Farworld: Water Keep, by J. Scott Savage
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.
Welcome to today’s stop on J. Scott Savage‘s blog tour! This stop includes a review, author interview, and giveaway, so make sure you read it all! Farworld: Water Keep, by J. Scott Savage, part one of a five-part series, is scheduled to be released on September 12, 2008.
Reading allows me to escape to another world. In this case, the world I got to escape to for a few hours was Farworld. Marcus is a wheelchair-ridden orphan who has been bounced around the foster care system and boys’ schools on Earth since he was a baby. Kyja is a muggle (to borrow a term from Harry Potter, someone who can’t do magic) in the magic-ridden world of Farworld. The two are thrust together in an adventure to save Farworld from the Dark Circle. This installment leads them to Water Keep, the home of the water elementals, whom they must enlist as soldiers in their battle.
I enjoyed this book. I raced through it to find out what would happen. I loved those who populate Farworld. The slow, joke-telling farm animals were my particular favorite. In fact, my favorite passage was at the end of Part I where Marcus has just been transported to Farworld:
Scrambling deeper into the water, Marcus saw the girl he’d dreamed about. Her eyes were wide green circles against her pale skin and her mouth hung open with a look of terrified surprise that must have matched his. Behind the girl, a large gray horse winked and said, “What’s the difference between a duck and a boy?” Marcus fainted.
Hee hee. That made me laugh really hard.
Though Farworld, as a realm, is very unique, I noticed a lot of similarities between this book and the rest of my fantasy repertoire. Here are a few examples: Marcus is a maimed orphan who should have died when his village was attacked by the powers of evil and who is prophesied to save Farworld from the Dark Circle. (Harry Potter, anyone?) Kyja, who teams up with Marcus like unto Lyra and Will (His Dark Materials), has a skyte, a little lizard-like animal who goes everywhere with her, like unto demons (His Dark Materials). The guiding adult, seeing as everyone else is an orphan or evil, is the bearded, olden, and all-powerful wizard, Master Therapass, who is a cross between Gandolf (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) and Professor Dumbledore (Harry Potter). Also, the Westland Woods reminded me a lot of the Ents (The Lord of the Rings). Savage even makes reference to Harry Potter in Chapter 18.
Farworld: Water Keep, though, is not merely derivative; it builds on and adds to the great fantasy books mentioned above. This is an enjoyable, creative book that I would recommend, particularly to the YA crowd. It has a good message, without being too preachy, quick action, and loveable characters.
Farworld: Water Keep, by J. Scott Savage [rating:4]
*AUTHOR INTERVIEW* I met up with Mr. Savage himself in the virtual “Park City, Utah” to conduct the following interrogation.
TBS: First, I just want to say how excited I am to be taking part in your blog tour. Thanks for hanging out with me in Park City: the poshest city in Utah. How have the other stops been so far?
JSS: So far it’s been good. A couple of questionable meals and several small liability issues. But hey, great company trumps all. Present company included. Park City is one of my favorite places. Especially in the summer, when it’s so green and cool.
TBS: Though Farworld: Water Keep is your first young adult novel, you’ve published other novels in a variety of genres. What made you turn to two new genres: YA lit and fantasy?
JSS: When my family was much younger, my wife and I used to play a game where we’d ask each other, “If someone told you a year ago that we’d be [fill in the blank] would you have believed them? It might have been because of a move, a child, a new job. Whatever. Well if you had suggested to me three years ago that I would be publishing a five book YA fantasy series, I would have said you were nuts. I loved reading fantasy. But just because you love eating chocolate mousse, doesn’t mean you will become a French dessert chef. I will just say that I didn’t chose to write YA Fantasy. This book just grabbed me by the ears and screamed, “Write me!” I think I got beat into submission by my muse.
TBS: I’m sure you were ecstatic to see Farworld: Water Keep in print. How much involvement did you have with the cover art? (And, just to satisfy the grammar freak within, is Farworld one word or two?)
JSS: Two funny questions. My level of involvement with the cover was that I asked for Brandon to be the artist, and I told them I wanted a cover that would stop fantasy lovers in their tracks. That was involvement I did have. But then they called me in and showed me a bunch of sketches. We all liked one in particular. The next time I saw the cover was when it was done. And it didn’t look like any of the sketches. But I was thrilled to death by it. There is such a sense of power. You can’t help but stop and look at it.
Some people have said that they are not sure it fits the story. I can see their concern considering that the water elementals don’t come up until later in the book. You’d expect the main characters to be on the cover. But as each new novel features the next group of elementals, it will make a lot more sense.
Farworld is one word. But the masthead we liked best was the one you see on the book. It just makes a great logo. So there you go.
TBS: Farworld is to be a five-part series. I think I’ve got four of them figured out: water, earth, wind, and fire. Can you give us a hint as to the subject of the fifth book?
JSS: I tell you what it is and what it is not. It’s about what happens once all the elementals have been gathered. But it is not what anyone expects. Even my publisher was like, “Wow! Can’t wait to see how that comes out.”
TBS: Your descriptions of Marcus’s physical limitations were very realistic. How did you research writing from a physically-challenged point of view, especially in a novel with a lot of action?
JSS: I tried a lot of the things myself. But my best advice came from people with those very disabilities. It was a person who uses a wheelchair that explained to me how a one armed person can turn a chair. Neat trick.
TBS: Tell us about your crazy writing tendencies/processes. Do you have a lucky raccoon hat that you wear or a dance that you have to do before you sit down to write?
JSS: Skunk. It’s my lucky skunk hat. Stephen King once described writing as opening a hole in the paper until you can see the entire world through it. That’s my writing to a “T.” I have to go back and read what I wrote the day before, editing a little here and a little there. At first it’s really hard, like being a kid and getting your bike started, but once the hole gets open wide, I am lost in my own world. It’s kind of funny how little distractions will bug me when I get started but eventually I tune out everything.
TBS: On a related note, can you give us a kind of “play list” for Water Keep? (What kind of music do you listen to?)
JSS: As we were just talking about, distractions are hard for me when I’m writing. So I really have to have music that fades into the background for me. Not elevator music, but music I know so well that I’m not listening to the song instead of writing. It’s just flowing straight into my subconscious. In Water Keep, for example Aerosmith was my Marcus and Kyja music, AC/DC was my Dark Circle music, and Led Zeppelin was my general Farworld music.
TBS: Some of my favorite characters in the book were the animals. Chance, in particular, captured my heart. How did you decide who was going to populate Farworld?
JSS: Water Keep was a hard book to write, because once Marcus and Kyja get together, they are almost constantly on the run. That’s cool because there’s lots of action. But it’s also hard, because there is very little chance to catch your breath and have a little fun with them. I like animal characters because they give me a chance to have a little less focused interplay between the characters and the readers. One of my favorite lines is when Chance sees Marcus for the first time and says, “What’s the difference between a boy and a duck.” And Marcus faints. It just made me laugh a lot. [That’s my favorite line too! See review above.]
TBS: Now, we all know that the best writers are influenced by other writers. Who/what do you read?
JSS: Some authors won’t read the genre they are writing in, but I’m exactly the opposite. I love to read as much fantasy as I can when I’m writing fantasy, because it just creates a great mind set. It’s awesome because you can go, “Wow, I really loved that battle scene. I want to do a powerful scene like that.” Or, “That creature was so unexpected. What kind of creature can I make that will be unexpected?” Of course you have to be careful that you don’t inadvertently steal a scene or line. In fact there’s a scene where Kyja accuses MT of lying to her, and he talks about telling a long joke to a group of water nymphs. I was really worried I might have read that in a HP book. So I had to ask all of my experts to see if I had. No one could find or remember it, so hopefully I’m safe. If not, well, um . . . sorry about that.
TBS: And finally, my most pressing question: what is the magic/superpower within you?
JSS: Would it surprise you to know that it is coming up with really crazy stories?
Thanks, Mr. Savage/Scott/Jeff/Master of Farworld!
*GIVEAWAY* [NOW CLOSED] I have an extra SIGNED copy of Farworld: Water Keep to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, leave a comment on this post describing your desired magical power by Tuesday, July 22, 2008. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 23, 2008.