Q&A with C. T. Rwizi, Author of Scarlet Odyssey

by Heather Caliendo
C.T. Rwizi interview - book club chat
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C. T. Rwizi is the author of Scarlet Odyssey, which will publish on July 1. 

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.

Here’s the synopsis: 

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.

Let’s get to know C.T. as he talks favorite novels, inspiration behind the story and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

Dune by Frank Herbert, House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, Pandora’s Star by Peter Hamilton – sprawling odysseys on a cosmic scale.

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I guess I’ve always known on a subconscious level. I always used to dream up stories with fantastical worlds and file them away somewhere inside my head. But it didn’t occur to me that I could write these stories down until after college, when I was looking for a creative outlet to relieve work-related stress. And the deeper I got into the writing process the more I knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What inspired you to write Scarlet Odyssey

Not one thing in particular; more like a series of things. Among them a traditional wedding I watched on TV, which opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t have to write about European settings; I could use my own culture, and cultures closer to home, as inspiration for my world building. I was also frustrated about the lack of African representation in the sci-fi-fantasy space, although thankfully, that is beginning to change.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

The awakening ceremony, when the main character receives his magical powers and a redhawk is seen for the first time. The redhawks are birds that live in space and can set themselves on fire like rockets to fly in and out of the atmosphere. They are one of my most favorite inventions in the whole book and I was shaking with excitement the whole time I was writing that scene.

What do you think are some of the key elements required for a well-crafted story?

They say write what you know, and to some extent, this is true. I would add: write what you feel. If it’s not making you, the author, feel something, then the reader probably won’t feel anything either.

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

I’m currently reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig, a sci-fi about a world-ending pandemic (it’s giving me goosebumps given the actual pandemic we’re facing right now) and The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken, a snazzy space opera starring a guy with a quantum mind. I intend to pick up N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, then I want to check out Tade Thompson’s Rosewater because I’ve been hearing good things about it.

Click here to buy Scarlet Odyssey on Amazon. 

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