Author Scott Reintgen came to Riverside on Tuesday, October 16 to talk with students about his book.
A former English teacher, Reintgen student-taught English 2 at Riverside for one semester in 2012 before teaching full-time at Jordan High School the following year. In his classroom, he had a bookcase full of fiction novels. One day a student came up to him and asked about the collection of novels.
“There just aren’t any characters that look like me,” this student said.
When he looked for books that were focused around students of color, he found few. As a result, he decided to make his own. Two months later he had a book deal to write a trilogy based on his first book Nyxia. The book debuted in the top 5% of book deals.
“My main source of inspiration was my students,” Reintgen said.
Nyxia is a science fiction novel based in space. The main character is Emmett Atwater, who lives in Detroit and is desperate to find a way to support his family. When an opportunity to make millions presents itself, Emmett doesn’t think twice. Throughout the story, Emmett makes new friends who he must compete with to win the multi-million dollar prize.
“My book is for the front row sleepers, and the back row dreamers,” Reintgen said.
One special attribute of Nyxia is its main character: Emmett is a young African American male. Reintgen knew it would be a challenge to write through the eyes of a black teenage male. While writing the book, he frequently asked his students at Jordan to read parts of the book, proofing the actions and characteristics of Emmett.
“I don’t know if comfortable is the right word for how I felt,” he said. “I got more comfortable writing through the eyes of Emmett as the book went on, but you can never get it right. The more you write, the more empathetic you become to other people’s situations.”
Before addressing Riverside’s entire freshman class, he talked to a few who had already read his book. One of the biggest questions was if there was going to be a book or movie for Nyxia. The answer was no.
“Give yourself room to be creative, it’s exceptionally fun to not be normal,” Reintgen said.
One student asked him if he writes with regard to the world around him.
“I have to be honest with what I see. Our generation really messed the world up, but I hope it’s going to be fixed by all of you.”