Ash Lockwood And The Problems Of Love Interests

When writing for a specific type of genre, it’s important to read books from the genre itself. That way, you can decide for yourself what you like or don’t like about that genre. Since Isabel’s story (which STILL doesn’t have a title yet) is going to firmly belong in the YA category, I read quite a few YA books to get a feel for the audience and what they like or don’t like. Of course, it’s not just young adults who read YA books.

One of the trilogies I read is called The Lone City, by Amy Ewing. The heroine, Violet, is bought by the Duchess of the Lake as a surrogate. Her purpose will be to bear the Duchess’ child (or daughter, since the Duchess already has a son) and basically to be a pet. A pampered, well-dressed, beautiful pet whose fate is to provide a royal house with heirs – that is, if another royal house doesn’t kill her first, since royal women cannot bear their own children and the best way to ensure a house doesn’t have heirs is to kill the surrogates providing them.

One day, Violet meets Ash Lockwood, a newly-acquired companion to Carnelian, the Duchess’ niece. There is no nice way to say this. Ash is a sex slave. He, along with other young and handsome men, are trained to be pleasing to royal daughters – or, although this is never publicly acknowledged, their mothers. Ash became a companion because his sister caught black lung and the money Ash earned was intended to go towards her medicine (emphasis on intended). This is a horrible situation to be in, and it’s a very sympathetic background. The problem is that while his background is sympathetic, I didn’t find Ash himself very sympathetic.

When he first meets Violet, he mistakes her for Carnelian. As soon as he finds out she isn’t, his entire attitude changes. She is immediately smitten with him – but then, there’s a difference between falling in love with someone at first sight and being attracted to someone at first sight. When reading a book, it can be quite hard to tell the difference.

A hundred or so pages later, they are officially ‘in love’.

The real problems with Ash begin in the second book of the trilogy. Lucien, a male lady-in-waiting, has a deep disdain for companions and makes it clear in the first book that if Ash causes problems, he can make him disappear. Yeah. That kind of disappearing. Lucien has a plan to smuggle Violet out of the Jewel, the royal circle titular lone city. Remember how royal women can’t have their own children? Turns out surrogates can’t bear royal children either. Childbirth kills them. When Lucien gives Violet a serum that will make her look as if she’s died, she gives it to her best friend instead. Meanwhile Carnelian has fallen in love with Ash herself and she’s figured out that Ash and Violet are together. Ironically, she’s the one character in The Lone City I feel deeply, deeply sorry for, but we’ll get to her another time. Ash and Violet are arrested, and the Duchess spreads a very ugly rumour about Ash that Lucien immediately believes. One of his serious prejudices against companions is that their job involves sleeping with a lot of women.

“And you think I enjoy it? Or are you just jealous that I can?”

For the record, male ladies-in-waiting are castrated so they aren’t ‘dangerous’ to royal women. And Ash is aware of this.

Another problem happens when they’ve made it out of the Jewel. Ewing must have realised that Ash had no purpose other than to be the love interest. He’d become The Load and she tried too hard to give him a purpose. Unfortunately, his efforts to help came across as selfish rather than selfless. A love interest needs to have a bigger role in the story than…well, the love interest.

Lucien and Sil, a former surrogate who becomes a mentor to Violet, point out that Ash is a distraction for Violet. She shrugs this off, but the trouble is, they’re right. Ash does cloud Violet’s judgement. He is a distraction, and we are supposed to agree with Violet instead of Sil and Lucien.

Also, it is a little hypocritical of Ash to refer to working girls as ‘common prostitutes’ when the only differences between them are that he’s male and his clients are rich.

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Identity

I love to read.

I love to write.

I value my own opinion.

I like to hear what others think.

I want to be good.

I have a rebellious streak.

I like to stay safe.

I can be reckless.

I am grateful for what I have.

I want more for myself sometimes.

I know I have to be responsible.

I want to be free.

I am human.

I am a woman.

I am myself.

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Leader, Brawn, Brain, Heart

Purple

When I was younger, I was fascinated by – and a little frightened of – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Don’t laugh.

Watching episodes of the 1987 cartoon in French certainly helped the fascination part. But then I learned more about them, their names, their personalities and how they function as a team and a family.

They’ve all got their individual roles. Leo’s the leader, Raph’s the brawn, Don’s the brain…and Mikey? Mikey’s the heart. He’s not just the ‘funny guy’ – come to think of it, he’s not the only comic relief character who falls under that category (Stiles Stilinski, we’re looking at you).

But my favourite’s got to be Don, the purple-wearing turtle. Like Mikey, he’s got more depth to him than the ‘clever one’. The most (in)famous episode of the 2003 cartoon has an episode that has him transported to an alternate universe in which he suddenly disappeared and the Shredder took over the world. Imagine ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, only infinitely, infinitely worse.

It happened because Don wasn’t there.

He’s not just the most intelligent of the Turtles. He’s also the least combative and the least violent (at least, in the incarnations I’m most familiar with).

Maybe that’s why I like him so much.

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It made sense in context 

I’ve mentioned a few times that this blog is inspired by and named for Felicia Day. Her book You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) is a fantastic read.

In the chapter that talks about the writing process of The Guild (look it up on YouTube), she talks about struggling to actually write it, but then having an epiphany in the middle of the night and finally gaining the determination to get what she thought would originally be a TV pilot written.

I had something similar last night. In my case, it was a dream about Silva from the Bond films almost killing me until I said I was writing a book. No, really. It made sense at the time.

And I honestly have no idea why I posted this. But if it’s the kick up the backside I need to get this done, one nightmare is worth it.

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The Girl In Black

Recognize

Luke knew Percy had a sister. He’d talked about her often enough. Merissa had mentioned meeting the girl and giving her the message. She’d also mentioned how Miss Monray had reacted on receiving it.

When he saw Merissa heading down the path, a girl in black walking beside her, he hurried to catch up with them. After hugging Merissa, he turned to introduce himself to the girl – Percy’s sister – and felt shock like he never had before.

He’d never forgotten her: the way she’d quickly covered for him that night, or the cool and arrogant way she’d looked at him before and after seeing the tattoo. She’d changed. They both had. But she looked at him as if she’d never seen him before, and couldn’t understand why he was staring at her like that.

Then, later on, she saw the tattoo again.

“You didn’t recognise me, did you?”

“No. You’ve…changed quite a bit.”

She blushed, but she met his eyes.

 

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Inspiration

It’s funny where inspiration comes from.

xxx

In one episode of BBC’s The Musketeers, Porthos is preparing to shoot a melon off Aramis’ head (don’t ask). Athos and d’Artagnan have the following exchange:

Athos: Don’t worry. He’s done this shot a hundred times.

d’Artagnan: He’s drunk.

Athos: He’s never made it sober.

Naturally, my mind asked, “Well, why’s he always drunk when he tries it?” Throw in a possible scenario from the previous episode and you have instant fanfiction.

xxx

The quote “With great power comes great responsibility” supposedly originates from the original Spiderman comics. But what if you were never supposed to have the power? What if you weren’t prepared for the responsibilities and had no idea how to handle them?

Enter Isabel Monray, a girl who’s carrying a lot of anger inside her when her story starts. She’s determined to be strong – and not to be afraid. She’s going to take control of both the power and the responsibility, because she’s the only one who can.

xxx

One night I dreamed that myself and someone else (I can’t remember her name in the dream) were hiding a girl in a café. She was concealed in a room that only women could enter (and no, it wasn’t the ladies’ toilets). Two or three men came into the café looking for her; they had no idea where she was, and they were on a time limit.

Then a woman came into the café and that was when things changed, because she could enter the room and find the girl. Luckily, she didn’t.

I’ve never been able to forget that dream, because it raised some very interesting questions. Why was the girl hiding? Why were we hiding her? Who were those people and why were they looking for her? Why was there a time limit?

Meet Marsella Layden, or Marsie as she likes to be called. She lives in a world where anyone from the ages of thirteen to seventeen is watched very closely for signs of illness. Illness could be a sign that you’re developing an ability that very few people want to have, because the ability is actually the result of a virus and anyone who tests positive for it – or who shows they have an ability – is taken away to a place called the College until they turn eighteen. Whether or not you actually want to go doesn’t matter. Eighteen-year-old Marsie is helping her older sister Maria run the family café – oh, and they also help fugitives from the College hide from their pursuers.

Then one day Marsie is offered the chance to have a real, paying job. At the College. This way, she can help more kids escape and see their families – and anyway, she’s not seventeen any more and doesn’t have to worry about catching the virus. It’s the perfect opportunity.

Nothing can go wrong.

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Silence

Speak Out

I feel ashamed that I don’t speak out more often, or say what’s really on my mind. There are times when the words just won’t come out, or I can’t find them. I can speak out on behalf of other people, but when it comes to myself or my own tongue, the words just don’t come out and then I feel angry with myself and with other people.

I am becoming more assertive, but it’s a work in progress. One which should have started years ago.

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