Ingrid Law’s debut novel Savvy comes out May 1, 2008. I reviewed it here. She writes wonderfully, and I can’t wait for her next book. I interviewed her recently and hope you enjoy her fabulous answers! There are no spoilers in the interview, so you can read it even if you have not read Savvy.
When did you start writing?
The first thing I remember writing for the sake of ‘wanting to be a writer’ was a story spin-off of my favorite Saturday morning cartoon when I was ten or eleven. Today, I suppose that would be called fan fiction. Back then I just thought I was copycat and felt keenly unhappy about that. But I believe now that writing fan fiction for personal enjoyment can be a great way for kids to start building confidence in themselves as writers. Observing how stories are told in books and movies and even in quality television is one of the best ways to learn how to write and create stories ourselves.
But between then and now I didn’t always write. I usually just made up all of my stories in my head and kept them there. I like to think that childhood ‘pretend’ simply morphed for me. Even as I got too old to act out stories with friends, I continued to imagine new characters and worlds and dramas, often as a way of dealing with stress or anxiety, or to escape from the real world into a place where frightening things could be dealt with in safety, or boring things could be made more interesting.
What inspired Savvy?
When I started Savvy, I wanted to create a different kind of magic-one that evoked the feel of a modern American tall-tale. I wanted to break away from the traditional tales about magic and find roots in the soil around me. What would magic look like if it sprang up in the small towns of America? And what in the world would it be called if I didn’t want to call that distinctive know-how magic? I enjoyed setting Savvy in our ordinary, everyday world, and filling it with larger-than-life characters who have very normal, human reactions and fears.
What are your favorite books?
One of my favorite authors is Diana Wynne Jones. Growing up, her books, along with those of authors like Dorothy Gilman, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Roger Zelazny were some I repeatedly checked out of the library. I also loved graphic novels and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien. In years since, I’ve become a huge fan of David Almond, Louis Sachar, Elizabeth Peters, Anne McCaffrey, and many more. Just like colors and pie, I could never choose just one to call my most favorite, and I am always discovering someone new I want to read! Too many books, so little time.
-Is Savvy going to be a movie? If so, how did that happen?
Savvy is the fifth book to be published in joint venture between Walden Media and Penguin Young Readers Group, and the third to be optioned for a feature film. While a movie option does not guarantee that a film will be made, there is a lot of enthusiasm about the project. But films take a long time to make and are a whole different world, so for the moment, I’m simply trying to concentrate on my next book and take things as they come with equal doses of hope and gratitude.
What are you currently working on? A sequel to Savvy?
I am currently working on a follow up to Savvy, but will not say too much more about it yet. To me, a story starts out as a fragile and malleable thing, so whenever I can, I tend to keep my ideas to myself until the very last possible moment. But I can tell you that there will be new characters as well as a few familiar ones, and that the story centers around the thirteenth birthday of someone you’ve not met before in Savvy.
How long did it take you to write Savvy?
Savvy happened very quickly. I wrote it in my own kind of flash and storm of words and ideas. I started writing Savvy in January of last year and finished it just before Memorial Day weekend. I spent another three months editing and revising with my fabulous editor, Alisha Niehaus, later that summer after signing with Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group (publishing in partnership with Walden Media).
How much do you write each day?
That varies quite a lot right now. When I was writing Savvy, I wrote whenever I had the chance: early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends. I’d come home from work with my pockets filled with little scraps of paper covered in notes. I’d dump them out like confetti on top of my computer and try to make some sense of them later. These days, I’m still trying to figure out how to balance my writing and the day to day obligations of my life. Many things tend to fall by the wayside, casualties of my need to write-mostly it’s the housework though, which is quite unfortunate when we want to have guests or when we run out of clean forks.
Which character do you relate to most?
I think it’s impossible not to put a little bit of yourself into every character. Like Samson, I prefer solitude-I like to think that my whole house is as private and quiet as one of his hidey-holes. Like Lester, I tend to twitch. Like Lill, I often feel big and small at the same time. And like Mibs, I still struggle to weed out other people’s voices from my head.
What do you think your savvy would be?
With a savvy, there is always the element of the ideal versus the reality-what you dream about versus what you get. If I could pick, my savvy would probably be the ability to fly or to breathe underwater. But if I were to declare what my real, true, everyday savvy is, I think that I would have to say that I smile a lot, even through rough times or hardship. And I tend to spill things-usually on my shirt. At dinner. With important people. Without fail.
What did you do before you were an author?
I’ve worked for county government for many, many years. But I’ve also spent time doing other things as well. I have dabbled in costume design and floral design and spent several years creating and showing works of fiber art in galleries and art shows. I’ve had some additional odd jobs, including writing resumés, working seasonally in a bookstore, and even putting together boxes for frozen eggplant burgers! I am also a single mom and have an intense and imaginative daughter who will have her own thirteenth birthday this spring.
Thanks for the interview!