In the Shadow of Angels Q & A

If you’ve read the book, you’re probably here to ask a couple of questions. I have a simple form set up so that you can submit your questions. I will add questions and answers to this page as soon as I’ve had a chance to answer them. Click a question to go directly to the answer (or simply scroll down to see them all). If you don’t see the question you’d like answered, fill out the form below and I will do my best to answer it.

Where is Ashwood?
Did Devin Destroy the Pictures?
What’s with the dissertation on how to pour concrete?
Chevy Econoline?

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    Q: Where is Ashwood?
    A: This detail was intentionally left vague. My next story (probably two stories actually) will also use Ashwood as a backdrop. It was hinted that it was several days from where Reginald and Beatrice fled in the 1880s, but that could be very nearly anywhere. That said, many of the landmarks around Ashwood are actual things and places that I remember from growing up in rural Oregon.

    Q: Did Devin Destroy the Pictures?
    A: Unfortunately, you will likely find this answer disappointing. The simple answer to this question is that I don’t know. Many of the actions of the characters in the story took me by surprise when they happened, and I’m sure this one would be no different. I know what I think he did, but that is only my guess and yours may be different. — Having said that, I can say that someone definitely knows, and the answer exists in another -unfinished- manuscript. πŸ™‚

    Q: What’s with the dissertation on how to pour concrete?
    A: This one isn’t technically a question, but it is something that has come up more than once in reviews of the book. When the first woman pointed it out in review form, I talked a bit about it in another post, but I recently had yet another review come in which said:

    I did get a little irritated about over explanation of how to make concrete lol It went into deep explanation about it I didn’t feel was necessary but maybe it would interest some construction workers.

    In my response to the first review (which you can read through the link above the blockquote) I spent some time explaining the research that went into the concrete pouring section of the story and how much of that scene I actually scrapped to try to make it a bit less boring. However, I didn’t actually say why it became so lengthy. I will do so now.

    Despite all appearances, this book actually went through several editors (the editing process probably has me in the neighborhood of $1,500 in debt -of which I have recovered perhaps 10% through royalties on sales). The editors, while far from perfect, were invaluable in pointing out issues with the continuity of the story. For a story that all takes place in about six hours, continuity is key. Because the primary characters were all in motion and many events happened simultaneously, keeping everything linked from a time standpoint was crucial.

    The first two editors that touched the manuscript had issues with the timing while Brent and Jimmy were pouring the concrete and Beth and Devin were otherwise occupied. In the first few drafts I had skimmed on the concrete a bit; I figured that since the forms for the slab had been introduced and the characters had already considered putting one body inside them, all I had to do was say that Brent and Jimmy buried the body in the concrete. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of concrete would know that it isn’t as quick as throw a body in there and dump some concrete on it. But… That is how the first two editors were seeing it. One of them said, “Beth and Devin seemed to be gone for a very long time, wouldn’t Brent and Jimmy have wondered what was taking them so long?” I don’t have an actual quote from the second editor, but her sentiment was very similar: driving down the road and rolling a car down a hill would take longer than mixing and pouring a bit of concrete.

    In my usual, passive-aggressive manner, I typed a scene completely over-explaining everything to shut them up. It was initially five-hundred words longer than what went into the book. The part about digging the hole and the cleanup thereafter are roughly the same, but I trimmed five-hundred words from the actual pouring and shaping content to get it to under a thousand words. This, of course, led to one of the editors noting that Beth and Devin would have been back before Brent and Jimmy were finished. I found humor in that. The same characters were doing the same actions during the scene in both drafts, but with the detailed explanation of the pouring of the concrete it made it seem like it was taking Brent and Jimmy longer. While you wouldn’t know it by reading the final draft, it did seem like there was a problem with continuity when I didn’t detail this portion of the story.

    Q: Chevy Econoline?
    A: Yep, I fucked this one up. This was one of the first bits of legitimate feedback I received about the story. The Ford Econoline was the image I thought I had in mind when I wrote about the ‘Pleasure Palace’, but it was not. When I did an image search to find the van with distinctive diamond-shaped window, I could only find it on a Chevy. I didn’t realize that I had specified the model of the van earlier in the story. I left the error in the story through multiple revisions only because I find a small amount of humor in the fact that while thousands have read the story, only one person has pointed this out.