Today I’m thrilled to be sharing an interview with debut author Andrew Shvarts. His novel Royal Bastards is action-packed, suspenseful, and will keep you on your toes the entire time. Keep reading to learn where the idea for Royal Bastards came from and which Hogwarts houses Andrew thinks his characters would be in:
Where did the idea for Royal Bastards come from?
Interestingly enough, I didn’t so much have an idea for Royal Bastards, so much as I had two totally different stories I was working on. One was a ‘teens on the run’ contemporary thriller, about five teens from different cliques who witness a homicide and become fugitives to clear their names. The other was more of a world-building exercise, an attempt at capturing the violence and intrigue of Game of Thrones in an explicitly YA setting. Then one day, while going back and forth on them, I had an epiphany: these two ideas were actually the same story! I combined them together, and Royal Bastards was born.
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing Royal Bastards?
I am the pantsiest pantser who ever pantsed. When I start a book, I usually know very roughly how it’ll end, and a few cool scenes I want to hit on the way. And then I start from the beginning and just write, filling in all the details along the way. This means that I usually have no idea what the middle of my book is, and also that by the end time I get to the end, it’s changed completely from what I’d originally planned. My original vision of the end of Royal Bastards didn’t have either of the two big twists; those just organically came up as I wrote it.
I absolutely loved the band that Tilla and her crew form. What did you enjoy most about writing their adventures?
I think the whole group banter scenes, where the five of them are just hanging out, talking, joking, were my favorite. They’re so fun to write, and I made myself laugh-out-loud a dozen times with these scenes. I also really liked the character development the characters all go through, and finding how their group adventure pushes all of them out of their comfort zones, helping them grow and change.
I enjoyed how action-packed this book is, but I imagine it’s difficult to keep up that kind of pace for an entire novel. What did you find most challenging while writing?
Actually, the action scenes were the easiest for me to write! As a kid who grew up watching every VHS in the Action section at Blockbuster (did I just date myself?), I absolutely love action scenes, and could spend all day cranking them out. It’s the downtime scenes, the quiet moments, that are the most challenging.
If you could spend a day with a character from Royal Bastards, who would it be and why?
It’d have to be Tilla. She’s basically the perfect best friend: funny, bold, and loyal, a friend who’d make you laugh your ass off during a drinking game and be ready to have your back the second some jerk insulted you.
If you sorted Tilla, Miles, Jax, Zell, and Lyriana into Hogwarts houses, where do you think they would end up?
Tilla: Gryffindor, but perpetually in danger of being expelled
Miles: Slytherin, convinced he should have been Gryffindor
What were your favorite books when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
As a teen, I was obsessed with Stephen King, especially The Stand and the Dark Tower (though I definitely devoured everything else he wrote too). What I think drew me in was his balance of the amazing and the mundane, the way he’d write totally grounded characters and then throw them into a completely fantastic or horrifying scenario, and see how they reacted. I also discovered George R. R. Martin towards the end of my teens, and he completely reshaped how I understood fantasy; the influence on Royal Bastards there should be pretty clear.
The ending of Royal Bastards leaves us with plenty action still to come for Tilla, Zell, Lyriana, and Miles. Can you give us a hint about book two?
Hmmmm, I should be very careful with what I say because the book is still being revised, but I’m very excited about it. Let me just tease by saying the structure of the story is very different from book 1… we learn a lot more about the city of Lightspire and the nature of magic… and there’s an act of violence in it that might be my favorite I’ve ever written.
About the book:
Tilla resents being a bastard. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children. At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half-brother, Jax. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting Princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is manipulated into taking the princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness. Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery. The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time, and survive the journey . . .
About the author:
ANDREW SHVARTS is has a BA in English Literature and Russian from Vassar College. He works for Pixelberry Studios as a designer, making mobile games like High School Story, Choices, and more. Andrew lives in San Jose, California, with his wife, toddler, and two kittens. Visit him online at andrewshvarts.com and on Twitter @Shvartacus.
Royal Bastards is on shelves now!