Some more good ideas from readers. One person suggested that if my heart is set on ending the story in Book 4, that I should at least open the potential for more. If not my own, then at least open the Series into a "Universe", so that other authors can contribute to it. The writer suggested that they'd appreciate not only learning more about Alex, and possibly his followers, but also what happens 5, 10 or even 50 years down the line.
I'd actually floated this idea before (if you dig through enough of my Discussion Group entries you may find the reference). I'd have no problem if anyone else wanted to try writing a story in this 'universe', or even if they wanted to borrow any of the characters.
In fact, one of my first editors complained when he first started to read L&F (after a long sickness when he hadn't had a chance to catch up) that I had 'stolen' a story idea he'd been contemplating for a while. While it's true that we talked a lot during the editing process, it turns out our ideas were similar, but not quite the same. But I suggested that if he wanted to save himself a lot of story development time, he could simply create a related story in the "Great Death" universe (this one set in Australia). Again, I've got no problem with that, and in doing so he can easily skip past the messy set up I've got by simply jumping in after the massive die off.
In fact, I've also been playing around with a lightly connected story of my own. It's a sci-fi adventure, but while trying to explain the basis behind the premise, I found myself using the Catalyst universe.
A secret organization has done some amazing research, and has discovered a way of creating portal between dimensions, which are linked by a form of life energy. We've subsequently used those advances to....
While it's not really tied into the whole universe, it borrows the premise to advance another storyline, which gets it over one set of hurdles.
So, if anyone would like to take a stab at it, let me know and I'll either set it up as a Universe for you, or we can at least discuss how easily you could fit a story in. I figure between each of the characters I've introduced, the future of the movement, Cate, Becky or Kitty and Chalise, there's a lot of room to run with.
By the way, I plan on ending the series with a final Epilogue, which explains what happens to everyone and to the movement in the years that follow, including finally explaining who the Biographer is (anyone remember who that is?). That's always been the end point of this story, and I wrote it a LONG time ago (back at the beginning of Book 2) to help guide me (though I'll be sure to substantially revise it when I finally arrive there in the story).