Originally published at: https://ackerlygreen.com/2018/04/25/the-making-of-the-monarch-papers-episode-nine/
In this episode, CJ and Simon discuss Fragment 9, Galifanx. CJ started by explaining that while this fragment was short, it was an important time for the company. After Phase Two, CJ and Simon took a one month break, during which it was decided that a less puzzle-based approach would be used, going forward. Also, the work life of everybody involved in the company was, in a sense, suffering. Simon and Jonny realized that, thenceforth, they would have to reduce their participation in Ackerly Green, so that they would have time to properly run their other business. Simon, in particular, was suddenly required to go out and meet with a lot of clients. Logistically, it was impossible for them to continue working in the same capacity, on both fronts.
Returning to the puzzles, CJ explained that they were too creatively taxing, given the size of Ackerly Green. Additionally, due to a successful ad campaign, there were many new readers, and it would be impossible for them to collectively solve the puzzles in the same way that they could when there were fewer readers. At the same time, CJ started writing more of the original content. There were still going to be puzzles, but they would be more connected to the narrative. Around this time, CJ reached out to Fleb, a puzzle designer. CJ told him about some of the more complex ideas for this fragment, and offered to design the puzzle for Ackerly Green. Jonny came up with the constellation names, and the mechanics were assigned to Fleb.
Deirdre was also put on a journey around the world, during which time she would post on Instagram, but not post on her blog. Cole also took a break from the forum. This was all so that CJ could free up a few weeks, to adjust to the new structure of the company. He was hoping this new, professionally designed puzzle, would last for three weeks. As it turned out, though, the newly enlarged group of Mountaineers was able to solve it in two and a half days. There were over four hundred messages, in this time. This meant that it was hard for CJ even to keep up with what was happening in the puzzle. Looking back on it, CJ regretted that more artificial barriers weren’t inserted to keep the puzzle going for longer. Because Fleb wanted to design the puzzle so that all readers would see all relevant materials immediately, there was no chance of it lasting for three weeks (some barriers were eventually inserted, but this still wasn’t enough).
Narratively, this was after the Cagliostro era, and so Lauren had the book from The Morgan Library. It had to be figured out why Lauren would share the book with The Mountaineers. CJ and Simon had fun inserting the speculations of the Mountaineers into the actual lore of the Magiqverse.
After this fragment, the story became even more important. The idea of Kemetic Solutions came out of CJ’s love for magiq heists (his office is covered with posters of old magicians). This would provide an important narrative contrast with the tragic figure of The Cagliostro. Eventually, Deirdre also wrote a blog post apologizing for her absence. She was now, with full access to magiq, able to read her father’s journey, putting her on the path to discover Neithernor.
Questions and Answers:
Q: How did Lauren know about The Mountaineers?
A: She had Telemancy, so she could read minds. Also, once she took on The Cagliostro, she gained the knowledge possessed by the previous generations of Cagliostros.
Q:Was it difficult to combine astronomy into the puzzle?
A: As difficult as it was to combine flora or fauna. Google provided most of the basic information, and the puzzle elements were all delegated to Paul (Fleb), who is a very smart guy, and had a lot of knowledge about celestial phenomena.
Q: How did the series of connected papercraft journal entries come to be?
A: CJ loves papercraft. Even though the non-papercraft puzzles changed over time, the papercraft ones were all planned at once, well in advance. CJ also wanted the writerly challenge of seeing if he could plant a narrative seed with the first puzzle, and have you not realize that Sullivan was at the heart of it, until the very end. Most people didn’t, which was exciting and surprising. He wanted the solution to seem surprising, yet inevitable. Whether or not this was a perfect success is still an open question, but CJ is very happy with it as it is.
Fragment Nine (wiki): http://magiq.wikia.com/wiki/Fragment_Nine
Fragment Nine (forum): http://forum.basecamp33.com/c/tmp-fragments/fragment-nine
Phase Three: http://magiq.wikia.com/wiki/Phase_Three
Kemetic Solutions: http://magiq.wikia.com/wiki/Kemetic_Solutions