“Sere from the Green” Chapter Nine Commentary


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]I’ve been sorting out my 2015 schedule.  I hope to have it posted later on tonight.  I’m hoping to speak on a few panels at cons about a topic near and dear to my heart:  genre feminism.  I love giving panels on this subject.  I’ve had some truly amazing experiences speaking on this.  I’m a passionate little indie genre feminist and damn proud of it 😀

Some day, when my to-do list is a little shorter, I’ll write a whole piece about the intersection of feminism and indie publishing.

Well, this was a massive chapter (another one I have mixed feelings on:  some things work.  Others . . . not so much), so I should get to it 🙂

Page 111 – 113

The readers get their first glimpse of this novel’s villains [Spoiler!  Not the Big Bad.  These guys are basically pawns].  Full disclosure:  I have no cold tolerance.  At all.  Seriously.  I open the fridge and I start trembling like one of those tiny yappy rodent dogs.  There isn’t a word strong enough to accurately capture how much I hate the cold.  So whenever something is described as cold (or imagery relating to anything cold), there’s a 95% chance it’s bad or evil.  Or some bad/evil shit is about to go down.  Because really, fuck the cold.

Oh, there’s another mistake, fucking wonderful.  Originally, all the furniture in the manor was stone.  I changed it because it really didn’t fit, make sense, or read the way I needed it to.

Gia is every entitled jackass you’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering.  She greatly overestimates her importance and uses status to pretty much coast through life.  It’s funny that she’s unconcerned with the man Adara is speaking with.  As a general rule of thumb, if someone makes a person who kills people for a living nervous, said individual is probably worth being concerned about.

Most assassins share the same fatal flaws:  greed and pride.  They’ll do any job for the right price and it makes them very easy to use.

Gia and Onyx are meant to be a twisted clash between the modern (Gia) and the old/traditional (Onyx).  Because I was still learning how to work with symbolism and ideas like this, it doesn’t come across as clearly as I would have liked.

Onyx went through a number of versions.  She was a lot more sarcastic originally.  I thought it would be rather interesting if she had a kind of gunslinger look.  In every version, these characters despised each other.

These really aren’t my best villains.  Actually, my favorite villain so far is introduced in book four (“Haunted by the Keres”).  I made the mistake of not giving these assassins as many layers as I should have.  They kind of read like simple obstacles.

Page 113 – 116

Jet’s angry (believe it or not, he’s not often angry.  You wouldn’t know it from this particular novel).  Originally, Isis was a lot more snappish and confrontational.  The more subdued version works better, as is typically the case.

I should point out that Isis isn’t meant to be likeable.  I like her, but I’m biased.  She’s a very prickly individual.  If you met her in real life, you would probably dislike her immensely.  Not many people would want to spend any measurable amount of time with her.  A lot of people think feminism is about putting women up on a pedestal and this just simply isn’t true.  I always saw Isis as a very feminist character for a number of reasons, one of which is because she is unlikeable.

Isis is still quite annoyed about this new life.  Though she’s still getting used to it, Isis is slightly behind the other three.  This is not a position she enjoys being in.

There are some really weird random descriptions in this chapter.  It has kind of distracted me.

Exiled guardians can’t Appear.  Lilly is still able to because of her position as co-leader of the protectors.

In the first few drafts, Jet was nowhere near as suspicious of the disc (god, that freaking word.  It leaves such a bad taste in my mouth).  This story definitely evolved a lot with each rewrite.  “Sere from the Green” was definitely one of the most difficult novels to write.  With subsequent novels, I had learned from my mistakes and had a better grasp of my overall storyline and what I needed to happen in each novel.  With book one, I was experimenting a lot and trying to figure out what worked.

I thought it would be interesting for Jet to try and set a trap of his own for the Four’s first mission.  It’s probably not the best idea, but that’s really more author error.

I’m not entirely happy with this particular scene, but I do like the moment between Jade and Jet at the end.  I added that in during one of the last rewrites.  It took me some time to get a handle on the Jade character.  Her ability to compartmentalize her emotions made her tricky to write.  Now that I’m further into the series, Jade’s one of the easier characters to write.

Page 116 – 121

Dear god, I haven’t read this scene in forever.  There was so much cringing.  So, so much cringing.

I changed how the Four dressed:  originally they were in gowns.  That changed so fast.  Gowns are ridiculous things and absolutely the last thing you want to wear on a mission.

Pairing up Isis and Alex was for strategic purposes.  These two prefer quieter settings and don’t really enjoy socializing.

I pictured this museum as rather small and inside an incredibly old building.  Security is a bit lax.  I briefly considered having the disc (gag) in a mummy, but figured that would be just a bit too gruesome.

Getting Isis into the goddamn basement was a huge pain in the ass.  There was one draft where I completely gave up and just gave her the ability to turn invisible.  That would have been monumentally lazy on my part.  Thankfully, I came up with an idea that allowed me to bring the mysterious Coop back into the picture.

We get a glimpse of one of the Big Bad’s henchmen.  Coop’s purpose for being at the museum is vague (well, I know why he’s there, but readers can think up their own reason), but he’s spotted.  I wrote Coop as a man who can never sleep in the same place twice.  He needs to constantly move to avoid being recaptured.

The reader can make an epic list of all the people Isis hates 🙂

Once again, there are cold descriptors.  Bad shit is about to happen.

The first confrontation between Isis and Onyx.  Isis doesn’t exactly do well, but remember:  she’s still extremely young by shape shifter standards.  She’s still learning the ropes.  Onyx has been around since the old west.  It’s not exactly an even match.

Isis enjoys verbal sparring and will endeavor to give as good as she gets.  Even when she’s in an incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.

In the first few drafts, the shadowy figure shoot Onyx, but that would have drawn way too much attention.  This shadowy figure is very smart and knows what he’s doing.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I absolutely love mysteries and mysterious characters.  This particular character I always pictured as very noir-ish.  The man in the shadows.

Isis is pretty ballsy in this exchange.  I didn’t write her as overconfident by nature, but she can be reckless at times.  She literally has a gun to her head and still acts like she has the upper hand.

The man is obviously a shape shifter, but that’s about all you’re getting at this point in the story.  Worry not, he shall make another appearance 🙂

Page 121 – 123

Sly is very much a woodland femme fatale.  Dear reader, you do not want to know how much that description cracked me up 😉

“I do love hearing about the shenanigans that you assume I get into” ~ probably one of my all-time favorite Sly lines.  I love when I get to use the word “shenanigans.”

Sly tends to find most things rather dull.  In this scene, she’s having a “life is so fucking boring” moment.

Sly is a very subdued character and almost completely unreadable.  Unless you know her, you won’t be able to decipher her moods (very few can).

I always knew there would be shape shifters who disliked humans to varying degrees.  There are a few who are scared of them.  In Sly’s case, she finds them to be too unpredictable and destructive.

Sly frequently takes the form of big cats.  Shape shifters have favorite animals, often forms they find easier to shift into.  For Sly, big cats are the easiest.

Page 123 – 124

Back at the mansion, they’re still trying to figure out what the hell happened.  Someone obviously wants this disc but the question is who.

At some point in her life, Alex has had a bad experience with humans hence the slight bitterness.  Alex is younger than Jade, but older than Isis and Shae.  I’ve estimated her age to be around 100.

At this point in the story, Electra is an unofficial liaison between the protectors and the guardians.  This will last for as long as she’s training Isis.

Lilly is very astute and frequently points out things others might overlook.  It’s very easy to underestimate this character, but do so at your own peril.

I wrote Isis and Shae as sometimes complimenting each other in regards to personality.  Isis can sometimes be overdramatic whereas Shae is more often down to Earth.

I should have made this clearer:  Jet is going to get a book about the key (what little they know of it).  His exit is rather abrupt.  That would be an entertaining story idea:  characters that just randomly enter and exit scenes 😀  I’m amused by strange things.

There’s a real sense of unease throughout this novel.  Something isn’t right in the world.  I tried to write it so that the characters (and, by extension, the reader) feels like the carpet can be ripped out from under them at any moment.  I think I was better at conveying this in subsequent novels.

Page 124 – 126

You will usually find Alex with her nose in a book.  Shape shifters tend to be readers, but Alex really is a bookworm.

Coop has a lot of trouble picking up on social cues.  He has been kept mostly isolated for decades and even now doesn’t have much regular interaction with others.  He’s used to treating meetings and interactions as missions, which is obviously really strange to most people.

Isis is kind of curious about Coop’s strange mannerisms.  He’s an interesting mystery.  Obviously, she has the common sense not to meet him one-on-one.  There is a part of her though that wants to figure out his story.

Isis learning how to Appear:  this was inevitably going to go wrong.  Though she’s a very fast learner, Isis is used to relying on trial-and-error.  This method is awesome for writers because it allows us to end chapters on cliffhangers 🙂

And thus ends chapter nine commentary.  Hopefully my dear readers are enjoying these.  I’m starting to figure out how to tackle them and am finding them to be somewhat enjoyable.  Still wish I could do them in a group ala audio commentaries.  Ah well.

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

Until next time . . .


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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