Magicademy – Senior Year: Author's Note and FAQ
"Yes, this is actually the end."
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Thank you for reading this story.
After I finished the first Magicademy series, I wasn't sure if I would ever go back to it. It was a lot of fun, and I loved working with the characters, but it seemed like continuing the series would be a dead end of sorts. I mean, there's only so much you can do without actual storylines. That, and I really didn't like the idea of going through the cast's lives year by year – it seemed like it would get boring eventually, and I didn't want to commit to writing out four years only to get burned out on it halfway through the second.
So, it seemed like there wouldn't be any more. Then. . . .
Every once in a while, I get an idea for a story or other creative-type project that I know I'll have to do. The thought of "Senior Year" came pretty much out of nowhere, but as soon as it was there, I knew it had to happen.
Naturally, this meant there was a lot to cover, and a lot that wouldn't be shown. I had to figure out what would have happened to everyone over the past two years, and see where everyone would be. Most of the cast of the first series would still be present, of course, and it seemed likely that Jacob, Aidis, and Liz would still be living together. That's something I learned in college – when you find good roommates, you hang onto them, because finding new ones is a pain.
Some people wouldn't be showing up; I realized that early on. That's another thing I learned in college, that sometimes it's hard to keep in touch with friends even when you're on the same campus. I know this can vary depending on the size of the college. But I figured AMU had about the same population as where I went to college, roughly twenty thousand, so it was easy enough to set aside some people and bring in some new ones.
What wasn't so easy was figuring out exactly what was going to happen. A lot of the first series dealt with Jacob adjusting to a new life, first at college and then discovering that he's a natural-born. I knew the same sort of things wouldn't work, so I started by figuring out where everyone was and what kinds of things they'd be studying. Now that everyone who hadn't already graduated was in their final year, they were bound to be doing some more interesting stuff than the basic classes I showed in the first series, so I knew that would give me a chance to get into some of the odder stuff in the various magikal majors.
Aidis working as a grad student was a given right from the start. Over the past six years, I've watched friends do the grad school thing; most of Aidis's experiences were based directly on the stories said friends told me. I'm sure that anyone who's actually going through grad school who's reading this will tell me that Aidis has way too much free time and is way too relaxed to be a grad student, to which I answer: he's Aidis, it's difficult to stress him out. The guy will probably spend at least four more years just getting his graduate degree. Heh.
Speaking of Aidis, I knew from the start that he and Cassida weren't going to be together any more. While I wouldn't say their relationship was doomed, I don't think either of them were in it for the whole forever thing. I also wanted to make sure not to explain things until later, to give the missing parts some time to develop and also to make people wonder. I think the story with her showing up and them finally getting things settled turned out well enough. Writing Aidis as somewhat bitter and jaded about relationships was the hardest part of that.
As for the series' other relationships . . . let's start with the easy one: Jacob and Dhaiiski are clearly at the point where they're happy and comfortable with their relationship; living together for two years so far with few issues will do that. They've always matched each other well, and this series only made that stronger. I did have to work to make sure they didn't fall into the stereotype of 'boring established couple,' as that was the last thing I wanted. Oi. The part where they go to Modesto . . . I don't know. I think I could have handled that better, could have made Jacob's family's reactions a bit more realistic and a bit less dramatic. What was most important to me for that story was Jacob and his grandfather reaching some kind of settlement – neither of them giving an inch, but agreeing to disagree. I'd like to think that, years later, Jacob and his grandfather will be able to talk, maybe even have something vaguely resembling a good relationship. I highly doubt he'll show at Jacob's wedding, though.
With Liz and Cecil, I figured there wasn't much of a chance she'd have been single all these years, and I liked the idea of her having a boyfriend whom she'd been with for a while and who not only dealt with the weirdness of her life but loved it. I didn't get to do as much with Cecil as I wanted, but I like how he works with Liz and everyone else. Liz herself was always easy to write, and her whole 'exploding' storyline (if you can call it that) was one of the few things I carefully plotted out. I don't know why, but I like the 'being of energy' idea, and so fitting that in with Liz worked well and actually gave her something to worry about. Liz's ferromancy major was always fun, and something that I think fits in oddly well with her personality. Just why, I couldn't say.
The entire reason I made Cecil a psych major was to do the "On the Couch" story. That was nothing but an extended moment of self-indulgence, I swear. I love stories that have people actually dealing with their issues, and having an entire part where everyone talks things out . . . I knew it was the kind of thing I would love to read, but I had no idea how well my readers would take it. I'm thankful that it went over well.
I have no idea where Cecil having a talking car came from, but I'm very glad it did. Car chases don't work all that well in print, but having Tony making comments with the perspective of being the vehicle involved? Damn, that was fun.
The other major worry I had, relationship-wise, was with Elisa and Naomi. I wondered if I'd get complaints about 'turning a character gay' or something ridiculous like that, and generally wasn't sure how it would be taken. Granted, I figured that Magicademy had to have a fairly open-minded audience; the main couples in the first series were interspecies, and I never got a single bad comment about them. But I think it's seen differently when it's something that can happen in the real world. In the end, I reminded myself that a lot of the couple-based stuff in the first series was a loose parable for homosexual and otherwise unusual relationships anyway, so I figured I'd go ahead with it and see what happened.
The whole budding relationship was very difficult to write. Magicademy rarely gives me trouble, but I could tell from the beginning that dealing with Elisa and Naomi was going to be awkward at the least. The thing is, though, it worked. The scene between the two of them during the Spring Break storyline . . . I knew when I was writing it that it meant things were finally going to be okay between the two of them. Slow to start, slow to keep going, but I think they're going to be all right together.
And if nothing else, they give Liz a nearly infinite supply of jokes and lewd comments, and that's always a good thing.
Naomi herself was a challenge. She's based on a character I played in a RoleMaster (think Dungeons & Dragons but about eleventy-one times more complex) game for about nine years, and I knew that writing someone who was not only so chaotic-minded but could exist as up to three of herself was going to be difficult. If she was drawn, or animated, it'd be easy, but just in print? Not so much. Again, I was worried about how my readers would take her, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. She's also been a kick to write when things are going well with her.
So, where does this leave Magicademy? Over. I'm sorry to those who thought it would continue past this series, but it's done. I'd planned to do a 'Finale' two-part story, but I realized a few things. First, I knew it would have to cover Jacob and Dhai's wedding, and two wedding scenes in one story is a lot, no matter how much time or how many chapters the story has. Second, once I wrote "One More Night", I knew that was it, the series was over, and any other final scenes with the characters would ring hollow and feel like I was just trying to stretch things out.
Third, when you take everyone away from the whole college thing, the story changes completely. That was the main factor in why I decided to not do a final story: when the graduation's over and the hats have flown, when college ends, it really stops being Magicademy.
So, yes. Thank you again, to everyone who read this, whether you reviewed it or not. I've noticed the climbing number of hits on both series, which is extremely gratifying – at the moment I'm writing this, the first series has over twenty thousand hits, and Senior Year has nearly ten thousand. Thank you for the typo corrections; it does an author good to know that no one's incapable of mistakes. Heh! And I'm still amazed that I've managed to write something this long, twice, without getting flamed. I thought the laws of the internet prevented that; apparently not. A special thanks to those of you who spread the word and told your friends about the stories; it means a lot to me to know I've written something good enough for people to want to share.
But seriously, the reviews and comments and encouragement have really kept me going with this; I know I rarely responded but I did read every one. You see, during the time I was writing this, among the various rejection letters I got as I sent out short stories to small-press magazines, something funny happened: a story of mine actually got published. It'd be a little hard to dig up, but it's in issue #54 of Leading Edge, a small-press magazine, and it's titled "The Crystal Girl." This, to me, is proof that I actually can make it as an author, and so I'm working hard to get more stories published. While I don't know if Magicademy will ever see print, the support y'all have given me has helped every step of the way, and will continue to do so.
And now, to finally address a few questions that came up over the course of the story, as well as do a bit of self-indulgent info-dumping. . . .
Frequently Asked Questions
"Yes, no, maybe, yes, probably not, only on Thursdays, and I can't believe you asked that."
Will Jacob and Dhaiiski be able to have a kid?
I honestly don't know. I think that if anyone can figure it out, they can, but I never figured out just how that would have to happen. If not, I know they'll adopt; Jacob wants to have a family eventually and it's pretty much a given for Dhaiiski. I can see them with at least four kids somewhere down the road, likely two humans and two nekati. It'll be a crazy house, but that's nothing new.
Where can I get victory beer?
Well, first you have a victory. . . .
How did Aidis sleep through an entire chapter?
Another self-indulgence, I'm afraid. I just liked the idea of him being so tired that he'd fall asleep on the first page and not wake up until the last one. And yes, it was also an excuse to have Elisa 'talk' to him so we could learn more about her past. For a while, I considered having him been pretending to be asleep, but that seemed like too much of a cheap joke.
Didn't England used to be one of the most magical places in the world?
Unfortunately, yes. This was something I screwed up on when I was planning the Senior Year stuff. That's what I get for not checking my own notes. But I've gone back and fixed things, so no worries. And those of you who only read the post-fixing stories are probably confused now. Next question, move on, nothing more to see here. . . .
What exactly is the deal with the natural-borns?
Since I don't think it's ever spelled out in the stories, natural-borns are people who were in the womb during the Change. The magik of the Change affected them in a way that made them able to sense and use magik naturally and easily, much like the non-human races do, and without the use of focus crystals. Every natural-born uses magik a bit differently, and they all have their own particular tricks. I'm not sure how many natural-borns there are in the world, probably a few thousand at most, and no more have been born since the Change. I don't know if the trait would be passed down to any children. I also don't know why all three of the natural-born characters in the stories have weird things happen with their hair, but these things just tend to happen.
Are Steve the stuffed octopus and Steve the Jerk from the first series at all related?
Nope. I just wanted the octopus to have an entirely ordinary name, like it was something the grad students were completely used to, and that was the first name that came to mind.
What's going on with Aidis and Tiishi?
Give it a few years. But seriously, I thought it'd be interesting for Aidis to have a thing for one of his students, and Tiishi turned out to be a lot more fun to write than I expected. I like that they have a rather antagonistic relationship – that seems to happen to Aidis with most women, now that I think about it – and I think there's a decent chance they'll get together eventually. I just didn't see it happening over the course of this story.
So, about the song. . . .
Yes, I wrote that, and yes, it's inspired by the anime 'Revolutionary Girl Utena.' I was letting my mind wander as I walked to work one morning, and I started thinking about songwriting, and it occurred to me you could probably make an entire album out of songs inspired by Utena. So I started on one. I wish I had any musical talent so I could make it an actual piece of music. But for now, it stands as another anime reference – there are easily a few dozen scattered throughout the series, most of which no one's ever commented on.
Are you sure this is over?
The only way I can see doing more Magicademy would be if someone was willing to dedicate the time and energy to turn it into an online comic. Likely it would just be retelling the two series, but it would be awesome to see it happen. Unfortunately, I can't draw worth anything, and it's not like I can just go about asking people if they want to commit years to making a comic. Heh!
And that, as they say, is that. Thank you again for reading, I truly can't say that enough. One of the most difficult things about writing, I've found, is the worry that you're writing things no one will ever read. That's never been an issue with Magicademy, and I've always been grateful for that. All the way to the end.
This is Moose, signing off on Magicademy.