So, as I indicated recently, the third Archvillain book, Yesterday Again, was never intended to be the finale of that series. I had always meant for the series to go on for quite a while, possibly as many as ten books.
Sadly, reality intruded on my fantasy. The books just didn’t sell well enough to justify further volumes, and the publisher pulled the plug (as is its right).
But I get a lot of people asking me if there will ever be more Archvillain books, and since the answer is “No,” I figure there’s no harm in relating what might have been, had sales warranted. Settle in — this is a long one…
OK, so first of all, realize that the ending of Yesterday Again was there because I had to end the series. Originally, the book was supposed to conclude with that moment where Kyle zooms in on the videotape and realizes that Mighty Mike has called him “master.”
Dun-dun-dun! Boom. End of book.
The next book begins with Kyle terrified and baffled beyond belief. Why on earth would Mike call him “master?” What the hell is going on?
That book was to be titled Power Swap. Here’s the description I wrote for myself when I was plotting it out:
Kyle realizes that although Erasmus was destroyed in the chronovessel, he still has a back-up of the AI on his computer from when he last synched his iPod! He outfits himself with a new iPod and reinstalls Erasmus. Of course, this version of Erasmus has no memories of the time traveling, but it’s still super-smart…smart enough to help Kyle construct a gadget designed to suck Mighty Mike’s powers out of Mighty Mike and into Kyle [using the radioactive dirt Kyle stored in the basement in Book 1]! But things go awry when Lefty hops into the picture at the wrong moment…and suddenly Kyle’s brain is in Mike’s body, while Lefty flies around Bouring with Mighty Mike’s powers! Mairi and everyone else in town is baffled by the weirdness, but in the end, Kyle is able to set things right…only he can’t restore ALL of his powers — in the end, he is left with only his super-intelligence.
I had decided that I wanted Kyle to be smart, but that having superpowers made him too much of a match for Mike. I liked the classic Superman/Lex Luthor dichotomy of a normal man with super-intelligence facing someone with godlike powers. So that’s what I wanted to set up.
The next book would have been titled Rorrim. Kyle is still trying to figure out the truth behind Mighty Mike, so…
Kyle, desperate to figure out his connection to Mighty Mike, tries building another time machine. But when it explodes, it sends him to a parallel dimension, a world where the Azure Avenger is the world’s greatest hero, Malicious Mike is a horrific villain…and Mairi is dead!
The idea here is that in the alternate universe, Kyle and Mike acted differently during the attack of the dirt monster in Book 1. Mike screws up and Mairi dies as a result, which drives him mad and turns him into Malicious Mike. The Azure Avenger is the only one who can fight him, and soon everyone regards him as a hero. Kyle is pretty psyched that he’s a hero on this world…but less psyched that Mairi is dead. He realizes that even though the results were less than ideal, maybe he did the right thing back in Book 1 when he let Mike [appear to] save the day. He returns home a little more sober.
The next book would have been another time travel jaunt, titled Tomorrow Today:
Kyle receives visitors from the future, including grown-up versions of the Mad Mask…and himself! Along with them are a creepy new supervillain called The Giggler (he just won’t. stop. laughing.) and Walter Lundergaard, who — due to the vagaries of time travel — is meeting Kyle for the first time. These guys all want Young Kyle to join their “Villains Club,” and of course they’re up to something nefarious. [Truthfully, I hadn’t worked out what yet!] The big takeaway, though, is that Kyle is crushed to find that — as an adult — he has apparently embraced villainy and become a bad guy.
OK, so then my plan was more stories of Kyle going to alternate universes, trying to figure out a way to avoid his fate of becoming a villain. There are plenty of realities in the multiverse where he’s a hero. The only problem is this — in every single one of them, Mairi dies.
Every. Single. One.
Kyle realizes that the only way to keep Mairi alive is to accept that the world will always see him as a villain. And so the series ends with him gladly declaring his villainy, claiming that he will shake the heavens themselves, and that in the future, the world will ask, “Where were you when the stars fell down?” which brings us full circle to the beginning of the series.
But…! But a part of Kyle knows, deep down, that the world needs someone to protect it from himself. And so he creates Mighty Mike and sends him back in time (as in the epilogue to Yesterday Again) as a way of mitigating his own villainy. Thus, Kyle is both villain and hero. (His actions in creating Mighty Mike, BTW, spark a villain war, with Lundergaard and the rest of the bad guys trying to kill Kyle.)
That was the general plot/character arc of the series. Here are some more details:
Who/what is Lundergaard? My general idea for Lundergaard is that he was a genius scientist in another reality. His time travel experiments created a paradox that wiped out that universe and only he survived. Now he’s trying to make changes to our universe, traveling through time to make “time tweaks” in an effort to make our universe into his own. Given his track record, you can’t really expect that to turn out well, can you?
Who betrayed Kyle? In the epilogue to Yesterday Again, Kyle mentions that he was betrayed by “M–” Which isn’t really helpful since roughly half the cast has a name starting with M. The answer is…Mairi! Yes, Mairi, Kyle’s best friend, ends up betraying him in the future, leading the members of the Villains Club to his secret lab, where he’s creating Mighty Mike. Why? Well, she genuinely thinks it’s for the best. She eventually re-learns that Kyle is the Blue Freak and is horrified that he wiped her memory. She thinks he needs to be stopped and is willing to make a deal with the devil to do it. It’s a really sad moment — everything Kyle has done in the series is to protect Mairi, and she ends up turning on him.
What about the Mad Mask? The tween version would have showed up in future books to bedevil Kyle, and the adult version from the Villains Club would be in the mix, too. What about the adult version trapped in the 1980s? Honestly, that was never part of the plan at all! I added him to Yesterday Again when I learned I had to wrap up the series in the third book, so I didn’t have anything in mind for that version.
What the hell was the deal with the lighthouse? We would learn in one of the future books that Kyle himself built the lighthouse during a time travel trip to the past. None of the other Bourings in the multiverse have one — he built it so that he would always know he’d gotten “home.”
The last bit I’ll talk about was something I hadn’t told my editor. Or, indeed, anyone at all until now. That was that I planned to reveal that Kyle was gay.
I decided early on that Kyle was gay, but I also wasn’t sure how much I wanted to deal with it. After all, the series is about a bunch of twelve year olds and one of the things I liked about it was that — unlike my YA books — there was no sex. No yearnings. It was just an action series, pure adrenaline and comedy. There were friendships, but no pairings. It was sort of refreshing after writing stuff like Boy Toy and Goth Girl Rising.
And then I started thinking about the character of Kyle and I decided on this:
In the middle of a fight for his life, while desperately trying to survive, Kyle would suddenly pause and go, “Oh. I just realized I’m gay!”
And that would be it! He would dive back into the fight, win, and go home…
To his parents…
Now, realize that one of the running gags in the books is that Kyle thinks his parents are idiots. And Kyle also thinks he is the most self-aware person in the world.
So, there would be a moment where he would decide to come out to his parents. He would sit them down and say, “Mom, Dad, I’m gay.”
And they would look at each other and go, “Well, yeah, we figured that out years ago.”
And Kyle would spend the rest of his life gnashing his teeth over the fact that his idiot parents figured it out before he did. 🙂
I wasn’t going to make a big deal about Kyle sexuality — like I said, it just wasn’t that kind of story — but I wanted to acknowledge it and, in true Archvillain fashion, also wring a drop of gentle humor out of it.
And that’s pretty much everything I had planned for the series! I regret that I never got to tell these stories.