WHAT . . . WHY?
Above: A visual reference to a moment in Book Three, MEMENTOS FROM THE ATELIER, where severity was required.
NOW YOU KNOW
The Monk Straps
Julian's fascination with Monk Strap shoes (its first real point of focus being Chapter six, THE MONK STRAPS): it goes back to his Grandpa Harold and was carried over to his dad. For the pair of them, the choice of buckles over laces was a hygiene thing; laces being soft and often touching the ground, was viewed as a germ magnet. Julian evolve the choice of buckled shoes (like the one above) into one of his fashion icons but its personal origins may explain a lot about his germophobe tendencies.
As to other curiosities you may be harboring, we were able to pin the author down for some answers but be aware, he chose to avoid a few, one in particular, we're told, he will never answer...well, not in polite company. Read on...
Book Two: "Damaged"
The word "damaged" came up initially under dubious circumstances. The storyline will take you back to Julian's youth and the things he was made to endure.
Brace yourself! You will read about shocking details that ultimately shaped who he later became as an adult: quiet, calm, protective, calculating, explosive. Is there any wonder that at times, it seemed as though there were two of him?
Allow the tenor of the trailer to guide your imagination (until you read Book Two, WHAT'S LEFT OF THE TOLL ROADS).
Book One, Chapter Two...The Title
"BIRTH OF THE MANTA RAY" speaks to Julian's way of moving through life. Like Manta Rays that are often seen as nomadic and solitary creatures yet still having others of their kind around them, just out of sight, Julian too tends to have his trust circle just out of sight, often times giving the sense he is a loner. It's just his way of separating his worlds...keeping the people closest to him at some distance from the rest.
"Shoo Away The Scorpions"
The first reference to the phrase was during a moment when Pippa thought Julian might react poorly to a bad situation by doing something heinous. She knew the history of the phrase: Black scorpions in a group is seen by his emotional mentor, Masumi, as the presence of evil. Over the years, Masumi tried to teach him how to avoid fighting evil with his own. To this day, it remains work in progress.
Why One Hundred and Fifteen?
Julian's dad told him to count backwards from 115 to 99. Why start at 115? Why not start at the typical 100? It was his way of buying some extra time...the precious seconds it would take to get a head start without Julian having time to grasp the oddity. One Hundred and Fifteen has 6 syllables which takes longer to say than One Hundred which only has 3.
MORE ABOUT THE MATCHSTICK:
(Spoiler alert!) There is one passage in Book One, Chapter Ten, COME THE APOPHASIS, where Julian breaks his usual silence on the reverence he holds for the match. Quite the moment.