13 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #27 - Commentary

Please read the chapter before continuing.  Thanks.

It's probably long past time to note the influences on the story.  Sure, Shadowrun has been mentioned, but it's not the only influence.  My reading and TV watching habits were cast wide over a number of genres, from science fiction of all sorts to fantasy, from Westerns to mysteries, and, naturally, spy thrillers.  Ian Fleming, of 007 fame, and Alistair MacLean were early influences, but one TV series that sort of crept in to the writing of Lethal Ladies was Adderly.  I'll be impressed if anyone outside Canada has heard of it.

For those who haven't seen the show, Adderly followed the adventures of V.H. Adderly, played by Winston Rekert, who was transferred from active duty as a field agent for International Security and Intelligence to Miscellaneous Affairs after losing the use of his left hand on an assignment.  Miscellaneous Affairs handled anything that the other departments didn't want, mostly administrivia, and was hidden away in the basement at I.S.I.'s headquarters.  With the series being made near the end of the Cold War, the Soviet KGB thought Miscellaneous Affairs was an important department because a) it was out of sight in the basement and b) Adderly was transferred to it.  Elena's control room back in Chapter 7 was a windowless basement room in my head when I wrote the chapter.  It just never got properly described in the text.

The importance of admin assistants not only comes from working with them in various jobs I've had, but also from the character of Mona.  In the show, Mona was portrayed as being more astute than her boss, Melville.  Mona also had a love for spy thrillers and romance novels, and helped Adderly in his off-the-record investigations.  All the admins in the story, from Tyler to Donna Lund to Elaine Malcolm, owe a lot to Mona and to the real admins I've met.

Oh, and the "miscellaneous expenses" may have been influenced by Adderly, too.

Amber's search, which isn't influenced by Adderly, uses a few techniques I've picked up in my own searches.  Finding addresses gets interesting.  Having a full first and last name may not work, though it's a good first step.  In public databases, like phone listings, you have people who just use their first initial.  The reasons are many; for women, it's one way to prevent annoying, obnoxious, or obscene phone calls.  Initials don't give away gender.  On the searcher's end, the time needed to find someone increases; each hit needs to be checked for further details.  Given how long Donna has worked for Sexton, there's enough time that, sure, Elaine could have had a sex change, if one wants to indulge Amber.  Rose didn't want to indulge her.  The second browser, since this was written prior to tabbed browsing being available in Internet Explorer, was used for cross-referencing.  Amber took the data from one seaerch result and tried a new search with it.  Again, labour intensive but likely to find a different publically available listing that has expanded results.  It's not that exciting to read in fiction.  Very few people can make web searches riveting.

I have no idea how effective the bombshell of Sexton's living arrangements was.  I was back to writing by the seat of my pants, this time with a very new end goal in mind after the car chase happened too soon.  The revelation does give Donna a good reason to turn on her boss, and was the best motivation I could think of at the time.  Today, I would probably have had the antagonists' motives and relationships already worked out somewhat, and could set up the betrayal a lot better.

The comparison between how a small business office is run versus in a government office is difficult.  Small businesses tend to keep all purchases together, instead of allocating a budget for every cost centre, mainly because there's just one cost centre.  In the government, each department gets a budget, then each division, section, and unit gets a budget based on the overall budget.  In some cases, part of the budget is allocated to "pay" other units for services*.  Audits in the government mean making sure that the money in the budget was spent and spent properly, with everything enumerated.  "Office supplies" is a broad category, covering everything from pens and note pads to paper and printer toner.  Sexton and Lund's supplies should have come under scrutiny at some point, though there are ways to stall.

Tomorrow, the Ladies go to Elaine Malcolm's home.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the February adaptational news round up.
Coming soon, unruliness.

* No, it doesn't make sense, but that got imposed from the elected types instead of coming from within.

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