Some Questions for Those Who Have Read Magic or Madness (Updated)

I am about to start writing the third and final book of the Magic or Madness series. But before I open up that brand new document and put fingers to keyboard—gulp—I’m re-reading the first book as well as the sequel, Magic Lessons, (out next March) and taking notes about what questions need to be answered, what events must happen—all of that. Obviously, I have some ideas already (and, you know, a plot), but I’ll be reading for all the bits and pieces, themes, characters, character traits, ideas, memes etc., that I’ve forgotten about—Tom has a sister? Ooops!—and thinking about how (or whether) to weave them back in.

I was wondering if any of you have suggestions. What questions do you reckon absolutely must be answered in the final book? Are there any threads that if I leave them unresolved you will become ropeable and then hunt me down to wreak vengance? I’ve already had this conversation with my wonderful editors, Eloise and Liesa, and they had many definite ideas. Some of them startling. I’d love to hear yours too.

I’m not saying I’ll do what you ask, mind, but it will be excellent grist to the mill. Thanks!

Oh, and if you’ve already read Magic Lessons could you not mention any of the events from that book so as not to spoil those who’ve only read Magic or Madness? Feel free to email me with any ML inspired comments jl—@— (without the dashes, obviously).

Update: If you haven’t read Magic or Madness do not read the comments below. They are loaded with much spoilage.


  1. marrije on #

    I’ve loaned my copy of Magic or Madness to a friend (who is a highschool teacher, and thus in an excellent position to bring even more fresh little Dutch minds into contact with the book), so I can’t leaf back to remind myself of any questions I might have had. If I get the book back any time soon, I’ll go through it again, promise.

    One big question for me: what’s the dealie with the lift in the building where Reason and Jay-Tee have the snowball fight?

    I loved Tom’s love of fashion, and of course we need to know more about the tree.

    Ooh, and more Aussie words in a new glossary! preferably explaining ‘arvo’.

  2. shana on #

    not only does tom have a non-magical sister, she has a jerky boyfriend!

    and what was the story with the cat, anyways?

  3. Didi on #

    I’ll second marrije on the lift.

    My other things are big enough that I’m pretty sure you’re aware of them. You probably dealt with some of them in the second book. Still, you asked…

    Mostly, I’d like to know what’s up with the cat in the basement. Why was it there? Did Mere really kill it? Why? Why did Reason’s mom want here to dig it out? Did the fact that it was dug out have any effect on any of the Cansinos?

    Also, what’s with the teeth thingie.

    Basically, all the things that creeped Reason out, are things I’d like to see addressed. Was ANYTHING Sarafina said true? Was she completely insane the whole time, and just became violent towards the end?

    And on to Jey-Tee. What WAS the deal with her dad? In what way did he become a monster?

    And finally, and this is the obvious “you will deal with this or be hunted down and badgered about it”: Does Reason solve the magic or madness dilemma?

  4. Sherwood Smith on #

    I don’t know what you resolve in the second book…but I hope the stories behind those grandparents come clear (trying not to do spoilers here)

  5. Justine on #

    Thanks everyone! This all fab stuff. Of course, I can’t answer your questions without major spoilage and so won’t. Though you’ll all be relieved to hear that all is revealed about the cat in the second book. Not telling you nuthin’ else, but.

    Marrije: arvo means afternoon. I’m pretty sure that “arvo” is not just an aussieism. I’ve heard at least one New Jersey boy use it. I’ve also used some more of my fave oz words in book 2, like “drongo.” I fear it’s dying back home, so this is my little effort to revive it.

    Shana: Ah, yes, Poncey the Eighties Boyfriend. So much potential there!

    Didi: No worries. I’ll get on to all of it!

    Sherwood: Feel free to spoil away. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t read the book will be reading these comments. But just in case I’ll up date the post with a spoiler warning.

  6. Justine on #

    Marrije: forgot to say—thanks so much for passing the book along to your teacher friend. Other than, you know, actual teenagers, teachers and librarians are the lifeblood of YA publishing. I adore them.

  7. shana on #

    didi: basically? you don’t ask much. just the resolution of a series! *grin*

    justine — i’m delighted to hear you’re getting your plans in gear. i will be impatiently awaiting the results. good luck and much tequila!

  8. Justine on #

    Shana: thanks! I suspect though that much tequila would mean little writing. More than a glass of wine and I’m no longer capable of writing anything half way decent. Tragic but true.

  9. Kelis on #

    Character getting new powers.

  10. Elizabeth Genco on #

    Hello, Justine!

    I just finished your book. I met Liesa at a party at a comic book shop here in New York recently and picked it up shortly thereafter. 🙂

    I really enjoyed the book and will recommend it over at Endicott Studio (I’m a reviewer over there) when I get a chance to write a little something.

    I’m sure you’ve alredy thought of this, but I’ll mention it anyway. I’d love to see some interaction between Reason and Sarafina, and some resolution too.

    Also, I humbly request a little more discussion as to why, exactly, the women of the family either die young with magic or go mad. Is it one of those speculative fiction things that I’m just supposed to accept? Could be, but either way, a little more time spent on it would be good.

    Lastly, I’d like to know more about Jason, namely who he is and what was his relationship with Mere.

    Hope this helps! Congratulations on all of your success with the series.

  11. Elizabeth Genco on #

    Oh! One more thing that I forgot last night.

    The door could lead anywhere in the world, in theory. Why New York City? What does Mere do there?

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