“Through Storm and Night” Chapter Fourteen 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 love writing that.  It just makes me feel so happy.  My beautiful, wonderful, unique readers whom I dearly love 😀

This is the 2nd to the last chapter in Through Storm and Night.  Can you believe it?  This novel is a bit of a whirlwind.  It’s been easier to remember more about the writing of this book than it was the first.  I think (well, I hope) the third will be even easier.

These last two chapters were all about tying up a few loose ends.  There’s one character who is still in peril at the start of this chapter.  I needed a couple characters to come face-to-face with the villain of this novel, which proved to be an interesting, albeit short, interaction.

Shall we?

Page 243 – 244

Poor Steve has just been getting steadily drained throughout the course of this novel.  [SPOILER!  I always pictured Tracy as a kind of energy vampire.  She feeds off of energy, slowly draining a person’s life without leaving a mark on them.  Most of us have run across people like this before.  They just suck the life right out of you]

This is a scene where the reader is meant to have more information than the character in trouble.  It heightens the tension:  you know Steve’s in danger before he does.

Steve’s been drugged, so his memory is rather hazy.  He had to be somewhat impaired for this scene to work.  I needed the reader to be scared for Steve.  He’s in a lot of danger and that phone is just beckoning him.  I don’t think the phone is as central as it was in the earliest drafts (my brother pointed out that it just didn’t read correctly if the phone isn’t out in the open).

Page 244 – 247

The scene that shows the different ways some members of the Four grieve.  Shae throws herself into an investigation and Jade tries to keep them all together.

Jade is another character who dislikes cold weather immensely (because it’s awful).  So she’s already not in the greatest mood.  Shae’s uncharacteristic aloofness and stubbornness doesn’t help the situation.  Jade gets really angry when Shae doesn’t acknowledge they’re all grieving a loss.  This is one of the very rare occasions where Shae kind of has blinders on.  When she loses someone (which hasn’t happened often in her life), it’s really difficult for Shae to remember the grief of others.

Like Shae, I find suburbia to be creepy as fuck.  I haven’t the faintest idea why (maybe it’s because of the sameness).  There’s just something very unsettling about the environment.  This is coming from someone who spent much of her life in suburbia (and pretty much loathed every goddamn minute of it).

Jade and Shae are observing the scene of the Trap.  There’s always something slightly off about this location.  They notice some important things are missing.  They don’t realize it yet but Grenich cleaners have already taken care of the scene.

Shae isn’t typically violent (she can handle herself, but she follows the philosophy of “violence only as a last resort”).  This whole situation has made her incredibly uneasy and as a result, she’s more on edge than she normally would be.  This is another place where Jade’s experience really comes in handy.  She’s able to keep a cooler head (though it’s still a challenge).

[SPOILER!  In this series, necromancers have the ability to alter perception.  They can make people see things that aren’t there and change their appearance for brief periods of time.  They can also alter memories.  One of the things that indicates the presence of Grenich operatives, whether past or present, is a number of people having difficulty remembering things.  Their memories are often hazy for a short time after they’ve been altered]

(Okay, I should have noticed this a little earlier.  This commentary is going to get . . . there are a couple shorter scenes as the story continues to switch between two different locations, so things may be a little choppy)

I liked being able to write Shae finding a really important clue.  [SPOILER!  She’s the one who figures out that Steve’s girlfriend isn’t who she claims to be.  This would be a devastating moment for Shae after all that has happened, but all she can think about is making sure her friend is safe]

Page 247

I knew Steve would figure out a little too late (this is like a mini trap that he springs).  It’s important to remember that Steve is still a very young shape shifter.  He’s not quite as naïve as other shape shifters his age, but he doesn’t have as much experience as shape shifters like Jade or the Deverells or Jet.  He still stumbles every now and again.  Tracy is older than most of the guardians and could easily deceive even the most experienced protector.

Tracy really enjoys taunting him.  She has a cruel streak in her, which she will indulge if given the chance.  Not as much as a few of the other villains in this series, but she still gets pleasure out of tormenting her marks when the opportunity arises.

Page 247 – 248

Shae’s only concern right now is getting to Steve and she’s hoping to make it there before Tracy, complete unaware that said woman is already there.

Jade is choosing not to look at the speedometer, which is a wise decision.

Shae is terrified for her friend.  This is one of those times when the car can’t go fast enough.

Page 248 – 251

Steve knows there’s a good possibility he’s about to die.  He’s doing his best to think on his feet, which is difficult because his mind is still a little fuzzy.  Steve believes that Tracy intends to kill him and has resolved to not go down without a fight.

Tracy is extremely offended by the suggestion that she could be mistaken for an assassin (if she hadn’t been under orders, she would have put a bullet in him for that).  In her mind, that is a completely vulgar occupation meant for peasants.  She’s so much more than some simple assassin.

Poor Steve is trying to face off against an ancient woman and he’s wearing nothing but his boxers.  When I was writing this scene, I wanted Steve to be completely stripped of all power.  He’s almost naked.  Tracy has all the power throughout this scene.

Character print:  Tracy refers to those she sees as being beneath her as “love” (a condescending little pet name.  She would never refer to a subordinate by their name)

As the reader soon finds out, Tracy is under strict orders not to kill anybody.

[SPOILER!  Tracy’s position as the first revenant (and the Big Bad’s personal messenger and enforcer) has allowed her to receive some abilities that other revenants don’t have.  She has some telepathic ability, for example.  The Big Bad has given her these gifts so that she can better serve him]

Shae has great timing, unfortunately Tracy’s is better.  At no point does Tracy lose control of this situation.  She has them exactly where she wants them.  Tracy is a formidable opponent, as I’ve mentioned before.  At the risk of sounding completely cliché, she’s got brains and brawn.  Experiments may be a little physically stronger than she is, but they’re almost bound by the intense training and conditioning (not to mention their instincts).  Tracy still retains the ability to be a little unpredictable, which gives her a slight advantage over the experiments.  This is shown in book three, From the Ashes.

Telepathy is extremely rare, even among guardians.  Shae and Steve really have no idea what the hell this woman is.

I felt so sorry for Steve throughout this whole scene.  He’s in his boxers, slightly groggy, and being threatened with a gun.  Then Shae acts completely disappointed in him.  He’s just getting salt rubbed into his wounds constantly.  Poor guy.

Shae does her best to stay collected, but is a bit thrown by Tracy’s ability to read her mind.  This is really an unsettling situation for both Shae and Steve.  Shae is kind of a bit done with all of this towards the end of this scene.

When Tracy slams the knife into the wall next to Shae’s face, making her flinch, it’s a demonstration of dominance.  She wants Shae to see exactly who’s in charge and who has the power.  As I’ve mentioned before, Tracy views shape shifters the same way humans tend to view farm animals:  they have their purpose, but they’re just animals to be used by the superior species.

The Big Bad really enjoys gloating.  He wants to keep as many shape shifters alive as possible for a couple reasons.  He’s got a grudge against protectors and wants them to witness their annihilation.  Also, shape shifters are valuable products and a source of income (not to mention power.  He’s the only one manufacturing these perfect living weapons.  He’s got a monopoly).

I think my brother really fucking hated the alchemy.  The villains are capable of altering reality (erasing people and shape shifters) as well as perception (temporarily changing their appearance), so I wanted them to have some control over elements/materials as well.  [SPOILER!  Set is trained in alchemy, which he uses when it suits him.  He has passed most of this knowledge onto other necromancers in his inner circle]

Tracy assures Steve and Shae that they will meet again.  She refrains from embellishing because that’s not in character for her.  Tracy is very subdued and cold.  She’s also very quiet, only speaking when it’s necessary.  I wrote her to be the complete opposite of the term “flashy.”

Shae kind of breaks down towards the end of the scene.  All the pent up feelings just kind of come flooding out of her.  She starts by lashing out at Steve though, accusing him of being extremely careless, which Steve apologizes for (Steve knows she’s venting and lets her).  She feels guilty shortly afterwards and tries to distract herself by examining where the door used to be.

I’ve found that when I grieve, I tend to use avoidance (which probably isn’t so healthy).  My dog recently passed away (we saved each other.  Her story is found here, if you’re interested).  Shortly after her passing, I threw myself into my work.  I actually think these chapter commentaries are a way to distract myself from the pain of her loss.  When I’m done with them, I’ll probably dive head-first into yet another writing-related endeavor.

Shae is a character who I picture as being able to embrace her emotions.  She’s not ashamed of them, not even the ones many label negative like sadness or anger.  Like I’ve mentioned before, there’s a strength in emotions.

I think everyone could use a friend like Steve.  The guy is just so loyal and understanding.  There’s not a mean bone in his body.

Page 252 – 254

This was a scene where I genuinely couldn’t tell whether or not my brother liked or hated it.  Usually I had some idea, but this time I didn’t.

Jade is outside and the snow storm is starting to pick up, almost to the point of becoming a blizzard.  She can barely see in front of her.

[SPOILER!  The older woman who exits right as Jade enters is Tracy.  Tracy can’t shape shift, but she can temporarily affect people’s perception of her appearance.  She’s the only revenant with this ability and she can’t hold it as long as the necromancers can.  Shape shifters can’t take on any other human appearance than the one they’re born with.  The ability to alter perception like the necromancers can originates with the guardians]

Jade is a fucking badass.  She’s completely fearless 🙂

Once again, there’s an unusual chill in the apartment.  Since she’s a proxy for the Big Bad, Tracy often leaves a deathly chill in her wake.

Steve is a very soft-spoken protector (one of his main character traits is his gentleness).  I wrote him as being naturally calm and easy-going.  It’s a trait he shares with most of his family.  This is one of the few times readers see him frustrated.

There’s another small snippet of shape shifter and guardian history in this scene:  alchemy is no longer practiced and hasn’t been for centuries.  Not even Jade has encountered it.  I had this idea of the Big Bad taking ancient magic, modernizing it, and then continuing to use it when it suits him.  He often combines the natural and supernatural.

Shae is beyond furious that Tracy got by Jade.  Jade knows this, but she doesn’t really care.  She’s way more interested in exactly how Tracy managed to get past her.  Jade doesn’t often get angry and she doesn’t really mind when other people are mad at her for unwarranted/unavoidable reasons.

Steve thinks of using a chainsaw on the fused wall.  Obviously, that doesn’t work (as seen in the next scene).

Page 254 – 257

The readers are introduced to a new guardian:  Silver, the metal worker and blacksmith (metal blacksmith?) from the lands of the women guardians.  Silver hasn’t had much of an opportunity to shine yet, but I’ve written a fairly interesting profile on her so I hope she can make some more appearances in this series.  I’ll admit, I fucking love introducing different guardians (at the risk of sounding completely pompous, I find the guardians to be so interesting).

Poor Jade tries to keep Steve and Shae occupied while they wait for the guardians and Jet to arrive.  Needless to say, it just doesn’t work.

I like sarcastic Shae.  I find her entertaining (it may just be my affinity for good snark) 🙂

Jade’s willing to let Shae vent as much as she wants.  She’s more concerned about Shae looking for revenge.  That’s a path Jade wants to keep her teammates off.  No good comes from going down that path.

I have a very clear idea of what Silver looks and sounds like.  She’s a guardian who relies equally on natural skill and magic.  She carries tools with her wherever she goes and is fascinated with the way things work.  Silver is a character whose hands are always busy.  She’s always working on something.

Whenever guardians have to use their tools and/or magic on Earth, there must be a member of the High Council present (Artemis, in this case) as well as at least one protector escort (Jet in this scene).

Silver is a guardian who really takes a lot of pride in her work.  She’s always happy when she can put her tools to good use.  Silver’s really awesome with a sword too.

Poor Steve is just living in a nightmare.  He’s still wearing only boxers and now there are guardians in his home, seeing him.  Imagine meeting a deity while only wearing underwear  😀

There’s no trace of the substance Tracy used to fuse the door and wall.  The Big Bad knows how to cover his tracks and almost never leaves behind any kind of physical traces or evidence.

Page 257 – 258

This was another scene that I could vividly picture while writing it.  Jensen is pretty much lost to the world, unaware of what’s going on around him.  His only focus is on the mysterious objects from the envelope he found in his apartment.

Jensen hasn’t even bothered cleaning up his apartment, which says something about how distracted he is.  If the Deverells weren’t doing it, chances are he wouldn’t even bother.  He has left it in shambles for a week.

Jensen is starting to look sickly.  He’s so consumed with figuring out the mystery of Grenich, the meaning of the symbol, and how they tie into the Trap.  He’s not eating, barely sleeping, and doesn’t leave his apartment.

There’s a nice moment between Jensen and Nero (I love writing these characters together, although they are usually a lot more fun).  I like when characters are close enough that they can communicate through looks.  Also, Nero knows when to give Jensen space and when to step in to prevent him from isolating himself.

Jensen has found a new purpose to dedicate himself to:  finding out everything he can about Coop and the Grenich Corporation.  Jensen knows it all starts with that mysterious symbol.  He feels he needs to find out the meaning behind it.

So ends commentary for chapter fourteen.

Tomorrow will be the final chapter commentary for “Through Storm and Night.”  Because I’m going to be making a few alterations to the downloadable completed novel commentary, it may take me a day or so to post it.

The holidays are right around the corner.  There’s still time to pick up a novel or two for your loved ones.  Show the indie authors some love 🙂

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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