“Sere from the Green” Chapter Thirteen 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]Whew, this novel’s commentary just flew by.  Only two chapters left.  Wow.

I just finished up the commentary so my brain’s a little squishy.  Weirdly, doing these commentaries have given me a couple ideas for future stories and things for future novels.  Now if only I could stop writing notes in the damn margins of my commentary.  It gets so confusing! 🙂

I think chapter thirteen might be the longest chapter in the book. I had one of those newbie panicky moments where I realized the story was winding down and there were still things that had to happen to set up the next book. So the last three chapters are a bit uneven.

Let the cringing begin!

Page 163 – 168

Oh Aneurin, the ultimate stickler for tradition and the old ways. Aneurin was never written as a villain, but he’s definitely an antagonist. He’s an insidious sort of sexist: he doesn’t think he’s sexist but status is the most important thing to him. He respects guardians, regardless of gender, but only those of the same status of him. Passion lost that privilege when she went against tradition and when she broke one of the sacred laws of the guardians.

I cannot stand passive aggressive people. It’s one of the worst qualities a person can have. What’s worse is that these are often the same shitty people who say dumb shit like, “Oh, I’m just being me.” To which I reply, “Well, you’re a fucking asshole.” Aneurin is a passive aggressive prick in a position of power, which just makes him even more insufferable.

Aneurin’s questioning of Passion: his whole point is to put her in her place. And she knows exactly what he’s doing. These two fight for the upper hand throughout this scene.

Aneurin is a bully and he’s allowed to be because of his position. The Meadows has a fairly rigid class system, which tends to allow this kind of behavior.

Passion is used to guardian men implying that she’s a whore. Any woman who enjoys sex is inevitably faced with that label. I wrote Passion as a sexually liberated bisexual woman, a single mother, who loves her body and is unafraid to explore her desires. She encourages the younger guardian women to be curious and love themselves as they are (they can go to her for advice and questions they’re uncomfortable asking their elders). This is a nightmare to many of the guardian men, including Aneurin.

In this scene, Passion is trying to play the “good girl” and Aneurin isn’t falling for it. He wants a reaction and is determined to get one.

Aneurin was instrumental in deciding Passion’s punishment for breaking one of the sacred laws. While he may resent her keeping her status and title, Aneurin would never have supported banishment. Her strict sentence allowed him to reinforce his control and showed her who was in charge (in his mind).

Aneurin declining Passion’s request for a glass of water: Aneurin loves power and finds little ways to show he has it. Passion rebels against that, so he finds ways to assert it.

Aneurin knows exactly what questions to ask to evoke a response from Passion. He condescends to her, reminds her of less pleasant memories and her sentence, etc. Originally, this scene ended with her smacking him across the face. Then I realized Passion has way, way more self-control.

I couldn’t decide whether to write Aneurin as impressed or slightly intimidated when he finishes questioning Passion. He’s arrogant, so it’s unlikely he would be intimidated by anyone.

I originally had a scene break between Passion’s questioning and Electra’s. My brother pointed out that this was a bit excessive.

Oh dear god, the sigh of disappointment. Is there a more obnoxious sound? I’m sure there are a few, but this one ranks up there.

Electra takes full advantage of not having an official title, starting with dressing any damn way she wants.

I always liked the image of Electra straddling the chair backwards. It’s the start of a silent battle of wills.

Electra is usually better at dealing with Aneurin than Passion is. She’s still a little off her game after all the recent revelations. And a character like Aneurin is able to zero-in on any kind of weakness.

Aneurin really sees Electra as another Passion, a troublemaker in other words. I had a hard time figuring out exactly how Aneurin feels towards Electra. By their sacred laws, she’s a guardian. But she’s also a hybrid. Many of the old-fashioned guardians see shape shifters as animals (useful, but beneath them). Aneurin isn’t this extreme, but he does see shape shifters as beneath him and the guardians in general.

When Aneurin mentions Isis, I hope readers have an “oh no” moment 🙂

Electra slips a bit and is really close to being blatantly disrespectful.

Character print: when Passion is infuriated, her irises turn red. When Electra is in the same state, her irises will usually turn a stormy gray color.

I always pictured Aneurin getting a little frustrated when Passion and Electra remain calm and collected (mostly). He loves getting under their skin.

Page 168 – 171

Isis meets Aneurin: this was another scene that changed completely during revisions (I had to keep scaling back Isis’ reactions and responses).

“Yes, I think that’s the definition of identical twins” ~ Oh Isis. She really can’t help herself.

Anyone who can fake a good smile has my respect. I have resting bitch face, so when I’m working at conventions, I often have to over exaggerate a smile (or risk having about a hundred cis-men tell me to do so).

Isis, having been an outsider her whole life, is used to unpleasant people. She also still kind of sees the guardians as deities and is somewhat intimidated by them (hence the noticeable change in her demeanor). It’s a very unnerving situation: being questioned by a god. Plus, Aneurin seems to know a lot about her.

Regarding the “I’m just being me” excuse (sometimes connected the “to know him/her is to love him/her”): I could rant for days about these stupid excuses. 90% of the time this is an indication that said person is an asshole who needs to apologize for inflicting their existence on the general populace.

I always wrote Aneurin as accusing Isis (in a roundabout way) of making up the mysterious figure in the shadows. In early drafts, Isis stormed out of the room at that point. Once I got a better feel for the character, I wrote the more incredulous “You think I did what now” response.

Isis finds Aneurin to be one of the most obnoxious people she has ever met. That should tell the reader something.

Isis really hates being seen as a victim. She is aware of being an outsider, but has never seen this as a positive or negative attribute. It’s just simply a state of being. Aneurin is really getting under skin at this point.

I have no idea why Aneurin’s theory is making me laugh so much as I’m typing this up. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.

The scene ends with Isis in a position of strength. Aneurin isn’t going to get the better of her.

Page 171 – 174

The next scene is Isis returning to the mansion. Her three teammates are training and Electra’s hiding out. Originally, Isis was extremely pissed off when she returned. The scene read better when she returned calm. Isis is really starting to acclimate to her new life.

One of the only things Shae and Isis clash about is family. Shae had a much different experience than Isis. This sometimes happens, especially when non-adoptees try to explain an adoptee’s experience. I’ve had similar disagreements in the past.

Angry Passion is scary Passion. Another extremely challenging part of writing this novel was figuring out the interactions between Passion and Isis. I was sick of the non-adoptee happy reunion stories (which almost never happen). I wanted to portray a more common, realistic experience. Isis is basically indifferent to Passion. Passion is still trying to figure out how to handle the situation, but she tries to give Isis the control. She’ll never force Isis into a relationship.

A shape shifter/guardian hybrid raised by humans who don’t know about either race just isn’t a great idea.

Passion’s support system is back in place. She’s a strong person, but sometimes even the strongest people need a little help and support.

Jet likes the idea of Isis besting Aneurin, as most shape shifters and quite a few guardians would 😀

Page 174

I don’t like the fight in this scene. If I were to rewrite it, I’d almost certainly edit it out.

I was still playing around with the overall storyline when I wrote the first book. For a while, I pictured it as a kind of spy series with the Four going out on various missions and retrievals (I still use some narrative tools that are often used in spy novels). The idea of juggling multiple missions for various purposes while trying to connect them to a larger conspiracy just gave me a headache. I decided to treat the series more like a mystery, which proved to be a much better approach.

Page 175 – 177

Another scene I have incredibly mixed feelings about. It was written during my brief “spy phase” and I could never find the right beat. It reads a lot more chaotic than I meant for it to.

Once again, the overabundance of detail interrupts the narrative flow. Grrr!

One good thing about this scene is that it shows the Four are really beginning to work as a team.

Shape shifters can speak in animal form but don’t unless it’s absolutely necessary. I debated about this for probably a lot longer than I should have.

Isis has always been good at basic lock picking. Electra just built upon what was already there 😉

The missing flower: I debated for so long about which character would be there, watching the Four. I eventually decided to leave it a little ambiguous. The reader finds out at the end of the novel where the missing plant is and can deduce who took it.

Page 177 – 178

Isis finally meets Sly.  I can really see a strange sort of friendship developing between these two 🙂

Regarding Sly and Jade: I originally pictured Jade with another character, but it always read very flat. I wrote a couple practice character scenes between her and a few other characters. The ones with Sly always had a really interesting chemistry. Something about them fits really nicely, even when they’re at odds.

Sly once again has some fairly valuable information. Sly is one of the few shape shifters who really isn’t interested in the disappearing bodies mystery. She doesn’t like the idea of getting involved in something that isn’t her problem. Blackjack could potentially become her problem, hence her passing along the information to the protectors.

Page 178 – 180

This was originally a completely different scene where Jade and Isis found a body. I changed it to this eerier scene because it worked a lot better and also tied into the central mystery of the series.

I wrote the empty house to have a really strange clash of new and old. There are no creaking doors or floors, so it’s like a new house. Yet there’s dust and cobwebs everywhere, like you’d find in older homes.

A mysterious figure runs. Isis gives chase, catches him . . . and we end on another cliffhanger (probably my favorite one in the book) 🙂

That’s the end of chapter thirteen commentary.  Two more chapters to go for this book.  Normally I’d try to think of something mildly clever to write, but I’m quite sleepy at the moment 🙂

Questions and comments are welcome.  Spammers can fuck right off. 

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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