Saturday, August 2, 2008

Find Your Magic!

I have the great delight of being a participant in the Farworld 2008 Blog Tour for J. Scott Savage's upcoming book, Farworld: Water Keep. It is a great book, and I am excited to help get the world out. First up, my review:

13-year-old Marcus is an outsider - orphaned, friendless, with disabilities to his arm and leg that require the use of a wheelchair, the new boy at school facing a group of relentless bullies. His only escape is Farworld, the place he has created in his mind where magic abounds. When a menacing stranger appears threatening to take him away, Marcus finds himself suddenly pulled out of his normal life - and into Farworld. His rescuer is Kyja, herself an outsider in Farworld - in a land where magic abounds, she possesses none. The pair is guided by Master Therapass, who knows the true link Marcus has with Kyja. The Dark Circle has discovered the secret that can be the undoing of Farworld, and only Marcus and Kyja can convince the elusive Elementals to work together to make a path between the two worlds.

Savage has a wonderful, visual style of writing that enables the reader to see exactly how this new, magical world appears. Several times I found myself re-reading paragraphs, not because I was confused but because I loved reading Savage's descriptions of the world he has created. I believe he does a good job of allowing the reader to sympathise for his two main characters withouth making them seem weak. Both Marcus, with his physical limitations, and Kyka, with her insecurities, are often pitied by the people around them. Savage, however, never feels sorry for either of them, but allows them to discover how strong they can become when they work together and believe in themselves.

As a woman, I am thrilled to see a young girl in a novel who is written as a true equal to the young man. Too often, the girl is the sidekick - plucky and cute, but watching as the boy gets to be the hero. Savage gives Kyja just as much importance as Marcus, and allows her to be heroic in her own right. And the bad guys are truly scary - I found myself anxious several times when the kids were in danger.Trust me, you don't want to mess with the Thrathkin S'Bae!

I really enjoyed this book. Because this is the first in a series, Savage has to spend a lot of time explaining and introducing , which can at times slow the pace of the novel. However, he has created several characters - Master Therapass and Bonesplitter especially, that I can't wait to read more about. This series has a lot of potential, and I am very exited to read the continuing adventures of Marcus and Kyja. I can't wait for the next installment!

Finished: 6/9/08
Rating: 8/10
Source: ARC from author

Next on the agenda, a fun Q & A with author J. Scott Savage. He asked us to come up with a fun location for our virtual intervew - I, alas, am not very creative. However, when I found out that he is a fellow border collie owner, I thought we could take our dogs to a virtual dog park and see if they would make friends. Here's what happened:

E-I thought it would be fun to take our dogs to a dog park - I have a spastic border collie as well, so maybe our dogs can make friends. (or herd each other around in the grass.)

S -Definitely lots of herding going on. Small children and stray sheep beware!

E -Thanks for coming to Des Moines to hang out with Kadie and I. Luckily the dog park is empty today, so my badly behaved dog will hopefully not freak out too much. She's not really that good with crowds. Here, I will toss a ball into the trees for her to sniff out, and we can get started.

S -Excellent! Nothing like a good game of slobberball.

E -On your blog you made a comment about your belief that an author needs to know the end of the story before they begin to write. (And p.s., I wish a lot of TV shows would adopt this rule - do you hear me Lost??) Anyway....did you have the end to the whole series in mind when you began Farworld:Water Keep, or just the first book? Did you initially envision the story as a series? A trilogy? A stand-alone? If you originally though your story would contain fewer books, at what point did you realize it would have to expand?

S -That’s a great question. The problem a lot of authors (and TV show script writers) have is that they don’t know up front how many book/shows they will have to work with. Unless you are a big name or have a really amazing idea, it’s hard to get a publisher to commit to a series up front. Fortunately I had a pretty good idea where this series would go and SM was very open doing a five book series. I’m not sure I could have moved forward with this otherwise. About midway through the first book there is a very major clue to what happens in book five. It’s subtle enough that I don’t expect anyone to catch it. But obvious enough that in looking back, people will go, “Ohhh, cool. He planned that all along.” I could never have done that if I didn’t know the ending. I also learned a lot more about the story though as I wrote book one. There were many things that I went back and changed.

E -Uh-oh, it looks like Kadie is in herding mode - let me toss the ball again.

S -It’s okay. That homeless man didn’t want to be over there anyway. Look Kadie sent him over to a nice comfortable bench. Good dog.

E -Okay, next question. How much of the series do you actually have completed? Are all the books ready to go, or are you just starting to get things sketched out?

S -Only the first book is actually written. The second book is underway.

E -Kadie, stop sniffing that dog's behind! Sorry about that.

S -So what do you think? Is there a possible market for dog rear cologne? Probably don’t want to know what smell would appeal to other dogs though.

E - RIght, that would just be gross. Anywhoo..I'm always curious how fantasy writers come up with their world's language. How do you come up with words like ishkabiddle and Thrathkin S'Bae. Are they based on an actual existing language, or do you just play fruit basket upset with the Scrabble pieces?

S -A little from column a. A little from column b. Some names are made up or taken from other sources. For example while I was in New York earlier this month I saw a bridge called the Throggsneck bridge. Instantly I pictured this blobby little creatures with big feet and really long necks. So don’t be surprised if Throggs show up in a future book. But I wanted to the Thrathkin S’Bae to really feel different. They have their own language, their own hierarchy. I’ve actually plotted out quite a bit of their language. There’s a lot more to them than I get to show in the first book.

E -Do you have a favorite character in the series? Or do you, like my mom, love all your children the same?

S -My favorite character is usually whoever or whatever I am writing at the time.

E - my mom, whose favorite kid is whoever hasn't crayoned the walls that day. Makes sense.Oops - pooper scooper time. Okay, now that I've cleaned that mess up......It seems like young adult literature often has a message to impart to its readers. Do you think your books have a message? Do you find it easier or harder to impart that message using the fantasy genre?

S -If you want to write a good story, you can't set out to provide a certain message, but in all good stories the inherent messages bubble to the surface. I hope my story is one of those. I do think that fantasy lends itself to messages more than some other genres. There is a lot of focus on good vs. evil and seeing our world through the eyes of other civilizations.

E - Every author has other writers that influence their writing. Do you have any writing influences that are NOT other writers? Songs, movies, etc?

S - Oh yeah. Music and movies both. Certain scenes or songs just your pulse pounding and make you want to create something that powerful. There are several scenes from LOTR for example that are just so strong, you can’t watch them without getting pumped.

E -What are some of your favorite fantasy books - both for adults and younger readers?

S - Gosh, there are so many. Of course there are some of the older classics. A Wrinkle in Time, The Thomas Covenant series. I’m really impressed with Brandon Sanderson’s stuff. I recently read the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Very good, but a little older. Nightmare Academy had a great first book. Definitely something even younger readers can enjoy.

E -Fantasy writing is all about convicing your readers that your world could actually exist. In your real life, what do you believe is true even though you can't prove it?

S - Okay, this is going to get me in trouble, but I believe in magic. Not the witchcraft or voodoo kind of thing per se, but the kind of magic that makes you gasp when you see a perfect orchid or see a painting that is so beautiful it could not have been made by human hands. One day scientists are going to go, “Well look at that! I guess there is magic.”

E -As a fellow border collie owner, how many consecutive hours would your dog play ball if you allowed it? And how many balls can your dog fit into it's mouth at once? (Mine can fit two - she's an overachiever.)

S - I don’t know if she would ever quit playing ball. But now I’m going to have to go try the ball thing. Are we talking tennis balls?

E - Yep, she can stack two tennis balls on top of each other in her mouth. She's pretty talented! Okay, my dog has officially lost all seven of the balls I brought to play with, so it looks like it is time to go home. Thanks so much for spending the afternoon with us! I know Kadie had a great time, even if she did display apallingly bad manners.

S -Are you kidding? With that smile how could you possibly accuse her of bad manners? Thank you. I had a ball. Pun intended.

Thanks so much to Scott for that interview, and for being such a good sport. And now for the coolest part of the blog tour - I get to give away a book!! Shadow Mountain (Farworld's publisher) is supplying a FREE copy of Farworld: Water Keep for me to give away to one lucky blog reader - that means you!! If you leave me a comment on this post, you will get one entry. If you take some extra time and give me a list of your favorite YA books, or fantasy books, I will give you another entry. If you link to this post on your blog, I'll give you another entry. Remember, this book doesn't come out until September 12, so this is a fun opportunity to read a great book before anyone else you know! (Except me, of course.) This contest will run until Midnight Central Time on AUGUST 14, with the winner chosen on August 15. So what are you waiting for - enter already!!


cpullum said...

I want to find magic and I think this book would help! Please enter me!

Anonymous said...

Please enter me into this contest.

Some other YA books I've enjoyed:
Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn (Drgonback series)
The Merchant of Death by D. J. MacHale (Pendragon Series)

my e-mail address:

Ruth said...

Please enter me, I would love to read this book!

Some of my favorite YA:
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Land of Elyon Series by Patrick Carman
The Sally Lockhart Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Also, I blogged about your contest here.

legendaryneo said...

Awesome, count me in. I posted about this on my blog as well. Some of my favorite YA books are...The Prydain Chronicles, Harry Potter, Gary Paulsen books, and Chronicles of Narnia.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's Alissa - I want to play! My favorite YA books have always been anything by Madeline L'Engle, or the C.S. Lewis books. Thanks!