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Joel Courtney, the promising young star of Super 8, is featured in a brand new, action-filled trailer, but this clip isn’t for the next big Hollywood blockbuster. It’s for a book.

N.D. Wilson, author of the popular young-adult 100 Cupboards trilogy, asked his hometown friend for a little help to launch his next book, the first in a projected five-part series titled Ashtown Burial #1: The Dragon’s Tooth (out Aug. 23). Both Wilson and Courtney hail from Moscow, Idaho (Courtney currently goes to school with the author’s kids), which provided the inspiration for The Dragon’s Tooth’s blue-collar Americana setting. When it came time to make a promotional trailer — which Wilson himself wrote, produced and directed — Courtney was an ideal and convenient choice to star. In the exclusive video preview, Courtney plays Cyrus, a wayward and rebellious boy who joins a fantastical group of explorers in adventures far beyond the run-down motel he and his sister, Antigone, call home.

Check out a cinematic first look at Ashtown Burials #1: The Dragon’s Tooth and a Q&A with N.D. Wilson below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your goal with Ashtown Burials?

N.D. WILSON: The book is down-home Americana meets global fantasy and adventure. 100 Cupboards definitely came from the same headwaters. With Ashtown Burials, I wanted to be kind of less shiny and wistful, farmhouses and barns. This time it’s truck-stop diners, truck-stop motels.

Tell us a little bit about your hero, Cyrus.

Cyrus is basically a good kid, but he shuts in on himself. He doesn’t spill his emotions. He’s pretty raw from his life experiences, but it’s not something he’s ever going to go get help for or talk about. He kind of channels it into independence and a little bit of a bad-boy vibe. This is a kid who will get his papers back from school and sink them in the pasture stream and not show his family. His grades are better than they think they are because he’s not actually a bad student. He doesn’t care what people think. He doesn’t need other people, at least as far as they can tell.

What was it like directing a trailer for your own book?

It was a lot of fun, obviously, but I had to focus on what I could achieve in a book trailer. Normally with a film trailer, you’re going to shoot your whole stinking movie, pull great moments from it and piece it together. I had to shoot the trailer and nothing else.

Do you have much experience in film?

I love all stories, so getting involved with screenwriting and the film side of things was great. Once I have a manuscript written and I’m waiting on my editor, I’m always working on a screenplay concept or a story treatment for a film or other things like that. I’ve done short films before, but nothing like this.

How was it working with Joel?

I thought he was a great kid with a lot of talent, but he really surprised me. In Super 8, he plays a very distinctive and memorable character, but I thought it was really close to home and an easy character for him to be. Watching him shift gears into a kind of punkish, confident bad-boy for this trailer was really fun. He did it with ease.

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