Author Commentary

Author Commentary: No Rest for the Wicked, Chapter 2

Welcome to Author Commentary! Each month I’ll be re-reading a chapter from one of my books and talking a bit about what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I made certain choices, any easter eggs that might be hiding, research I’d done for that part, etc. This month I’m reading No Rest for the Wicked, which is available for free at your favorite e-tailer if you’d like to pick up a copy and read along.

You can find the commentary for chapter 1 here.

No Rest for the Wicked, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 opens with Joanna perusing Michael’s clothing, without having told him why she wanted to see it. Even though he gets grumpy a few paragraphs in because she hasn’t told him the whole story, this opening shows that there’s still some trust between them (though I don’t think either of them realize it just yet). Michael could have refused her request or demanded an explanation, but instead he allows her to go through his things.

“Better,” she said, running her hand over a red silk waistcoat. Was she remembering that he’d worn it at their wedding? He did, every time he put it on. That red waistcoat was a photo I’d found on Pinterest of a 1790s-style gentleman’s satin waistcoat while I was outlining the story. I thought it was such a good-looking piece I found a way to work it in!

You have the education and bearing of a gentleman. Even though he’s the son of a poor, Catholic laborer, Michael was sent to school then later to university courtesy of an anonymous benefactor. Honestly, I have no idea who that is yet, lol, but as an homage to Daredevil, Michael needed to be a lawyer and lawyering takes education. I would someday like to give Michael and Joanna a longer story, and this is one of the questions I hope to answer in it.

That was how he walked The Liberties at night—dressed in the same manner as his neighbors, attracting as little attention as possible. No body armor and helmet with horns, though 😉

“You did belong there,” she said firmly. “And you may actually be his lordship’s cousin. Wasn’t your grandmother a Talbot?” The Earl of Waterford, who is the lord they’re discussing here, is also the Earl of Shrewsbury. Waterford is an Irish title, and how he would be referred to in Ireland. The Waterford/Shrewsbury titles have belonged to the Talbot family since the 15th century, and those of you who have read The Good, The Bad, And The Scandalous might remember that Sarah’s best friend was a Talbot, too. If Michael’s grandmother is also a Talbot, he might have some very powerful cousins (perhaps including Diana). How distant they are is the question 😉

She reached out and took his hand, squeezing it with a gentle pressure. If you read down a few sentences, you notice that Michael doesn’t react to Joanna’s touch until the conversation becomes personal. Part of that is shock on his part, I think–it’s been five years since he saw her last, and here she is standing in his bedroom holding his hand, just like old times. It’s also partly because that’s the kind of relationship they had before she disappeared–one of holding hands, of casual caresses and knowing looks even when out in public–and he automatically drops right back into that groove.

“Sir Arthur needed someone in Ireland in case the French made another invasion attempt…” France did actually attempt to invade Ireland in 1796 in support of emancipation for Irish Catholics. The fleet was set to land at Bantry Bay, near Cork, but was scattered by storms and never made port.

Instead, he released her hand and began gathering up his rejected clothing to return it to its case. She’s only just come back and this reaction is totally justified, but it always makes me feel sad for them both. Joanna’s overture is being rejected, or at least put aside, while Michael finally has his love back but he doesn’t–can’t–trust her or what they used to have together. At least not yet.

The thought of him brought to mind another list she’d been mentally keeping—the list of things she needed to tell him before they reached Cork. Particularly the fact that she— I want to say that Joanna was about to confess something important here, but I honestly have no idea what she was thinking, lol. I simply wanted Michael to interrupt her thoughts!

He again appeared not to have even noticed, and Joanna sighed inwardly. She’s missing their old relationship here, too, how easy they used to be together. Five years apart with no word will make things awkward though 😉

“There are nine others that Sir Arthur has invited from all over Britain.” This is a reference to a main character from each of the other books in the series, each also an homage to a modern superhero.

“…though I strongly suspect there are women who will indirectly be important parts of what we accomplish.” And that is a nod to the other main characters in each of the books. The way it worked out, it was the male main characters who all ended up with invitations from Sir Arthur, but I wanted to make sure to acknowledge somehow that women would also play important parts in their stories.

“Not more important than ensuring the safety of your neighbors,” she replied, patting his knee. “Just a way to do so on a larger scale.” “Yet, at least in my case, still working on a small scale.” This was me, basically figuring out how to incorporate a street-level hero into the world-saving reality of the Avengers.

“The Romans never conquered Ireland, so they never laid roads here.” And interesting tidbit I picked up researching this story. Ireland was notorious at the time for its terrible roads, and this is one of the reasons.

…but there was one rather important matter that had been neglected. He covered her hand with his, large and warm. “What is it?” “I didn’t bring a maid,” she whispered. “And I cannot get into—or out of—my clothing without help.” This is likely what Joanna was thinking of when Michael interrupted her thoughts at the stable in Dublin, but I didn’t think of it until later 😉

“They would if I weren’t carrying secret correspondence and weapons on my person.” One of my favorite lines!

Author Commentary

Author Commentary: No Rest for the Wicked, Chapter 1

Welcome to Author Commentary! Each month I’ll be re-reading a chapter from one of my books and talking a bit about what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I made certain choices, any easter eggs that might be hiding, research I’d done for that part, etc. This month I’m starting No Rest for the Wicked, which is available for free at your favorite e-tailer if you’d like to pick up a copy and read along.

No Rest for the Wicked, Chapter 1

We open with Joanna Pearson standing outside the door of her husband’s rooms, working up the courage to knock. This is a good place to talk about the premise of this series–that one or both of the main characters in each book are the mortal, Regency incarnations of modern superheroes. Joanna is loosely based on Marvel’s Black Widow, who was trained as a Soviet spy, then switched sides and moonlights with the Avengers. This Natasha-esque character would ordinarily be calm, cool, and collected even in the face of danger, yet here she stands in a hallway trying to get a grip on the anxiety washing over her at the prospect of seeing her husband. Hopefully that tells you something about how strongly she feels about him, if not exactly what she feels for him 🙂

Before Joanna can open the door, a group of children rush out and pass her as if she’s not there. Perhaps they were used to seeing random people turn up there, or perhaps she blended in well with her surroundings. But I purposely chose to have Michael teaching in this scene because 1) it’s a great occupation (says the former teacher, lol) and 2) Catholics were banned from teaching, publicly or privately, by the Penal Laws until 1782. The story takes place in 1808 and Michael, loosely based on Daredevil, is Catholic. The fact that he’s also a lawyer comes both from his comic book counterpart and the Penal Laws, again–it only became legal for Catholics to practice law in 1793 (also the year it became legal for Catholics to enter Trinity College, Dublin, where Michael was educated thanks to an anonymous benefactor).

He spoke without turning around—he’d always been good at detecting her presence—so she addressed the back of his white linen shirt in the soft Dublin brogue she’d been practicing. “Michael. It’s been a long time.” This line in particular was meant as an homage to Joanna and Michael’s origins. He knows it’s her without looking (though in this story Michael has not yet lost his sight as Daredevil had) and she’s been working on blending in as a good spy would.

“I need to speak with the Demon of Dublin’s Hell.”  I wanted rather badly to call Michael the Devil of Dublin’s Hell because the possibilities to make puns and references was practically unlimited. But there was already a devil in the real neighborhood of Dublin that was called Hell. It was a wooden statue mounted on a gate that led to Christ Church Cathedral, taken down sometime early in the Victoria era and carved into snuff boxes. So Michael became a demon instead 🙂

He took the letter and broke the wax seal, his brown eyes slowly scanning the page. “Sir Arthur Wellesley?” The future Duke of Wellington really was getting ready to disembark with his army at Cork in July 1808, and I thought he would make an excellent spymaster. If we carry the modern superhero analogy further, that would mean his grace was playing the part of Nick Fury, assembler of special teams.

…her features as placid and unrevealing as the plain black dress she wore. Double meaning there–black was for mourning, and a woman might wear black when she’d become a widow. A widow’s black for my Regency Black Widow 😉

“An associate of mine is making her way to Dublin as we speak. She can take up the Demon’s post and look after The Liberties in your absence.” Cara Campbell, who Joanna is referencing here, is an homage to Jessica Jones, whose middle name is Campbell. I chose Cara as her first name to replicate Stan Lee’s penchant for alliterative names.

“He is assembling a group of individuals…” I spent the whole day walking around saying, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative,” when I wrote this part, lol. Except I couldn’t tell anyone what I was working on at that point, so I probably sounded like a madwoman quoting and cackling!

The chapter concludes with the pair striking a deal: Michael will heed his invitation from Sir Arthur and travel with Joanna to Cork, while Joanna promises to explain her 5-year absence after their business has been seen to.

She stood beside him, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. In my head, Joanna looks like Scarlett Johansson and Michael like Charlie Cox, neither of whom are overly tall. But in the comics, Daredevil is something like 6’4″ so that’s what I went with that for this story. The comics are also where the pairing came from–Black Widow and Daredevil have never even met in the TV/movie side of things, but they were an item in print 🙂