“Sere from the Green” Chapter Eight Commentary

WARNING!  THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!

This post will make much more sense if you’ve already read the novel.  Help out a little indie author and pick up a copy of her book (or books).  You can find them on Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, or my personal online store.

Sere from the Green [front cover]Sorry for my unforgivable lateness.  A lot of shit happens in chapter eight!  Yesterday, there was no sun, which wound up triggering my S.A.D. and I didn’t start work until much later than I had wanted to (it’s tricky to get through such a long chapter when you’re constantly nodding off and unable to focus).

I won’t be able to post for a couple days next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ll be away from my laptop.

Well, I’m drawing a complete blank on whatever else I wanted to talk about.  I’m currently fighting off a headache so I’m a little groggy at the moment.

Onto the commentary . . .

Pages 94 – 98

I’m trying to go scene by scene.  It helps me keep my thoughts, memories, and notes in order.

The first scene in this chapter is one of my favorites.  I really enjoy writing older characters, though it can sometimes be difficult to get into their heads.

When I was writing this scene, I really tried to convey a sense of familiarity between Jet and Remington.  As I think I mentioned earlier, Jet’s father was killed fairly early in his life and so Remington became a kind of father-figure to Jet.  Remington is probably one of the oldest protectors in the world.

I was recently skimming through the other novels in the series and noticed that there are a lot of scenes set in the mansion’s library.  It’s probably the room I can picture most vividly in my mind.  It might be a bit of wish fulfillment on my part:  it’s the library I’ve always wanted.

I had to do a lot of research on alcohol.  I don’t drink, never have (I have a sensitive stomach and the smell of alcohol has always nauseated me), so alcohol is another incredibly difficult thing for me to write.  You can’t just look up different drinks either.  I had to research the glasses (before this book, the only kinds of glasses I knew for alcohol were beer mugs and champagne flutes).  God, there’s a massive amount of details surrounding alcohol.  I think I even looked up the proper way to hold different sorts of glasses.  I have two or three recipe books that are just alcoholic drinks.  Like I probably mentioned before, I was really obsessive about details for this first book.

There are a few hints about Electra’s past in this discussion.  Electra and Isis are extremely fast learners.  They absorb knowledge and information very quickly.  Both guardians and shape shifters value intelligence, curiosity, and learning.  They’re very scholarly.

Electra and Isis are the only shape shifter/guardian hybrids in existence.  Lilly and Jet’s children are not hybrids.  When a guardian forsakes their status and titles, they are stripped of all their abilities and what makes them a guardian.  They’re allowed to keep their immortality, but that’s pretty much it.  [Spoiler!  There was an exception to this rule made, which readers find out about in “Haunted by the Keres”]

The sons of Dayton are introduced in book two and feature heavily in the series.  They have a really fun back story that I’ll go into in the “Through Storm and Night” commentary.  God, I love them  😀

A little information about Roan is revealed in this exchange.  I tried to slowly give bits and pieces of Roan’s story throughout this novel, but I’m sure I stumbled quite a bit.  I tried to make Remington and Jet’s perspectives on Roan slightly different.  Roan was a top assassin, killed quite a few protectors and protector allies, and that’s just the things they know about.  He was pretty much an all-around awful individual.  Jet takes a very black and white view of Roan:  he was evil and now probably dead, that’s all that really matters.  Remington, having more experience, is a little more neutral.  He points out that Roan was a very complex individual.  Remington has been around long enough to recognize the value in understanding the motivations of people, both friend and foe.

Shape shifters are more accustomed to humans and blend in with them, but they still are quite different.  Some factors of human society do baffle them.  Shape shifters really tend to stick close to other shape shifters.  Only a few humans know about them.  I can’t even begin to express how much damn fun that is to write (sarcasm intended).  Urban and contemporary fantasy comes with its own distinct set of difficulties.

That damn fucking disc:  another extremely dated reference (hence my aggravated swearing).  I wrote this when CDs and the like were still common. Were I ever to go back and rewrite this novel, I would probably change it to a flash drive, though that would probably also wind up being obsolete.  [Spoiler!  I always knew the Key was going to be a person, but I needed there to be a red herring driving this story so I could set up the next one]

Jet isn’t usually quite so dismissive, but he’s had so much thrown at him that he’s a little off his game.  He’s spinning a lot of plates.

There’s usually a bit of conflict between protectors and guardians.  The protectors can’t appeal any decisions made by the guardian High Council, even if said decisions affect them.  They have always, and will always, serve the guardians but that doesn’t mean they agree with every decision.  Even without meaning to be, the Council can sometimes be cruel.  What they did to Passion was unquestionably cruel.

Lilly is another voice of reason in this series.  She’s almost unflappable.  Lilly is quite a bit older than Jet (I’m still pinning down the exact ages of guardians and former guardians, but I picture her as around Artemis’ age).  She’s very experienced and level-headed.

I really love the relationship between Jet and Lilly.  It may strike many as incredibly dull and cliche, but I still like it.  These two characters genuinely love each other.  They’ve been through so much together.  Jet still looks to Lilly for support and advice, which she freely gives.  They’re very comfortable with each other and, more importantly, they respect each other.

Page 99 – 101

Shape shifter training was actually quite fun to write.  I already knew my shape shifters wouldn’t go too small (they can’t shift into fucking amoeba, Michael!).  They’ll never shift into arachnids, insects, or other invertebrates.  They don’t often take bird form.  They also don’t take the form of any extinct animals, which is too great a risk in regards to attracting attention.  There are a few other rules, which I will touch on in the commentaries for other novels.

Shae does not like being cooped up.  She has almost certainly gotten Isis into trouble in the past by convincing her to sneak out with her.  Shae’s the kind of person who doesn’t enjoy doing things on her own.  She makes friends wherever she goes, but she still enjoys having company with her.

In the first draft of this novel, it was Isis who suggested they go out, believe it or not.  As I got more familiar with the character, I realized this was completely out of character for her.  Of the four of them, she’s the one who’s least likely to suggest doing this.

Jade is really not wild about this idea, but goes along with it to make sure the other three don’t get themselves killed.  Jade’s extremely loyal and she’s always going to look out for the other three women.

Page 101 – 103

Is there anyone who doesn’t feel better after punching something?  I do kickboxing for exercise and just punching air can be immensely satisfying (particularly if you’re imagining the face of someone who has really pissed you off).

I changed this dialogue quite a bit from earlier drafts, but I still don’t like it.  Something about it reads a little stilted.  God, I hope my dialogue has gotten better in subsequent novels.  Conversation is not my area of expertise.

Passion is one of the few guardians who doesn’t really give a damn about rank.  Not many guardians would speak to Adonia as angrily as Passion does.  Passion is Adonia’s granddaughter, but she can border on disrespectful sometimes.  She’d never do this in front of other guardians though.  There are a couple lines that Passion won’t cross.

Adonia has always been very patient with Passion, which Passion appreciates.  These two characters haven’t often fought.

The reunion between Passion and Electra was another tricky scene to write.  I couldn’t find the right emotional balance.  I have very mixed feelings about this scene (usually I like or hate a particular scene.  This one . . . I just don’t know).  Electra is a lot more likely to extend an olive branch, but she’s still angry.  Passion understands her anger and is giving her space because she knows that’s what Electra wants.

Character print:  guardians’ skin glistens in natural light.  Because Isis and Electra are only part guardian, their skin only glistens in the moonlight.

Passion is a really great mother.  There are a few mothers in this series and I tried my hardest to make them all slightly different.  Motherhood is not their defining characteristic, but it’s still an important part of who they are.

Electra and Passion haven’t often fought.  This is kind of a new experience for them.  Electra’s pretty frustrated with everything at the moment and Passion is still angry.

Page 104 – 105

I probably should have cut the garage scene.  It’s pretty pointless.  Honestly, it’s just included because I needed a scene between the previous scene and the next one.  This is a really common beginner mistake.  Writers, don’t every add unnecessary filler scenes.  They never work.

I frequently have Jet wearing blue.  It just seemed like his color when I was putting together his character sketch.

Passion is also a lot older than Jet, but younger than Lilly.

Jet respected Passion’s boundaries and this was really important for me to convey.  It took me so many years to learn that I had the right to reject an apology (not to say hold a grudge, but I used to accept every single apology, regardless of whether or not it was genuine).  Too many people try to force apologies on others, regardless of how the person being apologized to feels.  The person who needs to apologize shouldn’t be given all the power.  That should fall to the wronged person.  Jet didn’t go to the Meadows, didn’t attempt to contact Passion, and even now, he won’t offer empty apologies.  He is respecting her boundaries and giving her the power in this situation.  He betrayed her trust, crossed a line, and it’s entirely up to her if she decides to forgive him.  Even though Jet wants her forgiveness, he won’t put his wants over her rights and needs.

Passion may never completely forgive Jet, but she’s not the kind who cut him out of her life completely.  She understands why he went behind her back, but understanding doesn’t equate to agreement.

I liked this little moment between Jet and Passion.  Their interactions are some of my favorite to write.

Page 105 – 108

Dionysia:  I’m a gigantic myth nerd (pretty much my entire college career involved taking as many Classics courses as I possibly could.  I even tried to learn Ancient Greek, important word being “tried” 😀 ).  Also, at the time I was writing this novel, I was going through an Apollonian/Dionysian phase.

Shae is friends with everyone.  I’ve known people like this in the past and I just don’t understand them.  Being around so many people tends to wear me out and is usually a stressful experience.  I tend to be more solitary (nowhere near as much as Isis, mind you, but I have a fairly hermitic existence 😉  )

Oh my god!  I love this character’s intro!  That’s Dane!  And I apologize if that sounds ridiculously pompous, but I just adore this character.  Originally he was only introduced in the last scene, but I wound up editing out another character (who was dull as watching paint dry) and decided to bring a couple experiments.  Readers of subsequent novels know who the experiments are.  I’ll talk a bit more about them in book two (and definitely in book three.  Holy fuck, I’m looking for to writing book three commentary).

Isis meets Coop, who is also completely out of his element in this setting.  Coop is an important character and written to be a bit phantom-like.  He’s also one of the characters who has changed almost completely from the original character sketch.  In the first draft of this character, he was a lot angrier.  Experiments are survivors and Coop is no different.  When I first thought of him, I wrote him as being enraged at what was done to him and at the world in general for letting it happen.  As I continued going through rewrites, I realized it would be a lot more tragic (and make quite a bit more sense) if he was really unable to feel much about his experiences.  Rage can sometimes fuel us whereas indifference often leaves us numb.  Coop has been stripped of most of his emotions, as have most other experiments.  They are incapable of being part of the larger world and therefore always seem slightly out of place.

Some of my favorite stories involve flawed characters finding a kindred spirit in another wounded soul.  Isis is a very flawed character and so is Coop (well, he’s more damaged than flawed).  Had they met in a slightly different way, they could have possibly become friends.  Coop is really trying to be normal, but has no idea how to do that.  He’s used to focusing solely on a mission and extended socializing tended not to be part of that.  Isis just doesn’t enjoy being in such a loud settings, surrounded by people.

And the stranger from earlier reappears briefly.  I’ll discuss Dane a bit more in the last scene.  I love talking about Dane 🙂

Funny story:  I wrote some of the earlier drafts before I turned 21.  I had absolutely no idea how to spell Jägermeister.  I wanted to copy/paste it because . . . well, look at it.  This was before Wikipedia was popular.  I wound up going to the official Jägermeister site and couldn’t find it anywhere on the front page, which was demanding to know if I was 21.  Of course I said I was (I just wanted to spell the damn word, not drink the stuff).  Here’s the thing, that site states that it’s against the law to go on it without being 21.  So of course, I started freaking out about being caught.  I almost convinced myself that a SWAT team was going to show up at my house and kick down my freaking door  😀

Coop notices Onyx in the club.  When I was plotting out this series, I knew there were going to be multiple layers and some people behind the curtain, so to speak.  Coop’s ally, the doctor, is aware of a threat that Jet isn’t and is using Coop to foil the Big Bad.  There’s a kind of chess match within a chess match throughout this series.  I’ll go more into this in the commentary for book four.

Page 108 – 110

Dane:  this character is more fleshed out in books 2 and 4.  He’s really on the fringes in book 1.  Dane’s an experiment, but he’s an anomaly.  He’s very different from the other experiments.  Dane has learned how to conceal his emotions after the Big Bad’s corporation failed to strip them from him.  They remain in tact despite the constant experimentation he has been subjected to.  He has experienced, and continues to experience, the same things Coop did but somehow managed to maintain some form of a unique personality.  To avoid being executed, Dane learned how to mask his emotions.  He’s probably one of the most tragic characters in this series.

Dane is one of the loneliest characters.  Suppressing his emotions means he also has to hide and ignore the need for companionship.  Experiments don’t have friends.  They only have allies and partners when they’re assigned.  Coop is probably the closest thing Dane had to a friend and since Coop escaped, Dane has been on his own.  Hence his hustling the security guards.  That’s the only regular interaction he has.

Coop feels responsible for the experiments, especially the ones at the facility he escaped from.  He knows they were subjected to punishment and stricter rules after his escape and Dane in particular was probably singled out.  I tried to write a familiarity between these two (which was difficult since Coop doesn’t really understand emotions).  In their character outlines, I noted that they were paired up on a few missions and worked together with some frequency.

Dane has a lot of resentment for Coop at this point in the story.  Things have gotten even worse at the facility since his escape and Dane also feels a certain amount of betrayal.  There’s a whole story about Coop escaping, but the reason why Dane was left behind is because Dane is a very talented operative.  The facility often sent him out on missions, so at the time of the breakout, Dane was out in the field.

Coop doesn’t want to fight Dane and so remains on the defensive.  He’s not entirely capable of worry, but he is concerned for Dane.   Dane is also the closest to a friend as Coop can remember having.  He really wants to get Dane out of that facility, but Dane has decided that the hell he knows is preferable to the one he doesn’t.  Coop is always on the run and the Big Bad isn’t known for mercy, which the reader finds out as the series continues.

Whew, that chapter was a doozy.  But it was an enjoyable one. 

As always, questions and comments are welcome.  Spammers can fuck right off. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to stick to the regular schedule now, but I can be a bit lethargic when the temperature drops. 

Until next time . . .

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About Lauren Jankowski

Lauren Jankowski, an author from Illinois, has been an avid reader and a genre feminist for most of her life. She holds a degree in Women and Genders Studies from Beloit College. In 2015, she founded “Asexual Artists,” a Tumblr and WordPress site dedicated to highlighting the contributions of asexual identifying individuals to the arts. She has been writing fiction since high school, when she noticed a lack of strong women in the popular genre books. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys reading (particularly anything relating to ancient myths) or playing with her pets. She participates in activism for asexual visibility and feminist causes. She enjoys speaking about genre feminism, a topic she is quite passionate about, and hopes to bring more strong heroines to literature, including badass asexual women. Her debut novel was "Sere from the Green," the first volume in her ongoing series "The Shape Shifter Chronicles." The sequels, "Through Storm and Night," "From the Ashes," and "Haunted by the Keres" are also available. All books can be purchased through Amazon, CreateSpace, or Smashwords.
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