Friday, September 8, 2023

Q&A with Kacy Ritter


Photo by Tasha Gorel



Kacy Ritter is the author of the new middle grade novel The Great Texas Dragon Race. Also a healthcare professional, she lives in Houston.


Q: What inspired you to write The Great Texas Dragon Race, and how did you create your character Cassidy?

A: The inspiration for this tall Texas tale came from a blend of two things near and dear to my heart: my love for fantastical creatures and the wild beauty of our natural world. Weaving modern life with the enchantment of dragons seemed like such a fun task... and the Lone Star State felt like such an appropriate setting.


As for Cassidy, she waltzed into my imagination with a swagger and spirit as big as Texas itself. When I first imagined a young girl in red cowboy books speed-racing a dragon across West Texas skies, Cassidy's "voice" immediately popped into my head.


Unlike other characters I'd written before, often in third-person perspective, she had so much grit that I was desperate to see her story through.

Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Cassidy and Ranga, the dragon?

A: In many ways, Ranga is a foil to Cassidy. Even though Ranga can't talk, they have a lot in common. Both love to race, are smaller than most kids/dragons their age, and understand each other in a way many dragons and their riders don't.


But Cassidy is bold and fierce, even when it gets her into trouble. On the other hand, Ranga is a traumatized dragon who truly fears the world around her. While this causes conflict during the race, it is ultimately one of the things that makes Cassidy care for Ranga so profoundly.

Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, in part, "Through Cassidy's joyful and indomitable first-person voice, Ritter organically examines themes of privilege, financial inequality, and ecological conservation." What do you think of that description?

A: The description from Publishers Weekly surely warms my heart! I hope readers will experience, through Cassidy's words and spirit, a few critical messages about privilege, the gap between "haves and have-nots," and a call to protect our world's natural wonders.


While these may not always be themes we think of when we imagine Texas stories, I'm honored that Publishers Weekly understood that these ideas fueled the high-stakes race for many characters in the story.

Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: I had an idea of how I wanted to end the story, but the path to get there was uncertain. So, in an effort to leave this blog "spoiler-free," I'll stop right there before I say too much. ;)

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm currently working on another middle grade contemporary fantasy set in—you guessed it—Texas. Tentatively called "The Marfa Monster Mystery," this tale is about a group of kids who try to save their monster community from the local human skeptics.


Featuring half-sirens, chupacabras, and fangtastic mystery, I hope it will give young readers a touch of the unknown. The novel is set to release from HarperCollins Children's in 2025.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I'd love to sincerely thank the readers, educators, booksellers, and librarians who've supported The Great Texas Dragon Race thus far. I can't help but get a tad political, so I'll say: read banned books, challenge rules that take power away from educators, support indie bookshops, and arm librarians with the resources to keep their shelves stocked with windows, mirrors, and sliding doors.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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