“From the Ashes” 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.

From the Ashes Official Front CoverHello beloved readers!  🙂

We’ve reached the end of book three (loud wailing).  I don’t want it to end.  I know, I know, writers should never admit to enjoying their work.  But between you and me, dear reader, this remains my favorite out of all that I’ve written so far.  It has been a fun novel to revisit.  I really hope you’ve enjoyed this commentary.  I had a lot of fun writing it.

Chapter fourteen is a short wrap-up.  I wasn’t sure when the fourth novel would be ready for publication, so I tried to make the cliffhanger as mild as I could.  I needed readers to still want to know what happened next, but I didn’t want to be cruel.

Blitz doesn’t show up in the final scenes (she’s off wandering around the mansion).  She’s still being a really bizarre kind of anthropologist:  observing the normals from a distance.  I had to wrap up a few loose ends with other characters, answer a few final questions.  Rest assured, Blitz is front and center in Haunted by the Keres (the next book in the series).

Shall we?

Page 304 – 312

Many protectors, especially older ones, are prone to bouts of insomnia.  Obviously with all that has happened, Jet is having trouble sleeping.  He’s still not entirely sure how he feels about experiments.  Jet really wrestles with this issue and his doubts when it comes to experiments.  He’s duty-bound to put humans and protectors first.  Experiments pose a significant threat and Jet’s not entirely sure they can be reintegrated into society.

While editing, my brother fucking hated Jet’s slippers.  I have a weird thing about kitschy clothing.  Jet’s slippers have sentimental value.  He’s a loving father 🙂

This is one of the few times Jet is awake before Lilly.  She usually likes to watch the sun rise but she’s also exhausted after the past few weeks.  Not enough importance is given to self-care, which is unfortunate.  Sometimes one really needs to take care of oneself in order to stay healthy.

I have this idea in my mind that Jet’s the only coffee drinker in his family.  Most of the mansion’s inhabitants are tea drinkers.  Even when he was growing up, Jet was the only member of his family that preferred coffee.  I don’t know what this has always amused me 🙂  (full disclosure:  I can’t stand the taste of coffee.  I’m relatively indifferent to tea:  I’ve had good tea, I’ve had bad tea).

Similarly, the doctor is the only member of his family that is a coffee connoisseur.  His brothers drink it, but they don’t have a preference for any type.

The doctor can’t help but comment on the slippers.  Everyone’s a critic 😉

This conversation between Jet and the doctor was written to address a few lingering questions (without necessarily answering them.  I really had to think hard about what the doctor would know and what he would be vague about.  I’ve probably spent the most time in the minds of the doctor and Blitz).

Experiments rarely scar after experimentation.  A few of them have scars from before they were experimented on, including Blitz (which is seen in the next novel in the series).

The doctor reveals more information about how it’s possible to revive shape shifters.  He has some idea but even he’s not entirely certain of how it happens.  No two lines of experiments are the same.  They all have different purposes.

[SPOILER!  The mastermind behind the resistances against Grenich never tells new groups about the old ones.  It wouldn’t be good for morale to learn about the horrible fates that befell resistance members who were captured.  The doctor and the 2nd Man have their suspicions about the others:  how many there have been, exactly what happened to them, etc.]

Grenich always causes the shape shifters pain, whether directly (the experimentation) or indirectly (Jet spilling hot coffee on his hand when he’s startled by the ringing phone).

I liked the idea of Jet feeling a sudden chill when he answered the phone.  Even from afar, Grenich always has a chill of death about it 😉

The Corporation tends to use boisterous revenants like Carding for their spokesmen (mouthpieces).  They’re engaging, charismatic, and naturally draw people in.  They’re the kind of people who others like to be around.

Carding is a puppet of the Corporation.  He oversees the laboratory where Blitz and Jack were held.  He’s seen again in the next novel.  He lacks any kind of free will.  He lives to serve the Big Bad.

The conversation between Jet and Carding reveals a few things.  It shows some of what the Big Bad knows (and he knows more than they thought).  It shows how Grenich sees these experiments.  The Big Bad is also trying to sow seeds of doubt.  He’s also flexing his muscles a bit (showing Jet that he can’t hide from him).

Jet has a spine made of steel.  He doesn’t respond to fear mongering and won’t tolerate someone threatening his family.

These two men view the world completely different.  They have wildly different ideas of what a peaceful world would look like.

[SPOILER!  There’s a suggestion on page 311 that Jet’s ancestors might have known about Grenich.  One of the mysteries in this series is who knew about Grenich and exactly how much they knew.  I was interested in exploring what would make a protector even consider appeasement.  There are some descendants who have a lot to make up for without even realizing it]

Once Carding brings up the Aldridges, Jet has had enough.  The Aldridges will always be a sensitive subject:  aside from being loyal allies, Jet was close with a number of members of the family.  Jensen’s father was one of Jet’s oldest friends.  Anyone who speaks so flippantly of the Aldridges (and after threatening Jet’s own family) isn’t someone Jet will listen to much less ally with.  He doesn’t respond to bullying.

I wanted to end the scene on a slightly ominous visual.  Bare trees have a slightly spooky look to them.  Especially at the very end of autumn.

Page 312 – 314

The Big Bad doesn’t often visit Grenich labs, but he does keep an office in each one.  No one is allowed to enter these offices without his express permission (save for cleaning staff).

The Big Bad has a number of appearances.  He switches them depending on whatever he’s planning to do or whoever he’s meeting with.  The visage he wears in this scene is his normal one, if it can be called that.

Pyra is the only woman who has any kind of power in the Corporation.  She doesn’t have as much power as the Big Bad, but she’s not someone to be trifled with.

The reader gets some idea of the powers these two possess.  Aside from cunning, these two have a couple supernatural abilities (they’re incredibly dangerous adversaries, as the protectors are finding out).

Revenants are viewed solely as possessions.  Pyra will almost never address them directly (she sees them as beneath her).  She doesn’t particularly care for Tracy.  Pyra sees her as a somewhat useful tool, but still nothing more than a servant.

The relationship between the Big Bad and Pyra can sometimes be tricky to write, partly because of the power dynamics at play.  Pyra feels they’re equals, but she’s fully aware that he doesn’t share this belief.  She lets him believe he’s superior and allows him to treat her as a subordinate on occasion.  However, there are boundaries that he can’t cross.  This is more seen in the next novel.

The reader is shown why the Big Bad didn’t send Tracy out to retrieve the wayward seven series:  he believes they’ll snap eventually.  Then they’ll be dragged back to the Corporation.  In the meantime, they’ll absorb valuable information about the mansion and the protectors, which will be used in their final assault on the Meadows.

One of the Big Bad’s faults is that he can sometimes underestimate the experiments.  By dehumanizing them, he assumes he knows exactly what they’ll do in any situation.  This can lead to a false sense of security.  Pyra is more dangerous to the experiments because she’s more realistic about their potential to be unpredictable (experiments may be animals, but even animals can turn on their trainers/owners).

The Big Bad always tries to be prepared.  Arrogant as he sometimes is, he’s far from stupid.  He’ll increase security at the laboratories and move some of the more valuable experiments to more secure locations.

The Big Bad is gathering his allies, expanding his army, and preparing for the coming war.  Book Four is when the first shots are fired (so to speak).

Blitz Symbol Silhouette

Thus ends the commentary for “From the Ashes.”

I feel quite sad.  All that’s left to do is upload the completed commentary on the downloads page.  I will be writing a small afterward for this commentary too.  I very much hope my loyal readers found this commentary interesting (even when I went off on random rants and tangents).

I’m going to take a bit of a break so I can focus on setting up the Asexual Artists Tumblr (http://asexualartists.tumblr.com/) and WordPress site (https://asexualartists.wordpress.com/).  I plan to post something there tomorrow.

I’ll be doing a podcast interview on asexuality on March 4th for Girl Boner Radio (the link goes to the Girl Boner blog, where you can find more information on the show).  So tune in for that. 

In the near future, I’ll be writing a blog post for Women in Horror Month, probably about the Asexual Artists blog.  It will likely touch on the intersection of feminism, asexuality, and speculative genres.

As always, I rely heavily on word of mouth to spread.  I really need to move more books and could use some more reviews.  Please, pick up a copy of my books and automatically earn about a thousand awesome points.  Recommend them to friends, leave reviews on websites, etc.  Thank you so much for being a reader 🙂

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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