ALKA CHELRAZI IS ON A MISSION:
1. Infiltrate Blackwater Academy
2. Win the Great Game
3. Burn Wizard society to the ground
As a child, Alka witnessed her parents’ brutal murder at the hands of Wizards before she was taken in by an underground rebel group.
Now, Alka is deep undercover at the most prestigious school of magic in the Republic: Blackwater Academy, a place where status is everything, where decadent galas end in blood-splattered duels, where every student has their own agenda. To survive, Alka will have to lie, cheat, kill, and use every trick in her spy’s toolkit. And for the first time in her life, the fiercely independent Alka will have to make friends in order to recruit the misfits and the outcasts into her motley rebellion.
But even as she draws closer to victory — to vengeance — she sinks deeper into danger as suspicious professors and murderous rivals seek the traitor in their midst, and dark revelations unravel her resolve. Can Alka destroy the twisted game…without becoming a part of it?
Q- When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
A- This is such a cliché, but the answer is always. I was very sick when I was younger, so I fell in love with stories and storytelling, vanishing into elaborate imaginary worlds. For as long as I can remember, I knew that telling stories was what I wanted to do.
Q- What’s your favorite genre to read?
A- It’s such a tough call, but fantasy is my first and deepest love. I love court intrigue and epic battles and the thrill of a sweeping new world. Also when people throw daggers. I love that.
Q- Where did you come up with the idea for It Ends in Fire?
A- My creative process involves having a million ideas whirling around in my head at all times, and then a Eureka! moment where I realize how to connect a few of them into a story. For a long time, I’ve wanted for a long time to write a story about an impostor in a magic school, someone cheating their way through on a stolen identity. But I didn’t have an actual frame for this idea until I was rambling to a friend in a bar about my gripes with the Sorting Hat, and how I think the only explanation for a system like that is if the school is explicitly trying to cultivate division and conflict. And as I said that, a lightbulb went off over my head as I connected these two ideas, and IT ENDS IN FIRE was born.
Q- Do you relate to the main character of your book in any way?
A- Alka’s frustration with systems of power and injustice stem directly from a lot of my personal political beliefs, especially during the Trump era. In terms of theme and ideology, this is actually a very personal book.
Q- Out of all the books that you’ve written, which one did you enjoy writing the most?
A- Honestly, every book I write feels better, stronger, and more enjoyable than the last one. So I’d say IT ENDS IN FIRE… until the next one.
Q- How was the process of writing and publishing a book during the pandemic different than before? Was it more difficult?
A- It was definitely much harder. My day job is at a video game company, and my ideal writing space was hanging out in the office after work, sipping a beer and writing while my coworkers play D&D next to me. It was much harder for me to write without a communal space like that, not to mention with all of the added emotional and psychological challenges of the past year.
Q- Is there anything that helps calm you during writing/makes the process better? (Like candles, music, etc.)
A- People. I’m a very social extrovert, and what really helps me find a great writing groove is having friends nearby, doing their own thing, just enough to hear the chatter and laughter of the group.
Andrew Shvarts is the author of the Royal Bastards trilogy. He has a BA in English Literature and Russian from Vassar College. He works for Pixelberry Studios, making mobile games like High School Story, Choices, and more. Andrew lives in San Jose, California, with his wife, son, and two cats.