Diva Interview: Author Shay Savage
If you’re reading this blog, you probably read a lot of books like me. I’ll be honest, most of the genres I gravitate toward incorporate some sort of romance or erotic themes. It could be suspense, mystery, thriller, western, what have you, as long as I get a good romance out of it, I’m good to go. I especially love when a female writer can really capture the male mind. It’s a hard thing to write from a man’s perspective and not slip in too many feminine traits that give him away to the reader that the author is a woman writing a man. So when I came across Shay Savage’s books, I was very excited. Not only does she write great suspenseful thrillers with her Surviving Raine and Even Arden series, but she gives great perspective into the male psyche. Savage is the first author in a long time that I have read that truly can embody a male’s point of view and deliver it in a very effective manner for her readers. So naturally, I had to interview her.
Hello, Shay! Can you please share with our followers a little bit about yourself?
Of course! I’m Shay Savage, and I am the author of nine published books with the tenth soon to be released. When I’m not working on a book, I spend a lot of time in the gym bodybuilding and trying to eat clean (though I don’t always succeed). I’m a big soccer fan—I’ve played and coached. I love all things science fiction, horror movies, and animals—especially marine life. In former work-lives, I’ve been a psychologist and a manager in the corporate computer world.
I try to eat clean too, but fail! Haha! Talking about your books, you write from the male perspective, what led you to want to write from entirely a man’s brain? Why is it a preference? What do you find different from writing or reading a male POV than a female?
My first nine books were all from the male perspective, though the tenth, titled Alarm, will actually be from a woman’s point of view! We’ll see if I can pull that off! 🙂 Most of my friends are guys, and I seem to identify with them more than women. Generally speaking of course, guys seem to be a bit more straightforward in their thinking, simpler (in a good way), and maybe even a little more primal. I think there are a lot of women readers out there who really want to hear a male perspective, which is why I chose to focus in that area. I believe men are just as driven by their emotions as women, but women don’t always pick up on the whys. Men don’t usually focus on communicating those feelings and are more likely to demonstrate what’s going on in their heads than say something about it. Being in a man’s head when I write gives readers a better perspective on men’s motivations… I hope.
I think it does. What qualities do you think a good male lead should have? What qualities do you think the female lead needs to balance the character development between the pair?
I think that depends a lot on what you consider “good.” Good is very subjective, and I’m going to define it here as “interesting,” which is good because it is what a reader wants—an interesting character. Interesting characters have serious flaws, but the ability to overcome them (if they choose to do so). They have fears, they make mistakes, but ultimately do what they believe needs to be done from their standpoint. They have a dark side. I think it’s my job to make the reader understand why my characters do what they do, and sympathize with them regardless of their transgressions.
Finding a woman to balance such a character (and maybe any man) is tricky. I think the main qualities she has to have are patience and understanding. She has to be able to see the motivations through the mistakes. She has to be capable of seeing the light inside the darkness. In that, my female characters are very strong. They have to be.
Let’s face it, your characters Evan Arden and Bastion Stark are some manly men. There has to be some sort of process you go through in order to write them. How do you get in the mindset when writing such strong, virile men?
Without delving too much into the private lives of my friends, I’d have to say that I know a lot of strong, virile men. I’ve seen them at their best and their worst. When I decided to write about Evan Arden—a man suffering from extreme PTSD—I talked to a lot of my friends who have served overseas. Though I didn’t use any true-life stories from their experiences, I did use the emotional impact I saw and felt from our talks. I think it gave me a lot of insight into the scars that are left when they come back home. I’ve also observed how my friends deal with women in their lives, watch them make a lot of mistakes, and try to understand why they thought what they were doing was right at the time. I ask a lot of questions and try to help them understand and articulate what’s going on in their heads (that’s my psychology major coming out). It’s quite a trip, I can tell you that!
I bet it is! What things can you pick out that other authors writing in the male perspective get wrong?
Women and men do think differently. When authors write what is essentially a female character, but give her a male name and a girlfriend, I think it’s very obvious. The most obvious use of this is when you have a guy going on about the floral pattern on the tablecloth. Generally speaking, guys don’t give a flying fig. Unless he’s an interior designer, he isn’t going to care. I also have to admit that I also don’t give a flying fig, so I don’t care for it if a female character goes on about this, either. 🙂
I don’t give a flying fig either. It’s one the things as an editor that I pick up on first: Does the male character think too feminine and does it fit into the story? No guy in a book cares what clothing designers a girl is wearing unless his character is written to care.
Speaking of novel writing, what inspires you to write a more action based book?
I write what I want to read. I like action. I like to be taken into another world and shown a life that is outside my normal experience. It keeps the story exciting, especially when characters are in danger. I’m not usually drawn to an office story because I’ve already lived that life.
The Write Divas blog is largely a writer’s blog. Can you share any advice to other authors on writing the male perspective?
If you are a woman and really want to write from a man’s perspective, you have to hang out with guys. A lot. You have to hang out with them when they are with their buddies, and not their wives and children. You have to sit with them at a bar and listen to their comments about women as they walk by and not be easily offended. They’re crude, they drop F-bombs, and they can be hilariously funny. You have to sit back and listen, not judge, and take it all in. You have to put yourself in their heads and understand that what they say and what they feel aren’t necessarily the same thing. You ask a lot of questions and really LISTEN to the answers. You have to BE one of the guys. Then you write it all down. I only wish I was allowed to hang out in the men’s locker room at the gym. Aside from the obvious reason, I think I’d get an even less edited perspective!
Haha! No doubt!
You have mastered show vs. tell, in my opinion. In your book Transcendence, it’s a true testament to this. The book is written from a “caveman’s” perspective. He doesn’t communicate verbally, but we see everything from his eyes. Your show was so well done. I loved it! Can you give some advice to other authors about how important show vs. tell is?
Thank you so much! It wasn’t easy. 🙂 There is nothing more important than showing your reader what’s happening. I’ve read the first chapter of so many books without going any farther due to the author deciding to write an entire chapter giving background information. I learn all about how the main character has slicked-back blond hair, blues eyes, is 6’2” tall, and weighs 200 pounds. He was born in Mississippi, lived with his grandparents when he was in high school, and later dropped out of college to follow his ex across the country. Boring. I don’t care about him. Half of it doesn’t even matter. I don’t want to know the character’s history upfront. I want to discover it as I get inside his head and learn what makes him tick.
Don’t just spew random facts. Instead, work it into the story. A character can look in a mirror to get a basic description out, he can tell a friend about his trek across the country, and he might get a phone call from his grandmother talking about his high school years. This leads to a much better developed character.
Usually, this is accomplished through a lot of dialogue. Transcendence was tricky because there isn’t any dialogue to speak of, which is the main reason I wrote it. I wanted a challenge, and writing a first person perspective story without any dialogue was definitely challenging. Writing with Ehd’s limited internal vocabulary was also difficult. My editor and I fought over a lot of points in the story regarding what “words” Ehd might use in his head and what he wouldn’t. He would never “think” the words travois, so “hide-on-a-stick” was the next best thing. He was familiar with hides, and he was familiar with sticks, so it made sense. I’m always entertained that readers have asked why Ehd would know the word “penis,” but no one ever asks why he knows the word “arm.” 🙂
I have to tell you, I love the Surviving Raine series; please tell me there is more to come. (Or share what’s coming up for you in the next year)
I’m glad you liked it! I don’t have any more plans for Bastian and Raine, though I do see an additional Evan Arden story (stories?) in the next year or so. My next book is called Alarm, and is about Chloe Ellison, a woman wanting a little more excitement in her life, and Aiden Hunter, a man who might be a little more than she’s able to handle. It’s definitely more of a romance than my previous books, and will feature a whole lot of hot sex scenes. I think everyone is really going to like Hunter and his dirty talk! 😉
Farther into next year I have a book about a Roman gladiator, a book with an autistic character, and maybe a little bit of a fantasy story for everyone. We’ll see what all I can get done!
Oh, I can’t wait!
Lastly, the Savage Trainer (Shay’s personal trainer and best bud who she uses on all her covers) is one hell of a cover model. Do you plan to use him on all your book covers? And to note, I don’t have a problem what so ever if you do.
I’m very fortunate to have The Savage Trainer in my life! He is a great trainer, a fabulous model, and a wonderful friend. I’ll use him as much as I can, assuming he fits the image of the character I have in mind. Alarm, for instance, will have a new model on it. I can’t wait to share pictures of him with everyone! I think you’ll really like him, especially if you are into guys with tattoos! I definitely plan on using TST’s images for future stories when it works out.
This next year sure sounds like it’s going to be full! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule and visiting with the Divas!
Thanks so much for all your questions! I had a lot of fun answering, and hope I provided a little bit of useful information to other writers out there!
About Shay Savage
Shay Savage lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, two children, and a variety of household pets. She is an accomplished public speaker and holds the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster from Toastmasters International. When not writing, she enjoys science fiction movies, masquerading as a zombie, is a HUGE Star Wars fan, and member of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers. When the geek fun runs out, she also loves soccer in any and all forms—especially the Columbus Crew, Arsenal and Bayern Munich—and anxiously awaits the 2014 World Cup. Savage holds a degree in psychology, and she brings a lot of that knowledge into the characters within her stories.