Interview With J. Scott Savage

I had the opportunity to do an interview with J. Scott Savage after my review and I must say that he gives an excellent interview! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Don’t forget that you still have until this Saturday to enter the drawing on my review post to win a signed ARC of his first book in his Farworld series, Farworld: Water Keep.

1. Where did the inspiration come from for Farworld? When the idea struck you, did you start planning out the whole series or just jump into book one?

Most of the time, I don’t start writing a book until several ideas have gelled together. That usually takes anywhere from six months to a year. With Farworld, though the process was actually several years, because, although I’d been fleshing out the story in my mind for a long time, I was convinced that I would never write it. I had never published a YA fantasy. When I did start writing it, I thought I knew where the series was going. But I quickly came to realize there was a lot more to the series than I had realized. For example, I knew my characters were going to go in search of four groups of elementals. But what I hadn’t considered was what are the elementals? Where did they come from? What role to they play in magic? Why don’t they cooperate with each other? What is the end to their means? When I thought it all through, there was much more to the stories. I think a good fantasy series has to have the background or it turns into a fairytale.

2. I’ve worked with kids with disabilities for a long time and loved the fact that your main hero had a disability. It’s not something you see often (or at all) in fantasy literature. Aside from making his “tragic flaw” as a hero quite obvious, what was the inspiration for that decision? Is Marcus based on anyone you know?

My biggest fear in giving Marcus that physical disabilities he has was that people would view it as a kind of gimmick. “Hey, I know. I’ll write a book where one of the protagonists uses a wheelchair.” I would never have written the series if that was the case. What I envisioned was a series with two children who most people would overlook as unable to be conventional heroes. But if you’ve spent much time around kids with disabilities, you realize that outsiders view them as much weaker than they really are. It’s like they make up for their disabilities by stoking an inner fire. I imagines my villains overlooking what was inside the boy and girl. In my book, the wizard tells Kyja that the most powerful magic is what’s inside her. But couldn’t he have told Marcus the same thing. Marcus may not be physically strong. But the most power strength is not the bulging biceps. It’s what is in your heart.

3. So how much fun was it for you to write the character of a master wizard?! I loved the character of Master Therapas and he had some of the most incredible lines in this novel. Do you see this book as something that will hopefully not only entertain kids but inspire them as well?

As you know, I am a huge fantasy fan. And I don’t know if there is any more classical fantasy element than the wizard. We may call him/her something else, but essentially he is the wise keeper of power. Even before I knew I would write Farworld, I considered what my ideal wizard would be. He has to be wise, but also funny. I don’t want him to be a warrior character per se, but I want him to be powerful. I kind of envision MT as the gunslinger who was once the most feared in the west. Now most people think he is past his prime, but no one is quite willing to pull on him either. I believe that the very best fantasy novels I have ever read leave me feeling inspired as well as entertained. Hopefully Farworld can do the same thing.

4. Do you suffer from horrible nightmares? 😉 You came up with some incredible villains in this novel and I was wondering where the idea for them came from?

Yeah. I have a pretty vivid imagination which makes for some scary nightmares. I think the scariest stuff though is what you imagine when your awake. I never go into a hotel room without pulling back the shower curtain. Just to make sure nothing is lurking back there.

5. Where did all of the names come from in Farworld? The names of the villains and towns were all extremely unique. How did you come up with them?

Again, one of the benefits of writing fantasy. You almost never get to have a bad guy named Bonesplinter in a high-tech thriller for example. A lot of coming up with the write name involves knowing what sounds are good sounds and what sounds are bad sounds. This is the case with even normal names. Chet has a hard feel to it. It is a good name for a bad guy. Marcus is a softer name. Just hearing the two names, you can generally say which one sounds more likable to you. Unless the author is tricky and gives a bad guy a good guy’s name. But I’d never do that. Wink.

6. I’ve been a fan of Brandon Dorman’s artwork since I discovered the first Fablehaven book and the work he did with your book is simply phenomenal! What was it like working with him?

One afternoon I was out to lunch with my family when me cell phone rang. It was Brandon asking for some additional details about Water Keep. That was especially cool, because the waitress kept eavesdropping and finally asked my wife, “What does your husband do?” It was a kick. I’ve been involved in sales and marketing for most of my adult life, and you quickly come to realize that there are three kinds of vendors you work with: those who fall short of expectations, those who do exactly what you ask of them, and those who take your ideas and blow you away. Brandon blew me away. Not everything he did was the direction I was expecting, but his finished products were so amazing, I couldn’t believe it.

7. Of course we all want to know…what are your favorite books of all time? And what are you reading right now? Favorite authors?

Gosh, that is such a hard question. I love so many things about so many different authors. I love the depth of Card’s stories, I love the storytelling of Stephen King, I love the pure writing of Peter Straub, and I love the incredible imagination of Gaiman. I just finished Neverwhere and it absolutely blew me away. It’s inspiring to see that kind of imagination at work.

8. On a related note, I know from your blog that you’re a big movie fan too. Favorite movies??

Yeah, I am a big movie fan. And again, the thing I look for is a movie that totally exceeds my expectations. I love LOTR. I honestly think it is the best movie series of all time. I know a lot of people hated Speed Racer, but I found myself going, “Wow!” a lot. Just off the top of my head, movies that totally exceeded my expectations include Princess Bride, Finding Nemo, The Fugitive, Raiders (all three movies, but definitely not the fourth), Star Dust and the fifth Harry Potter movie.

9. What is your writing process like? Computer? Pen and Paper? And when is the best time for you to write?

Since I am not yet a fulltime writer, I have to write wherever and whenever I can. I am typically a laptop guy, but I can use pen and paper when that’s all I have. I typically plan on paper because I can flow chart, draw pictures and get really creative. But I tend to do my writing on a computer so I can actually read it later.

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4 Responses

  1. This book sounds really good. I think I’ll buy it for my son. Good luck with it! -C

  2. If I wasn’t already sold, knowing that we both have the same thoughts on the LOTR films and Neverwhere would have sealed the deal!

    Great interview Chris and Scott. Thanks Scott for taking the time to share with us, via Chris, your insightful answers. I sincerely hope the day comes for you soon that you can be a full-time writer and can ‘quit your day job’ as it were.

  3. great interview Chris!! I especially love the remark that he writes on his laptop so that he can read it later! heh.. I hate when I scribble notes because then I have to try to figure out what I wrote later! duh!

  4. Yep, what Carl said…he had great taste on top of everything! What a great interview 🙂

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