“From the Ashes” Chapter Three Commentary


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 wonderful readers!  🙂

I’m still struggling through S.A.D symptoms, but I think I may have cleared away enough of the cobwebs to stay on schedule (knock on wood, fingers crossed).  We’ll see.

Chapter three picks up with Blitz again.  She’s still quite vicious but in an extremely calm way.  Her kill in this chapter is probably her cleanest, which isn’t really saying much.

There are a couple interactions between Blitz and Jack, which were always insanely difficult to write.  These characters are meant to be in contrast to each other, but their mannerisms are so similar.  They have had a lot of the same experiences, but Blitz had a much tougher time in the laboratory because of her gender.  Jack has developed a desire to help the doctor whereas Blitz wants to follow her instincts.  She finds Jack and the doctor to be somewhat delusional.  Her actions can almost be read as an attempt to protect them as she doesn’t understand how they can possibly survive with their worldview.

Shall we?

Page 51 – 54

For most of this novel, Blitz is still mentally and emotionally in Grenich.  Her room is bare, devoid of any evidence that someone occupies it, which is similar to how her cell looked at the laboratory.  She’s trying to recreate the facility because she feels that’s where she belongs.  Blitz understood things at the Corporation.  She’s very confused about her place in the world now.

The tremor in her hand:  Blitz’s health steadily deteriorates throughout the course of the novel (buckle up, folks.  It only gets worse).  Right now, she’s experiencing minor symptoms.  One thing I tried to work on throughout editing was how to show her deteriorating health.  The challenge I kept running into was I didn’t want Blitz to appear weak, but she is quite ill.  She’s not weak, but she is sick.

There is frequent mention of the doctor’s lack of sleep.  When he does sleep, it’s never peaceful.  The doctor experienced a fairly traumatic incident while at the Grenich Corporation:  one of the more sadistic enforcers assaulted the doctor and tortured him for a week.  I’ll discuss this incident and my thinking behind it in the commentary for Haunted by the Keres.  (Fair warning:  there’s a good chance it will turn into a rant).

There’s an easiness between Jack and Blitz.  Experiments are used to being around their own kind (their own series technically).  They get a little uneasy when separated from others.  Jack and Blitz didn’t work together at the Corporation (Grenich didn’t often mix genders on missions), but now that they’re out, they’re the only other seven series they know.  Hell, they’re the only other experiment they know.

Every book mentioned in this novel has something to do with revenge.  Stephen King has written a couple really excellent short stories about revenge.  In this scene, it’s not mentioned by title, but Jack is reading Sometimes They Come Back.

Blitz will often leave a room if she has no interest in participating in a conversation.  This is something she learned to do since being extracted from the lab.  She never had this option in Grenich.

Blitz takes a somewhat cheap shot at Jack when she tells him he can’t fight his nature forever (page 54).  This is true though.  Try as he might, Jack will never be a normal.  He can’t repress what he is.  This doesn’t mean he has to do what she does, but he does have to acknowledge that he is an experiment.  He needs to take precautions and make sure to keep his mind busy.

Blitz is a very independent woman.  She is not going to be told what to do.  The problem is that she’s channeling that considerable strength, cleverness, and ability into being destructive.  By doing that, she’s playing right into the Corporation’s hands.  She’s becoming the monster they want her to be.

Page 55 – 61

The next person on Blitz’s kill list:  Mel White (he was the guard who pulled a gun on Jet at the morgue in Through Storm and Night).  This is her only bloodless kill.  Granted, it’s because she poisons all his guards and then chokes the life out of him before snapping his neck.  She doesn’t have to spill blood to be violent.

Tracy typically has to be in the same room as a person to read their mind.  The exception to this is she can read the minds of almost all Grenich employees (including other revenants).

White is petrified of the experiments, as are most Grenich employees.  They have good reason to be.  However, Tracy is much scarier than experiments.

Readers recall that Blitz is most fond of shadows and darkness.  I wrote a lot of these scenes so you never see her enter.  She’s just kind of there.  This also plays into the image of her being similar to a phantom (or a living ghost).

White sees her as a “creature” and most of his observations are similar to what they would be if he were looking at an inanimate weapon.  I had to be a little creative when it came to showing how Grenich employees dehumanize experiments in their minds.  White doesn’t see Blitz as a woman or even a sentient being.  She’s a malfunctioning weapon.

At no point in this scene does Blitz reconsider her course of action.  When she has her mind set on something, she won’t be swayed from it.

I purposely wrote Blitz as very removed for the first few kills.  The cracks in her normally stony demeanor tend to show when she kills her target (especially when she gets further down her list).  The challenge in writing a character like Blitz is that she needs to be almost completely emotionless, but there should still be glimpses of feelings every now and again (if she were static, the reader would lose interest).  Experiments can be contradictory and that is really fucking difficult to write.

White really isn’t a match for a seven series, not even a sick one.  This was always Blitz’s fastest kill, but it’s also the one that nearly results in her getting recaptured (partly due to her failing health).

This isn’t the first time Blitz has encountered Tracy.  There is a history between these two characters.  This is one of the very few people who unnerves Blitz.  The closest Blitz ever comes to fear is in this scene when she sees Tracy.  As a Grenich enforcer, Tracy is one of the only people who can physically harm an experiment.  She’s the first one who actually manages to hurt Blitz (not much, but she does crack a couple ribs).

Tracy is Blitz’s equal when it comes to fighting ability.  It’s later mentioned that Tracy’s one of the only people at the Corporation who can kill an experiment with her bare hands.  This is not a woman you want to fuck with.

This is the only situation Blitz retreats from.  Readers hopefully took this as a good sign:  as damaged as she currently is (psychologically), there’s still a part of Blitz that will fight to stay free.

This is also one of the very, very few times readers see Tracy lose her composure (very briefly).

I always had this morbid amusement about Tracy pushing a corpse out of the chair so she could sit down.  Readers can interpret this scene however they like.  Needless to say, death doesn’t bother Tracy in the slightest.

Page 61 – 64

Experiments brains are lesioned in specific places and in very precise ways for a number of purposes.  One of these purposes is to take away their ability to sleep.  Instead, they do a form of meditation that gives them all the benefits of sleep in less time and with no drawbacks.

The doctor has gone out of his way to make the experiments comfortable and has tried to remove any potential triggers from the cabin.  Both Jack and Blitz are a little puzzled by these actions.

Jack remembers sparring with Blitz, which always struck me as rather sad.  She’s gradually slipping away from them and they don’t know how (or if) they can get her back.

Blitz is still aching after her fight with Tracy in this scene.  She’s in a lot of pain and has unconsciously sought out something familiar (the picture of a woman with her back painted to resemble a violin) to take her mind off it.  Experiments are often drawn to different things, like art, without knowing why.  They aren’t supposed to appreciate beauty, but there are some things that can’t be entirely erased or removed.

This scene is when Jack first starts to suspect there might be something wrong with Blitz.  He’s distracted from his observation when Blitz mentions Tracy, who Jack is also fearful of.

Jack admits that he doesn’t want to go back to the Grenich Corporation.  This is a massive step for an experiment.  It’s not easy for them to turn away from the Corporation.

Blitz unintentionally killed a man and that bothers her.  It was sloppy and not something she intended to do.  Experiments are almost always in complete control of their reactions, save for a few knee-jerk reactions.  They rely on their skill and ability to improvise.  Killing is always a last resort due to how many problems it causes.  If Blitz can’t rely on her abilities to get control of a situation, she’s in a lot of trouble.

There’s an interesting moment between Jack and Blitz in this scene where he attempts to offer reassurance in a way normals do:  a gentle hand on the shoulder.  Blitz immediately jerks away, which is one of the typical experiment reactions.  This is somewhat important:  experiments aren’t normals.  They can’t be expected to react like normals or desire what they do.  It’s unwise to try to make experiments into normals.  This doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy of compassion and understanding.

Jack has a realization about Blitz:  she only sees the Corporation.  Everywhere she looks.  The normal world bewilders her in a way the Corporation never did.  Blitz only knows how to see the world through the lessons Grenich drilled into her head.  She was released from one prison and put right into another one.

Page 64 – 66

When Blitz is feeling at her most unsure, she won’t turn on any lights.  She uses darkness as a protective shield.

In the first few drafts, the ghost was a lot more taunting (almost antagonizing).  While editing, my brother and I found that she worked best when she acted almost like Blitz’s conscience (if she had one).  This is ghost is able to point out the flaws in Blitz’s logic and confronts her about things she can’t disregard.

The ghost also demonstrates a sense of humor.  When her appearance is bordering on cliche, that’s intentional.  If I were a ghost and I knew someone could see me, I would fuck with said person so much 😀

The ghost is completely unbothered by Blitz’s demanding tone and threatening manner.  She can’t be intimidated, which puts Blitz at a disadvantage.

Blitz isn’t used to people not being afraid of her.  She doesn’t interact with many people, but every now and again, she finds someone who isn’t afraid of her.  Because it’s so rare, it throws her a bit.  That’s why a lot of young children confuse her.

“Death is not the solution” [66].  It’s up to the reader to decide if the ghost is referring to the people Blitz is killing, Blitz’s own failing health, or both.

Blitz Symbol Silhouette

So ends the commentary for chapter three.

I’m planning on posting tomorrow at some point.  The only way I’m going to make it through the fucking dreadful capitalist insanity that is Christmas is by working.  What a godawful day it is.  Ick. 

If you’re interested in reading my novels, they’re still available.  I’ll love you forever as I do all my readers (who are the most fucking awesome people on the planet) 😀

As always, questions and comments are welcome.  Spammers can fuck right off. 

Until next time . . .


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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