Chapter 20 is the chapter I tell parents to read first before they allow their kids to read Poison Study. When I wrote the book, my intended audience was adults and so when it came time to explain why Yelena murdered Reyad, I described what happened in more detail than I would have if I’d known teens and younger kids would be reading the book. And by young, I mean 9 years old! This was before the young adult edition was released. And I wanted to revise this chapter before that edition went to print, but wasn’t given any time.
I knew Yelena had to have an excellent reason for killing Reyad and while rape is terrible, awful, horrible, I felt I also needed her to look beyond her own pain and suffering that when Reyad threatened her “sisters” it pushed her over the edge. She had to save them from him.
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I’ve had 9 year olds come to my book signings who enjoyed my books. At first, I was horrified, but they arrived with a parent in tow and I heard the same thing from most of them. That they skim over the “yucky” parts and that if they have questions, they could ask their parents. They obviously read at advanced levels and I have a precocious reader of my own—they get bored with books aimed at their age/grade. My daughter read Poison Study around age 10 and she did the same thing—skimmed over this chapter.
In this chapter Yelena “talks” with the ghost of Reyad. This is another “dark moment” for Yelena, probably the darkest of the book, when her memories and experiences threaten to derail her from achieving her goal of being free.
Another of my favorite lines is by Reyad. He says, “Poisoned, pursued and living with a psychopath. Not what I would consider the good life.”
When Yelena recounts her achievements at the fire festival and she ends her acrobatic routine by yanking the wings of her costume open and “…bright scarlet fabric of the wings billowed out…” That scene is what I thought the cover art should look like. Yelena standing with her arms raised and red fabric wings sweeping behind her—at the moment of her metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. My publisher’s art department disagreed - not that I'm complaining they've done a fantastic job with all my covers.
Side note - my favorite Poison Study cover from all the editions world wide is the UK young adult edition - the designer, Henry Steadman nailed it:
This chapter is also the first time Janco does his rhymes when fighting. Janco seems like he’s always in a good mood. Nothing can upset him and insults just bounce right off. And he likes to annoy his opponents. Angry opponents make mistakes. Mistakes Janco can take advantage of.
Ari describes Janco best. “His biggest advantage is that no one thinks he is serious, and that’s exactly what he wants.” Yelena responds with, “I’ll try and remember that the next time he’s cracking jokes and my ribs.”
Janco has turned into my favorite character of all time (please don't tell the others - I don't want them to get jealous). He’s a blast to write and just a fun character.
Question 20 – In my short story, Mongrel, what is the name of the “dog” she rescues?
Don't answer this question in the comments!! This is another chance to win! There will be 31 questions for each chapter note published. Collect the answers to ALL the questions (or your best guess) and then enter to win a T-shirt at the end of the month (I'll post the Rafflecopter on the 31st).