Why all the Latin? I get a lot of that one actually. “The Latin is difficult…” “The Latin’s weird…” etc. etc.
So why all the Latin?
If it helps, the characters were originally named: Bark, Twister, Blackmoon, Saint, Doc, Molly, Pony, and Clerk. Urbs Aquarum was Tuloma, and this whole dang thing was supposed to be one massive Biodome set up over Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Tuloma was supposed to be a post-apocolyptic name for what is Tulsa, and it was supposed to have a Bioshock/Art Deco feel to it. So…the Latin came in after a lot of chapters and a lot of rehashing because I was wrapping up The Kavordian Library at the same time and one thing led to another and it became the planet that Corbin got the Subgalaxia to. The Feather on My Scale, The Wolf at My Back, and The Frost at My Feet are supposed to explain in more detail how Joiner Petroleum set up the domes, what happened to the Bai, what happened to the Glendwellers, and why people can use fire and other elements. I have the major ideas all up in my head and am working on The Feather on My Scale now. You’ll have to wait, but it will get resolved.
With that massive amount of info dumping out of the way, let’s look at the content and see what level of confused chaos I put in here.
Love in the Abyss is Love in the Light.
I wanted Jesus and a devil. I wanted a broken savior. I wanted to be on the other side, where I could be more than my past. Where it was far enough and I had moved on enough that I could focus not on me, but on others. I wanted to write the flip side. I wanted to know what it was to be that person. I needed that.
Also, Wren had gone on a business trip for a week, the internet at the house tanked for four days, and I binged all of my post-apocalyptic sci-fi and fantasy movies I haven’t watched in years because kiddo finds them terrifying and I’ve been busy writing during the day. No access to my books because of downed internet meant I had paper and pencil and time on my hands. (Underworld, Dune, Children of Dune, Kingdom of Heaven, Soldier, Twister, Dante’s Peak, Constantine, Water World, Running Man, Total Recall, Collateral Damage, Van Helsing, Logan’s Run, Reign of Fire, Tank Girl, you’re probably getting the picture of what The Fire in My Blood is now.)
The Gangs are named after the various colors of fire. Blue being the hottest, usually the least flashy, the small flame. Orange and red are flashy and big, but don’t keep their heat as well. Purple comes from burning metallic salts. Green fire comes from burning boric acid or copper sulfate. Some of Blackmoon’s/Lunam’s symbolism comes from the concept of blackbody radiation in heating. Here, this might help: What are the Colors of a Fire & How Hot Are They.
To me, Lunam is the song Down to the River to Pray. I listened to that song on repeat for days as I wrote the first few chapters of the book and got a feel for who he was.
Actually, wait, here’s the playlist I made while writing the book if you want to get a better feel. Some people talk better emotionally through songs.
Clavis’s name was originally Wrench. Maria Mater comes from the song Let It Be.
The plight of the Ustor, the petroleum, the burn outs and the pipelines has to deal with watching America implode in the last few years under a treasonous president and a money grabbing political system. Had to deal with my fears when we left the Paris Agreement, and everything on the news was the environment collapsing on itself. People being subjugated because of the melanin in their skin, or who they loved, or who they are. Has to do with the fact I live in oil country and have watched people’s land get bought out from under them for the line expansions the same time the water crises was taking place in the Native American reservations up in the Dakotahs. To also reflect back on the coal mine disasters and the fact that so many people are dependent on fossil fuel acquisition for a job that pays crap, destroys their health, and risks their life because it’s the one job in town.
This book, I set out to write it as the one I would hand to my parents. Sam was supposed to be my birthname, but things changed. He, to me, was going to be my way of coming out. I gave them the book and they never have read it. This one symbol is the one I’m waiting on for them to read and go “hey, you know, we were going to name you Sam,” and I can finally tell them. Is it stupid and foolish and too subtle? Yeah. I know it. It’s what I’m doing, and what I’m waiting for. For them to be ready to talk.
The meeting of the heads was written in way later. I wrote chapter one, and then the antichamber scene and bedroom scene with Sanctus and Lunam. I don’t tend to write my books in linear order any more. I like working out major scenes and then crafting breathing room and the subtle hints. In this moment, I needed to figure out who the villains in my story were. Honestly, I never did work out what Gemma’s power was, other than the fact that she was volatile and her Repercussion turned her from just angry, to an angry alcoholic. Coming up with consumption repercussions has not been easy.
Maria Mater really is the mother figure for Lunam. She and Medicus are sort of the mentor figure for Lunam. Prae and Ambulatio are loosely based on a pair of friends I have that are really publicly flirty with each other. Here’s the thing, I write scenes and I can run innuendo with the best of them. I’m super cuddly with Wren, but I can’t quite do the whole being in each other’s space kissy-huggy thing in front of people. It’s just foreign and weird to me. A reassuring touch, a quite word of support. Yes, I can do that in public. But the boisterous thing is so far from my personality, I find it fascinating to watch in other people. I also just don’t like making people uncomfortable with my presence, so I’m less likely to do things that I know would make people say something critical. Maybe it’s confidence, or really knowing your audience. I don’t know.
The joker’s chair. That has everything to do with the fact I had a pair of rolling wooden office chairs from the ’40s. Every time Wren and I would host game night, we had to come up with enough chairs to go around the table for a bunch of people. There was one of the two chairs that had a cracked spring in it. The game group knew who ever got in last got to sit in the joker’s chair. Maybe a mean game of musical chairs. It wouldn’t tip anyone out, but it gave you that really nauseating experience that you were going to fall if you shifted suddenly. I did get rid of it eventually, but it did work for getting boardgames set up in a timely manner.
The smell of lemon oil on wood paneling from the 70s. Metal cabinets that are rusting at the corners and a set of slightly dead potted plants in the massive window. Not sure why I have this memory, but it’s there. The soft shades of orange and yellow. Maybe it’s because most offices I’ve walked into where I live were built in the 70s. That slightly dusty smell to the HVAC system. The desks are all fake printed wood and there’s a grey tub perpetually filled with perforated print outs. That’s what the lobby and Requise’s place are to me. That slightly out of place nostalgia from a time I wasn’t born in to appreciate.
So. Cortex and Tempestatis. Cortex is hetero/cis. Temp is bi/cis. The two are best friends. Cortex is also one of those genuinely nice guys who goes out of his way to help people. Temp and Lunam have that weird semi-crush relationship where they respect each other more than their attraction. Yes. They’ve had a one night stand and realized they are much better as co-worker/friend type.
Did I read another romance novel that pissed me off? How’d you guess? Was it the part where Lunam throws a coat around Sanctus, tries not to touch him in the car, or tries to give him a ton of room at the factory and Sanctus is scared and clinging? I’m getting sick and tired of knight in shining armor romance novels where somebody gets rescued and then, like three pages later, the savior is all over them in a way to show they person is still acceptable. It’s so freaking objectifying. People who’ve been through crap need time to heal, not get pounced. So, I took my frustration out on a bunch of gang members and then wrote what I wish people would just freaking write. You can construct romance without having to make them both salivate over each other in a hot second after rescue and not know each other. Time and a place. This is not it.
Hail Maria Mater – uh…did I do a Hail Mary pun? Yes…?
Does Lunam refer to Medicus as a silver fox? Yes…
Look, Lunam can find a ton of people attractive and not pounce them. Thanks. Been there. Done that. Live with it.
The conversation with Mater when she’s trying to reassure Sanctus? That’s constructed where she’s trying to be gentle. For him, having suffered at Gemma’s hand for five years, he’s absolutely terrified of Mater during this. It’s not that she convinces him, it’s that he’s in self preservation mode and will do anything to not have bad things happen.
Again. For those in the back writing romance. Rescuing a person does not immediately fix them. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.
Sudden noises can cause a dramatic startle reflex from hypervigilence. A lot of things startle Sanctus because he has hypervigilence from major abuse cycles. I wish people would actually acknowledge in their writing the prolonged psychologic damage and symptoms that occur with people who have gone through these things. It’s not just nightmares and fireworks when it comes to PTSD. He’s stuck in a long lived flashback in this entire chapter and is in complete mental shut down. It sucks. Immersive flashbacks suck so much, and the thing is, sometimes you have to be in one because you have to get through a situation that triggers it for your own health. Medical exams can put me there so fast it isn’t even funny.
Honestly, when I’m in flashback mode, having very short pointed directions can help me get something done rather than asking questions I have to think about. It’s hard, towing that line between having the ability to make your own decisions and your brain just noping out of rational thought for getting things done, like putting on your clothes.
A bit of helpful backstory. Also a segment of me digging at romance novels again. For the love of all that is holy, if you’ve got someone with serious ptsd especially revolving around comfort levels of being dressed/undressed in front of others, would you freaking give them privacy and swing the camera focus away from them. Some of those scenes where the strong character goes into a changing room with the person having a shutdown moment and making them do the whole clothing thing with them there as a brute forced way of showing they are perfectly fine and lovable is just…stop it. I say that after writing up the medical scene in the chapter before. To me, there is a difference, where clothing and the levels of being clothed deals in intimacy, where as medical is medical and for a person’s health. So I wanted Sanctus to have somewhere where he could have privacy.
Beginning to wonder if I actually love reading romance or if I hate it and just hate read them to know what I want to do better. >_>
Again. Another slap to the romance genre. This is quite literally one of those super prevalent tropes that I see written a lot. The abused one is in a situation that triggers them into actions out of self preservation and the “rescuer” will sometimes vaguelly dismiss it for a half hearted minute and then, in like the next page, the two are doing it and the abused person is somehow magically fixed, their walls come down and they know what love is.
No. No. No. No. No.
Lunam recognizes that Sanctus is doing something out of the normal AND DOESN’T POUNCE HIM because that’s what good moral people are supposed to do. Instead, he goes to try and find someone who can help. Because that’s what good people who don’t know what to do should do.
The number of vampire romance books where the vampire gets all licky to fix cuts. I specifically wrote Lunam the way I did to dig at this trope. Could he have licked Sanctus and taken this into that romance territory? Yes? I drafted it for a hot minute before backing up and going “but what does Sanctus actually need in this minute if he was real and this wasn’t some horney bit of cheaply written smut? So, Lunam has coagulant glands on his tongue and he doesn’t have to lick Sanctus.
Thinking I might just have a propensity at this point to smashing my head against romance tropes. Heavy, heavy sighing going on over on this side of the screen.
Also, Sanctus wincing isn’t because of the pressure. Lunam just doesn’t know that his coagulant stings like all get out until later in the book.
One bed tropes. Oh how I hate those tropes. I’m sorry, well, no I’m not. I’ve gone on summer camps and long weekends where I’d share a room with a bunch of people. Guess who slept of the floor because sharing a bed with someone sounded a little too close for comfort? Let me just say dorm and locker rooms are hell. There’s only one bed, there’s only one bed. Feck that. Someone can go sleep on the floor. Also, just because someone crawls into bed with another person doesn’t mean they’re after a bit of nooky. Sometimes you just need that comfort of having warm contact and knowing you aren’t alone. Rant rant rant.
Sanctus needed to not feel abandoned, and I wanted to just kick the one bed trope to the curb. He had his own bed right next door. He didn’t crawl into Lunam’s bed to seduce him. He literally just wanted a feeling of safety. You can write that in romance. No, really, you can just freaking drop the one bed trope already.
I am very much a don’t touch me person with most people. I don’t like feeling like I will disgust someone if they find out I’m attracted to a lot of people and for them to go “oh, gross, you must fantasize about me.” I can get really awkward with people hugging me out of the blue because I have to deal with “are they one of those physical contact people, do they need comfort, what do they want from me?”
I will full on comfort cuddle someone though if they’re good with it and know I might find them attractive and not get creeped out. Massage is up there as something I will do as an expression of touch comfort, or playing with hair, or in general just wrapping myself around them until they warm up and calm down. It’s a way I express myself and I’ve repressed it so hard that I just get jumpy if someone touches me. I feel like they’ll know I’m weird and get hostile at me for existing.
I used to be more open to comfort cuddling back in high school. Might be why a lot of people asked me if I was a lesbian or if I was dating xyz. Nope, just sit down against a wall and pull whoever is balling their eyes out to me and just turn into a warm rock while they mutter problems into my chest. A bit of it is I have almost no energy for standing for long periods of time (AVM means blood pressure black outs) while people unravel, so that was a coping mechanism for dizziness while trying to give people what they needed.
I can turn the attraction thing off when I can finally work out what is going on and what the other person needs. It’s also in those moments when I can turn it off that I will get extremely defensive over the person. Nope. Someone’s let all their guards down around me and let me see them be real, DO NOT try to make them do that again. At that point, it’s loyalty. I have a very small number of people I am like this with at this point, the type where you say something negative about them, make them cry, make them hurt, and I will burn every bridge between you and me.
A bit of backstory and acknowledging that Lunam isn’t perfect, for all his tough act. That he needs to work through some things too. Some real issues outside of just being able to be sad about little things.
Scriba and the library. So many of us writers and dreamers can relate to the safety we felt going into the stacks of books and disappearing into stories. Sanctus is scared of Mater because she holds a position of power like Gemma and to him, women are scary. Scriba is supposed to be that element that slowly starts peeling back the walls, where he finds that he is safe. Someone other than Lunam to be at ease around.
This section is also where I get into Sam and Abby’s past. Where Sam comes out. Asks for his pronoun to be used correctly. Why do I not write other trans characters, make my MCs trans? I needed to admit I am trans FTM, but I don’t like the idea for myself of living under that label. If I’m going to write myself as an MC, I’m going to write myself in the body I want to be correctly associated with, which is male. I don’t want to write my struggles of being a guy stuck in the wrong body as some slice of life, an own voices autobiography. That just sounds depressing to me. I symbolize that struggle enough in my regular writing. If I’m writing fantasy, I’m going to be me, honest to the body fitting the soul.
Okay, this little section has a lot to do with my frustration in “soft professions” and how a lot of jobs end up being devalued and seen as “women’s work”. Beg pardon, but some of the most well paid jobs in fashion were men. There is historic precedence for men being in and running embroidery guilds, tailor guilds, etc. There is current precedence for it. Just because something is considered “feminine” in America, doesn’t make the person feminine in the rest of the world. Get over your American assigned gender value already and let people just do what they find enjoyable as a job. I’ll get off my soap box.
I needed to set up a bit of back story and tension for what I was going to do with Mercator.
Also, family ties and bond ties are a big thing to me. I have blood ties to people, but I can’t call them family. I will refer to them as “extended family” when it makes it easier for the flow of a conversation, but pretty much it just means “these people you don’t reproduce with or let your offspring reproduce with.” Literally, that’s all that means to me at this point. I wrote family ties and bond ties because I saw so many people in the twitter community talk about having friends they called family and wishing they could make them family. This one is for people who have chosen family, whose friends become brothers and sisters and moms and grandpas.
Oh, and dancing. I needed to torture my characters just a little bit. Give them a good moment because I was going to make them miserable in the next chapter couple chapters.
Why father ties? You do know men can take care of kids right? Moms get the kids fobbed off on them so often, but there is an extremely underrepresented number of single dads, same sex parents, and men who want kids. Raising children get’s labeled as “women’s work” so often that it’s made us warry of anyone not in ownership of a uterus as predators. Grandparents can’t take their grandkids to the park without someone side eyeing them for being a predator. I know too many people who literally won’t take their kid or grandkid out on their own because they don’t want to have a cop called on them. I’m sick and tired of it. Let alone dads who go back into the dating scene. Lunam was all those frustrations balled into one.
He’s protective, and to him, to me, it made logical sense. Kids needed a protector and a parent, of course he was going to step up. Maybe that’s not realistic in today’s society. Maybe it should be.
Chapter 15 – 16
*ehem* these scenes just don’t get written very often and I would rather show that humans will be human.
Now, other than that morning moment, Mercator. Why did I? Well, A: I had to bury about five of my birds over the course of the summer and fall before writing the story because they were getting old, hawks got them, and needing to relocate a raccoon that took after two of my ducks. I was angry and tired of burying my pets and I needed an outlet.
I also needed a really good reason for Lunam to go from tolerant to volatile.
Lunam admitting that Medicus wouldn’t be normal after seeing in the box for a long time and talking about having done an autopsy on someone he was responsible for. She was his first love, before Sanctus showed up. In a way, it was also my way of acknowledging the pain I was seeing in the lgbtq+ community at the time I wrote that section. Some kid had walked out into traffic because her parents were going to send her into conversion therapy so she would get back to being a good little Christian boy.
A good anime fight scene, a bit of revealing some reality of the characters, some preconceived notions. I loved writing this section. I also wanted Sanctus to have some strength, to be more than a ‘damsel in distress’ character. I get tired of reading romance books where the ‘strong’ character is really week willed and their whole character is dominated by the ‘savior’. I hate how these stories depend on romance between two characters who have almost had no conversations and they’re just supposed to become all steamy because what? There’s abs involved or something? No, if the character is strong, let them fight, let them own their choices, let them speak up.
Okay, I was waffling here. I wanted to address Gemma and her villain character. However, I didn’t want to waste the better part of 3 or 4 chapters of minor plot and slow the book down for things that really weren’t going to contribute much to the characters. It would have been a lot of Lunam being enamored with Sanctus and him sitting in Vestitor’s shops watching him sew. So, I ran a time skip. I’m also not a fan of jumping into intimate relationships where the characters have only known each other for three days. That seems to be some weird thing romance novels depend on. I know people have one night stands and that stuff. But that’s physical satisfaction, not emotional romance. I prefer my characters have some time to get to know each other. Hence, I needed a time skip for a myriad of reasons.
This is entirely me yelling at the knife to the stomach trope. Yo. I’ve had gallbladder surgery. I didn’t want to move for a good couple days while I waited for my body to absorb the gas they blew my abdomen up with. that crap gets stuck up in your shoulders and hurts like hell. No, no. You get stabbed, it ain’t just muscle that’s getting maimed. You’re gonna have major problems.
Lunam kind of wanted Sanctus’s sibling’s’ blessing but was way too scared to admit it.
I loved writing this. I channeled every single abusive girl in high school and college into Gemma for this one.
So. This was supposed to actually involve a giant oak conference table, but then I had to check myself. Something about a knife wound and being realistic to the fact that both Sanctus and Lunam needed to see a medic. This is one of those moments that makes sense in the romance trope universe for them to totally get it on, and yet, realistically speaking, when you’re bruised and your stomach hurts you can handle horney, but doing anything productive can just not be pleasant. So, hello edgy frustration.
On the same note of horney, I’m sick and tired of characters getting written in who almost immediately bang as soon as they get home from a stressful situation. Especially when it comes to novels involving characters who are in that dating segment of the populationa nd they have to go deal with the school principal about one of the kids being bulliesd. They come home and send the kid to their room to deal with repercussions and head to their own bedroom and frustrate feck. Like. No? You’re sitting down on the couch and talking it out.
This is one of those where I wanted for Lunam and Sanctus to both cool it and realize that they also had family worried about them and to stand up for that fact. Also, accounting for gut wound and Sanctus needing some decompression time.
Thank you mentor Medicus and Maria Mater, thank you.
I really wanted chapter 26 in here somewhere, but I also wanted timing. I had been seeing a lot of people in the writing community muttering about liking slow burn romance, but not wanting to read “actual scenes” because they preferred imagining. So, I could have ended it at chapter 24. I could have ended it here. But dang it I wrote in chapter 26 as one of the very first scenes I wrote, so I was going to keep it if I could. So the last three chapters of the book are kind of that “Here, stop where you’re comfortable.” thing.
I wanted to be a bit honest here. I do write full intimacy in a lot of my books. I wanted to be realistic to who Sanctus is though. Some things you go through with abuse makes people not want to do certain things. For him, I made him strong enough to speak up. Not everyone likes certain acts. They should not feel obligated to do so. I wanted that for Sanctus, to be okay with saying he just didn’t, and to show that a good healthy relationship is where Lunam would say, “that is perfectly valid and we’ll go with that.” There needs to be more role models in the romance genre for accepting a character saying no, instead of coercion and nagging until the character does the thing they don’t want to and then “miraculously” they like it. That type of trope writing just makes me want to throw a book.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.