I'm currently on Chapter 40 in my revisions. 16 chapters to go!
So far, there is not as much wholesale cutting as I expected. I have not actually deleted or moved any chapters in their entirety. I have cut a lot of extraneous text, and changed some other things, but some of those changes have involved actually adding material. So my total word count has only decreased to 277,905. This is still gonna be a long book. (Scarily long. Published books typically average about 250 words per page, which would make AQATWA over 1000 pages!)
I have about half a dozen scenes and three or four major plot points that are still bothering me. I've worked out some of the problems I had, but I always worry about consistency and believability (yes, believability in a YA novel about a secret wizarding world where teenagers carry reality-bending weapons). Like, theoretically any plot problem could be solved with "Just invent a spell for that," right? But actually, no. I am not Brandon Sanderson (who writes meticulously engineering magic systems with very precise rules), but I try to more or less follow Rowling's rules (more on that below), and of course, I can't just have Alexandra dramatically "level up" and start casting spells she never could before without a reasonable explanation.
I do actually maintain a list of all the magic Alexandra has done, so I don't accidentally have her "relearn" a spell she has already used, or conversely, just start assuming she knows how to Apparate when I never described her learning how. Nonetheless, I just know some of my gimlet-eyed readers will catch errors at some point.
I'm not a big redditor, but I do browse it sometimes. I only recently discovered that there is an AlexandraQuick subreddit. Apparently it's been around for a few years. Wow.
I will probably not be posting there (sorry, folks). My reddit account is linked to my real name, and I don't create throwaways. But I did read the threads. I liked Alexandra as a D&D 5E character, even though I don't like D&D 5E. (I don't think I'd rate her Intelligence quite that high — Alex is smart, but not a super-genius — but otherwise it looks like a reasonable job given the limitations of representing non-D&D characters using D&D rules.)
I also really enjoyed jackbethimble's prediction brackets for AQATWA, and the speculations it spawned. Hee hee. (I have to admit, some of the things that won't be happening made me think, 'Hey, that's not a bad idea...')
Rowling's American Wizarding World
I have a confession to make: I have not really paid much attention to anything Potteresque since the end of the series. I have not read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I have not yet seen either of the Fantastic Beasts movies (though I've read enough reviews and spoilers to think they sound... dumb), and I only recently started poking around on Pottermore and catching up on some of the "canon" that Rowling has apparently been dropping via Tweet.
The only thing worse than an author making up canon on Twitter is a president making up national policy on Twitter. Ahem.
Like, I did a real headdesk when she blithely declared that Hogwarts was a "safe space" — of course.
Dear J.K. Rowling:
Okay, look lady, when you declared Dumbledore gay after the fact, I was willing to buy that you actually envisioned him as gay all along and just never mentioned it in the books because it wasn't relevant in the story. A lot of people were pissed off at you, but I wasn't. I get why others were cynical and suspected you of retconning that for Social Justice cred, but okay, sure, you kinda sorta dropped hints with the Grindelwald relationship, and I'll take you at your word that this was something you always "knew."
But... Hogwarts was a "safe space"? Really? Yeah, "safe" unless you count the allegorical wizard-Nazis who wanted to purge the wizarding world of Mudbloods. But sure, even Slytherins were totally LGBT friendly, right? Are you kidding? I don't buy that this was ever in your head until current year made it an issue.
But whatever. Maybe contemporary Hogwarts is in fact a "safe space." I just feel that Rowling has rather reached the limits of her worldbuilding talents, and just makes up shit that sounds good now.
Case in point: Rowling's American Wizarding World.
I finally read what she posted on Pottermore about the American wizarding world. And it's... not good.
I don't just mean the ridiculous and cavalier way she treated Native Americans. Other people have shredded her plenty for that. Her believing that apparently all Indians were part of one big tribe with homogeneous beliefs and traditions was just symptomatic of her treating America as a cartoon. At best, it's a cheap imitation of England; at worst, it's a silly hodge-podge of whatever Rowling could Wikipedia about early America.
So, the official "canon" American wizarding school is Ilvermorny. Which is basically a Hogwarts knock-off, complete with four schools and a sorting ceremony, and it serves the entire North American continent.
If I started writing Alexandra Quick today, I'd probably have set the story in Ilvermorny, and I'd have incorporated "No-Majs" and "MACUSA" into the setting. But I started writing Alexandra Quick in 2007, when Rowling hadn't said anything at all about the American wizarding world, and pretty much told her fans that if they wanted stories about American wizards, someone else would have to make them up. So I did.
Needless to say, I am not about to go back and rewrite the entire AQ series. As of the end of Deathly Hallows, and for a few years after that, I maintained that AQ was "canon-compliant" — meaning that while I might have made up a lot of stuff Rowling never mentioned, I didn't think anything I wrote actually contradicted her canon. In theory, Alexandra Quick could have coexisted in the "official" Harry Potter universe.
Clearly, that is no longer the case. There is no Ilvermorny in Alexandra's world. American wizards in AQ do not call Muggles "No-Majs," and the Confederation has a Wizard Congress, but not a "MACUSA." Oh, and when European wizards arrived, they did not all just get along with Indian wizards...
Rowling has never been good at expanding Harry Potter beyond its origins as a children's book. Things that don't have to make sense or be deeply thought out when the target audience is 10 begin to break down when the target audience is teens and adults. The wizarding world, of course, does not "make sense" in any way, but it's ridiculous to try to incorporate actual history into it but then pretend that none of this changes its essential nature as a fantastic magical world completely removed from the real one.
Alexandra Quick, like Harry Potter, has "grown up" a bit with each book, but it's always been a bit darker and more serious. This trend will continue in AQATWA — inasmuch as you can suspend your disbelief enough to accept a wizarding world in the first place, AQ is what I fancy a wizarding world might actually look like, though I admit I still take some farcical liberties for humor value.
But AQ is definitely not-canon compliant anymore.
Anyway, besides revising my manuscript, I have also been commissioning some artwork like I did for the last book.
Here's a sneak peak at one piece.
Warning: Slightly spoilery, so don't look if you don't want to know anything about characters who will appear in AQATWA.