“Sere from the Green” Chapter Fifteen 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]Oh my god, readers!  It’s the last chapter of Sere from the Green.  Can you believe it?  We’re already at the end.  I don’t know whether to feel a sense of accomplishment or melancholy.  Perhaps both?  It’s okay though.  We’ve got three more novels to go yet.  I’m going to take at least a three day break before diving into book two.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the first book as I’ve been writing this commentaries (obviously) and just reflecting a bit.  This novel is the beginning of a journey for a lot of characters.  It was also the beginning of a journey for me too.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a story to tell and I was damn well going to tell it.  I was like a kid in a candy store as I played around with all these new and exciting storytelling tools.  Yeah, the manuscript is rough as hell and riddled with mistakes, but I think the overall story is still quite strong and readers seem to agree.  I had a lot of fun writing this novel and I think it really shows.  Or at least I hope it does.

I learned from my mistakes and the second book is a lot more refined and subdued, more novel-like.  I have matured with each subsequent novel, learned a bit from all the previous ones.  I’m still growing, still learning, but I haven’t lost my curiosity or the joy that I feel while writing.  I haven’t lost interest in my characters or the story.  I’m excited for what the future will bring and I hope my readers will continue on this journey with me 🙂

I’d like to thank everyone who has read these commentaries and kept up with my occasional rambling tangents.  I love readers and my readers are so wonderful.  They make this little writer feel so loved.  Thank you 😀

It’s about time we wrapped up this commentary.  Onto chapter fifteen!

Page 191 – 192

Picking up where we left off:  Isis comes to right as she’s tossed into a cell.  Though she’s still quite new, Isis has been training and so doesn’t panic like she might have at one time.  Actually, she’s more angry.

Isis has a fairly good idea and right away attempts to Appear.  This might be my favorite scene in the novel.  Writing Isis’ sarcastic moments was incredibly fun.  “Well this sucks.”  She’s just so annoyed at the whole situation 🙂

Isis correcting the jailer’s mixed metaphor cracks me up every damn time.  If you’re going to threaten Isis, you better get your goddamn metaphors right!  😀

The water in the cells:  assassins don’t often take prisoners, but when they do, it’s usually to torture them.  I was thinking about what could possibly make a jail cell even worse.  Filling it partly with water so the prisoner actually had to wade through it seemed to make it much more unlivable.

Obviously the assassins think Isis knows where the key is.  Isis has some idea this is what they’re asking about, but plays clueless.  As long as they think she has some kind of information, they need her alive.  Isis is smart and she’s getting better at thinking on her feet.

Page 192 – 196

The reader’s first glimpse at the dungeons in the Meadows.  I obviously wanted to contrast it with the cells in the assassin’s manor.

In the earliest drafts of this novel, Coop was extremely bitter throughout this scene.  He’s still a little bitter.  There’s a contradiction in Coop:  he wants the protectors to know about the corporation and what they’re doing to shape shifters, yet he can’t help but envy their ignorance.

I wrote this scene with the idea that Coop is acting under orders.  Experiments have a lot of difficulty when it comes to free will.  They want orders and directions.  They need a purpose (this idea is really explored in book three).

Coop knows about Sly.  This really takes Jet by surprise.  Almost nobody knows about Sly.  Coop has been to this town before at some point.

Also, Coop has freakishly heightened senses (which is a nightmare, as readers find out when they learn more about the experiments).  He could be a real threat to the protectors if he wanted to be.

In the earliest draft of this novel, there was a bit of a romantic attraction between Coop and Isis, which led to him volunteering to help get her out of the assassin’s manor.  I found this motivation to be cliche and gag-inducing, so I ditched it in favor of Coop bartering for his freedom (he knows they won’t grant it, but he can escape during the rescue).

Electra really doesn’t like Coop.  She thinks he might be an assassin or allied with them, hence her hostility towards him.

Coop doesn’t enjoy demonstrating his abilities.  It’s partly due to lingering self-preservation instincts (which the Corporation drilled into him) and partly because of his fear of being seen as a monster.  However, he is forced into doing so in order to convince Jet and Electra that he’s not a typical shape shifter.

Both Electra and Jet are extremely unsettled at this point in the novel.  Who wouldn’t be after seeing a man punch through unbreakable class (without breaking any bones)?

Coop still sees himself as an “it.”  His humanity was stripped from him as was his identity.  He doesn’t believe he could ever atone for what the Corporation made him do.  I’ve probably said this in another commentary, but it bears repeating:  Coop is meant to be a tragic figure, which becomes more apparent as the series continues on.

Coop stating he’ll walk away if threatened is actually more for their protection.  He is very aware of how dangerous he really is.

When Electra physically slams him against the wall:  Coop has to fight the overwhelming instinct to react.  In the years since his escape, Coop has had to teach himself restraint and control.  He’s had to unlearn a ton of violent responses/reactions.  If Electra did this to a recent escapee, she would have a broken arm (at the very least).

I’m not sure I’m all that happy with Jet’s directions.  The dialogue reads a bit . . . oddly.

Page 196 – 199

Isis came up with a fairly good idea to get out of the cell.  Climbing up to get the light bulb was fairly ballsy and it also gave me a way to show the reader just how cramped this space is.

Electricity:  I’m pyrophobic (I have an intense fear of fire).  I also can’t stand getting electric shocks.  It startles me.  There’s also this irrational part of me that’s afraid that a spark could potentially start a fire (shut up, Michael!  I know that’s impossible.  That’s why I wrote “irrational.”  Yeah, I’m yelling at my brother in a commentary that he’s probably not even reading 😉 ).  Anyhow, where was I . . . oh yeah, electricity and fire.  So I also have a fear of being Tasered  (which I can’t fucking spell), which is where I got the idea of these guards carrying cattle prods.

Isis has always had a sharp mind and all her training is only making it sharper.  She’s gradually evolving into a trained fighter (even though she’s still a novice).  In book two, she’s way more capable and is somewhere between intermediate and advanced as far as skills go.

Isis’ escape was another difficult scene to write.  It was one of the rare instances where I found myself having to improvise quite a bit (I was trying to escape right alongside Isis 😀 )

Isis makes good use of the prod.  It’s no baton, but it gets the job done 😉

Page 198 – 199

And there I go being overly specific with weapons again and probably making a complete horse’s ass of myself.  Insert embarrassed blush here.

Blackjack has completely underestimated Isis, hence his surprise when the alarms in the cells go off.  A lot of people tend to underestimate Isis, which isn’t the best idea.

There’s a couple clues to Coop (and his past) in this scene.  One of the more important ones is that he was a killer.  You would not have wanted to cross paths with him when he was owned by the Corporation.  It was important to me that the reader saw Coop was still a very dangerous man.  He doesn’t quite understand the concept of mercy.  Had Shae not been there, Coop would have killed Blackjack simply because it was a strategically smart move.  Experiments think of everything in terms of strategy (their thought processes are almost machine-like).

Coop sees the three women (the Four, but Isis isn’t currently with them) as being in charge of the mission and therefore his superiors.  He’ll follow their orders, unless he’s in danger.  In that case, he’ll do whatever it takes to survive.

A few more of Coop’s abilities are mentioned.  You really don’t want to go up against experiments in a fight.

Readers of the series know that experiments are completely silent when they move.  Shae doesn’t notice this on account of the gunfire.

Page 200 – 203

The scene goes back to Isis’ attempted escape (and the authors 😉 ).  This manor is really fucking weird.  I’ve been going through my old notes and trying to figure out my thought process when it came to this place.  No answer has been forthcoming.

Once again Isis finds herself in a pretty dangerous situation.  And once again, she responds with sarcasm.

Isis really isn’t scared in this situation.  Fear wouldn’t help.  If anything, she’s annoyed.  “God, these fucking shape shifters.  They have to be so vague about everything!”  Oh my god, completely off-commentary:  I would love for someone to draw one of the characters from this series (Isis would probably work the best, but it could be funny with any of them) with the meme “I came out to have a good time and I’m feeling so attacked right now.” 😀  Dear reader, you don’t want to know how much I’m laughing right now.

When I was writing this scene, I pictured Coop having something similar to a flashback.  Adara has been paid by the Corporation and she’s using their resources to harm other shape shifters (including Isis, who is important to Coop’s ally).

This last fight was written to be fast and slightly disorienting.  Coop was modified for fighting and is a very efficient killer.  This is someone who was modified and train to end battles quickly.

This is a really important (and somewhat revealing) scene when it comes to Coop.  He doesn’t want to kill, but in the heat of battle, his reflexes take over.  Coop is a man who is sickened at his inability to experience remorse.  I wrote him as a character who knows he’s a monster, even though he’s fighting not to be.  Coop has survived some truly horrific things (he flinches as if struck at a gentle touch).  Coop isn’t living.  He’s surviving.

There’s a really nice moment between Isis and Coop here, which took forever to fucking write.  I couldn’t get the emotion right (Coop shows just a little too much emotion).  There is a small clue about his ally in this short exchange.

After Isis leaves, the mysterious Dane makes another appearance.  In the first few drafts, he was so vulgar during this exchange.  I really had to scale it back.

Dane doesn’t trust anyone, but he’s comfortable enough with Coop to show some emotions (drops the mask he needs to wear in order to survive in the Corporation).

Everything Coop does, he does for the other experiments.  His main motivation in the series is to free them.

Page 203 – 204

The falling action of the story.  I had a few things that needed to wrap up (I hope I’ve gotten better at doing this with more experience).

I had always planned this reveal to take place in the Meadows and Isis was always a little angry (but it was almost all about being woken up).

Isis is really awesome when it comes to making friends and loved ones worry.  And then she gets annoyed at them when they do.  She’s so pleasant 🙂

I wanted this scene to show that Isis has sort of come to terms with her new life.  She’s ready to embrace her new role.

Page 204 – 205

This small scene is meant to give a sense of foreboding (not as much as the next/last scene, but setting that one up).

Adonia knows something bad is coming.  She has kind of deduced there’s someone powerful behind all the weird occurrences.  That someone could potentially be more powerful than the guardians.  If that’s the case, they’re all in a lot of trouble.

Page 205 – 207

I always write the last scene of the novel first.  That way, I have something I’m working towards and it helps keep me focused and on track.  If I know where I’m going to end up, it makes the novel a little easier to write.

This last scene was actually the first thing I wrote for Sere from the Green.  Remarkably, it didn’t change that much during revisions (it did a little, but not as much as most other scenes).

A dark room with two unnamed men.  I’m fairly certain a lot of readers were able to deduce who these two are (especially if they’ve read the other books).

These guys are the definition of reluctant allies.  The only reason they’re working together is because they have to.

The first man is very cruel to the second, his brother.  He probably comes off as an asshole, but there’s a reason behind his coldness.

These two are part of another lair in this series.  They know more than the protectors readers have met in this novel, but even they don’t know everything.  They’re fighting the same war as the protectors, but they know way more about the enemy (the Big Bad).  And these two have a plan, but you’ll have to read the second novel to learn a bit more about it (and if it’s successful or if it goes down in flames) 😉

Thus ends the “Sere from the Green” commentary.  YAY!  I did it!  😀 

This has been a really interesting experience.  I hope it has been entertaining and informative for readers.  The next book in the series is “Through Storm and Night” and I’ll start the commentary in a few days.  Hey, why don’t you pick up a copy?

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

My most sincere thanks for following along.

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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