“From the Ashes” Prologue 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.

From the Ashes Official Front CoverHello, amazing readers!  🙂

This is the first novel in the series that opens with a prologue.  I needed there to be a time jump between the last scene in Through Storm and Night and the first chapter in From the Ashes, but there were a couple of important things that I needed to show that happened during this time jump.  Cramming them into the first chapter didn’t read right (way, way too rushed) and trying to include them in dialogue proved much too awkward.  So I made these two short scenes the prologue.

Shall we?

Page 1 – 7

I wanted to open this novel with a really violent and destructive storm.  This is not a peaceful night.  It foreshadows the events that take place in From the Ashes.

Grenich laboratories are all very artificial and sterile environments.  There’s nothing natural about them.  This is to hide the Corporation from the eyes of the guardians (remove all natural elements and the guardians have no power over it).  It also makes it easier to break the shape shifters they capture or buy.  Shape shifters are very in touch with nature.  Depriving them of all fresh air and natural light is a form of torture.

Everything in the Corporation is on a rigid schedule, which is never deviated from.  The Big Bad controls every aspect of his employees lives.  Everyone knows their place and they stay in it or they risk severe punishment.

I wanted Grenich facilities to have a somewhat futuristic feel.  It’s advanced more than the normal world (the one we’re familiar with).

Another thing I was thinking of when I was creating this Grenich laboratory was the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Grenich is very much an underworld.  You have to descend deep into the Earth to reach it (you can only get there by descending a long, steep staircase).  It’s also not easy to leave and houses many lost souls.

Grenich doesn’t employ many humans.  The guards in the circular entrance are a mix of newer revenants and a few humans.

It’s almost impossible to infiltrate Grenich facilities.  The man in midnight blue, who the readers later learn goes by the alias Anubis, has done it multiple times.  Readers will see more of Anubis in the next book in the series, Haunted by the Keres.

Anubis is one of the doctor’s most valuable allies.  He’s one of the very, very few who can infiltrate Grenich facilities (not for extended periods of time, usually only a day or two).  Anubis has been part of the resistance longer than the doctor.  This is the first time he has been asked to attempt an extraction.  It’s a dangerous task, one the resistance wouldn’t try if they had any other options.

This was a fun scene to write.  Anubis is one of those characters who gives zero fucks.  He’s really good at what he does.  The tools he uses are made by other members of the resistance.

Anubis is a character who kills when he has to, if he has no other options.  In order to survive Grenich, one has to be violent.

[SPOILER!  Anubis does have the ability to shape shift, but readers find out in the next novel that he’s only half shape shifter]

Anubis is a very brave character and he’s also a very old one.  He has been fighting Grenich almost all his life and it’s pretty much all he knows.

It’s important to remember that Grenich employees see shape shifters as nothing more than animals, which is why they experiment on them and can still have a clear conscience.  They torture sentient beings daily, but don’t see it as wrong.  The handlers have labeled where the experiments are kept “the kennels.”  These creatures are animals.

There are places in Grenich that are painted in deceptively cheerful colors.  The barracks are an example of this.  I liked the contrast of cheerful colors with what goes on in the laboratory.

[SPOILER!  The third experiment Anubis was supposed to retrieve was Dane.  Once again, being a superior specimen prevents Dane from possibly escaping]

Anubis is no stranger to being in “kill or be killed” situations.  He has a couple close calls in this situation.  Anubis isn’t an experiment.  Bullets will do serious damage.

Grenich also specializes in surveillance.  It’s facilities have cameras everywhere.  Every move is recorded and watched.

Anubis hates Grenich with every fiber of his being.  When he can, he gloats.  The end of this scene is one such gloat.

Page 7 – 10

The scene that introduces the heads of Grenich.  The scene isn’t in the same facility obviously.

Anubis’ gloating includes giving the Grenich higher ups the finger.  I think he’s the only character in the series who would do this.

The Big Bad is completely unbothered by Anubis’ antics.  He’s only present at this meeting via video call.  The Big Bad often rules from afar and rarely ever gets his own hands dirty.

The Big Bad is never without the blonde woman.  She is his wife and companion who has helped him build the Grenich Corporation.  She thinks of herself as a queen and often looks at these heads as her subjects.

The Big Bad is wearing his older visage.  He uses it to manipulate potential clients and investors.  If they think he’s helpless and frail, they let their guard down and become more arrogant.  NOTE:  his companion doesn’t have the ability to change her appearance, which is purely by choice.

I originally wrote the Big Bad as being furious in this scene (he was shouting by the end).  While editing, my brother pointed out that him flying off the handle read more comedic than I was probably intending.  When the Big Bad is calm, cool, and collected, he’s much more menacing.

In this scene, Carding and Tracy are the only ones not related to the Big Bad through blood or marriage.  The wives of the Big Bad’s sons are seated in the very back of the room.  His sons are in the front and his grandsons are just behind them.  I have this scene in my mind (I couldn’t find the damn diagram I had drawn of this scene).

The Big Bad rules with an iron fist.  His sons were raised to one day lead their own off-shoots of Grenich.  They don’t vie for attention or affection, which would never be granted.  They know if they ever step out of line, the price will be their head.  Vladimir comes very close to disrespect in this scene and the Big Bad gives him an unspoken warning.

The Big Bad is arrogant at times, but not enough to believe he knows everything.  He often uses revenants to be his eyes and ears, like he does Tracy.

Tracy’s plan of action reveals a small, but important, bit of information about Blitz (7-299):  she has shown a heightened retaliation response (this is important to remember for both this novel and the ones after it).  Most experiments, while lacking individuality, have really subtle anomalies.  Remainders that set them apart from other experiments.  For example, Jack (7-295) has a natural gentleness.  Dane obviously retains his personality, which he struggles to keep hidden.  Blitz has this heightened retaliation response.

Tracy knows how to identify these anomalies and how to use them against the experiments.

Vincent is the Big Bad’s other son (he’s much quieter and less brash than Vladimir, but no less vicious).

The Big Bad’s speech on page 10 is one of those speeches that reveals something about the character.  He thinks of the experiments as his property.  They’re weapons to be used or sold however he sees fit.  The two stolen seven series are valuable to him only because of their being Key possibilities.  His interest in shape shifters is purely business:  how can they get him more power?  Any that aren’t good potential experiments, he wants destroyed.

So ends commentary for the prologue.

Tomorrow will be mostly about Blitz.  It’s also one of the most violent chapters.  Blitz isn’t exactly a likeable character.  It’s hard to say if she has any redeeming features because . . . well, I’ll discuss her more tomorrow

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

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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