Interview with Michael R. Schultheiss, Author of Ark of Ascension

26 Dec 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Ark of Ascension?

Let me begin by outing myself as an epic fantasy author who discovered Christopher Ruocchio’s Sun Eater and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and decided to branch into space opera! For all their differences, I admired how character-oriented both of those series are, and I went into Ark of Ascension with a desire to create a fast-paced, character-oriented action and adventure story with some fun and (I think) very trippy world-building! The other aspect of this is that I had just released books four and five of my epic fantasy series, The Rosteval Saga, and my wife challenged me to write a stand-alone (I failed: this is book 1 of a new series!) and a shorter book (and on that I succeeded!).

Another influence came from the fact that my wife and I were (and as of this writing, still are) anticipating the birth of our first child, a daughter. Facing parenthood is exhilarating and terrifying, and I wrote Ark of Ascension as a way to confront and try to reconcile with some of those feelings, particularly surrounding my upbringing in a very strict religious household and my own spiritual evolution as an adult. I’m happy with the result: this is a story that certainly takes religious fanaticism to task, but it’s also a celebration of the beauty and sense of wonder that religion can help us to find in the cosmos.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Ark of Ascension, what would they be?

For my protagonist, bounty huntress Evalla Taryu, I’d say something from Attack on Titan: “Guren No Yumiya” if she’s having a great day, and the OST featuring Mika Kobayashi if she’s having a hard day.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I’m an epic fantasy/sword & sorcery fan through and through, but I also enjoy space opera (of course!). I’m also partial to historical non-fiction.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

My TBR is a monster that never stops growing. Right now, I’m currently working on a re-read of The Warrior Prophet, by R. Scott Bakker, and I’ll continue the series with The Thousandfold Thought after that. I’m also reading The Blackest Heart by Brian Lee Durfee, and I’m planning to continue with The Lonesome Crown after that.

Funny thing, I’m also reading The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, and The Black Crown by John A. Douglas! In the new year, I plan to read Theft of Fire, by Devon Eriksen, as well as We Are the Dead by Mike Shackle, and The Hellborn King by Christopher G. Brenning.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

I’m going to have to go with the finale: I really enjoyed the action, as well as what it meant for Evalla’s character!

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I’m all quirky writing habits! First, I have to complete my workout before I can write, so that my mind is keen. Second, I drink regular coffee, followed by mushroom coffee (yes, really), from my special mugs that I put together on Shutterfly using promotional art from my books. And then third, I listen to melodic techno and progressive house mixes while I write! This one is really funny, because I’m actually a metal-head. Techno and house music mixes provide the right balance of mental stimulation so that I’m energized to write without being distracted by the music.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Take responsibility and seek excellence.

That’s the philosophy I used to rebuild my life in my late twenties to thirties, and now I have a beautiful wife, a daughter on the way, and a life brimming with meaning, purpose, and a sense of identity and belonging. I try to live in a way that honors my ancestors and the archetypal folk-spirit of my people.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

My hope is that they’ll gain an appreciation for the mystic sense of beauty and wonder that the religious-aesthetic mode of human experience grants us. We’ve lost sight of this core truth in modern times, but the ability to appreciate the transcendent is vital for lifting our spirits and giving them wings.


Michael R. Schultheiss is the author of the new book Ark of Ascension: A Space Opera Adventure

Connect with Michael R. Schultheiss

Author Site



Buy The Book

B0CNWMN9GL cover image

Buy The Book

Sign up for our email and we’ll send you the best new books in your favorite genres weekly.