We are so excited to welcome everyone back to another Saturday Spotlight!
Every month we hold one Spotlight where we feature one author and their upcoming release in a series of posts. For the month of January, we feel so privileged to welcome Scott Reintgen to Stuck in Stacks
About The BookAshlords by Scott Reintgen
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 21, 2020
Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged.
In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
About The Author
Scott Reintgen is the author of the Nyxia Triad series and the middle-grade novel Saving Fable. He is a former teacher in the North Carolina public school system and is always trying to write books for the deserving students who he had the honor of teaching. Currently, he lives in North Carolina, surviving mostly on cookie dough, his son’s smiles, and the love of his wife, Katie. You can follow him on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @Scott_Thought.
How was your experience writing Ashlords different from your experience writing The Nyxia triad?
Scott: The main difference was that Nyxia started out close to what it ended up being on publication. Ashlords changed a lot. I started with a story that followed a character through four different races in four different dimensions. That was the whole concept. Until early readers kept telling me the “horses are really cool” and kept awfully quiet about the other three worlds/races. I decided to focus in on just the horses, and added some characters. It’s also a second-world fantasy. So a lot more world building, establishing rules and expectations, etc.
The idea of phoenix horses is so fascinating to us. What inspired the concept?
Scott; Honestly, I’m just weird? I always love looking at our world but with a twist. I think that’s where some of the best stories are born. Something that’s familiar and completely new, jammed together. So I just thought about racing horses and searched for that little twist. Phoenixes are what ended up sticking.
Pippa’s pov is in second person. Is there a particular reason you chose to do that?
Scott: Yeah! So I’ve seen folks love and hate this. Totally get both reactions. For me, this POV really makes sense for Pippa. Especially at the start, she sees herself as a product. A brand. It’s almost as if she sees all of her interactions with the world one step removed. I felt like second person really solidifies that vision of herself. It’s like she’s watching someone else move through the world, even though it’s clearly her.
Each of the characters has such a unique voice. Were any of the characters more of a challenge to write?
Scott: Pippa and REDACTED were the first characters in the first version. Adrian and Imelda weren’t in the first draft at all. Writing Imelda came easily to me. I love underdogs and outcasts. She was a voice that I found very easy to write. Adrian, however, gave me some trouble. I had a hard time finding the right tone to strike with him at first. I needed him to be strong, but still a young kid figuring out who he is. In the end, I was really happy with how he turned out. Rebel bad boy, yes, but also just a kid searching for purpose in a wild world.
We loved Ashlords! Can you share any news about Book 2?
Scott: Book two is in the final stages of its edits. I can share that the title, for now, is Bloodsworn. I’ve seen a lot of early readers asking for more of the gods! They thought the pantheon played a nice side role in the first book, but they wanted more. Well, get ready. War is coming, and the gods are coming with it.
Can you share a little bit about your writing process? Do you start with an ending in mind or does the plot just come to you as you go?
Scott: I generally know the beginning and end, but I like to give the characters room in the middle to roam. Every time is a little different, but I often find my characters lead me to the best versions of my stories.
Which authors inspire your writing the most? Anyone you would love to co-author a book with?
Scott: I’m a huge fan of Pierce Brown, Leigh Bardugo, N.K. Jemisin and others. Every author I read has a small impact on my writing, because I’m always trying to learn from my peers. I’ve explored co-writing a little with Nic Stone, and there are a few ideas I’d love to tackle. She writes some of the best characters I’ve ever read. I’m a big world-building person. I think it would be a dangerous combo.
Did you always want to write books? Can you share with us a few of the stories that developed your love of reading?
Scott: I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I don’t think I really thought I could be a writer until high school. A teacher pushed me into a creative writing class against my will and I never looked back. As for reading, I was also not a huge reader until middle school. This little-known book– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban– absolutely pulled me in. I’ve been an avid reader ever since.
Do you have any reading or writing quirks?
Scott: Writing? I always write in Garamond font. Doesn’t feel right otherwise. As for reading, my wife would tell you that I have a book open in every room of the house. I kind of jump around, depending on which room I’m settling down in and which book catches my attention.
When you are not reading or writing, what are other things you enjoy doing?
Scott: Is there anything else worth doing?! Just kidding! I’m a big fan of sports. A lot of playing sports and watching them, although my old man knees are starting to protest the playing sports side of things. And like anyone else, I’m always trying to dive down into new TV shows and movies.
Rapid Fire Questions
Coffee or tea?
Scott: Coffee, all day.
Dogs or cats?
Favorite place to read?
Scott: A comfortable couch.
What types of books are in your reading wheelhouse?
Scott: Give me epic, larger-than-life stories set in other worlds. That’s where my heart is happiest.
What are some 2020 releases you are excited about?
Scott: Oh! Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi. Dear Justyce by Nic Stone. I’m really excited about both of those. I’m kind of hoping this is the year we get books from a few of the longer-standing series out there– such as Name of the Wind or GoT– but honestly I need to check out what else is coming. My friends are putting out some brilliant stuff, year in and year out, so I’ve always got something to read.
Lastly, where can our readers learn more about you and Ashlords?
Scott: Ashlords can be found anywhere fine books are sold, but I’d love for you to hit up your local, independent bookstore and ask them. As for me, feel free to look me up on Twitter or Instagram. I’ve also got a new website coming at itspronouncedrankin.com
What About You?
Do you have questions for Scott? Leave them in the comments and make sure to preorder your copy of Ashlords wherever books are sold!