25 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Bonus Comments!

As I mentioned, the dream sequence was removed from this arc.  The scene came to mind while I wrote Hauntings Anonymous but really fit in better in the intro arc.  Problem is, the intro arc isn't ready for prime time.  It's not even ready for an alpha read, let alone beta.  The scene, though, sets up a few themes to be explored in dba LTV Paranormalists.

Dream sequences are tricksy.  Done wrong, they annoy the reader.  The scene needs to have a purpose.  The events in the scene can't just be handwaved away as "just a dream."  I didn't have these as set goals while writing.  It's NaNoWriMo; the goal is to write.  But the scene was needed, at least for me.  If it didn't fit, the chapter could be, and was, pulled.

The problem with just pulling it is that the dream does have a purpose.  The series gets an overarching plot, one that may not always appear, but one that the cast will have to deal with.  One of the ideas I came up with while writing is the invasion of European myths into North America.  Raccoon spells it out for Ayel and Kristi.  However, the problem there is that there isn't one European myth but many from every country.  Europe also isn't the only source.  Everyone who moved to North America brought with them some of the legends of their homeland.

However, there are North American myths, from the legends of the First Nations* to stories from early settlers to new urban legends.  Ayel mentions flying canoes; that's a courier du bois tale from the Outaouais that appeared in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  For many, it was a WTF moment, but I had heard of the tale, thanks to the National Film Board of Canada.

LTV Paranormalists is set up for a culture clash.  And then there's Ginger, one of the invaders.  An invasion doesn't work well when its foot soldiers behave as cats.  If herding cats is difficult, ordering an army of them to march is impossible.  Raccoon even says that not every myth is part of the invasion.  He's recruiting three young women, one with a Scandiavian background, one a granddaughter of the Boat People refugees, and Kristi.  Which led to my next main problem.

Why is Raccoon recruiting three women with no link to the First Nations.  I did my research.  While Raccoon does appear in Shadowrun as a totem, I verified that he does exist in legend.  I could have gone with Coyote, who has appeared in more urban fantasy and has a similar trickster role.  But why Ayel, Kieu, and Kristi?  And if Kristi is from Moosonee/Moose Factory, where the population is 85% Cree, why isn't she Cree?  I didn't have any good answer besides her last name of Thiessen, and that's just her father's side.  So, Kristi is now Cree.  Does that change anything?  Maybe.  I worked out her background and her parents, having her mother work as a doctor at a clinic/hospital in Moose Factory.  Her father has German roots.  I hadn't filled in the details of her mother.

The son of a friend was considered to have enough First Nations' blood in him to qualify for free post-secondary education.  The kid took advantage of it.  He went to a community college to learn a trade, choosing welding because why not?  He had his dorm and his tuition paid.  He didn't coast - he got good marks and graduated.  Thanks to an inheritance, he didn't even have to go into debt to get his equipment as he started his apprenticeship.  Now, he has a girlfriend, a son of his own (I am so old...), and a career he loves.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because his story gives me the information I need for Kristi's mother.  Now that Kristi is Cree, so is her mother.  Kristi's mom can take the same advantage that my friend's son had, this time going into a pre-med program.  Medical school would have to be paid for, but, because of a shortage of doctors in Northern Ontario, I imagine that the province would happily waive tuition fees for a med student willing to move up there.  Kristi's mom is from the area, so why not?

Going back to Raccoon, why him and not the more well-known Coyote?  First, everyone uses Coyote.  Why follow the pack?  The main reason, though, is that there were an unusual number of news articles in 2015 that involved a raccoon.  The "Bringer of Sinkholes" bit, which refers to a scene in the unpublished first arc, came about because of the Rideau Raccoon, who appeared on a scaffold in the middle of construction at the Rideau Centre.  He was there an afternoon and became a Twitter sensation, then disappeared.  Two days later, a major sinkhole appeared.  The sinkhole not only caused delays on the construction of Ottawa's LRT but also swallowed an illegally parked minivan.  As I was preparing for NaNo, a fight broke out at the McDonalds near the Rideau Centre.  Fights there aren't newsworthy, except a bystander pulled out a different object other than a weapon, a baby raccoon.  Yes, that's a different raccoon than the one on the scaffold.  Because that needs to be said.  At that point, I'm rolling with using Raccoon.  He fit.

I also used the dream to reveal Ayel's proper given name, Amber-Leigh.  Brad and Janet avoided the Rocky Horror Picture Show route and didn't call their daughters Magenta and Columbia, nor did they call their eldest Riff-Raff.  Instead, they went the 80s route.  Tiffany doesn't mind her name.  Ayel, though, hates hers.  In high school, she convinced her friends to use her initials, A-L, which eventually mutated into Ayel by the time she graduated.  All her official paperwork uses her proper name.  She just introduces herself as Ayel.  On the plus side, telemarketers will make themselves obvious.

No Kieu in the dream.  Her sleep habits are awful.  Once she finally gets a decent night's rest, she's dead to the world.  I did check to see what Vietnamese myths were like.  The bureaucracy Raccoon mentions is the Chinese celestial one, but he's involved in handwaving away why he couldn't get Kieu.  I wanted to keep the number of characters in the scene down, and Kieu is the more literal one of the bunch who would need regular explanations in a scene where I didn't want to be bogged down in anything that distracted from the chapter's goal.

Raccoon mentioned others.  That was more for me to set up future story arcs, including one where Kristi does go home.  There are people in Moosonee who are already involved in the resistance against the invading fae.  Three people aren't enough, but I am not creating a cast of thousands when all I wanted is a Scooby-Doo pastiche.  The next arc does feature the invasion, with the Paranormalists being called in after their client finds their business card left behind by a raccoon.

Friday, a new series begins with The Elf's Prisoner.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Dresden Files/ RPG.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, hiatus due to life.

* If I am getting the name wrong, please tell me.  If I am insulting, it's through ignorance, not malice, and I am open to being corrected there.

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