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Review of Farworld Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Wow, so J. Scott Savage, the new darling of the fantasy scene, agreed to meet me in C.S. Lewis' Narnia . . . hey, this is a Virtual Book Tour, we can meet anywhere I please, and that's where I please. You know, the incredible beach where the children run and play in the ocean? Yeah, we're sitting on a huge boulder conducting our virtual interview looking out over that very ocean.

Farworld Water Keep is a journey into a fantastical world where the balance between earth and Farworld is very delicate. Here's what the back cover has to say about the story:

Other people may see 13-year-old Marcus Kanenas as an outcast and a nobody, but he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes and trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even as a name for this place -- Farworld. When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for 13years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds. But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass's secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld's only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals--water, land, air and fire--and convince them to open a drift between the worlds. As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst evil the Dark Circle can throw at them--Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creates that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S'Bae. Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers.
Great cover, isn't it? But let me put this as plainly and simply as I can: I loved this book. The writing was stellar and the storytelling superb, matching the fantastical world J. Scott Savage created for us to visit.

Marcus is a physically flawed hero, with a mind that won't quit, who doesn't quite fit into the scheme of things on earth. Kyja is a clever girl who can't quite figure out why she's so different from everyone on Farworld. Savage has cleverly woven a story of courage, strength and acceptance into the incredible events which occur on Farworld and Earth. Bullying, danger, courage and sacrifice are all pulled from the main characters, both 13-years-old. While they face mythical creatures, they face emotional situations teenagers on earth face every day, in real life.

Am I good enough? Am I strong enough? Am I brave enough? Am I smart enough? Am I talented enough?

This book is a must-have. It hits the shelves at bookstores across the nation in September, so put it on your calendar and get ready to buy a copy the second you hear its available. You will love immersing yourself in the mythical Farworld as well as vicariously living the adventures, and misadventures, of Marcus and Kyja.

So Scott, before we get into the Q&A portion of our program let me tell you what I thought of your book.

"Okay."

It rocked. I picked this book up and finished it before I went to bed.

"Great. That's the kind of thing I like to hear."

Tell me, how did you come to the decision to make your hero . . . the one person who could save Farworld . . . so physically flawed and what was the purpose?

Even before I knew I was going to write this series, I had a story in my head about a boy with what we would view as disabilities trying to save a world of magic. It only made sense then that the girl in the story should also be disabled, but in another way. I think part of what appeals most to me about this story is the concept of turning weaknesses into strengths. I loved the Harry Potter series, but how cool would it have been if instead of being the kid who does everything the best, he struggled with magic, and flying? I think a lot of people were rooting for Neville Longbottom to be the one to defeat Voldemort for that very reason. I want to be clear though. This isn’t a story about a boy with physical disabilities or a girl who can’t do magic. It’s about ordinary people overcoming their weaknesses to do extraordinary things.

Your previous works have revolved around suspense, comedy and drama. I know you have a fondness for horror stories. But fantasy? This is something I didn't see coming from you and I'm pleasantly surprised. Why and how did you decide to write fantasy?

Well, once I realized my plan to be the first unicycle riding weatherman was only a pipedream, I had to look to other opportunities. Fantasy seemed the most likely choice. Actually, I didn’t choose to write fantasy. It chose me. I started writing this book at 2:00 AM one morning to exorcize a story that wouldn’t leave my head. I knew for a fact that I could not 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.

Scott, how difficult was it to create an entirely new world?

Not hard at all. It was liberating. In what other genre can you dream up a bright red creature as tall as a six story building with talons big enough to crush a car and the ability to bring back the dead, and drop it right in? I tried that once in a mystery and the editor had a little problem with it. So I settled on a woman who eats too much. (Here's me, Candace, interjecting . . . "Go Shandra!")

Why magic? Why did you revolve an entire world around magic?

Okay, this is either going to sound really deep or really lame, but I believe we live in a world filled with magic. We just can’t see it because we are looking for flying brooms and sparking wands. We read about magic happening every day, but we call it coincidence or miracles depending on our religious leaning. I look at some paintings or sculptures or hear someone singing a beautiful number and I don’t know how anyone can not realize they are witnessing magic taking place right in front of their eyes. The first book in this series only hints at it, but magic is not limited to Farworld. And how it links to Earth is going to be pretty amazing I think.

Oh, I think we need to go with deep on that one. On to the next question: Today's teenagers are facing very real threats to their emotional, spiritual and physical futures. What in Farworld can give them some hope and guidance in this dangerous path we call life?

They can look at me and say, “If this clown can succeed, anyone has a chance.” That’s probably not what you are going for huh? As I was writing this book, I had the chance to meet a thirteen-year-old girl in a wheelchair who has had more surgeries than years of life. Yet she is so positive and uplifting. I discovered a nine-year-old boy who saved an elderly woman’s life while doing something as simple as delivering papers. I know some people think this is a terrible time to be bringing kids into the world. But I’m excited as all get out at what today’s kids are bringing into the world.

I couldn't agree with you more, Scott. This is clearly the first book in a series, I'm guessing four (hey, there are four elementals in the book . . . I can count). What are the anticipated release dates?

Oh, you were so close. But I’m sorry I’m going to have to send you home with a year’s supply of monkey chow and set of Speed Racer oven mitts. There are actually going to be five books. I’m excited about all of them. But I think what happens in the fifth book is just going to blow people away. I think it will be really unexpected. As far as I know they will all come out in September of each year.

Shoot, so close and yet so far. Really, Speed Racer oven mitts? Do I haveta? And . . . last but not least, why didn't we see more of the ishkabiddle. I just liked the name and wanted to read it off and on throughout the book, but no, the ishkabiddle only showed up in the first chapter. I wanted to see more ishkabiddles. Why didn't we?

You know, it’s funny, everyone asks about the Ishkabiddle. It was really just a throwaway creature to introduce the reader to Farworld. But Now I’m thinking she’ll have to make at least a few more cameos.

What advice do you have for fledgling fantasy writers out there?

Don’t ice-skate after March 15th. No matter how much the dog seems to enjoy his dry food, it’s really not a good after school snack. And do not let a flair pen go through the wash in your pants pocket.

Wow, how'd ya know that's just what I was going for? By the way, has the pond melted yet? How many fish do you have alive still?

That’s actually kind of a sad story. It was a particularly hard winter. But the good news is, we started off the year with a really nice fish fry. (I know that’s just yucky. We actually gave them a very nice burial.)

Scott, thanks for dropping by Dream a little more . . . Reviewing Farworld Water Keep was my pleasure, especially because it was so darn good! I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

So my fellow bloggers, did I love this book? Oh yeah! You've got to get you one. Trust me! Drop by Scott's blog often so that you can be the first to know when the next book in the series is coming out.

J. Scott Savage and Shadow Mountain Publishing have agreed to give away one free copy of the Advance Reader Copy of Farworld Water Keep to the winner of this contest. So here are the rules:

Leave a comment on this post telling me what character in the Chronicles of Narnia is your favorite and why. All the commenter names will be thrown into a bowl and the winner chosen on July 14th. So comment away my friends . . . . oh yeah, leave a good thought for Scott. I think he's going to replace J.K. Rowling.

Hey Scott, is that a bear? Where's your sword? Do you have a bow and arrow? Are you kidding me?

Farworld: Water Keep is eligible for a Whitney Award. Once you've read it, go and nominate the book at the Whitney Award website. It is a very simple process. Simply follow the step by step directions.

Update: And our winner is . . . Lisa in Idaho! Congratulations. You are in for a treat. As soon as you email me your snail mail address then I'll get it over to J. Scott Savage to have your prized copy of Farword Water Keep sent out.
Review of Farworld Water Keep by J. Scott Savage Review of Farworld Water Keep by J. Scott Savage Reviewed by Candace Salima on Monday, July 07, 2008 Rating: 5