Random House sent along an exclusive look at the trailer for N.D. Wilson’s young-adult series Ashtown Burials, starring Joel Courtney from J.J. Abrams’ Super 8. The second book in the series, The Drowned Vault is set to debut on September 11.
The Drowned Vault is:
The follow up to The Dragon’s Tooth picks up Antigone & Cyrus Smith a year later, giving original fans of the series much needed answers to the genealogy of the Smith siblings while launching new readers into the middle of Ashtown—a school controlled by a secret society known as the Order of Brendan, an ancient order of explorers that has long guarded the world’s secrets and treasures. They keep winged snakes, teach jet fighting techniques and have advanced classes in shark swimming.
While their studies have gone well, Cy and Tigs are not well liked since losing the Dragon’s Tooth to the nefarious Dr. Phoenix. The Tooth is the only object in the world capable of killing the long-lived transmortals, and Phoenix has been tracking them down one-by-one, and murdering them. The surviving transmortals, led by legendary warrior Gilgamesh of Uruk, descend on Ashtown in force, demanding justice. Cy and Tigs find themselves on the run in a desperate search to locate Phoenix and regain the Tooth. In the process, they uncover an evil even more dangerous than Phoenix, one that has been waiting for centuries to emerge.
I spoke with the book’s author, N.D. Wilson about The Drowned Vault and the possible (CINEMATIC?!) future of Ashtown Burials.
MTV Geek: For those who may not know, can you give us a quick overview of The Ashtown Burials?
N.D. Wilson: The Ashtown Burials series kicks off with The Dragon’s Tooth. Two kids have been stuck living in a roadside motel in Wisconsin for two years. One night, an old outlaw shows up to the motel with an unnatural gang on his heels. He gives the kids his keyring—with a black tooth on it—makes them read an oath in Latin, and then turns the motel into his own personal Alamo when the gang arrives. The motel goes up in flames, and the kids go on the run. The old outlaw was a member of an ancient Order of Explorers, and the Latin he made the kids read was an oath of initiation. They are now members of an Order they have never heard of, an Order that has spent centuries uncovering and collecting history’s dark secrets, and imprisoning the world’s worst undying villains in the deep Burials of a place called Ashtown. And what those kids now carry on an old man’s keyring, is something every one of those villains wants.
Geek: Who are Antigone and Cyrus?
NDW: Cyrus and Antigone Smith are the two kids living in the motel. Cyrus is the kind of kid who has never cared what anyone else thinks and has always gotten into unique trouble in school (sneaking into the ceiling, for example). He’s also not afraid to mouth off to anyone. Antigone, his older shorter sister, is the only one who can out mouth him. She shoots movies on an antique camera, is tidy and organized, and is the only reason Cyrus hasn’t gotten into a lot more trouble. They are the children of a former Explorer of the Order who met their mother trekking deep into a hidden city in northern Brazil. Cyrus and Antigone are always making fun of each other, are willing to defy dumb authorities, and have each other’s backs no matter what.
Geek: Where are Cy and Tigs when we meet back up with them in The Drowned Vault?
NDW: Without giving too much away for those who haven’t read The Dragon’s Tooth, The Drowned Vault opens with Cyrus and Antigone in training. They are now more than a little famous within the Order (for things they’ve done right and even more things they’ve done wrong), they have some extremely serious enemies, and they are uncovering the very old (and dark) history of their own family.
Geek: How have they grown or changed since the end of The Dragon’s Tooth?
Geek: Who are the villains in the story?
NDW: On one hand, there is Edwin Laughlin (aka “Phoenix”), a man who is part sorcerer and part scientist with plans for a redesigned humanity, power over life and death, and the complete extermination of the Order. And he hates the Smiths on a deep personal level…
On the other hand, Cyrus and Antigone have angered some old and powerful “allies” of the Order, who are arriving in Ashtown with some strong opinions on whether or not any Smiths should be allowed to continue breathing.
Geek: Who or what are the “transmortals”?
The transmortals are people who have beaten death—heroes, explorers, sorcerers, or hybrids of the three. Most are bound by treaties to the Order, the worst were bound in Burials centuries ago, and some have remained hidden and untreatied. The overwhelming majority of them are not fans of the Smiths.
Geek: Can you talk a bit about combining magical, mythical and historical storytelling, while keeping it grounded and relatable?
NDW: I want all my stories to remain located in the real world that we can recognize around us. So my settings for this series are gritty Americana—truck stops, diners, barns—places readers can relate to. It’s also important to write anything magical and mythical in a realistic style, describing scenes and creatures in terms of the reader’s five senses. Strong physical descriptions enable readers to experience scenes in knee-bouncing, nail-biting, skin-chilling ways.
Geek: How many books are planned in the Ashtown series?
Geek: Do you have any plans to expand the story/characters from Ashtown into other media?
NDW: I’m excited to say, we’ve partnered with a major producer on these books, but those details are still under wraps for a couple more weeks!
Geek: What is the biggest thing you hope readers will take away from The Drowned Vault?
NDW: I want readers to connect with Cyrus and Antigone on their journey, to know them, grow with them, and to close the book with their hearts pounding.
The Drowned Vault comes out September 11.
Visit AshtownBurials.com for more.