PMC Spoilery Things Pt. 2
For Part 2, I feel like discussing all of the other people in Lex's life.
Now, when I originally thought of this post, I'd wanted to make it all about Nathan. But I couldn't talk about him without talking about Matt. Of course, then it would feel rude not to discuss Grey. Then there's Morgan, and her parents, and so on.. Well, Grey and Nathan could take up entire posts of their own (just not this one), so I'm willing to delve into the other people who made Lex's life so ... challenging.
One of my favorite chapters out of all five books happens to be 'Chapter Nine: What's In A Name' in Ivy. In it, Lex's mother is telling her the story of how her parents met and how she got the name 'Alexandria'. I think one of the reasons it's my favorite is because that is exactly how Lex got her name. In the story, John Ryder is intent on visiting the sites that were meaningful to some of history's greatest generals and conquerors, including Alexander the Great. Which is what led him to Alexandria. At some point, this story of her parents appeared right as I was trying to figure out a name for my MC. So ch 9 really does describe what is in a name.
Throughout the series, the thing I enjoyed the most was how big a role her parents played in each book. Now, because they are YA, I couldn't have them always in the middle of things and disrupting all of the magickal things Lex had to endure, but I truly enjoyed having them around.
In the original draft of Ivy, they were less present and that made zero sense because Lex is only 9 years old. When her mom insisted on meeting with Morgan, that really sort of set the tone for how her parents would be involved. They were encouraging, understanding, and trusting of their wild child, but they also had their boundaries.
In Oleander, their presence is probably felt the most. With all of the support they've given their daughter over the years after the events of Ivy, it was super fun to write what that trust earned them. And I will cackle over Lex ambushing her dad in the 'Puppy Love' chapter every time I think about it. The second-hand embarrassment is also super real when she bursts in on her mom's book club to tell her about her first kiss. I could have wrung her neck for putting me through that, but having that moment with her mom was beautiful.
Throughout the rest of the series, the way they react to everything that Lex is going through is superb parenting of a massively difficult teenager, in my opinion. Nothing was made easy for them and I appreciate how they handled all that came their way.
Okay, okay. I have to stop talking about her parents or we could be here for a while. (Honestly, one of the things I love in most of my books is that the parents all seem to have their own backstories that I want to explore.)
The irony of knowing her parents so well is that I hardly knew Morgan. Even from me, she was a secretive creature. I never learned who her husband was, or why she chose to raise her daughters in the cottage instead of elsewhere. In some ways, however, it made a lot of sense that I didn't know. Morgan always impressed on Lex the importance of letting other people tell their own stories. If she chose to share with Lex, it was at a time that Lex chose not to share with me.
Her daughters, Fiona (Anne) and Faylin (Sarah) were like this as well. When Lex and Anne discussed what it meant to be raised by Morgan, I was very deliberately left out of that conversation. Which, in editing, I realized meant that I had forgotten to add something back from the original draft that should have been there: when Anne told Lex that her older sister, Freyja, set a spell on the twins' eighteenth birthday that would allow them to remake themselves so that no one knew they were Morgan's daughters. Since I forgot to leave that in the published draft, the only time this spell's existence is revealed to readers is in Avens when Lex asks Nathan if he knew anything about it and how it would affect Sarah.
To address a little of the plot of Oleander: I always knew that Morgan died here. I always knew that Lex would start off in a courtroom. I did not always know that it would be suicide that took her or that her eldest daughter also took her own life. (To be fair, I also never knew that Morgan had daughters until Sarah burst in on the scene. Which means I was not aware until book 2 that Nathan was her grandson.)
Much like Ivy, I wasn't made aware of pertinent details until I was hit in the face with the facts. One of those facts was Matt.
Now, in the last post, I mentioned that a reader had to point it out to me that Nathan liked Lex. Mind, I was already most of the way through Oleander by the time this comment was made. I was so fully immersed in Lex's head, that certain things were completely and utterly overlooked in the writing haze.
Then I reread Oleander.
In the writing haze, it was so fun to experience Lex's crush on Matt and her ability to be so caught up in a boy that it forced things around her to change. And yes, out of all the things I was able to purposely add to the story, her first kiss happening in a downpour was my crowning achievement. But what I had witnessed (in the first draft, mind you, not the ending rewrite) throughout the story didn't register until that comment made me re-evaluate everything Nathan did or said to Lex in the entire second book.
To this day, it's one of my favorite books to reread for exactly this reason: Nathan is jealous of Matt. And it wouldn't be so entertaining to reread all of the time except for the fact that I was so in Lex's head that neither of us noticed it. At all. For the whole first draft. To bring this home, I was sitting here writing about him giving Matt weird looks and actually wondering wtf that was about. I'M THE AUTHOR, AND I DIDN'T KNOW!
To be fair, I said I was going to talk about Matt and I am. (Though he could almost get a whole post to himself, too.) I think one of the best things about Matt is that he stuck around longer than he was supposed to. It's one thing for him to be chill with a witch for a girlfriend, but after Morgan's death, I sort of expected him to bow out gracefully and have that be the end of it. I was not prepared for how much he wasn't going to let that happen.
Mind you, I wrote all five books back-to-back. That's how I have to write my series: one book right after the other. Only when all of them are complete can I go back and edit them one-on-one.
When you read the end of Oleander, you get the sense that Matt is out of the picture for good. Lex even thinks to herself that he had the option of moving on with his life and pretending nothing happened, and she wouldn't blame him for it. And this was every bit the intention I had moving forward.
Then he showed up in the first (and unbearably terrible) draft of Valerian. While everything about that book was rewritten, Matt's involvement remained as it was. (More of which will be explored in another post.)
What I have left to say of him for this post is that he made the perfect first boyfriend for Lex. He didn't shy away from the challenges she presented, he was openly supportive of her and her abilities, and he wasn't afraid to take up space in her life.
As much as I love Nathan, Lex needed Matt in order to know herself in a relationship versus outside of one.
Now, to tie this off, I will leave you with the Timeline for Oleander:
June 14, 2001: First day of summer vacation; Lex meets Faylin (Sarah) and Matthew Graham
June 15, 2001: Shopping with Nathan, meets Anne (Fiona), hanging out with Matt
June 29, 2001: Matt asks Lex on a date
June 30, 2001: Lex has her first date; sends out prosperity spell; receives watch locket
July 2, 2001: confrontation with the twins at Morgan’s; Lex’s first kiss
July 3, 2001: Lex fills Morgan in on the visions in the lake and the kiss
July 4, 2001: Matt asks Lex on another date
July 5, 2001: They go on a date at a carnival in the next town over
July 30, 2001: Lex has a piano recital
August 2, 2001: Lex realizes she’s falling in puppy love with Matt
August 8. 2001: Lex has her first period
August 9, 2001: Morgan commits suicide; investigation begins; Lex and Nathan; Ascension
August 10, 2001: Lex and Matt break up
September 4, 2001: first day of school
September 14, 2001: the boys come over
October 27, 2001: Lex goes back to the cottage; Nathan sleeps over
December 15, 2001: Sleepover with the boys
May 7, 2002: Lex gets arrested in school
June 8, 2002: Lex visits Nathan at the cottage; learns that the lake is hers
June 9, 2002: the trial starts
June 13, 2002: Garder presents Morgan’s journal
June 14, 2002: Lex begins her testimony
June 19, 2002: Lex ends her testimony; reveals the secrets within the journal; case dismissed
July 18, 2002: Lex says goodbye to everyone and everything
July 19, 2002: the Ryders leave Cedar Creek
One last little note about the plot: you'll notice in the timeline that this does take place in 2001 and that some events happen very close to September 11th. These events were not mentioned in the book for the simple reason that all five books were written prior to me ever figuring out which years they took place in. I believe Ivy and Oleander were both actually published prior to me ever constructing the timeline, thus making it impossible to go back and properly acknowledge that piece of history.
Speaking of history...
On this day in PMC history: Ivy was published on October 31, 2015.
I hope you've enjoyed this series as much as I have these past six years.
Thank you for reading.