Interview with a Children’s Book Author – Bo Savino

With books the likes of Harry Potter increasing in popularity, many authors, both new and seasoned, have delved into the realm of fantasy writing for children and adults alike. Let’s face it, what child doesn’t like to drift off into the realm of fantasy where fantastic creatures, magic, mythology, and reality all merge into an experience that allows a child to escape from the mundane? However, with a proliferation of children’s fantasy books, it has become increasingly difficult to weed out from the ordinary those few, rare reads that are simply extraordinary.

A good fantasy novel does more than just tell a story. To reach that level of extraordinary, a fantasy novel should create a world that, although fantastic, allows for the reader to suspend disbelief of the unreal long enough to immerse themselves in the story as though it could truly happen. This requires a writer to really take the time to develop an entire reading experience, much more than just a few words on a page to tell a story. The writer must create a world, a history, languages, creatures, characters and a plot that keeps the reader wanting to come back for more and wishing that places like this really did exist.

Aisling Press, a small publishing house, knew exactly what was required to make a fantasy novel shine and provide something of value to the reader, and that’s one of the reasons they chose to publish Bo Savino’s book, Reggie & Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery. However, to make this novel a complete reading experience, Aisling and Bo Savino have done much more than just publish a book and put it on bookstore shelves. They have created an entire experience, which includes offering scholarship contests for children, a Reggie & Ryssa Curriculum Guide, published in conjunction with Golden Age Educational, and other ventures to bring the children into the world of reading, writing and publishing, and to bring them into the realm of fantasy on both sides of the pages of the books they love to read.

Accentuate Services and Michelle L Devon were fortunate enough to meet with the author Bo Savino and pick her brain about her thoughts on Reggie & Ryssa and the upcoming series and promotions. Below is a transcript of the interview with Bo Savino, author of Reggie & Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery.

IV: Interviewer
ABS: Author, Bo Savino

IV: Ms. Savino, thank you for agreeing to meet and talk with me today about your book, Reggie & Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery. We are delighted you agreed to this interview.

ABS: Thank you, I’m pleased to be here. Please, call me Bo.

IV: Great, Bo. Okay, so let’s just jump right into the questions, okay?

ABS: Sounds great.

IV: I guess the first question that most people would want to know is, “Why did you write Reggie & Ryssa?” I mean, what did you hope to accomplish with it, besides just writing a novel for kids?

ABS: All my life, I’ve been an avid reader. As I grew up, it pained me to see the kids and adults around me who didn’t share in that passion. All I could think was, ‘They’re missing out on so much…’ Everyone has their own passions in life. Reading has been mine. That evolved into writing.

As my children grew up—my children were readers, well, at least 2 out of the 3—everywhere I looked, children were less and less into reading and more into the realm of video games. It didn’t dawn on me as to why, until Harry Potter hit the market. J.K. Rowling did the one thing for kids that many authors have not been able to do since C.S. Lewis—she produced an incredible piece of fantasy work that made children, who had never before shown an interest in picking up a book, actually *want* to read. That was amazing.

The thought of taking my fantasy world writing into a realm where children would want to go was exciting to me. As a mother of 3 boys and one step-daughter, it is hard not to make your life and goals not be “all about the kids”. Thus, Reggie & Ryssa was born.

IV: So now that we know why you wrote it, why don’t you tell use what Reggie & Ryssa is all about?

ABS: Reggie & Ryssa is about a couple of teenage kids, twins, who know they are adopted, or maybe “in a foster home” is a better phrase, but they have a normal and good home life with their foster mother and brother. According to the terms of their fosterage, once they turn 13, they have to start spending summers with their relatives, whom they have never met.

They discover on the way to their ‘so-called’ summer camp, that they are members of a royal family, and that their family is from the world of Faery. They also discover that magic really does exist.

The whole book is about their struggles to re-adjust their ways of thinking, pull together with the members of their team, Team Phoenix, and compete against others for eventual leadership of Faery. They meet all kinds of new people and creatures, learn how to control magic and literally try to survive through the summer so they can go back to their “normal” life.

IV: That sounds great, very exciting.

ABS: I think it is very exciting.

IV: Sure, awesome. Okay, so now we know why you wrote it and what it’s about, but what was your inspiration, as an author, for writing this story? What really sparked inside of you to compel you to put the story down in tangible form?

ABS: The inspiration for Reggie & Ryssa came from a number of sources. I’ve always been fascinated with mythology of many different cultures, but having an Irish heritage, I have naturally been drawn to the various tales and stories of the faeries. I’ve also always been a huge fan of fantasy fiction, so to combine the two was a natural for me. Now the children part, I must admit, having teenage kids around the house in an open and caring environment, where they feel free to be “natural”, I have learned so much about the teenage culture of today. And it is a culture all its own. Combining the three great interests was almost as natural for me as breathing.

IV: That’s great. So what is it that makes Reggie & Ryssa unique? How is it different from the other fantasy books on the market?

ABS: I don’t know how to answer that, really. It’s a fun and engaging story that comes from the viewpoint of both a boy and a girl, and the different feelings and views of what is taking place around them from those perspectives, I guess.

Something I feel is unique about it is how I handled the writing of the book. I would write daily chapters in the morning and test them out on my kids and whatever friends happened to show up after school that day by reading out loud to them. If I could capture their interest, then I knew it was good. If I saw their attention was waning, I would draw them into conversation about what I had just read to them to find out where I’d lost them.

The majority of the chapters I knew I had “right” when I would be reading about something that happened in the story and one of the kids would pipe up with a comment about it, which would be followed by me reading that comment almost word for word from the next paragraph or segment of the story. In other words, I had captured the essence of who they were and how they felt about things to a point that they were reflecting the exact sentiments of the characters I wrote about. I was always in awe when that happened.

IV: Yes, I can see that. Must have been pretty exciting when you realized you were hitting the mark with the teen groups.

ABS: It really was.

IV: Very good. Okay, so let’s move on and talk a little about the contests that Koboca Publishing is hosting with you for the kids. This makes quite a unique experience, bringing the children into the process of creating the world of Reggie & Ryssa. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the contests and how all that got started? There seems to be a lot of focus being put on the contests. Why?

ABS: Because the books are for kids. I hope that adults will enjoy them too, but for me, it’s all about the kids. One of the things that I have seen come about with the new standardized testing in the school systems is that it has taken the joy of learning out of the kids and most of the teaching has become about the tests. That’s a tremendous amount of stress put on the kids and schools alike. Kids, as well as many teachers I have spoken to, dread the amount of time put into the new system of testing, because it takes away from a teachers chance to reach the kids and encourage a fun experience. Some have managed to get around it with various teaching methods, but not all of them.

When I first made the decision to include little “sketch” graphics at the top of each chapter, I was excited. After spending days on the first five, and then realizing that there were 27 chapters, my enthusiasm waned considerably. So I asked some friends to help out. I decided at that point that these books were for the kids…and to help engage them in the story, I would have kids contribute graphics for the successive books. So many kids have this amazing, expressive, and creative talent that doesn’t get enough attention paid to it in many cases. I want to give them that recognition in some way, so they don’t shut down an amazing form of expression that can make them a more confident adult, years down the road.

The writing side is another part of that. I want to be able to offer some kind of encouragement toward a creative outlet for kids. Not everyone will get published, but I want to make sure they all receive some kind of recognition for the effort, while they get to have fun doing it. Also, there’s no entry fees, so that way, all children have a chance, even if they might not be able to afford to enter other contests. We wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to enter could.

IV: Now that is great, a good thing for the kids who are interested. Okay, so let me ask you this, if kids could take away one thing from reading the Reggie & Ryssa series, what would you hope that would be?

ABS: I think that Reggie & Ryssa has a lot of lessons and things kids can identify with:

No one has to do it alone… You can count on true friends to help you; when everyone works together instead of against each other, people are more powerful than anyone doing it alone; family is who you make it, not necessarily just what you are born into; friends have your back….

Things don’t always happen like you plan, but when things go weird, you can always make the best of a bad situation….

We don’t always get to pick the path we walk – but we do pick how we choose to deal with it.

Good and bad are not always so cut and dried and obvious, and the world isn’t always the way it appears. Magic exists…and so does fantasy…if only in the pages of a book or a child’s heart.

But if it were to be one major thing?—A break from the world around them—just to have fun and enjoy the story.

I don’t think we, as adults, appreciate how much stress our children are under these days. In some ways, life is a lot simpler for teens now, but in many, many ways, they have stresses today that we never imagined existed when we were their age. So yeah…just a break from it all to de-stress a little.

IV: Sure, that makes perfect sense. Great. Okay, so obviously, Reggie & Ryssa is a series of much more than just one book, or even just books. Tell us a little bit about the series. How many books total? Are there going to be other contests or products?

ABS: Yes, including the first one, there are six titles total. I have the full storylines laid out for the next five books, and yet, I still can’t wait to see what happens. I leave a lot of blank spaces in the outline for the story to evolve on its own. A list of the future titles for the series can be found on my personal web page at The next one coming in the series is Reggie & Ryssa and the Scavenger Hunt, to be released next May.

Each of the books will have its own contest associated with it, to keep the kids engaged in the process and a part of the creation of Reggie & Ryssa along the way. We do have a line of products that will be available through Café Press soon.

We also have a video game in development, but we’re not sure yet when it will be available for release.

One of the things I’m most excited about is the creation of a new interactive website that will be based on the series of books. Kids and adults alike will be able to visit this website and explore all the options.

The site will have games, trivia, quizzes, chat with the author, that’s me, plot teasers, questions and answers, and my favorite part will be the user forums where the kids can come and talk about the book, their take on the plot, share ideas and insight into what they think about Reggie & Ryssa. I’m going to be an active part of this forum, because I want to know what the kids think. I feel that Reggie & Ryssa is much more than just a book or a project, but it is something I want to share with the readers, draw them in and let them be an active part in creating the world of Reggie & Ryssa. I wrote this for the kids, and I want them to feel a part of it.

IV: Wow. That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see the site! What about movies? Is there any talk of making a screenplay and trying to produce a motion picture from this, or a series of them, based on the books?

ABS: Absolutely, in fact, we currently have a very talented writer working on adapting the first book for a screenplay for a major motion picture. It’s a long process, but we are hoping to be able to do something with the script soon, and see where it takes us, but there is nothing I would love more than to see Reggie & Ryssa on the big screen were all the fans can watch and enjoy it.

IV: Great! Now, one last question, off the topic of Reggie & Ryssa, but this isn’t the first book you have written, is it? What other books do you have out now or what other projects are you working on? We were told you write under various pseudonyms, what are those pen names and why have you chosen to write under different names for those books?

ABS: I have several ‘series’ coming out. Not all of them are suitable for children’s reading. I don’t want kids to pick up one of my books targeted at an adult audience just because it has a familiar author’s name on it.

The other two immediate series coming out are my spiritual series, under Kim Savino, and my adult contemporary fantasy under A.J. Rand. A.J. Rand is actually taken from my three boys…Aaron, Joshua, and Random. My spiritual series, while based loosely from the perspective of Native American spirituality, really covers those aspects that are common denominators across most religions and forms of spirituality. The contemporary adult fantasy is Broken Wings. It is a five book series about the 2nd war of the angels here on earth in modern times and is a fun, flippant, and yet at the same time serious read. The first book of that series, Broken Wings: Genesis, is currently available.

IV: So you have been quite busy writing recently, haven’t you?

ABS: You could definitely say that, yes.

IV: Bo, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with us for this interview. We look forward to great things from you!

BS: Thank you, I enjoyed it!

– End of Interview –

As you can see, the author, Bo Savino, is very excited about the series, Reggie & Ryssa, and the kids contests that support the book.

Reggie & Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery, by Bo Savino, is published by Aisling Press. This 27 chaptered, 352 page book is available nationwide at bookstores by request, as well as online from and Barnes & Noble online, as well as directly from the publisher.

In addition, Reggie & Ryssa has a Lexile score of 890, which means this places Reggie & Ryssa at an approximate reading level of grades 7-9, gearing the book at reading level for ages 12-16. After reviewing the book, however, we at Accentuate have determined that this is easily a book that young adults and adults will enjoy reading as well.

Lastly, Reggie and Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery was nominated for the Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Awards for 2006.

Good luck to Bo Savino and Reggie & Ryssa. We look forward to your continued success.

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