Title: Water Keep
Author: J. Scott Savage
Date Finished: July 27, 2008 #43
Pages: 413 (ARC)
After I signed up for J. Scott Savage's Farworld Blogtour I almost started to regret my decision--what happens if I don't like the book? What do I say then? Well, lucky for me (and the author), me not liking this book wasn't a problem--not even in the slightest. What a fun and exciting read!! And a breath of fresh air after finishing Tess.
This is going to be a long post--I can feel it. But keep reading to the end for the Q&A and giveaway portion of this post--where I will be giving away (OK...Scott will be giving away) a signed copy of Farworld: Water Keep!!
When we think of a hero, someone who will save the world and the fate of mankind, we think of one who is strong and brave. Probably someone with some killer muscles. In Water Keep, however, we are immediately introduced to Marcus--an orphaned, wheelchair-bound thirteen-year-old who is about to get butt kicked by a bunch of school bullies. Although he miraculously escapes the bullies, he soon meets a strange man who claims to have come to the school to reunite Marcus with his parents. Something doesn't feel right about the man--something a little nightmarish; Marcus decides he doesn't trust the man or believe his story, so he tries to escape from the situation. But all of a sudden--whooosh--Marcus finds himself in an unfamiliar world. A place of his dreams--and strangely enough with a girl from his dreams. During her magic lesson, Kyja saw Marcus and his plight and brought him to Farworld. Farworld, as we learn, is the sister world of Earth.
Sounds a little crazy, I know. But Marcus and Kyja, although from different worlds, share a deep connection and destiny. A terrible force, the Dark Circle, is gaining control of Farworld, and has been since Marcus and Kyja were born thirteen years ago. As the wizard Master Therapass explains to the two children, together they must find the four elements, water, fire, land, and air, and bring them together to help create a drift between Earth and Farworld to help save the fate of both worlds.
Water Keep, the first book in the Farworld series, is the story of Marcus and Kyja's journey to seek out the water elements for the first piece of the alliance that will help save the two worlds. The story is absolutely magical--there are enchanted forests, mythical creatures and monsters, good characters and evil characters, humor, suspense, and of course the idea that magic is within us all. We simply need to find the magic inside of us to use it. And while the series has a lot of room for development, the groundwork was nicely laid in this book. I got to know a lot about Marcus and Kyja and their different insecurities (particularly Marcus and his disability and Kyja and her inability to perform magic), but Marcus and Kyja also learn a lot about themselves throughout their journeys. I really look forward to the next chapter of the series to find out what happens to Marcus and Kyja next--and whether or not they can continue to fight the Dark Circle.
Q&A with J. Scott Savage
After finishing the book (which I devoured!), I thought up a few questions to ask Scott about this book, his writing, and also the Farworld series. He was kind enough to meet me for an ice cream as we strolled down the Santa Monica boardwalk (alright--I was dying of heat in Texas and he was probably dying of heat in Utah, but a girl can wish, right??).
Trish: Just finished the book and have one immediate question--when is the next one coming out?? :)
Scott: Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. I’m hard at work on book two now.
Trish: I'm dying of heat here in Texas, so I thought we could go somewhere with an ocean breeze--maybe throw in some ice cream. So, I was thinking we could have our little Q&A session on the Santa Monica boardwalk.
Scott: I love Santa Monica. Do they ever have bad days here? It’s like, “the worst day in Santa Monica is better the best day wherever else you might be.” Not completely true. But it is a great place.
Trish: To get this started off--first and most important: what is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Scott: Definitely mint chocolate chip in either the green or white-colored variety. Although I am also very partial to chocolate-dipped soft serve vanilla cones.
Trish: Love chocolate-dipped vanilla! Although, good ole chocolate chip cookie dough is probably my favorite. Got a favorite amusement park ride? I love a good roller coaster, but nothing that spins (queasy stomach).
Scott: I am so with you. I can handle any drop. But not spinning. Not even the teacups. I really like the Tower of Terror, especially the one at Disneyworld. Now that is a drop.
Trish: Oh the Tower of Terror is a great ride--someone needs to build a Disney-park in Texas! In all seriousness onto the questions: 1. What was your inspiration for Water Keep and the Farworld series? How did the idea first come about?
Scott: I’m not sure there is one inspiration. But it’s more like lots of little pieces suddenly coming together. I’ve always like that idea that magic is all around us, we just don’t know it. Everybody has to find their own magic.
Actually, I didn’t choose to write fantasy. It chose me. I started writing this book at 2:00 AM one morning to get rid of a story that wouldn’t leave my head. I knew I couldn’t 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. That has actually worked for other projects in the past. But this time I found myself still writing five hours and five thousand words later. So I went with it. And I’ve actually enjoyed writing this more than anything I’ve ever written.
Trish: I think we know, now, that you can write fantasy! The story comes out as being very natural, so it's interesting that you didn't necessarily choose the genre. What are your favorite authors/books? How, if at all, did these help influence your writing?
Scott: Stephen R. Donaldson, Tolkien, and Terry Brooks were big influences from the fantasy side of things. I was just blown away by how fertile their imaginations were. Their books really typified entering another world through the pages of a book. As far as authors in general, I like a lot of authors for different reasons. I like Steinbeck’s ability to create a scene. I like Card’s ability to build worlds. I like how JK Rowling can make you care about even the most minor characters in her stories. I love Peter Straub’s amazing way with the English language. I think Stephen King is probably one of the greatest story tellers of the last two centuries. I love reading a good author and being inspired by what they do. I’m reading the Percy Jackson series right now and I love the mix of humor and action.
Trish: Marcus is an unusual hero. On page 336 he tells Kyja, "Who would choose a kid in a wheelchair to save their world?" I think we know the who (You), but why did you choose Marcus as our hero? What can we expect from Marcus as the hero of Farworld?
Scott: I really don’t feel like I choose my heroes. I know that sounds weird, but most writers will tell you they are learning about their characters right along with the reader. I know what Marcus will face in the future, but I really don’t know how he will react or what he will do until I am writing that scene.
Trish: What can your reader look forward to in the next books in the Farworld series? There was an awkward kiss at the end of Water Keep--will there be a romance between Kyja and Marcus? ;)
Scott: Well they’re only 13, so I don’t know if “romance” is the right word necessarily. But they are definitely a team. And occasionally they remember that they are boy and girl.
Trish: Kids nowaways do grow up fast, though! What was the writing process like for this book? Do you know how the series will end or are you taking it one book at a time?
Scott: I definitely know how the series will end. There are things I had to set up from book one, so it’s good SM let me commit to 5 books coming out of the gates. (Trish's note: SM=publisher Shadow Mountain)
Trish: Do you ever suffer from writer's block? What do you do to get past those moments?
Scott: Absolutely. I firmly believe that writers block is your mind’s way of telling you that something isn’t working right. Rather than trying to force my way through it, I try to look back over the story and see where I took a wrong turn.
Trish: What was one of the most frustrating parts of publishing this book? What advice can you give aspiring writers?
Scott: At one point I received a letter for Shadow Mountain stating that they would be unable to consider my novel, as I was under contract with another publisher. This was at a key point in getting my book accepted. And worst of all, I got the letter late on a Friday so I couldn’t do anything but worry all weekend. Turns out it was all a misunderstanding, but for two days I was in a serious funk. I would tell aspiring writers that if they believe in themselves, they should never give up. There are always going to be roadblocks thrown up in your way, but if you persevere you will get past them.
Trish: There are several themes in Water Keep. What would you like your readers to take away from Water Keep and the rest of the Farworld series?
Scott: My number 1 goal is to have the reader come away from reading my book with a feeling that their time was well spent. I think that has to be the goal of any writer worth his or her salt. Secondly, I want to reader to be fulfilled with the story in book one, but also to be anxious to see what happens next. As far as themes, different people are going to get different things out of the story. You may have a person who has been struggling with something in her life, who comes away with a feeling that she can accomplish what she needs to. You may have another person vows to look at the world around him in a different way. I don’t try to “insert” themes in my stories, but I do believe that any good story will create its own themes if that makes sense.
Trish: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions--knowing a little bit about the author certainly helps enhance the reading experience. And thanks for sharing a cone of virtual ice cream with me. :)
Scott: It was great! I think we need to go back for another scoop.
While Water Keep doesn't hit the bookstores until mid-September, Scott has kindly agreed to give away a copy of the book before then to one of YOU! I will draw a winner on Wednesday August 27. All you need to do is leave me a comment here expressing your interest in being entered for the drawing. I'll enter your name twice if you mention this post and the giveaway on your blog (*please leave me the link to your post as I am going out of town next week and don't want to accidentally miss your mention). You don't need to have a blog to enter the giveaway, but you will need to leave me a way to contact you in case you are the winner. *Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.