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savvy by ingrid law

Author Interview: Ingrid Law

The Children’s Book Review | July 13, 2008
You say (as in you who is reading this post): What? An author’s debut novel received a Jon Newbery Honor award? You’re kidding me?

I say: I don’t joke about these things. Besides, if you’ve read Ingrid Law‘s first novel, Savvy, you’d believe me. Who can beat a coming-of-age tale about quirky family members with supernatural gifts? The characters are developed so clearly and are so colorful that the unexpected journey they take on a pink bus (yes, I said, “a pink bus”) is truly one you wouldn’t want to miss. It is clear to me that Ingrid Law’s own savvy is certainly writing, but with such honorable modesty she proclaims her savvy to be something much different. Please read the interview to find out!

This is what Ingrid Law has to say about being a writer, receiving a Newbery Honor, her own savvy, and much more …

Bianca: Did you always aspire to be a writer?

Ingrid: No, but I always had stories in my head that I lived out through my imagination or told to my best friend growing up. When I was younger, my handwriting could never keep up with my imagination so it wasn’t until I learned to type that I felt successful writing my stories down. But story has always been an important element in my life.

Bianca: What was your favorite childhood book? Did you share it with your daughter?

Ingrid: It’s always impossible for me to pick a favorite book, but some of the books that I read, or had read to me, as a child (from picture books to older reads) that I have shared with my daughter as she’s grown have been: Tico and the Golden Wings, by Leo Lionni; The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by Dubose Heyward; James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl; Charmed Life, by Diana Wynne Jones; and The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. But these are really just a small selection—the first titles that came to mind that I shared with her from my own childhood.

Bianca: Did you ever expect that Savvy, your first published novel, would be so well received and awarded a Newbery Honor?

Ingrid: When I was writing Savvy, I had no idea that the story would find such success. It’s been one long series of jaw-dropping moments. I had simply been worried that people would think a story ‘driven’ by a pink school bus might be too odd!

Bianca: What inspired you to write Savvy? How long did it take?

Ingrid: I started with the very first sentence, not even knowing what I was going to write about, simply determined to write the most fun, most off-the-wall sentence I could without thinking too hard about it, and then see where things went from there. As the story began to develop, I decided that I wanted to write a book about magical children set in out of the way places in the United States without ever using the word ‘magic.’ From start to finish–from the first sentence to the final, fully edited story that everyone knows–Savvy took about ten months’ time to complete.

Bianca: The characters are all so unique and deep, did you spend time developing each one or did they just grow with the story?

Ingrid: I’m a very character-driven writer, but my characters all grow differently. Some came to mind fully formed and others took time to evolve. But once I know a character well, they help inform the story as it develops. The hardest thing is when I have to change a character after I feel I know them… it takes time to get to know them anew and write them well again. But sometimes this has to happen to make the story the best it can be.

Bianca: If you had to live with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose and why?

Fun question! Hmmm… and a hard one, too! I think I’d have to choose Samson. Of all the characters, I feel most motherly toward him. I can imagine building secret forts and sharing quiet moments with this gentle and mysterious little boy.

Publisher’s Weekly called Savvy “cinematic and vibrant”. Has there been any talk of Savvy becoming a movie?

Ingrid: I am very excited that Walden Media, the film company that has adapted such wonderful books as The Bridge to Terabithia, Charlotte’s Web, Holes, Nim’s Island, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian (among many others), optioned the film rights for Savvy before the book was even on the shelves. There is a lot of excitement about the project, and a screenplay is already in the works.

Bianca: Should we expect to see another published book from you soon? If so, please tell us more.

Ingrid: I am currently working on a follow up to Savvy, though I don’t have a publication date yet since I still have to finish the book! The new book gives further insight into what it’s like to grow up and experience a ‘savvy’ birthday, and is told from the perspective of Mibs’s cousin—her Aunt Dinah’s oldest son. The story takes place nine years after Savvy, but, while the main character is someone no one’s met before, there will be familiar faces along the way.

How did it feel to receive the Newbery Honor award?

Astounding. Tearful. Glorious. Humbling. Crazy. Wonderful!

Bianca: I saved the most important and relevant question for last … I read that your savvy is spilling things on your shirt at dinner parties. Do you have a favorite stain-remover?

Ingrid: Ha! I’ve discovered individually packaged Tide stain remover products that slip easily into my purse. It also works to have a scarf handy, or to wear layers… and to never order soup!

Thank you, Ingrid! I can’t wait to read your next book and I will never order soup … unless I’m wearing a black shirt.

Link: Book review of Savvy.

Update (February 25, 2009): More funny words from Ingrid, “It’s a PATTERNED shirt you really want… what if you’re eating a
creamy soup? Or, worse, a CHEESY soup? Black would not be your best
choice then.”  Point taken! A patterned shirt it is, because I really like cheesy soup.

If you enjoyed this author interview with Newbery Medal-winning Ingrid Law, we know you’ll love this interview: Award-Winning Illustrator Marla Frazee & the Best Interview Ever

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

  • I am so excited that Ingrid Law and I have the same Savvy!


    March 3, 2009
  • It may be due to your tired and over-worked writing hand!

    March 3, 2009
  • i love savvy ilove mibs, fish, gypsy, and the rest of the beaumonts!!!:)

    September 11, 2011

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