Monday, May 31, 2010

And They Didn't Live Happily Ever AFter?

According to a sports column I recently read, every three seconds a child is born. That comes out to roughly 28,800 children every single day! By that math, there have been over 800,000 children born into this world that have no idea what a blog by Jeff Savage is. Yikes!!!

Okay, so that’s my way of saying I haven’t blocked in four weeks. I would apologize, but the truth is that I suddenly find myself with potentially four series of books, a new job, and I am traveling nearly every week. I love to blog, but if it comes down to getting my day’s writing in or doing a blog, writing will almost always win out. Huh, guess that makes me a writer. But I am remiss, and so yeah, here I am. I promise I will try to do better.

Speaking of traveling, last week I was in New York for business. Thursday night my boss and I realized that if we hurried we could go to the city (we were working and staying on Long Island) in time to catch a show. I quickly discovered three things. Long Island traffic is a bear. There are NO public toilets in all of Manhattan. (Not totally true but it felt like it after a dozen or so Diet Cokes and the aforementioned traffic.) And NYC rainstorms give you absolutely no warning before soaking you to the bone.

The good news was that we found a cheap parking garage only a few blocks from Times Square, I remembered where the half-price day of the show ticket place was, and there were plenty of shows available. The other good news was that my boss’s wife is a huge theater buff. Her dad wrote the script for Saturday’s Warrior and founded Tuacahn. So we called her and got several recommendations for shows. We’d both seen all the old classics, so we picked a play called Next to Normal. The lead won a Tony last year and the play won a Pulitzer. This was good because I don’t like silly shows. I can watch Les Mis a hundred times over, but force me to watch A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, or even worse, Pirates of Penzance, and I will literally chew my fingers to bloody stumps.

So we saw the play. And it was amazing. The acting was superb. The singing was the kind that makes you go right out and buy the sound track. There was quite a bit of profanity, but I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring that if the story is gripping. And the story was gripping. But here’s the thing. It is the story of a family dealing with the death of a child, and a mother who is seriously mentally unstable. From midway through the first half you realize this play can’t possibly end happily. The child won’t be brought back. The mother may get somewhat better, but they won’t all live happily ever after.

(There is some mild profanity in this video, but it is TV level)

Of course this is not new. Lots of books and stories don’t end happily. Think Romeo and Juliet. Think Somewhere in Time. Do any Jane Austen books end happily? I’m sure they must, but from what I’ve seen on TV they all seem to be about dour women and effeminate men. Not a happy combination from my point of view. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard Mr. Darcy is supposed to be hot but really, come on, his name is Darcy. Tell me that kid didn’t play with Barbies when he was little. Okay, I’ve gotten off track.

My point was that there are lots of stories that don’t end happily. I wrote Into the Fire, a modern day retelling of the story of Job in the Old Testament. You know that isn’t going to be a total upper. When I walked out of the play, my boss asked if I liked it. I told him that I’m not sure you can really say you “liked” a play like that. I was moved by it. I was enthralled by it. I bought the soundtrack and can’t stop humming “Superboy and the Invisible Girl.” But did I like it? I’m not sure.

So how about you? How do you feel about stories that do not end with “and they lived happily ever after?” Can you love a story that leaves you sad at the end?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Great News About Farworld and My Friends at Eureka Elementary

First, let me share some good news.

Although I haven't talked about it much, there was a chance the last three books of the Farworld series might not get published due to the economy. But thanks to Chris, Lisa, and others at Shadow Mountain, the series is a go again.

I can't tell you how excited I am to know that Farworld will live to see the end of the series. One of the biggest reasons I didn't say anything was because one way or another I was determined to see the series completed. But all along I hoped that Shadow Mountain might bring it back, so I could keep the look of the books the same.

If you are a Farworld fan, please take a second and e-mail Heidi Taylor, Chris's assistant at Shadow Mountain to tell them thanks!!!!

Second, I am long overdue in thanking my friends in Eureka for one of the best nights of my life. Late last year, Eureka Elementary invited me to come to their school for an assembly and book night. They bought books for almost every student between the grades of 3rd through 6th.

The day of the assembly, I had an awesome time talking to the students about reading, writing, and finding their magic. That night I showed up a the school expecting a normal book club and literacy type meeting. What I found blew me away! I showed up to discover the front of the school had been turned in the Westland Woods. Inside I found Master Therapass and Bonesplinter waiting for me. That was amazing enough. But when we got done, the curtains were pulled back to reveal projects ranging from Farworld posters, to Farworld dioramas, to full animations of Marcus and Kyja. Even a Water Keep made completely out of jello and a 12 inch high Burger Barn complete down to the tiniest details. I was literally brought to tears. Here are some pictures.

Eureka Elementary has magically been transformed
into the Westland Woods.

These are the sons of Olden in the Westland Woods.

Here I am with some of my good friends, flanked by
Master Therapass and Bonesplinter (complete with scar!)

Look out Brandon Dorman, these kids make some amazing
book covers.

Screech encases Kyja in ice in the
Cavern of the Unmakers

As if it isn't cool enough to get a map in your book,
here's a 3-D Farworld map!

One of my good friends with her awesome
Farworld diorama.

Marcus and Kyja trapped
by the Unmakers

Lousy picture taking on my part, but
here is another friend with her diorama.
Recognize that blue head?

The staircase in Marcus's school where it all begins.
Complete with his mangled wheelchair at the bottom!

Don't you wish you had a Power Point of your book? :)

This is an actual animation of Screech
being tricked into exploding Kyja's ice chamber. Cool huh?

Water Keep in Jell-O! Who knew?

Some of my younger friends with their great drawings.

A way cool Water Keep poster.

My good friend, Curtis , with his hand-made
Burger Barn.

Is that not the coolest thing ever!!

I swear half the town of Eureka was there. It was amazing. And then Curtis gave me his Burger Barn. It now sits right above me when I write my books.

Thanks, Eureka, you totally rock! And, Curtis, I have something special to send you as soon as I get it.