3 Aug 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 2

Ione's mad dash home, in The Devil You Know Chapter 2.

This chapter needed research, which started before November 1, 2013.  With NaNoWriMo, all writing that goes towards the final word count must be done in November.  Other work, like outlines and research, can be done before NaNo starts.  So I took the time to figure out how Ione could get home.  It's not easy getting from Paris to Ottawa.  There are no direct flights.  Some flights required changing planes five times.  Routing through Toronto led to wait times longer than it would take to drive from Pearson to Ottawa.  Same thing happened with Montreal, but I remembered one other option available.  VIA Rail does stop at the airport, allowing for a quick transfer without a long wait.  Really, it's a two hour drive between Ottawa and Montreal; wait times of four to five hours just didn't make sense, even with Ione's jet lag.  The flight Ione does take would involve a trip to Toronto, then another wait and another plane to Ottawa.  Yeah.

We now know what Ione's job is.  That was part of the plan from the beginning; in a spy thriller, one needs a character working for an intelligence agency.  Ione, though, is an analyst.  More details are coming about why she was in Paris.  Her basement office owes more to the TV series Adderly than anywhere I've worked, though she isn't part of Miscellaneous Affairs.  Other than that nod, the office is a cubicle farm much like any corporate or government office.  A photo from a cube farm could be from any department, whether Agriculture or Defense.

Olivier, the admin assistant, is loosely based on someone I met at a government department.  This someone was in an important office - think high up - and kept the office running smoothly so that the people he worked for could focus on their jobs.  Olivier is the same, even if he's not in as high-placed an office as the guy I based him on.  And for someone with such a brief appearance, I put a bit of work into him.  Olivier is from Gatineau, dresses better than anyone else in the office, and is gay.  He also should be the best paid employee there, but that's up to the the union's bargaining people, not me.  Without Oliver, Ione's office would be a mess.

While I don't like basing characters on real people, I did it twice this chapter.  Normally, I feel that writing should be creative, that the characters should be independant of who I've met.  However, cats don't get their noses out of joint when they get fictionalized.  Diesel is based on Charlie, a cat I once had, a long time ago.  Charlie was a big grey cat who moved in with us just after we moved to the new place.  He loved to hug, which made picking him up the first few times awkward.  A strange cat is struggling in my arms as I'm trying to put him back outside, but once he got turned around, he hugged.  No one had the heart to kick him out after that.  Not that putting him back outside would have stopped him.  Charlie figured out how the window screens worked, and was able to slide them open so he could walk in.  Diesel is based off Charlie, from his appearance to his loud purr to his tiny mew.  Diesel has his own traits, too, and also his own story arc.  Yes, even the cat got a story arc.

Karen isn't based on anyone.  Her role is to be Ione's confidant.  Before the weird sets in, it helps to have a baseline normal.  It gives Ione a chance to reset herself and the readers time to see her personal life.  And there are indications that Ione is on her own path.  She's involved in a LARP - live action roleplaying.  Her job is analyzing data for an intelligence agency.  So, Ione's normal may not be everyone else's.

One thing I tend to do is create new locations, from schools to bars, mainly to give a place my own spin.  This time around, I'm using real locations.  Ione and Karen's home is based on a quick look in the neighbourhood I wanted.  The Prescott is on Preston Avenue, a real road in a real city.  I felt the nature of the spy thriller genre needed a bit of verity to anchor the nature of the urban fantasy.  It also made checking details easier.  I'll point out when I create a new place, though.  It does happen, but to to the same degree as Unruly.

The description of the Prescott also let me cement the time of year.  It's not just the fall, it's that bizarre overlap between the end of baseball season, with playoffs, and the beginning of hockey season, with Maple Leaf fans' hopes for a winning season haven't been crushed yet.  October also brings a relief from the summer heat.  Also handy, since TDYK was being written for NaNo, I could just look at the weather where the action was happening and not have to worry about historical trends.  Ottawa happened to be warmer than Paris that fall, which surprised me.  But, it got worked in.

Friday, is it paranoia if there is someone following Ione, in The Devil You Know Chapter 3
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, a second look at the A-Team movie.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, let's remake Disney's The Black Hole.

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