Recommended audience: 10 and up
Category: YA fiction, fantasy
I am finally back from my unscheduled hiatus. I don't know exactly why it has been so long since I've reviewed a book but I'm back and promise to have several posted soon. This is an exciting one to start with because its a giveaway post! Shadow Mountain, this book's publisher, will send one of you lucky commenters a preview copy of this fun YA book. Just leave a comment and you will be entered to win--easy as that. And now to the review and an interview with the author.
Marcus is a 13 year-old boy from Earth and Kyja lives in Farworld, a far away planet that has a magical connection to Earth. These two are the most unlikely of heros--he has been disabled since he was a baby and she is the only magic-less (yeah, I don't know if that's a real word) person in all of Farworld, but they seem to be destined for great things. This is a fun story with interesting characters, fantastical creatures, and a wild adventure. I think kids are going to love it.
I sat down with the author, Scott Savage, in a little bakery somewhere in Alaska to chat about his book. (I chose to pretend we were in Alaska because I'm getting pretty tired of the summer heat--and our conversation actually took place over email. :) ) I had a hot, gooey cinnamon roll and he had something cream-filled (it's all about the cream). Here's how the conversation went.
Me: Tell me a little about yourself.
Scott: I’m forty-five and the father of four kids ranging in ages from 8 to 20. I didn’t write my first book until I was thirty-eight. Water Keep will be my fifth book since then. I have always loved reading and actually used to cut school to go to the library, but it never occurred to me someone would actually pay to read my stories.
Me: What was your major in college? Did you have a career before you became a writer?
Scott: A little from column A and a little from column B. I was never an English major, but I enjoyed all types of communication classes from creative writing to drama to speech and debate. I’ve always loved to tell stories, but somehow it never occurred to me that I could be a published novelist. I really kind of feel into the whole thing.
Me: Why did you choose to write a young adult fantasy novel?
Scott: I really didn’t “choose” to write YA or fantasy, even though I love reading the genre. I didn’t think I could write it, because it was so different from what I have read in the past. But I had this idea stuck in my head that wouldn’t let me sleep. I started writing this book at 2:00 AM to prove to myself I couldn’t do it and get this crazy storyline out of my head. But five hours and five thousand words later, I realized I was writing a fantasy and I was having a ball doing it. The rest of the book seemed to flow almost as easily. Now that I’ve done it though, I’m really glad I did.
Me: It seems that most authors are avid readers. Are you? What are some of your favorites from the past few months?
Scott: Oh yeah! I never go anywhere without a book. I just finished Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It was absolutely amazing. That guys imagination is a national treasure. I also finished the first book in the Percy Jackson series. Younger audience, but very entertaining. Now I’m reading John Saul’s “The Devil’s Labyrinth.” I haven’t finished it yet, but I like it so far.
Me: In books like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code there are some anagrams such as "Tom Marvolo Riddle" being rearranged to spell "I am Lord Voldemort" or "O, Draconian Devil" becomes "Leonardo Da Vinci". You have an anagram in your book, too. I've always been curious about the process for making an anagram. What was your first step?
Scott: It wasn’t a big surprise for the reader, because they know who he really is from almost the beginning. But I loved the image of the burning letters on the dry grass. The first thing I did was start with Bonesplinter and look for a normal first name. Then I had to play with the letters to come up with a last name that worked.
Me: Most of the fantasy novels that I've read primarily include mythical creatures from our world, such as, unicorns, dragons, creatures from Greek mythology, and so on. You created many new creatures in Farworld and seemed to even steer clear of our own mythical creatures. Is there a reason for that?
Scott: I like the mythical creatures too. The Percy Jackson novels did a great job with those. But one of the things I really liked about the HP novels was that you never felt like you completely knew all about Rowling’s world because she threw knew things at you. You couldn’t just say, “Oh that’s a troll, I know all about it. That’s an elf.” She had centaurs, but she also had dementors. I wanted Farworld to feel like a truly knew world, not just a rehash of the typical fantasy.
Me: I liked the characters of Marcus, Kyja, and others. Do you base any of your characters on people you know?
Scott: Not directly. I find that if you envision someone you know when writing a character, you lose the ability to let the character become who they need to. I see bits and pieces of people I know in my characters, just like you might say this guy reminds me of my brother in law because they have the same sense of humor. But by the time I’ve written the first book, my characters have become as real to me as anyone I know in real life.
Me: We know that Water Keep is the first book in a series. Are you working on the next one now and when do you hope to have it done?
Scott: I am. And I have to say that I am having a total ball with it. I love writing a book that makes me laugh out loud and gives me goose bumps. Land Keep has definitely done both.
Me: Thanks so much. I enjoyed your book and predict that you'll have great success.
Scott: Thank you! That would be great.
Very nice guy. If you'd like a chance to win a preview copy be sure to make a comment. I'll hold the drawing on Sept. 3rd.