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Series: Dark Metropolis #2
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BEHIND THE STORY
Originally, the antagonist of this book, Ingrid, was Freddy’s long lost sister! And Sebastian, the revolutionary leader, was originally the spoiled son of a wealthy man whom Ingrid fell in love with, and the true antagonist was a creepy traveling sorcerer. It was an utterly different story. And also a story that was not working at all! It took me some months to figure out what the real story was. Thank goodness for revisions. And time.
The key to figuring out this book? Marlis. Once the character of the Chancellor’s daughter walked into my head, the rest fell into place.
“Dark Metropolis” was inspired by Metropolis, the German silent film by Fritz Lang. As an homage to Lang, in the opening scene of “Glittering Shadows”, Marlis is watching an opera that is basically Fritz Lang’s “Die Niebelugen”, the silent film he made before Metropolis that is a retelling of Wagner's Ring Cycle and Norse mythology.
The battle scenes in this book were so hard for me! I knew I had to write them, and I wanted them to be good and realistic. But I simply can’t conceive of how a battle ought to go, despite all the time I’ve spent playing Dynasty Warriors games... Luckily my guy is a military history buff. I made him draw me detailed maps and write very involved battle plans!
One of my favorite things about this book is that Freddy gets a new kitten. I want to put that out there, for everyone who was traumatized by the cat death in book one. I would never write an EXCESSIVELY sad pet death, but I still really, really wanted to fit a new kitten in there. At one point I wasn’t sure it was going to work, and I was like, “NOOOO, MUST HAVE KITTEN.”
Many of the names of minor characters and places in this book come from the anime “Legend of Galactic Heroes”, and there are two airships in the book named after Final Fantasy airships.
Ingrid bent over and rummaged around on the floor. When she came back up, she had Thea’s book of fairy tales. “I saw this poking out of your bag. Running away with clothes and lipstick and a book of Irminauer tales?” She smiled a little. Her teeth were neat and straight.
“Father Gruneman gave it to me when I was little,” Thea said. “At my father’s memorial.” She thought Ingrid might know Father Gruneman, since he’d been a revolutionary leader.
“Father Gruneman must have understood that the forest always calls us home, even here in the city,” Ingrid said, putting the book in front of Thea and opening it to an image of a girl in beautiful stylized robes plucking a mushroom from the forest floor. “The pictures are lovely.”
Thea glanced at her uncertainly. She was still holding Thea’s wounded hand, her touch featherlight but never breaking contact. “Are you going to heal my hand?”
“Yes, of course I am. But it might hurt a lot, just for a moment. Have some more medicine”—Ingrid poured from a bottle on the nightstand—“and look at your beautiful book.”
Thea took the medicine. “It’ll be all right, though?” she asked. The medicine had deadened some of her fear, but in the back of her mind she thought that if she lost the use of some of her fingers, she wouldn’t be able to work many places anymore.
“It will be fine very soon.” Her voice was even, soothing. Thea heard the actual words less and the rhythm more. The words were like water running over rocks, constant and sweet, and she closed her eyes.
“Your voice is like a song,” Thea said. “My mother used to sing to me when I was sick.” Mother sang all the time, before her sickness. Sometimes it was annoying, Mother throwing open the curtains and waking her up for school singing. But other times it was nice. She wished Mother were here now.
“I could give you a song,” Ingrid asked. “It will help.”
Ingrid began to chant—it was more like a chant than a song—long, beautiful tones. The music seemed to spin its way into the picture of the girl in the forest, so the colors grew brighter and Thea could almost smell moss and earth. Ingrid’s hand upon her arm was like a thread to another world, not unlike that fairy-tale forest that was a little bit frightening but also full of wonder. Anything could happen. The chant filled her with a sense of Ingrid’s power.
Thea felt something bite her wrist, heard a grinding, and her eyes snapped away from the book.
Ingrid held a bone saw in one hand, driving the blade just above Thea’s wrist with long, slow strokes. The saw was bright with Thea’s blood, but Ingrid had put cloths down so none would drip onto the bedspread or the carpet. Thea saw this through a haze of soothing tones and visions. She tried to say something, but her body was too dulled to speak or move. Ingrid’s eyes were half-closed, almost dreamy, as her lips moved with her strange song, but when she saw Thea looking, her note trailed off.
“I’m sorry if it still hurts a little.” Ingrid’s words retained their rhythm. “I didn’t think I’d be giving this gift to you. But one must trust in fate.”