The second installment of Wonderbound’s (Vault’s young readers’ imprint) Wrassle Castle is set to debut this week, continuing the story of Lydia’s journey to becoming a professional wrassler and saving her older brother.

Wrassle Castle Book 2: Riders On The Storm, the second part of the three-volume series, is written by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin and features art by Galaad. Colorist Rebecca Horner and letterer Jeff Powell round out the creative team. 

Coover and Tobin chatted with the Beat about the upcoming graphic novel releasing on February 23 (February 22 via Simon Schuster for the book market).

Deanna Destito: Book 1 set us up with a big journey for Lydia. How will readers see her growth in this second volume to not only becoming a better wrassler, but also a hero?

Paul Tobin: In this volume, Lydia learns that being a hero is not a single act, it’s not an isolated moment or solitary incident: it’s a grind. It’s a series of acts. It’s a direction you face, and it’s the hardest direction and one where you will have to take continual steps. Luckily, she’s also learning that the journey gets easier when it’s not alone, when there’s friends at your side. Also, she talks to a cat a lot. 

Colleen Coover: Lydia is beginning her formal career as a wrassler by competing in the Great Wrasslin’ Tournament, and she is able to bond with her wrasslin’ peers who share her dreams of greatness for the first time. She’s really excited and thrilled about that, both for the sake of achieving her own wrasslin’ ambitions and also as a means to help her brother John get out of prison. But one of her friends is endangered, which forces Lydia to decide whether her goals of winning and freeing John are more important than helping her friend. She has to decide what sort of person she wants to be!

Destito: The book is great at touching on everyday issues that young readers are probably facing themselves. Why is it important to include things like family issues, friendships, relationships, etc. in a book like this?

Tobin: I’ve always felt that characters in any work, whether it’s movies or television or novels or in my own field of comics, should be multifaceted. They should have more than one goal. More than one concern. And they should have a life. They should be a world unto themselves, just like we all are in real life. And, just like real life, there’s more things going on around us than the “big issue.” By giving characters (and the worlds they live in) more depth, I care about them more, and that means I care more about their stories. I always want to know if and how the good guys are going to win, but I also want to know which characters can eat spaghetti without making a mess, and if they’re going to be the first one to grab the karaoke microphone. 

Coover: It’s important to give life to Lydia as a character, and to make her and her world a place the reader can recognize and live in for a time. She has conflicts with her parents about what she wants to do with her life. She has a friend who likes her and she kind of likes him back but figuring that out is scary. Some of the people she meets are mean just for the sake of being jerks. Some of the people she meets are nice, but she’s in direct competition with them. These are all things every reader can recognize and relate to, so the over-the-top adventure is more thrilling by contrast.

Destito: What was your favorite scene in this installment? (If you can reveal without sharing spoilers, of course)

Tobin: Ooo, such a hard choice! I mean, this volume has the first appearance of Mystery Chicken! Shouldn’t THAT be my favorite scene? Or maybe it’s Lydia’s bout with the Scoundrel Prince? Lydia’s growing friendship with wrasslers like Catapaula and Macie? Maybe it’s when the Wrassling tournament becomes “open city,” so that contestants are ambushing each other in the streets? All in all, I think my final choice is when one of Lydia’s friends is kidnapped, and Lydia has to literally fight a storm (with the help of a new character, Waveripper Jones) to save her. 

Coover: There’s a lot of rain and an old boat in my favorite scene.

Destito: What can readers of all ages get from reading these books?

Tobin: A sense of adventure and whimsy, but grounded in friendship and family. I hope readers of any age will see Lydia and many of the other characters as friends. Well, okay, decidedly odd friends, but those are the most interesting friends to have!

Coover: ​​We never don’t want the reader to have fun! There’s a lot of sock ‘em up action, but the world we created gives the story a lot more to enjoy than just a series of wrasslin’ bouts. We’ve got political intrigue and danger, as well as some humor and just a pinch of romance!

Destito: If you were to continue writing in this universe, which character would you choose to focus on for a new adventure?

Tobin: I’d probably stick with Lydia as the main character! I’d love to see her further develop and reach adulthood, and what that would mean with her character, and to her group of friends. Failing that, I’d say…Chelsea? In some ways, she has the most growing to do. She’s a great friend to others, but not as great a friend to herself, and that would be interesting to explore!

Coover: Lydia is definitely our main focus in this world, and her circle of friends are always going to be a part of her story. But I could see exploring one of the many, many side characters, like one of the other wrasslers in the tournament, or even Lydia’s nieces, the daughters of John and Greg Gator-Chomp!

Wrassle Castle Book 2: Riders On The Storm debuts this week. Ahead of the release, check out preview pages below!