This was a tough scene to write. I could have done 10 pages on this topic and still felt like I left out good arguments and vital questions on ethical standards, the power of temptation, the responsibility of those who manage children, the rule of law, and so on. Feedback from readers as each page was released helped me fine-tune the conversation to address the most crucial points.

The closure of Attic High was the biggest, most crucial plot point of this chapter. A lot of other things got altered or rearranged during rewrites, but this point was stable all the way through. I can’t remember exactly when I decided the school would close. It might have been before I started writing Part I, but if so, it was still not the catalyst for the entire story.

I started with the idea of Ken’s rebellion, and at some point sooner or later, I realized that this had to be the straw that broke the camel’s back regarding the operation of the school. I put myself in the position of a parent (something increasingly easy to do as more of my friends and siblings become parents) and realized just how worried I would be to send my kid off every day to a school that was constantly facing life-threatening events and physically altering the people attending it.

The more I thought about it, the more I was disturbed by the stuff that my own characters seemed to be mostly complacent about. So, it made sense from my perspective to use this story as a wake-up call, for Jen if no one else. That isn’t to say the premise of UTC in general upsets me now. Far from it. But using this institution as the central location for all these mishaps has been looking less and less sustainable.