Saturday, July 19, 2008

Questions and Answers with J. Scott Savage

Here are the really cool, random random questions that I asked J. Scott Savage.

1. How long did it take you to write Farworld: Water Keep?

Less than three months to write the first draft. The story had been in my head for several years, but once I started writing it, it was like a waterfall. Fastest book I’ve ever written. Book two is coming just as fast.

2. What inspired you to write about a little blue dragon, a crippled boy and a smart girl?

I love Harry Potter, but sometimes when I read those types of books, I wish the protagonist wasn’t always the best magician, or the fastest Quidditch player. I like people who manage to do extraordinary things while overcoming the kinds of obstacles real people face. You look at those three and think, “How the heck are they going to save the world?”

3. Would you say that Tolkien and Lewis influenced you a lot in your writing? If not them, then who?

Oh, absolutely. Along with Donaldson, Brooks, King, Koontz, and Straub. I love fantasy with a little edge to it, or thrillers with a fantastical element.

4. What is your favorite fiction novel?

One of my personal favorites is Lord Foul’s Bane. I think because of when I read it and how different it was from anything I’d read before.

5. In Farworld, which character did you enjoy writing the most?

Gosh, I couldn’t pick a favorite. They all become real people to me. I’m hoping to get into Bonsplinter’s head more in book 2.

6. What part in Farworld: Water Keep was the hardest to write?

Interestingly enough, the Earth scenes were the hardest. I think it was because I was trying to see the familiar through the eyes of someone unfamiliar. I was afraid the Earth scenes might slow down the fantasy. But from what I’ve heard it seems to have worked okay.

7. Tell us something about Farworld: Land Keep

A sneak peek, huh? How about this: You will get to meet a character you met briefly in Book 1, who it should be impossible to meet.

8. Is there anything from when you were a kid that influenced the story or the way you write?

I think my best writing is when I go back to being a kid and just having fun. I had a pretty crazy imagination as a kid. It actually got me into quite a bit of trouble as a kid. But now I tell my parents, “See it finally paid off!”

9. Do you have any plans for other books after the Farworld series is over?

My dream has always been to write full time so I get have the time to write all the ideas I have stuck in my head. If that happens, I could easily imagine writing three books a year. The one that I currently feel the strongest about is a kind of urban fantasy about a hit man/PI who dies and goes to hell, but has a chance to come back if he can track down the demons who are trying to overthrow it. Kind of a dark/magic/thriller.

10. What's your favorite animal? :)

I really like frogs because they come in so many colors, shapes, and sizes. Plus they make cool sounds.

11. Where do you get ideas for names? (Kyja and Riph Raph aren't names you hear every day....)

Some names are totally just made up. I just play with sounds until I find one I like. Others, like the Unmakers, Mist Steed, and Mimicker, are names that sound like what they are. Finally there are a few names that are plays on words. Look up the name of the frog that leads Kyja and Marcus to Olden. It’s only used once, and most people will have no clue what it means.

12. How important is the naming process for you? Do you slave over trying to pick a name for you character, or do you just grab one and use it?

Very important. Occasionally I just stick in an X until I find the name, but most of the time the story stops until I find one that works for me.

13. Where did the inspiration for Galespinner come from?

It seems to me that there are three ways of approaching creatures in fantasy. 1) Just rename common Earth creatures with fantastical names. (e.g. call a shark a kitz.) In my opinion that is really lame. As a reader it takes you about ten seconds to go, of I get it, that’s a shark. 2) Use creatures from Earth myth or literature. For example a unicorn, or a minotaur. An elf or a dwarf. That works, and Terry Brooks, among others, does a great job with it. But I wanted Farworld to feel very different for the reader so instead, I went with a third option which was to create creatures no one has ever heard of. Of course it’s hard to be 100% original. There are plenty of creatures in literature for example that can mimic other creatures, but I tried to make them all unique in some way. In the case of Galespinner, I wanted a magical steed that wasn’t unicorn, or gryphon, but something in between. I also have always been intrigued my how the triceratops has a beak and teeth. So I added a little of that in too.

14. What is your best advice for aspiring writers?

Give yourself the freedom to color outside the lines. I don’t mean try to write something just to be strange like 2nd person, present tense, through the eyes of a trash can. “You eat the empty soup can and grin inside.” But more, allow yourself to play. Don’t think everything you write has to be published. Try copying other authors’ styles for a little bit. Try writing just dialog or just action scenes. Spend a day making up creatures or characters. Learn to write the same way kids learn to draw. They don’t do a whole painting right up front. They draw faces for hours, then move to stick figures.

15. What advice helped you the most?

When I first started writing, there was so much I didn’t know. I just dove in with no real idea how to swim once I got in the water. Later, as I spent more time reading books on writing, attending conferences, and talking to authors, I realized how much I didn’t know. There’s no one “key” that will make your writing great. But if you are serious about writing, invest a little time in reading books and attending conferences.

16. Favorite character from Star Wars? :D

Han Solo. He was just a total stud. Although Yoda was darn cool too.

17. Favorite character from The Lord of the Rings?

Aragon. Hands down.

18. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No. I always loved making up stories. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized someone might actually publish something I wrote. I wish I’d started twenty years earlier. But better late than never huh?

I've really enjoyed doing the blog tour! Thanks for the opportunity Scott!

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