This month I had the opportunity to return to my favorite independent bookstore, Kepler’s, to celebrate the launch of the new fantasy debut by Andrew Shvarts, Royal Bastards. Pitched as “Game of Thrones meets the Breakfast Club,” it focuses on a teenage group of -you guessed it- royal bastards. Since I consider myself a second-hand Game of Thrones fan (Max is an expert on all things A Song of Ice and Fire) I’m excited to dive into this seemingly accessible YA high fantasy novel!
Andrew was in conversation with Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper, and she was a fantastic moderator! She was super funny in such a natural way and really kept the conversation flowing. After her conversation with Andrew and questions from the audience, I was fortunate enough to be the second person in the signing line and got a fantastic photo with both Andrew and Tara. To top it off, they were giving out Ring Pops in the line! (I loooove Ring Pops and basically any type of lollipop-esque candy was totally my jam as a child).
Fun Facts and Interesting Insights from Andrew and Tara’s conversation:
- Andrew was born in Russia and moved to the US when he was a child.
- Andrew is an improvisational writer. He doesn’t outline, he’s what’s known as a “pantser” (when one writes by the seat of their pants). He usually has a few scenes planned out and nothing else and starts with chapter one and wings it.
- Andrew works in the video game industry as a writer. He noted that the hardest part of writing for video games is that it’s hard giving up control at the end of the process, it’s like building a house for someone else and facilitating the experience for them.
- Andrew describes his books as a bit of an “RPG party”- there’s a warrior, a scholar, a mage princess, etc.
- There are two big twists at the end of the book and neither of them were initially planned by him. They caught him off guard while he was writing.
- The world building wasn’t clear to him at the beginning of writing the book and took shape during the writing process. The setting ended up being reflective of the Pacific Northwest.
- Andrew enjoys fantasy novels that combine the tropes of the genre with really grounded, realistic characters that readers can relate to.
- Royal Bastards is the first book in a trilogy. Andrew just finished the rough draft of the sequel. The sequel has elements of both a mystery and a political thriller.
- The original working title for the book was The Bastard Table. When he sold it to Disney he assumed that they’d want him to change it for ~obvious reasons~ and while they did, it was because they took issue with the word “table,” thinking it was too boring. They didn’t have reservations about the word “bastard” at all.