Guest Post

Guest Post: “Happy Endings Can Be Sad…For the Author” by Cecilia Tan

The Poet and the Prophecy Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan’s Magic University series comes to a conclusion with the release of The Poet and the Prophecy, out today. Cecilia is happy to bring the series to a conclusion–but also sad to see it end. She explains her mixed emotions below. Thanks, Cecilia!


This week the final volume in my Magic University series has finally hit shelves/Kindles and it seems a good moment to reflect on endings and the ending of a series.

I know not all series are like this. Some seemingly could go on forever. At a panel called “How NOT To End A Series” at the RWA national conference this year bestselling author Shannon Stacey lamented that she had to end her Kowlaskis Series because “I ran out of Kowalskis.”

But in a series like Magic University, which mixes fantasy with new adult romance, I knew I had a set endpoint. Like the Harry Potter series which inspired it, Magic University has one book per year of school. Book four, The Poet and the Prophecy, is Kyle’s senior year. In fantasy, there is always a quest: I combined fantasy and romance here by making it a quest to find true love, a quest that takes four years to complete.

I had four novels plus one collection of short stories (Spellbinding) to develop Kyle’s quest, and I’m grateful for it. I wanted to write an “enemies to lovers” story and by having several books to play with I was able to set up Kyle’s nemesis right from the start. When Frost waltzes into his first scene in book one, some readers hated him. Others clued in to the vibe immediately. I started seeing Kyle/Frost fanfic appear: clearly I wasn’t the only one who likes a good “enemies to lovers” story!

This was the first time I ever finished something that took four books to lead up to, though. I remember when I finished the first draft, I was at a writers’ conference in New Orleans. I am a pantser, a “discovery” writer. Even when I know what’s supposed to happen in a book, I never really know until the words hit the page. So when I write, it’s a lot like it is for a reader encountering a scene for the first time. I get surprised. I cry. I pray desperately that it’s all going to work out.

I was three chapters from the end of the book when I left for that conference. I wrote in the airport. I wrote on the plane on the way down. I was supposed to get a good night’s sleep so I could be up first thing in the morning at the conference: nope, I wrote into the wee hours.

The next day at the conference I ran into a writer friend from New Orleans who told me where the best cafes for writing in the French Quarter were. I spent the next two afternoons sneaking away from the conference and binge-writing in the Royal Cup (now sadly closed!) and CC’s Community Coffee House. And then on the third day I went to CC’s and never made it back to the conference at all. I typed the final words of The Poet and the Prophecy sitting in a table looking out on Royal Street, with happy tears streaming down my face. Yeah, I was in no shape to go to a reception after that.

Finally bringing the whole plot together, tying up all the loose ends, and uniting my poor, wounded, noble lovers once and for all, was an incredible experience, and one that left me spent. After the conference I went to stay with a friend in New Orleans and did little but sleep for two days. That’s how drained I was. But it was entirely worth it. It was like good sex in that way–sometimes delaying the payoff makes it all the more explosive when it finally comes! (But then boy do you need sleep!)

I felt somewhat bereft after that. I’d lived with Kyle and Frost in my head for a couple of real-time years at that point and to have them finished, quiet, settled, done with… it was an odd, melancholy feeling. But a good one, too. I suppose it really is like they graduated and moved on.

Someday I would love to write a never-ending book series, but for now I hope readers get every bit as much satisfaction and pleasure from the climax of Magic University as I did. Um, grad school, anyone?


ctan_smarch_400x600Cecilia Tan writes about a variety of passions and sexualities from her home in the Boston area. She is the winner of the RT Pioneer Award for Erotic Fiction and the RT Career Achievement Award in Erotic Romance. Her novel Slow Surrender won the RT Reviewers Choice award in 2013. Her other books include Black Feathers, The Prince’s Boy, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, Edge Plays, and more. Her forthcoming BDSM rock star novel from Hachette/Forever, TAKING THE LEAD, will be out in January 2016. Join Cecilia’s email list, or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, or on her website.

One Response to “Guest Post: “Happy Endings Can Be Sad…For the Author” by Cecilia Tan”

  1. Lise Horton

    A brilliant insight into the heart and mind of a writer, and just how emotional the process of creating characters, and building worlds, and then having to say goodbye truly is. Thank you!

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