The second Rachel Peng book, Maker Space, came out this morning! Readers of the series know that Rachel has a unique sense of vision; she can perceive emotions in color. This has turned out to be a “well it seemed like a good idea at the time!" aspect of her character, as emotions are pretty freakin’ confusing things and it is hard to depict them.
For Rachel, emotions are part visual (color) and part physical (how they move). Emotions never occur one at a time—nobody is ever just happy, or just angry, or so on. If she is to make sense of emotions, she needs to identify the base color, which represents the person’s dominant mood, and then how the other colors interact with that color. For example, a person who is being sarcastic would likely be doubt-green, and this mood “drips”.
Here’s a passage from Maker Space that describes this phenomenon in more detail:
She and Santino had pitched battles over mixed emotions: how, for example, one person could be angry (Tuscan red, mixed with scarlet), horny (also red, but more of a crimson-carmine combination), and frustrated (red again, this time a rusty burgundy) simultaneously, and how the intensity and movement of these colors within a constantly changing surface layer revealed which emotions were driving the person at any given time.
It is also hard to depict them accurately over an entire novel, let alone a series. This is my reference sheet for most—not all!—of the major emotions used throughout the stories. I keep a Word document open at all times to jot down each new one that I use, but I’m not drawing all of those up or I will go completely starkers.
Hope you enjoyed this little cheat sheet for some of Rachel’s abilities.