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Discussing Life Is Strange Part II

Discussing Life Is Strange Part II is going to be more about theories for Episode 5. It’s still at least a month or more away from being available, and I’m obsessed. Can you tell? There are so many really interesting and cool things about this game. It’s story-based and takes zero gaming skill (or knowledge, really) and reminds me of a visual choose your own adventure novel.

 

After writing these two posts, I had a few thoughts when I read some articles on the games.  In this article, the developers of Life Is Strange, and they mentioned having real, live women on the team… as if this was some rare commodity. It was so sad to see that even though there are tons of female gamers, barely any women consult, write, or develop video games. Is it because none of them are trying? Is it due to sexism? I don’t know. But I have always wondered how to become a writer for console and PC games… Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand!

 

If you have not read Discussing Life Is Strange Part I yet, I suggest heading over there first.

 

WARNING SPOILERS FOR LIFE IS STRANGE AHEAD!

 

I have a few theories on things that I’m not 100% sure I can back up, but because I’m well-versed in story-telling tropes, I have an easier time figuring things out. (I called Mr. Jefferson at the very beginning of episode 1.) As far as twists and mystery, LIS is actually pretty damn good. I’ve seen high-budget films, books, and games that had much more predictable and lame outcomes. And because of the nature of the episodic format, the developers are able to make changes based on the fans’ reactions. No matter the ending, I’m so excited to see where everything is heading. So here are some of my theories. They are purely thoughts that I have and are in no way reflective of what will actually be in episode 5.

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1. Depending on your choices, someone will help Max initially get away from Jefferson. This one might be me projecting really hard because I want it to happen so badly. While Max will have to be the one to fix everything and save the day, I’m not 100% convinced she can get away by herself while being drugged up. My thought is that depending on your choices in the previous episodes, David or Kate could come and save Max. I almost thought that Victoria could be one of the options… but one could argue that she would have no reason to know where the bunker is. (I’d respond with the fact that she and Nathan were close and often drugged up, so there’s a chance she could know.) Some people even think Nathan is going to “redeem” himself and save her, maybe getting killed in the process, but I’m not convinced of this. I think it’s a bit too out of character as he has been established. David make the most sense, with Kate being an interesting possibility. My biggest concern, though, is that whoever does go to help her escape might end up dead (hopefully it’s not Warren or Kate!). And while David may be an ass, I don’t want him dead either… even if he did hit Chloe.

 

2. Many of the options you are able to choose can screw Chloe over in some way or another, which leads me to believe that there will be an option to leave her dead. My hope is that it’s just a way to make us really want to keep her alive, just like Max does, but there are so many options that are just mean to Chloe or hurt her feelings: letting David slap her and not taking the heat for the joint he caught her with, taking Kate’s phone call at the diner, siding with David during the family argument, having to let her father die, choosing whether or not to euthanize her second timeline self, getting her shot during shooting practice, etc.

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It concerns me a bit, but I hope the whole point of Max’s power is to save Chloe and stop the Prescotts (and the apocalypse for those who believe the Prescotts and the disaster are unrelated). Something that may support the idea that Chloe is supposed to live is Rachel’s spirit animal (the doe) and the storm. While my original thought was that the the storm was caused by the fact that Max is defying nature by using her power to constantly save Chloe, I’m starting to believe that her power was actually given to her as a means of saving not just Chloe, but everyone. I noticed an interesting pattern regarding when Max had “visions” of the storm. I noticed that several times, she gets the “vision” when Chloe is in danger or when she’s near Chloe. The only time this doesn’t count is the first time, which awoke her to her power… and then she went directly to where Chloe was to save her. I feel like this might support the idea that Max is supposed to save Chloe.

 

3. There seem to be some cult-like practices going on with the Prescotts, or at the very least, they have some majorly bad juju. Either they do weird and creepy things to keep their wealth… or who knows, but there were some interesting things in the bunker that seemed to indicate they knew it would be needed and that Nathan had to control himself because there was deeper importance to what they were doing. Similarly, I have a theory that the bad omens, and maybe even Max’s power is stemmed from the fact that the Prescotts are trying to take over sacred Native American land and that a girl was killed and then buried on the land. Technically, I don’t have proof that the barn or the shallow grave were actually on this “sacred” land, but the doe seems to be Rachel’s spirit animal, and it seems to fit that bad things happened and led to the crazy eco-issues.

 

4. Jefferson could be a Prescott. Now, some people claim that Jefferson could be Nathan’s father Sean Prescott. I find this to be strange because people have seen Sean Prescott. Could he be in disguise? Could he be a random serial killer who took Nathan on as a protege? I’m not sure, but I doubt both of those. For a while, I have felt that Nathan could be his illegitimate son and/or Jefferson was perhaps his uncle. Jefferson could easily be a pseudonym. Though, there are some artifacts within the game that indicate Nathan, his father, and Jefferson are all working together somehow.

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My somewhat outlandish theory is that they are stealing the life force (energy, spirit, something metaphysical) of the girls by photographing them. Some people might think this idea is crazy, but reading some of the messages in the bunker left me with this idea. Then I vaguely recall reading that the movie playing in Nathan’s was inspired by Nosferatu, who is a vampire.

 

5. It’s possible Rachel’s death was an accident or a death of necessity, not a serial killer. Go with me on this one; I know it’s crazy. I’m extremely interested in the fact that Rachel was found dead, but Kate came back alive. What about the other girls? We know there were many, many other girls based on the number of red binders in the “Dark Room.” Were they all murdered, too? If so, why wasn’t Kate? Now, there were some people who mentioned that Jefferson made a comment that “Kate is/was nothing like Rachel,” implying that Kate might not have been worthy of whatever he’s doing. This could make sense, and I somewhat like this idea… But I’m having a strong feeling that says maybe he doesn’t actually murder them at all. Wouldn’t there be a lot more young girls missing? At one point, when Max and Chloe are checking out the photos of Rachel and Kate, they mention that Rachel looks aware and pissed. Perhaps he had to kill her because she was lucid (or maybe he got her pregnant?). Nathan also seemed genuinely excited when he mistook Max for Rachel at the diner. If they were killing girls, it seems weird that he would have any feelings at all. I wonder if he was hurting over the fact that they had to kill Rachel (or that Jefferson killed her; Nathan didn’t exactly look coherent when he posed with her), which could also explain why he’s being so erratic and violent.

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6. Nathan: victim or serial co-conspirator/rapist/vampire/all around creep and jerk? Many people are speculating that he is a victim and that he isn’t completely a willing participant. While there are some merits to these claims, I don’t think we can entirely leave him blameless. We know he is helping drug the girls (or at least Kate) and getting them back to the bunker. We also saw that he remained present for the pictures, as he is seen in one of them with Rachel. However, he does appear off in this picture. Is he posed? Is he completely doped out? Is he a willing participant? It’s definitely hard to tell. To me, he looks out of it and grim, perhaps unaware of what exactly was going on or too jacked up on meds and drugs to care. Now, one could easily see him as a victim, especially when reading some of the notes that imply his parents are enabling his bad habits, he has psychotic tendencies, is medicated (prescription and other), and also may be a rapist. Could this all be a product of his upbringing? Yes. But could it also be partially due to manipulation, mental instability, and self-medicating? Possibly. I don’t think he’s 100% just the victim here. What he did to Chloe was on his own time. It didn’t happen in the bunker. That was all him. At some point, a person can only use “product of environment” so much when the truth is that people are who they are.

 

Okay, that’s enough for now. If you haven’t checked the game out, please do! It’s really an awesome story-based game.

Discussing Life Is Strange Part I

Today’s post is going to be a combo of fangirl rambling, story analysis, and prediction. Typically, I don’t talk too much about one of my many passions outside of reading and writing fiction, but I’m making an exception for Life Is Strange because I believe it is very relevant to my work and to YA fiction as a whole. I’m a huge fan of video games, and currently, I’m obsessed with an episodic game called Life Is Strange. This game is in an episode format in which they release one of 4-6 parts of the the game every couple of months (sounds like the book trend that is popular right now, doesn’t it?), and the skill level is less traditional and more choice/prompt based, using action commands and selecting options.

 

So, even if you don’t usually care for games, this one is almost like an interactive choose your own adventure novel… except it’s not a book. How Life is Strange (LIS) pertains to my work and this blog, is that it most certainly falls into the YA category, despite some of the more serious themes, and story-wise, I would say it is sort of like a young adult, sci-fi version of the show Twin Peaks (though some have also compared it to Donnie Darko). In addition to that, both LIS and Twin Peaks (as well as Harper’s Island and old school Buffy) are somewhat inspiring one of my next novels. The book isn’t titled, yet, so I can’t give you more than that, but I promise to be more detailed in a different and later post.

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Anyway, the story in Life Is Strange is about Max, a teen at a prestigious art school for her senior year of class, waking up to find that she has the power to rewind time. She first uses this power to save a girl from being shot and killed by a classmate, and she eventually tries to help her friend discover what happened to a missing local girl. For anyone who knows nothing about Life Is Strange, I suggest playing it and/or watching a Youtube gamer play (Cryaotic is a pretty good one). I’ve done both (watched and played for myself), and it helps because you can see how different choices impact the story. Some choices have life-altering consequences for characters within the game. I suggest doing one or the other because if you haven’t watched or played the game, none of this post will make sense to you. Also, as a reminder, there absolutely will be SPOILERS in this post. TONS of them. So, if you haven’t played through all four of the currently available episodes, don’t be mad at me when I spoil stuff.

WARNING: LIFE IS STRANGE SPOILERS AHEAD!!

 

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So, as I wait impatiently for the fifth episode to arrive, I have read lot of discussions (and had some of my own) about the “shocking” end of episode 4 and theories for the concluding episode. I thought I’d share my own thoughts but also try to work out some interesting ideas in the process. First, there are a few things that I’m completely convinced of:

 

1. Rachel is truly dead (probably in any timeline). I know people are still holding onto the hope that maybe Max and Chloe are mistaken and it’s actually Nathan in the ground, but there’s no way. It’s her. I’m almost positive I saw Max open the plastic a little, which is why they recoiled from the smell later than when they had just uncovered her. This is when Chloe starts to freak out worse. It’s Rachel. There’s no way Chloe would leave without being 100% sure of this.

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2. Chloe was in love with Rachel. Some people are still arguing that they were just friends… but I will never believe that. I’d probably still deny it, even if the developers outright said it (which they have specifically mentioned it purposely being ambiguous). There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Chloe is actually bi (her room and some of her comments are probably the most obvious), but I don’t know if that matters. The point is really about the deep caring for someone else and how tragedies, choices, and emotions created by these relationships built on love and loyalty (friend-wise or romantically) effect life. Chloe’s reaction to Rachel’s death (both seeing her body and the manner in which she is hunting for revenge) is consistent with someone who was truly IN LOVE with that person. Even though she literally said the words “I LOVED HER” (twice!), some people are still taking this as “I loved her as my best friend and/or sister.” She also called her “my angel” in episode 1, and many times, she acted incredibly jealous about certain Amber-related things (Frank for instance). I’m not sure why people are in denial about this, but they are. I think the fact that she was truly in love with Rachel makes Chloe’s reactions and heartbreak that much sadder and beautiful. The scene when they find Rachel gets me. Every. Freaking. Time. LIS5

 

3. In Episode 5, Max is going to have to jump through one or more of the pictures of herself. This one is really obvious, mostly because of how insistent Warren was about having a picture with her. But, that aside, there are other indicators of this idea: the double moons, the whole monolog from bad-guy teacher-man at the beginning, and there have been several times where Max has taken selfies: in class, the one one the bed with Chloe, the very obvious one with Warren. There were allegedly a couple of other times the option was given, but the above three are the important ones. Hopefully, she’ll use one of these to make things right, but I have had a theory for a while now that the original first scene of her waking up from her “vision” of the tornado was actually her coming back from the future. The best option, of course, would be the go back to the Warren picture, but that seems way too easy. I have a feeling that the developers had intended for Max to go back through the first picture and let Chloe die, but now I’m convinced they changed their minds based on the fan outrage it would cause (which is a plus side to having episodic games like this).

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Okay, that’s enough rambling. Apologies for how long this was! But there is one last thing to mention. Who do I ship? Chloe/Max or Max/Warren? Easy answer: Chloe/Max. I’ll spare you the long answer, but it involves the fact that I really like Warren because he’s cute, sweet, protective, funny, dorky, etc. And he is crushing so hard on Max. I wish he could have her because it would be nice to see him get what he wants. But my fangirl-ness (and play through) are shipping Chloe and Max so hard… which is why Chloe must live so she and Max can be together. FOREVER.

 

Thanks for checking out Discussing Life Is Strange Part I! Next time, I’ll be talking about some specific theories and ideas I have. Tune in for that by visiting Discussing Life Is Strange Part II next week!

Ebook Escapes Weekend Spotlight

So, Ebook Escapes has me on their Weekend Spotlight today in which I speak about the origin of Land of No Angels. You can also learn 5 fun facts about me, too!  It was really fun reminiscing about the behind the scenes of Land of No Angels. Interestingly enough, I was recently going through old blog posts, trying to find the old Dragon Dictate post, when I stumbled upon a bunch of really great entries I had written while earning my Master’s degree. For those who don’t know, I wrote Land of No Angels as part of my thesis project. Seeing these old posts made me think that my new readers would probably like to see some interesting thoughts and challenges I had while writing the first book in the  Dark Ascension Series. Below, I have linked to several entries that would be worth reading. Also, you should absolutely check out Ebook Escapes Weekend Spotlight. I’m not the only one there, and you might find another great author.

 

Researching the Post Apocalyptic World

Planning for the Apocalypse

What I Learned from the First Draft of My Thesis

Details, Details, Details

 

The interesting thing is that a lot of my thoughts on drafting, outlining, and even revising have changed dramatically since I wrote this book. There are still issues, of course, such as the fact that I still struggle with focus, but I have learned a lot about my own writing and the methods in which I complete the task of storytelling.

Getting Personal… The San Diego Fires

fireI don’t usually get this personal, but I felt like I needed to write about this… maybe to appease my own fears. Many people may have already heard that, yet again, San Diego is on fire. Why does this matter to me at all? Well, I grew up in SD, particularly I small-ish city in the middle of the county called Poway. For those of you who heard about the fire in Rancho Bernardo, I went to school at RB High, which is right next to where I lived and my family still lives.

Don’t worry, they are fine and haven’t been evacuated, nor are they even worried about anything like that. It doesn’t make anything less scary, though.

There’s fire in Carlsbad… which is where I worked only a few years ago. And, of course, the fire in San Marcos… where I went to junior college and even met met my husband. It’s just crazy.

I remember some years ago that the fires were so bad that people were asked to stay inside to avoid smoke inhalation. We were also encouraged to spend time in our cars or other places with filtered air. It was THAT bad. I also remember the one year my family and I had been dangerously close to being evacuated. Behind our neighborhood is a series of small mountains (bigger than hills, but not huge mountains). I was coming home from work, and I could see an orange glow creeping over the hilltops. Smoke billowed from the top and filled an already dense, gray sky. Thankfully, the fire still had to burn through the second set of smaller mountains behind us, so we had plenty time and security… but anyone who has lived in a place with fires of this nature can tell you that they have the uncanny ability to become deadly within minutes.

I remember a family friend’s entire house burned down… and some of the houses in this area are worth millions of dollars… but the kicker was that the fire fighters had literally been in front of the house when the family was evacuated. The fighters must have been called away or the direction had changed. But the result was heart-breaking.

I mentioned on twitter that fires are a lot like tornados. There are cases when a fire will burn every house on the block to the ground, but one will be left almost untouched. Fire can burn and grow at a rate that is impossible to predict or even comprehend. The aftermath can be absolutely gut-wrenching and tear-worthy. I remember one time, my mother took me and my siblings to check a couple of neighborhoods where my siblings’ friends lived because they had been evacuated and didn’t even know if their houses were still there.

This is one of many, MANY reasons my husband and I left California. A small reason, but it still was a reason. The ironic thing, though, is that we moved to the Midwest. Yep. Right into tornados. However, where we live now hasn’t had a tornado directly hit in a very, very, VERY long time. Sadly, there are very few places that are complete devoid of natural disasters in this country.

I guess I’m done rambling about this. Also, I feel a lot calmer, too.

Next Project Hints

undineAtSeaSo, I’ve been sending links to images that hint at the subject of my next young adult novel project. It will be a stand alone novel, which I know is a risk. As I work on it, I’ve been inspired by two of my favorite artists: Arthur Rackham and John William Waterhouse.

undineCrystalVaultThe first piece of inspiration is the story and art of Undine, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. He is a well-known artist who illustrated books like Undine and Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. He is also known for fantastical and whimsical illustrations of the fae folk as well as fairy tales. His artwork reminds me of the ocean, and it is magical. This particular story, Undine, is about a water nymph who is taken in by a fisherman and his wife. She wishes to gain a soul, but in order to do so, she must marry a human. It’s considered a romantic fairy tale of sorts.

 

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After Arthur Rackham, I am also drawing inspiration from John William Waterhouse. I enjoy his artwork so much that I even tried to replicate this particular painting during an art assignment in school. We were supposed to emulate a master painter’s work, and this mermaid was the painting I chose. I wish I could find the old painting, but it has been lost in my recent move. If I find it, though, I get a picture posted. At any rate, Waterhouse is so inspirational because he paints a lot of beautiful, flowing women and water.  (Can you sense a theme?) I love his mermaid, and the way he treats water is just so pretty. These are a couple of my favorites, but I do love Lady of Shalott and The Siren.

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Another hint, and this one is really sad, but I never realized that The Prince and the Pauper was not actually a fairy tale, nor did I realize that it was written by Mark Twain. Please don’t think any less of me. I just never put two and two together. So embarrassing!

 

 

So, there are my hints and inspirations. Can you guess the subject of my next YA book yet?