Let's start with the most important topic: Shara's induction of Wizard. I know most of you saw it coming, and most of you thought the brown-skinned Peacekeeper that Wizard noticed on her first run to PP was Shara. She wasn't. That Peacekeeper was a Level Four; Shara was posing as a Level Five (and was, in fact, in the basement of PP at the time). I threw you a red herring. But just to be fair, I gave you a chance of catching it. In fact, I even told you, in my Peek on Chapter 4, that you might spot a typo that wasn't a typo.
By the time I wrote this chapter of Sleepwalkers, I was pushing myself a bit to come up with new ways to describe orgasm. Thus the post here (For the record, I patterned a later orgasm in "Sleepwalkers" on the "electricity" image at the top of that post). Flowers seem pretty incongruous in connection with Wizard, both as the free person she used to be and as the Level Two she is now, but that's why the image works for me. Sexuality is exotic to Wizard. She used the skein to masturbate, but she was a virgin and she had no idea how much better sex felt with another person. The experience was so overwhelming that even though it robbed her of her selfhood, she couldn't forget the glory of it.
In the comments section below Chapter 5 on this blog, Uzobono asked me how the different levels function. I'll let you read my whole response for yourself, if you wish (and I really do recommend reading the comments on all these chapters), but my frame of reference for Wizard as a Level Two was Asperger's Syndrome. She still knows what emotions are, but she doesn't get them. Her world has been reduced to black and white, correct and incorrect. It's all binary, computer-like. [Edit: I don't mean to imply that Wizard is now functioning exactly like an Aspie. Asperger's was just a jumping-off point for me in writing Wizard as a Level Two. It wasn't a template. Some of what she experiences now is not Aspie-ish at all. For instance, people with Asperger's feel emotions just like everyone else.]
I don't know what else to say about what happened to Wizard except that it was the third most painful scene in "Sleepwalkers" for me to write. The second most painful was Shara's induction, and the most painful of all hasn't been published yet. You'll know it when you read it - but I think you also know by now that "Sleepwalkers" doesn't follow the typical structure of an EMC story. It really is a novel, with all that that implies.
Now a couple of quick notes:
There are a few characters who pop up just once or twice in the story to deliver exposition or provide an alternate viewpoint. Valencia is one of those. I like her, and her current mental state is both sad and hot, but this is her only scene.
At some point during the polishing phase, after I'd finished
the entire first draft of the story, I realized that I'd written Melora
as a sort of non-magical Granny Weatherwax. Granny has long been my
favorite character from the Discworld series. I was tickled to see how she'd snuck into my story. Of course, the "real" Granny Weatherwax would be pissed as hell for what I did to her.
(The painting at the top of this post is by Hajime Sorayama.)