Book Nerd Guest Post
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED IN SCHOOL
As a kid, I always wanted to go to boarding school. My two older siblings went first, starting with my brother, who didn’t like how often we moved and wanted to go to school in the same place for four years. This was all pre-9/11, so we could go right to the gate with them, and I remember just staring out the window at the plane they were boarding, sick with envy, wishing I were getting on that plane.
For all my childhood, boarding school was this bright, gleaming dream for me, especially after I entered Junior High, lost my friends from elementary school, and suddenly found myself lonely more days than not.
I'd go across the country to a new home and make a ton of new friends. I began to truly apply myself, to devote myself to getting the best possible grades, to studying for the SSATs.
I got in.
The last three months of eighth grade, I passed classes this way: I’d received a rule book for the boarding school, so I smuggled into class with me and read it over and over, just to soak in this sign of the school I'd soon attend.
And when I went to boarding school...
Well, let's just say: wherever you go, there you are.
There is no changing your circumstances unless you change yourself. I love the makeover movies as much as the next person where some down-on-his-or-her-luck person gets a new job, a new look, and new confidence, and just lives a better life, but you bring all of your hang-ups and worries with you. Even now, I have to remind myself of this when I get restless and want to move: I know exactly what I’ll do somewhere new. I’ll sit in Panera or a coffee place and write a lot. I’ll go on the internet to much. I’ll watch a bunch of Star Trek: The Next Generation recuts.
The most important thing I learned in school was therefore to look inward, not outward, and fix myself before I saw reasons for displeasure in what I saw about me.
it is never good to build your expectations too high. They are impossible to meet. I did not make friends. I did not thrive in classes. And I was not happy.
Lesson the first of this? It was a hard one to learn, but I finally got it by the time I graduated: it is not them, it's me. I struggled to make friends because the first sign of rejection, the first hint of adversity, and I'd withdraw from people. I'd hide myself in my room, eat a lot of junk food, and blare Les Miserables (likely alienating more people who lived around me suffering from my very loud music).
But the second lesson I learned was the most important, and even now, I have to remind myself of it: I don't necessarily need other people.
Yes, I love the company of friends every so often, but I learned over the course of Junior High and then High School not only how to be by myself for a great deal of the time, but how to make good use of it.
These were the years that turned me into a writer, you see. In the absence of exterior socialization, I spent a lot of time in my own head, and I began writing. A lot. My imagination became incredibly vivid and developed, and I wielded it as a tool for these stories. I still do.
To be honest, now as an adult, I get nervous sometimes when drawn into situations with constant exposure to people. It's not social anxiety, since I've basically overcome that. Rather, I know outside stimulation burns up some of the energy I'd otherwise keep in my head, imagining stories. Rather than fearing I'll never have a social life as I did when I was young, I now fear the idea a social life may ruin my writing.
So, there are still lessons to be learned, but school taught me to be the person I am now-- or rather, the writer I am. Even if it was a hard lesson at the time, and I might've enjoyed the person I would have become if life had been easier back then, I wouldn't change it even if I could.
MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THE DIABOLIC
1. "The Emperor wishes me to send my innocent little lamb to the slaughter. No. Instead, I'll send him my anaconda."
I like that this line is the book in a nutshell: Nemesis is a dangerous killer - the blades of the butterfly on he cover - sent in place of Sidonia Impyrean, the heiress sought by the Emperor as his hostage.
2. "These people truly were cruel. But if they posed a threat to Sidonia in any way, they would discover I was crueler still."
I like this line because it's Nemesis in a nutshell. This is her task in the book, and this is how she thinks:
3. The other aspects I enjoyed while writing THE DIABOLIC were the relationships between Nemesis and other female characters.
"And as her eyes held mine, wide and glorious and so self-destructively devoted to me, to me of all things, I felt a helpless surge of rage, because I knew there was no way to tear this from her. I could break her in half, I could stomp every bone in her body to dust, and I still would never vanquish that resolve, that madness.
That was when I realized for the first time that Sidonia Impyrean... could be indomitable."
The primary one centers upon Sidonia, the girl Nemesis literally exists to protect. I liked this moment when Sidonia stands up and refuses to allow Nemesis's ready sacrifice for her. I always imagined Nemesis as the physical powerhouse, but Sidonia as a gentle girl with a layer of steel beneath-- which Nemesis finally realizes for herself.
4. I'd love to speak about Neveni, about Cygna, but I'm going to mention the last quote with regard to a character named 'Enmity', as you can tell from her odd name, not a regular person, but rather a Diabolic like Nemesis.
"'Leaving so soon, Grandeé Impyrean?'
I turned slowly to face Enmity. She studied me in that animalistic way and I held very still, every thought about how to behave like a real person rushing from my mind.
My twin. My shadow. Only fitting that she'd be the one to see through me...
'What business is it of yours?' My voice sounded too hard, too threatening-- too much like my voice.
In so many ways, Nemesis sees the first hint of her own humanity in this other person who is so like her, and yet Enmity is also her greatest threat. Here, Nemesis struggles in the face of a direct encounter with her to maintain the guise of being the delicate, vulnerable Sidonia, all while aware of just how great a threat Enmity poses to her—due to being so much like Nemesis herself.
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.