Author Scott Reintgen Uplifts Wakefield Students


Reintgen holding his book, Nyxia

Last Friday, March 9, Scott Reintgen, author of the novel Nyxia, came to Wakefield to talk about his book and life as an author. Formerly an English teacher in Durham, North Carolina, Reintgen decided to pursue his lifelong dream of being a full-time author. He keeps a blog, entitled It’s Pronounced Rankin and also travels from school to school to talk about his passion for writing, and Wakefield was lucky enough to be one of these schools!

When I was a kid, I would go to bookstores, and I would run my finger down the book spines, and I would find the place where my book was supposed to go, and I would make a space there for it. Now, when I go into a bookstore, when I look, my book is there.

Reintgen’s sci-fi story, Nyxia, centers around Emmett Atwater from Detroit, Michigan, who accepts a deal to journey into space for three years in exchange for millions of dollars to be able to better support his struggling family. He boards the Genesis 11, only to find that the money is not guaranteed, and that he will be taking part in a competition with 9 other teenagers who need the money as desperately as he does. They compete in different events, and how they place in each event contributes to their total score, which is tallied and kept track of on a giant scoreboard. At the end of the competition, only those with the highest scores receive the promised amount of money.

The book is titled after the mysterious substance nyxia, which is creatively manipulatable, and takes your thoughts and shapes itself into that thought. However, as much as you control it, it controls you, and the competitors must learn to use it carefully.

During his visit, Reintgen had a Q&A portion of the discussion where curious students could ask their questions.

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

“I was a teacher, and I had a lot of students who were great readers, who loved books, but they had a hard time finding characters that they could relate to, that looked like they did. One of the reasons I was inspired to write Nyxia is because you deserve to see yourself on the page. You guys are interesting, fascinating people, and you have great characteristics and great stories to tell. Emmett, my main character, is based off of two of my students, and I kind of mixed and matched their personalities.”

Q: Was it hard to transition from being a teacher to a full-time author?

“I think the most difficult thing was that I missed my students. You can’t replace a semester-long relationship where you build and you learn together. Overall, the hardest transition was that, when you’re teaching, I’m interacting with lots of people. As a writer, you’re lone-wolfing it. You’re alone and you’re in your own head.”

Q: What advice would you give to a writer who is just starting out?

“The number one piece of advice I can give, and I know that this is frustrating advice, is just write. The best thing you can do at your age is carve out the time, and treat writing like it is something you really care about.”

Q: What do you do when you have writer’s block?

“I always tell young authors, if you are writing and you are having trouble getting words on the page, welcome to the world that the rest of us live in. I suggest breaking the task into small parts and taking it one piece at a time. Once you complete one small assignment, do another one, and then another. By the time you have written two or three, you develop a rhythm, and then you can dive back into your story.”

Q: Do you think that you can relate to any of the characters in your book?

“Definitely. They are in the middle of a huge competition, and while I have never been offered millions of dollars to fly into space, I am highly competitive. I like to win, and I like to be the best at whatever I’m doing. A lot of the characters feel that they need to win and go home the victor. I love that concept, so I definitely identify with a lot of the characters.”

During the talk portion of the visit, Reintgen gave an extremely passionate discourse on passion, when he said,“I had a life-change recently, and it’s not that I wrote a book, but that my wife and I had a baby boy named Henry. Before Henry was born, someone asked me, if I could give Henry one thing, what would it be? Without skipping a beat, I immediately answered that I would make him passionate. I think that writing is all about passion, and I hope for my son to be passionate, for myself to be passionate, and for you to be passionate.”

Reitgen got some laughs from the crowd. He pressed his advantage, “Let’s talk about LeBron James for a minute…what LeBron will sometimes do after he dunks the ball is he will let out this roar, and the announcer in that moment will say, ‘Wow, look at that passion.’ And I have a bone to pick with that announcer, because I don’t believe that that’s passion. Passion is not the slam dunk moment. Passion is everything that came before it. Passion is what you don’t see: the blood, the sweat, the work, the time, and the energy it takes to be the best at what you do.” This is an important point about passion; which is the misconception that if you have passion, you don’t have to work towards improvement. 

“When I was a kid, I would go to bookstores, and I would run my finger down the book spines, and I would find the place where my book was supposed to go, and I would make a space there for it. Now, when I go into a bookstore, when I look, my book is there.” 

If you enjoy books such as The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Hunger Games, or you enjoy science-fiction books in general, then the Nyxia series may be perfect for you. Though only the first book of the trilogy has been released, the sequel is scheduled to come out this July, with the third soon to follow in spring of 2019. The Wakefield Library currently has a copy of Nyxia, so check it out today!