14 Sept 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 8

Funny seeing you at the bar, Ben, in The Devil You Know Chapter 8.

Probably the most work I did imagining a scene went into this chapter.  I am not one for crowds and loudness, and guess what has both in abundance.  I don't get out to nightclubs.  Not my scene.  Good thing I watch movies and TV series that have such scenes.  Plus, I know people who have been to the club in question and thus had photos so I could set the scene.  I also took photos of the halls of my old high school during a reunion for future reference.  Remember, it's not really "write what you know."  It's "research what you write."  The former gets boring coming of age stories; the latter gets you galaxies.

Ione does indeed own a corset.  She uses it for cosplay and steampunk fun.  Ione has diverse interests, really.  The question, though, is how did Jack know?  At the end of Chapter 7, he did ask Ione to pack the corset.  Lucky guess, shrewd observer of humanity, or creepy stalker?

Back in the commentary for the first part of "Boomers Like Me", I mentioned that you can get one mirror scene in a writing career.  Um, looks like I had a second one.  Oops?  I did try to get more into Ione's head there, not just describe her looks but also how she felt about them.  Ione is her worst critic when it comes to appraising her looks; most people are.  After all, who is more familiar with a body than that body?

Work sites have their own dress code.  Which is an obvious statement, but, being a contractor, I got to see how different offices, even in the Federal government, dressed.  The Public Service tends to be more functional unless the job is client facing; even then, comfort tends to be the main concern.  In the private sector, workers tend to dress better, in part because of explicit dress codes.  The senior executive level is more likely to show up at a private business than in the government.  Ministers don't wander the halls on a lark; they have other duties including representing their riding in Parliament.  CEOs, though, can wander.  However, people like Olivier do exist and will dress well no matter where they work.  In short, Ione can get away with her university sweater and jeans; Karen can't.

Ottawa's nightlife does exist, despite rumours to the contrary.  Ottawa's downtown consists of government offices, with no reason to linger when the day is over.  However, the entertainment areas are close.  There are three main areas to go to at the end of a work week.  The first is Elgin Street, with bars and restaurants close to the office buildings.  Elgin is the eastern boundary of downtown Ottawa, so having an entertainment area there makes sense.  The second area is the Byward Market, which is a tourist draw but also has nightclubs along with the bars and restaurants.  The third are is across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, where the drinking age is a year sooner than Ontario.  Ione and Karen want to avoid the younger crowd for a change.  There are clubs that aren't in those three areas, but it's rarer.  Obsession is a real place, and at the time of writing, was a nightclub that featured live bands.  It sort of changed focus since then.

Speaking of bands, Assassin Kittens was a last minute addition.  I had a placeholder there just to avoid stopping to figure out a band's name.  Assassin Kittens was going to be used in an arc of Unruly.  The band does not exist as far as I can tell after a quick Google search.  However, what made me settle on the name was a video featuring kittens in the role of the lead of Assassin's Creed.  Ione's old band's name, though, was easier to figure out.  Math puns come far more naturally, hence Avogadro's Dance Number.

The appearance of "Gangnam Style" came about because it was 2013.  The song was popular and it had one of the key elements that made it a standard - it was danceable with its own choreography.  "Gangnam Style" is going to be played at weddings and other social events until the end of time, just like "The Macarena".  I figured that a nightclub that wants people dancing will use the song as an ice breaker to get people on the floor.

Ben the Barista returns!  This story had several characters who should have had one-time only appearances, and Ben was one of them.  His arc expanded, to say the least.  Can't really blame Ione for wondering why he was there.  She has been dealing with people popping up when they shouldn't and is wondering who is trying to ruin her life.  And since she doesn't know she's the main character in a story, she can't blame the author.  Ben does have a good point - when churches are seeing attendance shrinking, who can people talk to?  The bartender is a popular choice, especially in a regular bar, but for those who prefer coffee to beer, that just leaves the barista.

One of the core conceits of the story finally gets mentioned.  BitCoins, also known as Dunning-Krugerrands, are cryptocurrency, a form of money not tied to a government.  BitCoins are generated using an algorithm that gets more and more inefficient as time goes on.  However, they failed as a currency.  No one can go to a store with a BitCoin to purchase bread.  Their nature, though, is good for less legal pursuits.  They are traceable, but it is difficult to find out who owns the BitCoin.  They're the best known cryptocurrency, but not the only type; see also DogeCoin, created more to reward people for doing something beneficial.  Still can't buy bread with them.

Friday, Ione talks about her work, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 9.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Remaking Reptilicus.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, franchises and adaptations.


  1. Good call on the research what you write idea. I have pretty much zero idea of Ottawa's nightlife; probably the sort of scene I would skip over. Awkward.

    Math puns are fun, and I still hear "Gangnam Style" on occasion... probably as often as I hear Macarena. ;) Interesting how your one-off characters return, whereas some of my characters that I thought would stick around I almost have to crowbar back into the story.

    I suppose the other option for Jack other than those that you list (and the notion that maybe he has ESP or time travel powers) would be "eternal optimist".

    1. Normally I would, too, but Ione and Karen wanted the night out. Fortunately, I know a few people with photos that would help me. Plus, it was a stretch to write, which helps.

      What else would a math band use? :) I figured both of those songs would still get play. They get people up and dancing. This was the story for returning characters. Anyone who got a name tended to stay around. Want me to send some of my characters over to talk to yours?

      That would work for Jack, too. Or, perhaps some other method.