Working for the Mandroid is happy to welcome Cecilia Tan, author of the sexy fantasy Magic University series. The fourth and final book in the series, Poet and the Prophecy, just came out this past Tuesday. We're happy to welcome Cecilia to the blog to discuss the world building that went into the series as it comes to a conclusion. Take it away, Cecilia!
Back to School: Worldbuilding Magic University
by Cecilia Tan
Worldbuilding is fun, no doubt about it. I love creating magic systems and societies for my novels, and part of me hearkens back to my days as a teenage dungeonmaster, creating places and surprises for old Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. While writing the Magic University books, though, I had some interesting challenges in creating a magical college campus.
For one thing, I had to create the curriculum. What would the courses of study be at Veritas? In the books themselves I end up naming about a dozen departments, including alchemy, ritual arts, conjuration, and metaphysics. "Esoteric arts" is the name given to the study of sex magic because just calling it sex magic was too much for the founders of Harvard.
Yes, Harvard--my magical university is a part of Harvard, existing as a school within a school, with its own deans and degree programs. This meant my worldbuilding got to include a lot of funky facts about Harvard, like the fact that Lowell House rents out their dining hall to other houses (including magical ones) for parties and functions.
In fact I borrowed the Harvard house system to make four magical houses. Yes, that's also a direct nod to J.K .Rowling's Harry Potter series, but I also ended up with four because the "sorting" is done with tarot cards, and which suit you pull determines which house you end up in. Kyle draws the Ace of Swords which lands him in Gladius House. The fact that the sorting is basically random, despite each house having a "character," was also a commentary by me on the flaws of Hogwarts-style sorting based on personality traits. If you want, you can believe that a card draw is "fate," but really, it's just a one-in-four chance, ensuring even distribution over time.
I tried to be as consistent as possible within my magic system, but given that this is a university setting I left room for there to be debate about how certain parts of magic works, the same way scientists or economists or historians sit around and debate their subjects with each other. Also like with non-magical subjects, some classes require lab work, some tests, some term papers, and some subjects are easier than others.
Just like in any university, some of the degree programs have prerequisites or placement tests. To join the Department of Esoteric Arts, scholars have to prove they're bisexual, since ritual sex with partners of any gender might be required. At first Kyle isn't sure he can pass all of the tests to get into Esoteric Arts but it's really not a spoiler to tell you that he has what it takes to pass with flying colors. (In fact, he gets good at flying, too.) It is somewhat inconvenient when he has to practice to do his sex magic homework, though, and his roommate never goes out...
One of the subplots that runs through the books is that the departments of Applied Enchantment and Conjuration are being merged into one, something that happens in real-life universities around here (in the Boston area) all the time, wreaking havoc on the faculty and students. In the end Kyle may be able to save the world, but nothing can save the university administration from budget cuts!
The Poet & The Prophecy (Magic University #4)
Released September 22, 2015
Kyle Wadsworth has mastered sex magic, dreamwalking, his bisexuality, and even poetry in his years at Veritas. But in this conclusion to the Magic University series of new adult paranormal fantasy romance, Kyle begins his senior year full of doubt. Will the dire ancient prophecy he has been studying come true if Kyle cannot find true love? The signs of the Burning Days seem to be everywhere—odd storms, earthquakes, and people losing their magic—and though Kyle has many loving friends and eager acquaintances, he has no true love in sight. The only person in Kyle's heart is Frost, and the last time they laid eyes on each other, it didn't end well.
Frost has a troubled past and deep secrets. Kyle begins to hope, though, when it appears he and Frost will be in a class together. A poetry class. Maybe Frost will start to thaw after all, though Kyle has a long way to go from nemesis to lover. If the prophecy speaks true, our hero will need love to keep the world, his friends, and himself from losing magic forever.
About the Author:
Cecilia Tan is "simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature," according to Susie Bright. RT Magazine awarded her Career Achievement in Erotic Romance in 2015 and their prestigious Pioneer Award. Tan's BDSM romance novel Slow Surrender (Hachette/Forever, 2013) also won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in Erotic Romance and the Maggie Award for Excellence from the Georgia Romance Writers chapter of RWA. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.