Congratulations to Savvy author, Ingrid Law, on the release of her new book, Scumble. I met with Ingrid last week and got some of the fun inside scoop on her writing journey, plus she gave me a signed Advanced Reading Copy of Scumble to giveaway here on From The Mixed Up Files! Read more at the end of the interview about how you can win.
It’s been nine years since his cousin Mibs had her extraordinary savvy journey, and Ledger Kale has just turned thirteen. This birthday should have meant he’d inherit an amazing power — instead he can break little things apart. But when the Kales decide to attend a family wedding in Wyoming, Ledge’s savvy grows to monumental porportions. Worse, his savvy disaster has a witness: Sarah Jane Cabot, eagle-eyed reporter and daughter of the local businessman. Now Ledge must stop Sarah Jane from turning savvies into headlines, stop her father from foreclosing on Uncle Autry’s ranch, and start scumbling his savvy into control . . . so that, someday, he can go home.
Savvy was your first book and it became a New York Times Bestseller, plus it won gobs of amazing awards including the Newbery Honor. Wow! That must have been life changing!
The unexpected success with Savvy certainly was life changing: I quit a job I’d held for sixteen years, I moved, and I traveled more in two years than I’d done in my entire life. But there are highs and lows in any aspect of life, even a successful one. For instance, I’ve met many new and wonderful people, but I’ve also lost touch with people I used to see and talk to nearly every day. As with any major life change, it takes a little while to find a renewed sense of equilibrium. Now that my second book, Scumble, is finally finished and in bookstores, I’m hoping to find that balance and hold on to it until the next new thing sends me wobbling on the high wire.
Which of the two books was easier to write? Why?
For some of us, it can be easier to do things when no one is watching. So, in that regard, writing the first draft of Savvy was easier: only about ten people on the planet knew I was writing anything at all, whereas many, many, many people were watching and waiting as I wrote Scumble. Second books, I’ve been told, are known for being harder. There is more pressure and more expectation. The Newbery Honor, while fantastic and astonishing and wondrous, did have the side effect of adding to that pressure. I like to think of my two books as siblings. Savvy is the older sister and Scumble the younger brother. They both want to stand on their own, but the younger brother will always follow in his sister’s footsteps and be compared to her on some level. Heh… can you tell I had a brilliant older sister who went through school a few years ahead of me?
In Savvy, there were several references to The Wizard of Oz. Do you use similar references to another story in Scumble?
Oh, yes—Peter Pan! I liked using Peter Pan allusions in Scumble because, while Savvy is a journey story, Scumble is more fixed. The main character, Ledge, leaves home and ends up someplace else for a while, someplace a bit more magical and remote. Plus, the concept of growing up is such a big part of the book.
Like Savvy, there are many different allusions in Scumble. Readers may catch references to fairytales and folk tales, tall tales, and even to the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind—the book takes place thirty miles from Devil’s Tower in Wyoming… I couldn’t resist!
What kind of research did you do for Scumble?
All sorts! My daughter and I drove up to Wyoming twice, I went to a motorcycle and chopper show, and I was allowed a behind the scenes tour of a real insect zoo. I did a ton of research online: anything from looking up the history of peanut butter jars and of Wyoming outlaws, to reading about the world’s largest butterflies and half marathons. I downloaded Ford F-1 truck manuals and toaster diagrams, and learned old cowboy slang. I even ordered a bumper from an old VW bug, and an 18-pound circus-tent sledgehammer head off eBay, just so that I could see what they were really like to pick up and hold instead of simply looking at pictures and using my imagination.
What do we have to look forward to from you next?
After taking a bit of time off, I am starting to work on something new. And, while I would love to return to the Savvy world again sometime in the future, the new work is taking me in a different direction for the moment. But the new story is still too young and fragile to talk about. I’m the sort of writer who can’t talk too much about what I’m working on while I’m working on it. If I do, the fuel of the story—the excitement that feeds the flames—gets burned up and I lose my motivation. But I hope that Scumble will satisfy readers for a time, while I continue to work.
That was fun! Thank you, Ingrid! And for those of you who want to read more about Ingrid, visit her at her colorful blog: http://straightfromthejar.blogspot.com/ Also, leave a post in the comment section below and you’ll be entered in the drawing for an Advanced Reading Copy of Scumble. The winner will be announced on August 21st, so don’t forget to check back!
Jennifer Duddy Gill has the privilege of working with truly amazing kids in an elementary school. She also writes humorous middle-grade novels and is represented by Wendy Schmalz.