Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Far World - Interview with J. Scott Savage and free stuff!

Here's the promised interview with author of the Far World series, J. Scott Savage. The first book of the series, Water Keep, will be in stores in September. Click here to read my review, complete with a story and my suspicions that J. Scott was reading my mind. At the end of the interview, find out how you can get your very own Advance Reader's Copy of Water Keep, so you can have it before anyone else.

J. Scott Savage, author of the upcoming Farworld Series, and also a paragon of generosity, has gleefully joined me for a brief stop on his world Blog Tour. He may not have realized what he was in for when he agreed to an interview at a site of my choice.

We are having this conversation as we hike the last little bit of the Inca Trail up to the ruins of Machu Picchu high in the Andes Mountains. We could have taken a train here, but where’s the fun in that?

J. Scott: Heck yeah. I love to sweat until I look like I just got out of a pool of slimy water, and smell like moldy cheese. Besides, blisters go away eventually right?

That's the right kind of attitude! Macchu Picchu is 7,000 feet above sea level, so I just hope J. Scott is in good enough shape to keep talking in the thin air as we climb. I tried to rent an alpaca for him down in the lower valley, just in case, but he refused to sign autographs, so now we’re hoofing it. Maybe next time you’ll just sign that fan’s stomach, hmm?

J. Scott: Have you every tried to get belly button lint off the tip of a Sharpie? Not pretty, let me tell you.

First off, congratulations on Water Keep. How exciting to be starting a whole new series! We read a lot of fantasy in my house, especially my 10 year-old. You can read the entire story, in wonderful prose, in my review. Let's just say it involved Cheez-Its. So, for my son, when is the next book going to be out?

J. Scott: Cheez-Its and a book. Does it get any better? We are going to do one book a year for all five books. Five years. That really sounds long, huh?

It sounds like it, but it gives us five years of things to anticipate, right? Oh, watch out! You got a little close to the edge there. Are you feeling okay? Do we need to stop for a minute? Really, we’re almost there. Here’s some Gatorade.

J. Scott: No, really I like to lean out over the edge that way. It’s the best way to see the view. And the whole gagging thing? I was just, you know, choked up by the beauty. But yeah, I think I could use some Gatorade. Fruit punch! My favorite.

No, don't worry about saving any for me. You just go ahead and drink the whole bottle. The books you’ve previously written have been for adults, what prompted you to write a children’s fantasy?

J. Scott: Kids are less likely to notice the misspellings. Actually I didn’t choose to write fantasy. It chose me. I started writing this book at 2:00 AM one morning to exorcize a story that wouldn’t leave my head. I knew for a fact that I could not write fantasy, and yet I kept seeing these characters and hearing their dialog. I figured if I rolled out of bed and proved to myself that I couldn’t write it, the story would go away. Five hours and five thousand words later, I realized I was going to write a children’s fantasy book.

How neat! I have ideas that keep me awake sometimes, but I usually can't quite make myself get out of bed to write them down. You've inspired me. I think I'll drag my bleary-eyed self to the computer next time. Where did the idea for the story come from?

J. Scott: Reader’s Digest. They had this whole big thing on parallel worlds, skytes, talking trees. It was good. I wish I’d kept it. The idea for the story itself showed up in bits and pieces over years and years. I actually wrote a couple of chapters about a wizard sending a baby to another world years ago. Then one day it all just clicked into place.

One of the things I love so much about the fantasy genre is being transported back to the wonder of childhood, when you really believed in magic. Magic is a huge theme in your book, but I love that for your main characters, their magic is not the normal magic you would think of. Your blog is called “Find Your Magic.” What kind of magic do you hope your readers will find?

J. Scott: People think I’m crazy when I say this, but I think we are surrounded by magic. I went into the Timp Caves a couple of years back and we went into this room filled with all of these pink curly-cue tubes. The tour guide says that no one understands why the tubes curl. They are made by dripping water, so they should just be straight down. To, me that’s magic. It’s Mother Nature, saying, you don’t have things figured out by a long shot.

I’m not trying to trying to “teach” my readers with this series. My only goal is to entertain. But if they come away from the books thinking about their talents and how they can best share them, I wouldn’t mind.

I used to work hard at having magic like Firestarter, but no matter how long I glared at something, it never burst into flame. Oh well. Whew! We made it. Look at that view—fantastic! Let’s admire the magic of nature for just a moment, shall we?

J. Scott: Magic! See. This is what I am saying. I’ll just lie here for a while and experience the magic with my eyes closed.

Maybe that's a good idea. Here, you can have my Gatorade, too. If you could pick your own magical ability, what would it be?

J. Scott: Transporting back down? I think it would be kind of cool to have a really specific magical ability that no one even knows about. Like what if you could make people cheerful? Kind of like X-ray vision, but instead it’s happy vision. If I look at you, you suddenly feel great.

Oooo, that sounds like a great magical ability. Let’s head across the ruins as we talk. This is so incredible! Marcus and Kyja are not your normal larger-than-life heroes. Both feel like outcasts. Where did the idea for that come from and why did you decide to go that direction?

J. Scott: I’m very big on real, believable heroes that are not “larger than life.” We all have weaknesses and I think who we become in life depends a lot on how we respond to our weaknesses. It’s not just about overcoming weaknesses, but actually finding a way to turn a drawback into a strength. I want to emphasize that it was not just a character trait to make them interesting, like chewing on your hair, or having two different colored eyes. It is a key part of the entire series.

As a child, what were you most embarrassed about yourself?

J. Scott: I had really skinny arms. I hated that. I wanted to wear long sleeve shirts because my arms were so skinny.

It’s a little crowded up here. That big German man is giving you the evil eye, J. Scott. What did you do? Um, maybe we should go check out the other side of the ruins.

J. Scott: Actually I think he’s looking out you. Did he just wink and call you a sugar dumpling? Yeah, maybe it is time to move along.

So, who is your favorite character?

J. Scott: Indiana Jones. Unless you are talking about Farworld in which case, I’ll plead the 5th. You can’t have a favorite child.

And a random question just for the fun of it, what food do you absolutely detest over everything?

J. Scott: Ricotta cheese. I’m not big on cottage cheese either. Or head cheese. Do you see a trend here?

Your bad guys are pretty creepy. Do they get even more scary in the next book?

J. Scott: Oh yeah! I don’t want them to get so scary that kids can’t enjoy the books. But I think readers definitely want badder bad guys as the series progresses. It ups the stakes.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What one piece of advice would you give for other writers?

J. Scott: No. I’ve always loves to tell stories, but I didn’t have any idea I wanted to be a writer until I actually write my first book.

Advice huh? Buy lots of Farworld copies and give them as gifts, employee incentives, door stops. They’re big and heavy. Excellent paperweights. As far as writing, Write because you enjoy writing. Give yourself the freedom to not write an entire book at first. Kids learn to draw by making faces and houses with crooked chimneys. They don’t sit down and make a landscape at first. Enjoy the process instead of getting caught up write away in selling something.

What types of books do you like to read? What are some of your favorites?

J. Scott: I love just about all types of books if they are well written and engaging. Just of the top of my head, some of my favorites include:
The Stand by Stephen King
Shadowlands and Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Enders Game by Card
Dean Koontz
Grapes of Wrath
I just finished book one in the Bartimaeus Trilogy and loved it.

Oh, yeah. I love the Bartimaeus Trilogy, too! It's going to be one of my recommended reads for the summer.

You mentioned that there are some ARCs available for contest give-aways on your tour, are there any of those still available for readers of my blog that may be dying to get their hands on Water Keep before it hits the stores in September?

J. Scott: As a matter of fact they are. I can offer one signed ARC to give away to one of your lucky blog readers. Hey it’s not winning the lottery, but it’s better than getting picked up on by the beady-eyed German dude. By the way, I think he’s still following you. Can you say, “Stalker?”

Oh, dear. I wish we could world hop right now like Marcus and Kyja. J. Scott, thanks again for joining me in one of the greatest archeological marvels. I hope you’ll stick around for a little while and look around. How long before you get back here, after all?

J. Scott: It’s true. Any lemonade stands nearby? Thanks. I had a ball!

All right, you heard it everyone. I know you're bouncing in your seat wanting to know how you can get your very own ARC - autographed even! And it's way easier than eating bugs or jumping off a building like in Fear Factor. All you have to do is leave a comment with what magical ability you would like to have. Then, next week-ish I will have one of my kids draw a name for a hat, and the winner will receive the book in the mail, just like magic!

So, what magical ability would you love to have? I would love to go without sleep. Just imagine the things you could get done!

Make sure to drop by J. Scott's awesome blog, Find Your Magic, and look for a Far World website coming soon.


Marsha Ward said...

Awesome interview, Jaime! What a thrilling spot to do it. Did Scott recover? Was he able to walk back down?

If I could have a magic power, it would be teleportation. I actually had a dream once that I wished myself somewhere, and when I got there, I couldn't remember how to get back!

Shirley Bahlmann said...

That is a very fun interview. I was walking behind you all the way, far in from the edge!
So, did you learn any German, Jaime?