J. Scott Savage Q & A and GIVEAWAY!
For the second part of the “Find Your Magic” Farworld Blog Tour, I’ve got a Q&A with the author himself, J. Scott Savage! (cue cymbals and curtain!)
F: To start, I’d like to say thank you for giving me the chance to read and review your novel! Writing young adult fantasy in a post-Harry Potter world has got to be challenging, but I thought Water Keep was a fun, enjoyable, and original read.
JSS: Thanks! I like your review a lot. You were right about the back story. I wanted to include more on the Dark Circle in book 1, but was already long for a first YA book at nearly 109k words. Much more on the Dark Circle in Book 2. They definitely have a plan for Farworld and maybe earth as well. Tried to hint a little at some ulterior motives by Bonesplinter.
F: Excellent. For the location for this Q&A, if we’re going by current conditions, I suppose we should be huddled in the basement, listening to tornado sirens, but that’s no fun. How about drinking mango smoothies in Hawaii?
JSS: First of all, let me say that while huddling in a basement with someone named fyrefly actually sounds pretty darn intriguing—even if tornado sirens are going off. But I’ve got to admit, Hawaii is pretty great this time of year. I could eat pineapple and drink mango smoothies all day. I really could.
F: It’s less intriguing when you realize that the basement is flooding from all of the thunderstorms, let me tell you… and some time on the beach sounded pretty appealing. Okay, let’s get going with the questions. First up: What does the J. stand for? Or, if you’d rather, what do you think the J. should stand for?
JSS: As far as the J it should stand for something cool like Justice or Jumping. Jumping Scott Savage, he’s a gas, gas, gas. But it just stands for Jeff. Unfortunately Jeff Savage is the author of about 100 kids sports books, effective ruining that name for the rest of us Jeff Savages.
F: Fair enough. What’s one book that people would be surprised to hear that you really loved?
JSS: I may be the only person on Earth who loved Grapes of Wrath. I’ve read it probably a dozen times. Of course maybe I am just hoping it will end differently the next time I read it. You know, they all get good jobs, the car runs well, and it turns out the dust bowl was more hype than reality so everyone gets their farms back.
F: I’ll admit, I’ve never actually read it, probably because my high school lit teacher was too busy assigning us really eclectic stuff and never really got around to most of the classics. I’m working to remedy that. Okay, how about one book that you feel like you should have liked but you didn’t?
JSS: Oh, wow, the second question is really setting myself up for a firing squad here. I should say something like all the works of Shakespeare just to create a little controversy. I’ll go with something almost as sacrilegious and say that I thought HP Book 7 was not nearly as good as it could have been. I won’t say I didn’t like it. But I will say I was bored to tears by the long stretch where Harry and Hermione were on the run. I thought the death scenes or lack thereof were a waste of opportunity (except for Dobby.) And I was disappointed by the epilogue. I understand why so many people liked it, and every fantasy writer would give an arm and a leg for JK’s success. But as an author, I thought she could have done so much more with the final book.
F: Oof, that is sacrilegious! Of course, I’m one of the few people in the world who ranks Chamber of Secrets in the top half of the seven, so I’m not one to judge. Moving on, what’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
JSS: Had to be the plumbing company I worked for shortly after getting married. Their idea of employee motivation was the motto “S**T washes off, but money stays in your pocket.” How’s that for a company slogan? But, you know, the good thing about having a job like that is how great everything else looks by comparison. So what do you say? Shall we head off for surfing lessons and continue the Q&A over roast pig?
F: Sounds like a plan to me!
JSS: Sorry, just trying to catch my breath from the surfing lessons. Who’d have thought you could scrape off that much skin on the beach? I’ve got Neosporin pretty much everywhere.
F: Hmm, yeah, perhaps a bit rocky for surfing. I think I may need another smoothie to wash down all of the salt water I swallowed. While I go order that, how about you tell me whether anything surprised you while writing Water Keep? Did any part turn out wildly different than you’d originally expected/intended?
JSS: Well, for one thing, it was much longer than I expected. I honestly thought it would be about 60-70k words max. I was only off by about 40 thousand words! A lot of what surprised me didn’t make it into book one. The Dark Circle’s true plans. The relationship between Farworld and Earth. About halfway through the book, I realized how book five (the last book in the series) would turn out and it just blew me away. I really went into this series thinking I was writing a fun little fantasy series for kids—where they go in search of Elementals and do cool magic. But that’s not the way the series shaped up as it moved forward in my head.
F: Smoothies and roast pig, coming up! Now I’m definitely excited to get to the next book in the series… which is rough, considering the first one’s not quite published yet. Well, patience is a virtue, right? Speaking of pig roasts, what’s the one thing you can cook better than anybody else?
JSS: You know those bean burritos at 7-11? The kind you nuke for sixty seconds and eat really fast while your taste buds are still burning? Actually, I tend to burn anything that requires the use of modern technology. But I do make an amazing from scratch Chicken Pot Pie. It’s funny, but I also make a pretty good Hungarian Goulash.
F (through a mouthful of roast pig): Sounds good! Back to the book, which scene from the book came to you first? What was the spark that made you say “Oh, yes, this needs to be a novel.”?
JSS: I had this dream about a girl and a boy sitting in a meadow passionately smelling each other. Then he smiles and I realize he is a vampire with really cool glistening skin. And he plays vampire baseball. Turns out that had already been taken.
F: Hee hee hee!
JSS: Fortunately I had another scene in mind where the captain of the guard of an outpost city is keeping watch over a baby. He is watching the city gates shut for the night when the torches on the outer walls are extinguished one by one. By the time the last torch goes out, he hears the screaming start and realizes something terrible and evil has come for the child. Again, that exact scene didn’t make it into the book, but it was the set-up for what was to come. I imagine that sometime I’ll post it on my web site as a special feature.
F: Oooh, that sounds wonderfully creepy, although I can see how it didn’t quite fit into the final structure of the story. Okay, wrapping this up: who do you think would win in a fight, pirates or ninjas?
JSS: In close combat I have to go with Ninjas. Once they make it past the cannons, the pirates are pretty much done for.
F: True, but any pirate worth his patch isn’t going to let them get past the cannons. It’s a quandry. Well, that’s about all the time we have, plus the sun and the surfing and the food is making me sleepy. Many thanks for stopping by and answering my very random questions!
JSS: Thanks for inviting me here. Now let’s see if we can figure out what this poi stuff is all about.
Now, for the REALLY exciting part: A chance to win your very own Advance Reading Copy of Farworld: Water Keep!
*FREE BOOKS*FREE BOOKS*FREE BOOKS*FREE BOOKS*
There are two ways to enter the giveaway:
1) Leave a comment below and tell me you’d like to be entered! If you blog about my contest elsewhere, include the link for your comment to count double.
2) Since this is a giveaway of a young adult’s fantasy novel, I thought we could work to improve literacy and the love of the fantasy novels in some children/young adults! Donors Choose is a fantastic website where public school teachers from high-need districts can submit project proposals, and donors can give directly to fund individual proposals. It is, as my friend put it, a “quick hit of philanthropy”, with very obvious positive results from your donation.
So, the second way to enter the contest is to donate something – whatever you can spare – to Donors Choose. The official Fyrefly’s Book Blog Challenge is here, but if you find some other project not included in the challenge that you’re more interested in, that’s fine as well. Simply donate, forward a copy of your “Thank You” email to fyrefly98 AT gmail DOT com, and then bask in the self-satisfied glow of helping some kids get excited about reading.
AND! The exciting thing is that you can enter BOTH ways for DOUBLE your chances of winning! (I really need a proper Hollywood announcer voice to be reading all of this.) I’ll do the drawing for the winner in late July. If there’s a high enough level of interest, I may throw in another prize or two.