As promised, I have
Teacher Tasses has an exam and pop quiz for you young Mr. Savage... So sit up straight and throw away the chewing gum.
"Uh, oh. Hope I don’t get sent to the Principal. He and I were often on a first name basis. I wasn’t actively bad... I had an imagination that often got me into hot water."
Exam Question #1. It's been said that high fantasy will always be compared to Tolkien and Christian allegory to Lewis. Do you think bildungsroman tales will now always invite comparisons to Harry Potter and/or Star Wars?
"Always is a long, long time. But I think that for at least this generation they will. The same thing can be said for vampire tales and the Twilight series. You can’t write any type of YA fantasy at all right now without at least considering if parts of it will be too close to HP. I honestly don’t worry about it all that much though. The trail of your story may start out near the same point. But once the path diverges, and the plot takes hold, readers should stop comparing your book and focus on the story. At the end, they may look back and compare favorably or not. But there are certainly worse authors to be compared to than Ms. Rowling."
Exam Question #2. Will Marcus and Kyja's tale evolve as a bildungsroman?
"Only to people who know what that word means. I’m actually in a car right now, so I’m taking a chance. But I believe we are talking about a story in which a youthful character learns or grows. Am I close? That being the case, I would say yes. This is definitely a story about the growth of Marcus and Kyja. But I will also say that there are some elements of the fifth book that probably don’t fall into the classical bildungsroman model. That part of the story might fall more into the epic fantasy model where the world is actually a character. Does that make any sense at all?"
There's no talking during the exam. Please hold your questions for the end.
Exam Question #3. The urban dictionary defines 'skyte' as an "dirty, common, ragged vermin." I don't like to think of Riph Raph as unwanted vermin; he's my favorite character! Were you aware of this negative connotation when you identified Riph Raph?
"I actually Googled the word skyte before I used it, and the urban dictionary definition doesn’t come up. So, no, I wasn’t aware of it. But I’m not super concerned about that. There are some really odd “definitions” on there. Hopefully in another couple of years you’ll see skyte defined as an oddly endearing little dragon-like creature with floppy ears and bulbous yellow eyes. Not a lizard."
Teachers have masters degrees in Googleology. You can find the definition Here.
I hope you're correct because Riph Raph deserves better.
Exam Question #4. The portrayal of Marcus as handicapped, but fully equal to any task, is very powerful. Did you ever reconsider having your protagonist handicapped or did he come to you fully formed?
"He came fully formed. There was a brief discussion with my senior editor about how Marcus’s physical disabilities could make movie rights harder to sell. But I can’t worry about that. I write books not movies. And this is a key part of the book."
Exam Question #5. Is it difficult to balance the perspectives of two equal protagonists?
"First time I’ve been asked that. It may be my favorite question. Yes it really is. I didn’t want people to see Marcus or Kyja as a sidekick to the other. Because Marcus appears first, some people assume that he is the main hero. But I’ve had an equal number of people say that they related to Kyja as those who related most to Marcus. So hopefully I got it at least close to right."
POP QUIZ: 10 questions in 10 seconds - GO!
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars (episodes 4-6) with Next Generation a somewhat close second.
Coke or Pepsi? Coke.
Vampires or Zombies? Vampires. But not Edward type vampires. True hardcore vampires.
Dogs or cats? Cats are actually minor demons. Dogs.
Football or baseball? Hardest question of the bunch. Football on TV, baseball in person. Either being played.
Fall or spring? Fall.
Halloween or Valentine's Day? Halloween in a landslide.
Playstation or Wii? Wii for the moment.
Mac or PC? PC
Pie or Cake? Pie
Exam Question #6. What drew you to children's literature?
"A story that just wouldn’t leave my head."
Exam Question #7. How is writing for a children's market different from writing for an adult market?
"Not as different as you might think. I believe in writing for children, but no “to” them. I’m really not that fond of books that feel like they are being written down. I don’t go out of my way to use big words. But I also don’t avoid hard words if they are the right words. I think it’s okay for a kid to pick up a dictionary occasionally or learn the meaning of a word from it’s context. I am a little careful in how graphic I make my violence and I keep all profanity out. They’ll find plenty of books with those, so I don’t need to add to it."
Exam Question #8. The story is long (not in a negative way, just in a page length way). Did you worry about young readers sustainability?
"Yes and no. I worried about length because I didn’t want younger readers to get scared off. But I didn’t worry about kids getting bored and tuning out. I tend to write books with a pretty fast pace. So if you read enough to get hooked, you will probably stick with the story to the end."
Exam Question #9. What would you like young readers to take away from the story?
"Most of all? A love for books and reading. I want them to come away from reading Farworld with a desire to go find another book and start reading that."
Exam Question#10. If you could be one thing, without fear of failure, with assurance of success, what would you be?
"This is going to sound really lame. I’m sure that after I send these answers to you, I’ll come up with something amazing. But the first answer that popped into my head was “a parent.” I just love being a dad. I love teaching my kids new things. I love getting hugs when I come home from work. There are lots of things that pay the bills or get more attention or fame or money. But nothing is as rewarding to me as being my kids’ dad."
Excellent exam Mr. Savage! 100%. Now about that pop quiz.... I might have to disagree with you on the Mac/PC answer, but you get a bonus mark for the 'cats are demons' comment! So, that's 100% on the quiz too!
Enter to win an advanced copy of Farworld: Water Keep by leaving your name & email address in the comment section at the top ('start a rumpus here' link). Drawing will be held September 1, 2008 @ 10:00 PM EST
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com