C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave. Scarlet Odyssey is his debut novel.
Follow him on Twitter: @c.t.rwizi
Why I Wrote SCARLETT ODYSSEY by C.T. Rwizi
I’ve always enjoyed reading books in the genre, and I’d find myself dreaming up my own stories in my free time, wishing I had an outlet to bring them out of my head. For the longest time it never occurred to me that I could simply write these stories on paper and attempt to publish them like every other writer.
I didn’t even think being a writer was an option for me. Writing isn’t a profession many people pursue where I live—I’d say the same is true for many African societies—and I carried that same mentality with me. I knew several doctors and engineers and managers, but I knew no one who’d written fiction, let alone fantasy or science fiction, and gotten published.
It wasn’t until I’d graduated college and I was back in South Africa, sitting at home after a day at work, that I—for some reason I can’t explain or remember—settled in front of a computer screen and started writing. The first story I wrote wasn’t Scarlet Odyssey. It was a fantasy starring a white-ish guy in a pseudo-medieval European-ish setting. It wasn’t very good, and I wasn’t enamored of it, but I wrote it because I believed it was what fantasy was supposed to look like and what readers wanted to read. There was a formula, and I was trying to fit my story and characters into it.
Then I saw her. She was a bride dressed in traditional Xhosa attire on the TV screen at my uncle’s house where I was visiting. Every Sunday, my uncle’s wife watches this wedding program that features weddings from all over South Africa. There are usually two ceremonies—one with the suits and the white dress and the priest, and a more traditional African affair the next day. I saw her just as she stepped out of a car on her second day to the sound of music and cheers, and I remember thinking: wow, I wish I could write a story with her as a character.
And I remember thinking: But who said I can’t?
I immediately reached for my journal and wrote down a description of her, how she made me feel, how stunning she looked in her attire, how proud of her heritage she was—she and everyone around her—and rightly so. I later used that description for the Yerezi queen when she makes her first appearance in my novel.
That was the initial spark, the inspiration that unshackled me from the formula, unleashed my creativity and led me to the story of Scarlet Odyssey.
Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi
(Scarlet Odyssey #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Expected Publication: July 1, 2020
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Magic is women’s work; war is men’s. But in the coming battle, none of that will matter.
Men do not become mystics. They become warriors. But eighteen-year-old Salo has never been good at conforming to his tribe’s expectations. For as long as he can remember, he has loved books and magic in a culture where such things are considered unmanly. Despite it being sacrilege, Salo has worked on a magical device in secret that will awaken his latent magical powers. And when his village is attacked by a cruel enchantress, Salo knows that it is time to take action.
Salo’s queen is surprisingly accepting of his desire to be a mystic, but she will not allow him to stay in the tribe. Instead, she sends Salo on a quest. The quest will take him thousands of miles north to the Jungle City, the political heart of the continent. There he must gather information on a growing threat to his tribe.
On the way to the city, he is joined by three fellow outcasts: a shunned female warrior, a mysterious nomad, and a deadly assassin. But they’re being hunted by the same enchantress who attacked Salo’s village. She may hold the key to Salo’s awakening—and his redemption.