Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Author Interview: J. Scott Savage

Today's guest is J. Scott Savage, who I know best as Jeffrey S. Savage in the LDS market. His previous works include two stand-alone novels and two series mystery books, but he assured me that his "Shandra Covington" series will continue. When he embarked on a Young Adult Fantasy series with a national company, Jeff shifted his name to J. Scott for those novels so as not to confuse the YA readers. Jeff/Scott lives in Utah with his family, when he's not traveling the country for his day job. His forthcoming novel, Farworld: Water Keep, will appear in September from Shadow Mountain.

Welcome, Jeff, er, that is, Scott! How long have you been writing? What made you start?

Well I’ve been writing off and on for most of my life. But I seriously started a novel for the first time about eight years ago. At the time it started as a way to relieve the stress of being the CEO of an Internet company during some pretty stressful times and traveling a lot. Later, I realized how much I loved writing.

When did you sell your first book?

The first book I ever tried to write was Cutting Edge. I sold it to the first publisher I sent it to. Sounds way too easy, huh?

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

I’m the type of writer who goes, “Holy cow! I only have three weeks till my deadline!” No, seriously, I need enough of the story in my head that I know where I am going. But if I outline too many details it feels like I lose a little of the spontaneity. So my outlines are more like ideas chained together by what-ifs.

How do you choose your characters' names?

I collect names. I actually have a little book. But writing in the fantasy genre really required me to spend more time thinking about the names. You can’t have Trinkalina and Hank. Doesn’t work too well. Generally I am not a fan of character names that the reader can’t pronounce. No, XXyrch.

What is your daily schedule like?

Get up. Shower. Have breakfast. (Usually I try to get dressed somewhere in there.) Oh, you mean as far as writing? I like to get in at least 1500 words a day. Usually I edit the previous day’s work first to get me into the story. If I’m really in a groove I can easily write 5-6,000 words. But I definitely have weeks where I don’t get anything written.

How do you handle life interruptions?

“Be quiet!!!!” Sometimes that works. Sometimes not.

That ties a lot into the previous question. I can handle life’s interruptions. But I can’t write very well when I don’t have stability in my life. For example if I am really worried about how I am going to pay the bills, it’s tough for me to lose myself in a story. Once I am into a story though, you could set off a bomb next door and I wouldn’t notice.

Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?

I’m one of those people who finds it hard to focus on writing with music playing unless I am so familiar with the music that it just fades into the background. I do like instrumentals and nature sounds. The sound of the ocean is soothing. When I go back and edit, I often have music.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?

I can’t eat while I write either. But not for the reason you’d think. I get so caught up in the story that I can eat an entire bag of chips without realizing it. So mostly I save food for breaks.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

I love the high you get from writing a really powerful scene. I get so pumped up imagining how people will react when they read it. The worst is when suddenly nothing seems to work and you really question whether you should be writing at all. You’re like “Why did I ever think I could do this?”

Tell us about your new book, Farworld: Water Keep.

Farworld is really off the beaten path for me. Not they I haven’t crossed genres before. But this is going into fantasy and YA. It was such a change that I really didn’t think I could do it. But the story pulled me through. I got so caught up in Marcus and Kyja and the whole Farworld location that I literally dreamed about it almost every night I was writing. I describe this book as ordinary kids finding a way to accomplish extraordinary things. Not the typical story about kids overcoming their weaknesses to become great per se. But kids learning to live with their weaknesses and struggling to do the right thing. It’s fantasy, but it’s the way most of us would handle things if we were put into those circumstances. “I don’t know why I was chosen to do this. And I’m probably going to fail. But I’ll give it my best shot anyway.”

Awesome cover, BTW. What is your next project?

Well I’ve got two series I am actively keeping up with—Shandra and Farworld. So that doesn’t leave a ton of times for new projects at the moment. But I’ve got this kind of darker urban fantasy idea along the lines of the Desden Files. It’s about a bounty hunter/PI who dies and gets sent to hell. But he has a way to earn back his life if he can solve a little problem for the big guy.

What is your advice for other writers?

Write with a passion. Don’t write a story that is like all the others. Don’t write something “good enough.” Write something that gets you really excited. That’s what other people want to read.

What other work of yours has been published?
Cutting Edge, Covenant, 2001
Into the Fire, Covenant 2002
House of Secrets, Covenant 2005
Dead on Arrival, Covenant 2006
Water Keep, Farworld Book 1, Shadow Mountain, Sept 2008

Thank you for the Interview.

Thank you, Marsha. I’ve really been enjoying the process of publishing for the national market. It’s been a real learning experience. Let your readers know they can drop by my blog anytime at
http://www.jscottsavage.com/ and the Farworld website should be up in the next few weeks at http://www.readfarworld.com/.


  1. I've read a lot of great buzz about this book. It's definitely on my acquisition list.

  2. Great interview Marsha! Thanks for sharing.


  3. Anonymous11:15 PM

    Good interview Marsha and Jeff. I am looking forward to "Farworld." Kerry Blair told us a bit about it at our ANWA Retreat last week. Sounds wonderful. I also had the opportunity to sit in a class you taught at the LDS Storymakers Conference this past Spring. It was very educational. I bought one of your Shandra books, and my 19 year old duaghter and I found it a very fun read with lots of twists and surprises. Good luck on "Farworld." Cindy R. Williams


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