To the Head of the Class

When I set out to write these stories of Annie and Kerry, I knew one of the challenges was figuring out what kind of classes they were going to attend.  Developing the school was easy:  getting the classes together–all the classes, mind you–was a pain in the butt.

When one is world building one must stick to their rules, because if you don’t you end up having some strange things pop up in your stories–like, say, handing over a time machine to a student so they can go to two different classes at the same time, mostly because you need to use their time machine as a Class Three Deus ex machina to work out your story at the end.  I don’t have any of that in my stories:  the rule I have is that the Peter Capaldi version of The Doctor shows up in the TARDIS and he’s not in a pleasant mood . . .

"Let's go back and kill that bastard Vold--what?  You want a time machine just so you can go to class?  No, no, that's brilliant, Missy.  Just fuckin' brilliant."

“Let’s go back and kill that bastard Voldi–what? You want a time machine just so you can go to class? No, nothing wrong with that.  I mean, that’s brilliant, Missy. Simply fuckin’ brilliant.”

He never really learned to put his Malcolm Tucker side away, it seems.

Getting the classes together hasn’t been an easy thing.  You have a limited number of instructors to teach all the classes, and if someone should die The Foundation dips into their pool from the other schools and hurries someone over to take up duties as quickly as possible, ’cause the last thing you want are a bunch of bored witches hanging around class looking for something to do.  Busy witches are happy witches, or at least that’s something the headmistress wants to believe.  Actually she knows that’s BS, but since Salem prides itself as the best school in the system, they don’t want their kids sitting around with nothing to do for too long, and getting right back into teaching is a good way to get the kid’s minds off of the reason why they have a new instructor.

You’ll see in a few future scenes that when instructors are needed elsewhere at the school, they’ll usually schedule lab time for their kids, and send a minion or two over to keep an eye on things.  And since no one really gets sick here–the last thing Coraline worries about is someone coming down with a cold, ’cause that doesn’t happen unless her little witches are coming back from an extended stay in the Normal world–there’s no need to have a pool of substitutes ready to step in an teach.  If they really have to get a substitute, they get someone in-house to teach.  Just keep it all in the family, so to speak.

Now, about advanced classes . . .

Full disclosure here:  I didn’t come up with the original concept.  The real person upon whom Annie is based was the one who thought up the idea that in a school full of people who could do amazing things, you’d find people in said school who could be even more amazing.  It made sense, so I took her idea and expanded upon the basic premise.  Which is why you have a group of advanced classes, and that the only way you’ll get into those classes is if the instructors of said classes see that you’ve moving well beyond what the rest of the kids in your level are doing, and you need a challenge.

Let’s look at the classes as I have them laid out for the first two years.

Remember this sucker?

Remember this?

Busy witches, happy witches, and for your first two years you stay plenty busy.  There are no advanced classes for the A Levels–well, there aren’t supposed to be:  it was already stated that moving Annie and Kerry into Advanced Spells as A Levels was something that she’d said she’d never do, and Jessica came right out and told her Advanced Transformation class that while a few of them came in as C Levels, there were reasons why she was bringing these two B Levels in . . .

The advanced classes I have set up so far as as such:

Not a lot of advanced students, to be honest.

Not a lot of advanced students, as you see.

The reality about Advanced Flight One is that it’s a carry-over from the A Level’s Basic Flight class:  if Vicky thinks you are good enough to move on, she’ll invite you in.  And if she thinks you’re good enough to move on to Advanced Flight Two during your C Levels, you get moved up.  There are no more flight classes after that:  anything you learn from that point, you learn on your own.  And as seen, if you’re invited in, you don’t have to attend, but that doesn’t mean you’re cut out–Annie’s listed as “Auditing on Demand,” which means she can come in if and when she feels like it, and you’ll see Annie has the same deal going with Vicky’s class.  The only reason she’s not in AF1 is because she’s a casual flyer, something she stated in one of the scenes in this novel.  She’ll leave the navigating and all that to Kerry.  Besides, one of the things you learn in AF1 is PAV Maintenance, and Annie probably already knows how to take care of a broom . . .

The only advanced class for the B Levels not on this list is Advanced Self Defense, and I need to work out the roster for that class.  Needless to say only a few A Levels moved up to that class, and you already know who two of those people are.  Ramona Chai does the same thing Vicky does:  she advances people from the A Level Basic Self Defense class, and they stay with her as long as they like.  It’s no great secret that a lot of people who stick with her through their E and F Levels usually end up working for the Protectors, and a few even go on to work with the Guardians.  The great thing about Professor Chai’s advanced classes is that you’re involved in “practical applications” with homunculi, but even more so than was seen in The Walking Tests scene where my kids laid waste to a bunch of mindless zombies.  At some point in this novel you’ll get to see a “meat puppet”, and find out just how they fit into self defense training.

What’s left after this?  A few things that you only get into after you start taking classes that are offered from the C Levels and up.  There’s Advanced Spirit Studies after Basic Spirit Studies, there’s Advanced Astral Training after Basic Understanding of the Astral Realm, and there are two advanced classes that are offered at Salem and one other school and nowhere else:  Demonology and Necromancy.  What is listed on the class title is what you get;  Demonology is all about the summoning and binding of demons–yes, kiddies, they do exist–and how to kick their asses should it become necessary.  And Necromancy is all about going out and finding the astral essence of people who’ve been dead for a while, whose essence has likely passed beyond The Veil, and bringing said essence back and dumping it into a body.  Necromancers are a dime a gross of a baker’s dozen and are, as you might guess, usually a bit scary to be around.  But if you absolutely, positively, need to bring back a crossed-over spirit, they’re the ones to do the job . . . usually at a Resurrection Center.  Like the CDC.  Where Annie and Kerry were sent . . .

There you have it:  a little more of my madness.  Hey, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy making this stuff.