MK Reed Talks Magic and Machines

Rewind 100 years ago and the society of the time would regard much of what we call modern technology as magic. Creators MK Reed (Americus), Brian Smith (Stuff of Legend), and Molly Ostertag (Strong Female Protagonist) take the concept of magic vs technology and wrap it up in a brilliant young adult adventure. Featuring three apprentice mages, Charris, Trinh, and Ursa, the trio is sent to a neighboring guild to help but instead reignite a decades-old war with a robot army that has destroyed the world. 

Now in its second volume, the team has found themselves able to work together and are on a journey back to the village of Clifton to reunite with their guild. Author MK Reed talked with us about the series and how it relates to the young adult audience.

The Castoffs Volume 2 (978-1-941302-32-3, $12.99) from Lion Forge is scheduled to release October 24. For more information on the Castoffs series, see below.

Castoffs Volume 1
9781941302279, $12.99
Release Date: 4/11/2017
Castoffs Volume 2
9781941302323, $12.99
Release Date: 10/24/17

Castoffs Volume 3
9781941302736, $12.99
Release Date:4/24/2018

Ashley Kronsberg: For those who are not familiar, can you give us some background on Castoffs? What inspired you to start writing this series?

MK Reed: My editor asked me to pitch something for kids with girls & magic, and I came up with the characters, while my co-writer Brian Smith came up with the world. It sort of synched up that my characters’ magic powers would work really well against the villains he had in mind, and we combined our writing forces! I was really excited to write about teen girls who are starting to figure out how to use their talents to become powerful, it’s the kind of story I always loved when I was little. 

Ashley Kronsberg: Hot off the battles from volume 1, a group of Mage killing machines known as “The Surrogates” have been awoken. How does this new threat change or expand the characters of our main cast?

MK Reed: More mages get introduced in the next volume, and we see more different kinds of magic in use. Charris, Ursa & Trinh start to figure out where they rank in the mage world, and begin a friendly rivalry with a team a little older than they are. And they start to become better friends and appreciate each other’s talents, even though it’s hard to put aside their differences. 

Ashley Kronsberg: Without giving away all your secrets, what inspired the name of the Mage killing machines? What is the significance of their resurgence in a town that seemed to never exist?

MK Reed: The Surrogate was created by non-magic using humans to fight mages. They’ve been thought to be gone for a generation, before the girls see them appear in the middle of the desert. 

Ashley Kronsberg: Castoffs is written with a young reader audience in mind. Was this intentional from the beginning? How are the threats and conflicts dealt with in the series important plots for younger readers to be a part of in story-telling?

MK Reed: Yes, although I think we might skew a little bit between middle grade and YA, there’s some parts that might be a little scary for younger or sensitive readers. There’s a lot of feelings processing and teamwork talk going on in the middle of this robot apocalypse, sussing out what makes these mages human. A lot of the fight initially is the girls trying to work together effectively, and trying to listen to each other. 

Ashley Kronsberg: Finally, do you have a favorite cast member among the Mages? If so, who is it and why?

MK Reed: Maybe Charris, she’s the most fun to have make bad and/or impulsive decisions. 



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