say and manages to completely embarrass herself.  It cracks Jensen up, which makes her blush even more.  Jensen is incredibly entertained by this.

“Well, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way” [187].  Jensen comes up with a great response 😉

Page 188 – 192

Every reader saw this scene coming from a mile away, which I totally expected 🙂

Jensen hasn’t been back to his apartment in quite some time.  He tends to avoid places that remind him of people he’s lost.  Like I’ve mentioned before, this character sucks at grieving.  Jensen has the bad habit of avoidance and repression.

Like Isis, Jensen rarely forgets to lock doors.  Though if he weren’t overly cautious, he likely wouldn’t survive very long.

Jensen fully expects that he’ll die (probably violently) one day.  He fights like hell to survive, but he leads a very dangerous life.  As the last Aldridge, Jensen has had a target on his back for most of his life.  There’s a good chance that an assassin will get lucky at some point.  Like I’ve mentioned in previous commentaries, most protectors meet violent ends.  They expect it, but continue to protect the innocent because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

The electronics coming to life:  there are some guardians who when experiencing heightened emotions can affect lighting (or, in this case, electronics).

Jensen will never just toss his jacket off to the side.  He always has to lay it neatly somewhere (preferably over furniture).

I knew when I started work on this novel that Jensen would be the one to tell Isis the legend of Selene.  I liked the idea of a shape shifter (Jensen) telling a guardian (which Isis is technically considered, even though she’s only half and lives more like a shape shifter) this extremely important story.  The reason why shape shifters and guardians can’t be romantically involved is because of what happened during the War of the Meadows to Selene and her lover.

The legend of Selene has evolved a little as the series has continued on.  I’ve always been fascinated by moon goddesses and there isn’t much known about the Greek goddess of the moon.  When I was working on this series, I was looking up assorted mythologies and deities.  I started thinking about why it might be that some deities are forgotten or just not a lot is known about them (why it might happen in my series).

I have a couple different versions of the legend of Selene written out in my notes (the version depends on who’s telling it) and I also have the version of what “actually” happened.  Like most stories, some parts were left out and some were forgotten.  The guardians tend to focus on her shape shifter lover and her grief, which led to tragedy.  This tragedy is why the guardians aren’t allowed to have romantic relationships with anyone other than guardians.  Over the course of the series, it’s gradually revealed that the legend as it’s told now leaves out a couple important bits of information.

Jensen is loyal to the guardians because he’s a protector, but like I mentioned in the previous commentary, if he were forced to choose between the guardians and Jet, his loyalty would always be with Jet.

These two are both relatively young and they are attracted to each other.  Isis is much more willing to break the sacred law (having been raised by humans, she recognizes it as the unjust law that it is).  Jensen is much more torn:  he’s been a protector his whole life and has sworn his loyalty to the guardians.  Breaking a sacred law isn’t something that is done lightly (no matter how unjust it is).

These two were always going to end up in bed together.  Actually, this love scene is probably the only one that doesn’t make me cringe.  It moves quite nicely.

God, Isis is so sick and tired of guardian heritage at this point 😉  Actually, Jensen isn’t so much concerned about what the guardians think.  He’s more concerned about crossing a line with the Deverells and Jet.  In the end though, Isis is a grown woman who makes her own decisions.  She’s not owned and doesn’t belong to anyone.

The last sentence in this chapter is one of my absolute favorites in the novel.  The moon is a callback to Selene, both the guardian and the mysterious Greek goddess.

So ends commentary for chapter ten.

This was the last bit of levity for a while.  The novel takes a bit of a dark turn in the next chapter.  I’ve been dreading that commentary for a while.  No more lightheartedness for a bit.

Hey, if you’re enjoying these commentaries, chances are you’d enjoy the books too.  If you’re not already.  This little indie author is always grateful for new readers 🙂

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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