2022 marks the year that Hexael Rivera accomplished his dream of becoming a published author. The full-time educator and student, who idolizes J. R. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), has loved storytelling and world-building since his youth. This past summer he released The Intricate Code, the first book in his steampunk fantasy series Mysteries of Sirlionheart (illustrated by Phrygian Bayona). His literature is targeted towards readers of course, and certainly non-readers. When asked why he thinks it is necessary to engage reluctant readers in literature he had this to say to SBC:

“I think that books for as long as time in history have been a very sacred way to not just share information, but to share stories. And stories are what get us out of that comfort zone whether it’s Marvel or Disney or Lord of the Rings or anything like that. Stories become very essential to our own characters.” 

In The Intricate Code, readers are introduced to protagonist Richard Lionheart, who is described as brilliant yet eccentric. He is a young mystery solver who like other characters in the book must navigate the corruption of The Rotto, the capital city Montilan. Corruption is in fact a big theme in the novel and he would like for his book to spur conversations about it.

“I think one thing a lot of steampunk writers have sort of missed the mark on is making steampunk feel real,” the ESL paraprofessional says. “As much as it is a fantasy and there’s fantastical things happening and otherworldly stuff happening in Mysteries of Sir Lionheart, the main characters are still human. So corruption plays a really big part because everyone in power has a chance at being corrupt.”

Check out the full interview to learn more about Rivera including his foray into writing; how self-publishing can uniquely benefit a writer; his love for music and how it inspires him as a storyteller (he even composed his own pieces for Sir Lionheart); overcoming imposter’s syndrome; the relationships he’s observed his students have with reading; his thoughts on some of the misconceptions of writing a book, and more! For more information, you can connect with Rivera on Instagram.

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