This September, debut author Scott Reintgen is taking YA literature to new galaxies with Nyxia! The debut novel follows Emmett Atwater, one of ten teens plucked out of poverty to take part in a top secret mission to another planet by the mysterious Babel Corporation. The company will make the teens and their families rich, but only after they survive a rigorous competition will leave some of the trainees in the dust.
Nyxia has been getting rave reviews and in the midst of it all, Scott Reintgen graciously took the time to write a post for us about his favorite influences and how they molded him into a writer. Take a look!
On Inspiration and Writing Your Own Story
When I visit schools there’s one question that I always stumble on: “Which authors influenced your writing?”
I think I have so much difficulty answering that question because, at this point in my life as a reader, all of those influences have blended and merged into one colossal statue. And writing is really just the process of climbing up that statue of inspiration, standing on its shoulders, and writing on a wall I couldn’t have reached without the work of those who came before me.
I do want to try and answer the question, though, so I decided to take my inspiration statue apart, examine its pieces, and walk you through the brilliant authors who shaped my writing.
It starts—as it does for so many—with a young wizard and his lightning-shaped scar. In middle school I wasn’t much of a reader. I flipped through a sports biography here or there, but actual works of fiction? No thanks. I remember our 7th grade teacher coming into class and collapsing in her chair one morning. She looked exhausted.
“Sorry, everyone,” she said. “I stayed up all night trying to finish Harry Potter.”
What. A. Nerd. Reading books all night? That wasn’t cool!
At least it wasn’t cool until 2007, when I started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at midnight and refused to sleep until I finished it. Rowling captured me. I could not escape the adventure, the magic of her world, and the chance to become best friends with that unforgettable trio at Hogwarts.
If Rowling made me a reader, then George R.R. Martin made me a writer.
I read the first thirty pages of A Game of Thrones without breathing. If I did pause, it was to read a particularly good sentence over and over again. I devoured all five of his books in just a few months. I realized I wanted to write and I wanted to write like this.
After those two foundational pieces were in place, I started adding other parts to my statue of writing inspiration Every book became—not just an enjoyable adventure—but a chance to find new tools for my arsenal as a writer. Rothfuss taught me how to juxtapose wild beauty with inevitable disaster. Hobb ran a master class on character relationships. Jemisin opened me to a new perspective on how we frame our stories. Delaney taught me to question whose story I was telling and why. Jordan demanded that I appreciate the scope of my worlds. Bardugo urged me to count the costs for each character. Lu and Brown pushed me to make the action in my stories thunder. Abercrombie put a blade to my throat and demanded blood.
These names—and so many more—formed the statue of writing and reading in my life. It was easy to stand on their shoulders and start writing stories. The hard part, though, was learning to write those stories in my own way, in my own handwriting.
The first work I started writing after college was about a family, set in a medieval castle, being pressed on all sides by potential enemies. Sound familiar? Like the exact plot of A Game of Thrones?
The very first book I finished and submitted to agents focused on a young boy at a magical school who was learning to balance friendship and expectations. Sound familiar? Like the exact plot of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
In both cases, I wrote books in the handwriting of other authors. I was standing on the shoulders of my inspirational statue, using the tools that they’d given me, but I hadn’t quite figured out yet how to write my own stories in my own way.
Enter Nyxia. I wrote the first chapter on a writing retreat and handed it to a member of my writing group. Thirty minutes later he met with me on the porch of his cabin and said, “This is the book you’re going to get published.” Agents agreed. Just four months later, I had 8 offers of representation. Two months after that, we held an auction to sell the trilogy to eager publishers.
So what changed?
As early reviews come in, Nyxia is being compared to a lot of books. Some of the in-space competitions will evoke Ender’s Game. I’ve heard people say certain scenes reminded them of Red Rising and some of the cutthroat battles between teens might lean readers toward The Hunger Games. I’m actually thrilled to hear those comparisons, because those are well-loved books that have influenced me as an artist.
Certainly there are shades of those books and many others in my work, but I also know that Nyxia was the first book that I wrote in my own handwriting.
I’m thankful for all the names and all the authors whose shoulders I stood on to get here. Those titans in the literary world taught me invaluable lessons, lifted me up to a height I could not have reached without them. But once I was up there, standing in front of that wall with a pen in hand, the most important lesson was to learn how to write my stories in my handwriting, a lesson I’m sure they all had to learn when they wrote their own brilliant books.
But this book? This book has my name on the cover. I’m the only person who could have written Nyxia. So I sat down and wrote the hell out of it.
My greatest hope now is that Nyxia becomes a stone in your statue. I offer my shoulders freely. Stand on them for as long as you need to write your own stories in your own way.
I’ll be waiting to read them.
NYXIA BOOK INFO
Nyxia hits bookshelves on September 12, 2017. You can preorder it via
Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million | IndieBound
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden–a planet that Babel has kept hidden–where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
Are you ready to join Emmett and the Genesis 11 crew on their journey? We’re teaming up with Random House to offer THREE lucky winners a copy of Nyxia. Enter to win via the Rafflecopter widget below!
Per the publisher, this contest is open to US residents only.