Monday, August 25, 2008

Find Your Magic : Farworld 2008 Blog Tour

I was thrilled when author J. Scott Savage contacted me about reading and reviewing his new book on my blog as part of his virtual book tour. The author was kind enough not only to provide me an autographed copy of his book, but also agreed to an interview and a giveaway.

Far World, Book 1: Water Keep
by J. Scott Savage
Shadow Mountain, September 2008 (ARE)
Fantasy (YA); 419 pgs

One of the first things I do when I crack open a book is to read the dedication. This one I read out loud to my husband and he immediately zeroed in on the mention of solving Ultima games. As a result, he plans to read this book based on that alone. Okay, so maybe that isn’t quite true. He does enjoy a good fantasy story and that may have something to do with it too.

Thirteen year old Marcus Kanenas is alone in the world. He is an orphan, having moved from place to place, school to school, and he isn’t sure how long he’ll be at the latest one. Bound to a wheelchair and the target of bullies, he has learned to be resourceful. He has a talent for disappearing and sensing what is to come, gifts he does not fully understand, but which have come in handy in a pinch. He often dreams of a far away world, one full of magic and talking animals and trees. He calls it Farworld. He daydreams about a young girl about his age whose name begins with a K, an imaginary friend—or so he believes.

Marcus discovers that his dreams are not so farfetched, however, when a man comes for him, posing as an attorney representing his long lost parents. Once the man has Marcus alone, his true identity and intentions are revealed and Marcus must fight for his life. A helping hand comes from an unexpected place—an unexpected world, in fact. Kyja reaches out to Marcus, sensing the danger he is in, and pulls him into her world, that of Farworld. Farworld is even more amazing than Marcus imagined it would be. He marvels at the joking horse and the singing flowers. He is enamored by the commonness of magic.

Like Marcus on earth, Kyja is a bit of an outcast in Farworld. Magic is commonplace in her world, a natural ability that everyone shares. Everyone that is except for Kyja. Like Marcus, she has had to endure stares and jokes on her behalf. She has learned to live without magic, and yet it is something she longs for. Perhaps it is buried deep within her as her friend and teacher, the wizard, Master Therapass suggests.

Kyja’s opening the way for Marcus to enter into Farworld has much bigger ramifications than either can imagine. A balance has been disrupted and both will quickly discover that they are a part of a bigger plot. The Dark Circle is growing more powerful and will stop and nothing to find Marcus and Kyja to either destroy them or bend them to their will. The only hope is for Kyja and Marcus to bring together the four Elementals—water, land, air and fire. Their search will not be an easy one. Not only do they face the threat of the Dark Circle and its minions, but also other enemies such as the mimickers and unmakers.

While separately the two do not seem like much of a threat against any evil, together they make quite a team. Their friendship and faith in each other is strong, but will it be strong enough to see them through to the end?

Water Keep is the first in the Far World series by J. Scott Savage. There is innocence about both Kyja and Marcus that is instantly endearing and yet both characters are wise beyond their years. They have had to overcome a lot in their thirteen years, faced loneliness and learned to make do with what little they had. Neither thought they were special in any way, and yet when faced with danger, they both proved they had more courage and strength than most people would probably have shown in the same situations.

The author did a great job of capturing the wonder and newness of Farworld to Marcus and of Earth to both Kyja and Riph Raph, the skyte. Kyja especially touched my heart; she is thoughtful and cares about complete strangers in need. She never asks for anything in return, just doing what she knows is the right thing to do. She also is quite blunt when she needs to be, standing up for what she believes and is not willing to back down just because danger is too close at hand.

J. Scott Savage has created characters that will appeal to young audiences as well as older ones. It is definitely a young adult series, the story is not overly complex and the characters are easy to relate to.

Farworld is an amazing place, full of magic and life. While avid fantasy readers may see some similarities in the set up as compared to other well known fantasy novels, there are plenty of differences and fresh ideas present as well. There is definitely a connection between Earth and Farworld, and I look forward to discovering more about it as the series progresses. J. Scott Savage’s Far World series was a delightful reading experience. I can’t wait until the next adventure.

Rating: Rating: * (Very Good)




Literary Feline: J. Scott Savage was nice enough to travel all the way to California via the virtual route for an interview. I couldn't afford the Disneyland passes and so we settled for my living room.

J. Scott Savage: Disneyland, schmislyland. We can have our own theme park right here. You sing, “Yo ho, yo ho.” and then I’ll do the whole script from Haunted Mansion. Really, I can. It’s a gift.

LF: Thank you so much for coming. Can I get you anything to drink? Maybe a little snack?

JSS: Anything other than vegetables. I just finished weeding a virtual garden and I’m feeling a little too close to the carrots and things to even think about eating them. Felines are carnivores right? Maybe we can eat some raw tuna or something.

LF: I may have some raw tuna lying around. Hold on, let me get you a can.

LF: I hope you like animals. My dog and two cats are not shy. You might want to keep the dog in front of you. Riley has a thing for jumping up behind a person sitting on the couch and licking their ears. And you might want to keep your shoes on. The new kitten, Anya, thinks feet are toys especially designed for her.

JSS: Oh whew. I thought that was you doing the whole ear-licking thing a minute ago. And we just met.

LF: I thought we could start with a few general questions.

JSS: You mean like Pershing? Or Washington? Sorry that was a little general joke.

LF: [Laugh] You’re such a card!

LF: What made you decide to switch from mystery to fantasy writing? Are there any advantages or drawbacks to writing one genre over the other?

JSS: I really don’t know. It’s a mystery I guess. Although I’ve always fantasized about it. Thanks everybody! I’m here till Thursday.

Actually, I didn’t intend to write a fantasy. I didn’t think I could. But this story just got stuck in my head. I started writing Farworld at 2:00 AM to prove to myself I couldn’t do it. But five hours and five thousand words later, I realized I was writing a fantasy and the rest is history. Well actually fantasy. I think there are pros and cons to any genre. But probably the coolest thing about fantasy is that anything can happen if you write it well enough. There are no limits.

LF: I am always curious about an author's writing environment and preferences. Some authors prefer to isolate themselves in an office and keep strict writing hours while other prefer a more loose schedule or settling in at the local coffee shop. Do you have any writing routines, preferences or quirks?

JSS: I’m really pretty much of a wherever whenever guy. Once I get into the story, a bomb could explode next door and I wouldn’t notice. I’d love to have a schedule. But a lot of times you have to grab the spare moments when you can. For example, I’m writing this on a plane. It’s not that quiet, but while I’m answering your questions I really don’t notice what’s going on around me.

LF: What was the first story you ever put to paper about?

JSS: Hmm. That’s a great question. I have actually never been asked it before. I’m sure I had written lots of things before as a kid. In fact I know I did. But the first time I can remember really feeling excited about a story I was writing was an urban fantasy about a killer named Flower who attacks a business man and breaks into the guy’s apartment to find a female thief going through the guy’s stuff. It was probably crap. But I thought I was writing the coolest story ever.

LF: Would you like me to move the cat? Parker is a bit of a lap cat.

JSS: Nope. I like cats and dogs. Even though I strongly believe that cats are actually minor demons.

LF: As it turns out, the kitten is named after a demon. A vengeance demon to be exact.

LF: It would have been easy to focus solely on Farworld, and I am glad you did not do that. Earth is just as much a character in your book as Farworld is in many ways. When you set out to write this series, were you aiming for such a balance?

JSS: Absolutely. I want readers to understand from book one that this is a story about both Marcus and Kyja and about both Farworld and Earth. Balance is and will become a much bigger issue in the book.

LF: Both Marcus and Kyja have disabilities. Marcus is wheelchair bound and Kyja cannot use magic. It would be easy to sympathize more with Marcus because his handicaps are much more familiar to readers, but Kyja's handicap is just as severe and dehabilitating. And yet both are also very strong and resourceful characters, made that way in part by their life experiences no doubt. Can you tell me a little bit about what went into the creation of these two great characters?

JSS: Thanks so much. I think that the characters were the first part of the story that came to me. You are exactly right. Most people tend to focus on Marcus’s disability because it is more familiar to us. We don’t view Kyja as disabled because none of us have magic either. But in Kyja’s world, magic is the equivalent of technology here. Imagine not being able to use any tools at all, from a screwdriver to a car. It is a huge disability in her world. The thing that I was focusing on was creating characters who didn’t magically lose their weaknesses when they discovered who they are. I wanted them to struggle, learn, and if not overcome, at least come to terms with their weaknesses.

LF: Will Dew Drop be back? She was such a fun character! I hope we get to see more of the Frost Pinnois too. And what about the ishkabiddles?

JSS: Yes, yes, and yes. I didn’t get to spend as much time with the water elementals in book one. But we have not seen the last of them. And the Ishkabiddle has become a star in her own right. Now she’s demanding more minutes and a dialogue coach. Hmph. Stars!

LF: And finally, what and who inspire you?

JSS: So much inspires me. A movie, a walk in a forest, an unusual name I see while driving, an unexpected book. I am always collecting new ideas I want to write about. People ask where my ideas come from, but it would be easier to ask where they don’t come from.

LF: Thank you for taking the time to visit with me, Scott. I also appreciate your patience with my animals!

JSS: Thank you! It was a lot of fun.

You can learn more about the author and his books at his website: Find Your Magic.

GIVEAWAY!

J. Scott Savage has been kind enough to offer an autographed copy of his fantasy novel to one lucky winner in the USA or Canada. If you are interested in entering the drawing for the book, leave a comment here. Please provide your e-mail address if you do not have a blog or a way of contacting your via your blog. The deadline for the drawing is 11:59 PM (PDT) on Sunday, August 31, 2008. Good luck!

Read what others had to say about this book:
As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
The Bluestocking Society
Book-a-Rama
Cheryl's Book Nook (Review)
Cheryl's Book Nook (Interview with Author)
Devourer of Books
Dolce Bellezza
From My Bookshelf
Hey Lady! Watcha Readin'?
It's All About Books
Leafing Through Life
Lesa's Book Critiques (Review)
Lesa's Book Critiques (Interview with Author)
A Reader's Journal
She Reads Books
Ticket to Anywhere
Trish's Reading Nook

27 comments:

  1. This book must be amazing, it's the fourth review I've seen this week! Great interview and review... as always!

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  2. Morning! Thanks for linking to me.

    I was wondering, though, whether you could change the link to: http://shereadsbooks.org/2008/review-interview-giveaway-farworld-and-j-scott-savage/

    I've recently started blogging at my own domain, so I'm trying to chase down outdated links. Thankee :)

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  3. I had read about this upcoming book way back in May. I have been interested in it.

    It's a pity that I can't be considered for the giveaways of this book going on in various blogs. You know why. I live in Delhi!

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  4. I'd love to read this book! I also feel that after reading so many interviews, I actually *know* J. Scott Savage, which is peculiar. Anyway, great review. Please enter me in the contest!

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  5. Jen - It really is good. I think you might like it too!

    Christine - I changed the link. Thank you for letting me know! :-)

    Gautami - I wish it was being offered outside of Canada and the USA too. I hope you do get to read it still though. It's a fun book.

    Meghan - Me too! I was trying to repeat too many of the same questions that have already been asked, but I couldn't help it in some cases.

    I've entered you into the drawing. :-)

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  6. Please enter me! I keep reading good things about this.

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  7. I have heard nothing but praise about this book all over blogland. I enjoyed the interview and your review. Annoyingly I live in the UK so I can't enter the draw which is rubbish! I love the cover and will look out for the UK release.

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  8. Just wanted to say great job! Fun interview. It is hard after so many people have been doing it, huh? But this was wonderful!
    (You know NOT to enter me in the drawing since I have my own book, right? And one that is already well-loved and well-worn too.)

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  9. I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I have to say I loved the interview! Great questions, and some fun responses. I can't really tell whether your fur-kids helped or hindered, though :-).

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  10. I sooo want to read this book. I have entered every contest to try and win one, but if that fails, LOL, I will be buying it.

    Thnks for the great giveaway!

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  11. Better interview than mine! I really enjoyed yours. And, don't enter me in the contest either. You did a great interview!

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  12. Great review and interview! Hope the animals were well behaved during the "visit." I'd love to be entered into the contest. I've got a "contact me" link at the top of my blog ... you know ... in case I win the book. Hope hope.

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  13. This sounds like something my daughter would love. She really only reads fantasy right now. Thanks for the review, and the interview is great! Sounds like a fun guy.

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  14. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, Wendy! Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts. The interview is great! :)

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  15. I have heard of this series, but haven't had a chance to read it yet! Thanks for the great interview and review!

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  16. Nicola - I've got you down. It really is good as people say (I think).

    Rhinoa - Thank you! I do wish it was open around the world, but I know the publisher is limited to who he/she can ship to. :-(

    Suey - I purposely avoided reading everyone's reviews of the book until after I'd written my own. I did look at some of the other interviews though to get an idea of what I would ask. I didn't want to repeat too many of the questions, but it's unavoidable.

    Florinda - My furkids try to help in their own way--even if the humans don't see it that way. :-) Scott has a great sense of humor, doesn't he? He seems like a nice man.

    Ruby - Maybe this will be your lucky turn! :-)

    Lesa - I thought your interview was great! I added a link to your interview under your review. I hope that's okay.

    Terri - Thank you! My animals are always well behaved. Well, sometimes anyway. ;-)

    Karen - I do think your daughter would enjoy this one! The author's been a good sport. :-)

    Melody - Thank you. The book was a lot of fun--and a nice break from the more serious stuff I had been reading.

    Penelope - I hope you will give it a try. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. Now if the author would only hurry up and write it. :-)

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  17. Great interview Wendy! I've been hearing so many good things about this book. I'm adding it to my radar :)

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  18. Iliana - Thank you! I was careful not to read any of the reviews before I read the book because I didn't want to be influenced. It was hard not to notice how well received the book was, however. I'm glad I can join in the voices who really liked it.

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  19. Great interview! It sounds like you both had a lot of fun with it.

    I'm really looking forward to this book, and I would love to be entered in the giveaway! Thanks

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  20. Lana - Thank you! I did have a lot of fun with the interview. Scott is a great guy.

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  21. Great review!! This was my first real contact with an author and I was so pleased (and a little surprised) and how personable he was. It sounds like you had a great time with the blogtour as well!

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  22. Trish - Scott sure took on a lot by organizing his own virtual tour--and then to be so friendly on top of it! This really was a great experience.

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  23. Better late, than never. Even if I don't win, I'm going to keep this one in mind!

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  24. I know the kids at my school will love this series. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks for the review and posting the interview.

    http://www.bookwormsdinner.blogspot.com/

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  25. I would love to win a copy of this - I think my son and I would both love it!

    nnjmom at yahoo dot com

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  26. Thanks for the great review and interview, Wendy. Please enter me in your drawing.

    http://www.susanlovestoread.blogspot.com

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  27. Jenclair - I hope you do get a chance to read it.

    Wisteria - I was thinking of recommending it to my mom for her school as well. :-)

    Carrie K. - It would make a good family read. :-)

    Susan - I enjoyed doing the interview more than I thought I would. LOL Thank you for entering!

    Giveaway Closed

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