‘League of Auld’ Author Edward Savio Talks Worldbuilding, Mythology, and ‘The Velvet Sledgehammer’

Edward Savio

The Stupor Heroes vs. Dr. Earwax, the Battle For Forever series, Idiots in the Machine, and upcoming The Velvet Sledgehammer author Edward Savio is back with a new book. The third book in the Battle For Forever series, League of Auld, brings us back into his expansive world and is out now!

We had the chance to talk to Edward about League of Auld, his talent for creating imaginative worlds, and exciting upcoming projects. Check out the interview below.

What inspired you to want to create your own worlds?

Edward Savio: I think for any creative, we often ask ourselves certain questions. Why do you want to live in a world that you create? Is it because the world you’re living in isn’t interesting enough? Or is it because you want to push the boundaries of what already is?

I think, for me, it was a little bit of both. As a younger kid, I preferred living in not a world of make-believe. But at least a world that I could augment. I really enjoyed creating ideas, even at a young age that were close to reality, which is kind of what I do in the Battle For Forever series.

I have other books coming out that are more fantastic. But there is something about staying close to home that I think satisfies some needs for me. Many of them have a basis in something close to reality, but there’s something different about it. 

How do you approach the process of worldbuilding? Do you start with a map, a culture, a character, or something else entirely?

Edward Savio: Yes, I think I do all of those and none of those. Worldbuilding really all starts with an idea. And it is the idea of what if something was different about that world? And sometimes, the what if is tied directly to a character.

There’s a screenplay I wrote, and it’s about a character who is afraid of just about everything. And his psychiatrist says, “You should go try to do something you’re really afraid of.”

The most terrifying thing for him is to jump out of a plane, which I would happen to agree with. And he gets up there to jump out of the plane, and his parachute fails, his backup parachute fails, and he is terrified the whole way down.

And at some point, just before he hits the ground, he kind of fries his brain a little bit. He has a moment of clarity– of no fear. And he ends up landing, which has happened actually in the Bay Area. He lands in the southern part of the bay, where there are rice paddies. The rice paddies break the tension of the water so that he’s not hitting cement, and the mud below it protects him, and he survives. And he comes out of this completely fearless. So the original idea was about that. What would someone be like without fear? 

I do like creating entirely fictional worlds. I’ve written about alien worlds. But I think I have so much to say about our world, humanity, and things that are closer to us that even when I do go outside of the present, I try to stick with things that make sense to people. I don’t know what an alien life form would care about. And so I can speculate, but I think it’s a lot more fun to just find what we have, what we care about, and figure out how to tell that story. 

How does mythology affect the worlds you create?

Edward Savio: The characters do not age as quickly in Battle For Forever. They are the basis for magicians, vampires, and people who might seem like gods because they’ve lived so long. They’re not. There is no magic.

But if you were to practice magic and illusions for hundreds or thousands of years, you wouldn’t be just as good as the magicians today are. You would be better than that. Your sleight of hand would be better. And so someone might think you’re a magician if you live for three, four, or 500 years without changing very much. People will start to talk about you and maybe write a myth about you. And so, in this series, I’ve co-opted all of that mythology.

How do you ensure that you create a fully realized, detailed world while ensuring your story is accessible and familiar enough to readers? 

Edward Savio: I try to focus the story on something that is relatable, even in stories that are very fantastic. The basic emotion has to be there.

When we make movies, even documentaries about animals, we always, at least in mainstream movies, try to find the humanity in the animal that we’re watching. Do they take care of their young? How are they finding a mate? What is the thing that makes that story human? And whatever the world being created, whether it’s in space or there are wizards, there’s got to be a story that touches the viewer’s heart.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face when world-building, and how do you overcome them?

Edward Savio: The pitfall that some stories fall into is that writers will try to make everything different. They’ll try to create a world where everything is not the same as it is here. Even when you have trees, the trees grow weirdly. Even when you have humanoid people, they might have big feet, or their heads are much bigger, or they can do magic or whatever it is. And not just one of those, but a lot of those.

I guess people were doing some of this before. But I don’t know that anybody did it to the level that Tolkien did it. And to be honest, as fantastic as that is, I think it’s really hard for anyone to match that ability. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t try. But a lot of people just end up looking like they’re copying what he’s already done and building on it. Tokien’s world was so expansive that I think it’s hard to find a world that would be more expansive than that. 

I avoid problems by agonizing over issues and rules. For instance, in Battle For Forever, I don’t have magic. I don’t have any way out other than using something that every human can do, even though these characters are extraordinary in their knowledge and perhaps their skill. And so there were moments in these books where I put my characters into a position that it would be just so great if I had magic or a transporter or something. But I boxed myself in. And for me, I like that. I like to have the box that constrains me. And then, of course, I will step over the edges and go outside the box. But in general, I want to try to focus on one part of the story. And I want to focus on worldbuilding and making it real.

Are there any real-world cultures or historical events that have influenced your world-building? If so, which ones?

Edward Savio: In terms of Battle For Forever and pretty much everything I write, there is going to be something in it or many somethings that will be influenced by real-world issues. I do a lot of research. I love finding interesting quirks in history, things that we might not know. And I also like learning from historical events. I have been doing a lot of research on the Great Pyramid, and without giving too much away, we go into Giza, And there are scenes at the Necropolis.

Even in non-sci-fi, I have a book coming out called The Velvet Sledgehammer, which is mainstream fiction. It’s very funny, it’s not for kids, not safe for work, and inappropriate at times. It’s not really about this. But the character is the lead negotiator forming the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1993. I spoke to Mickey Kantor, who was Bill Clinton’s U.S. trade representative, who negotiated the WTO for the United States. And I spoke to him after I had written the story, and then I went back in and did my rewrite. I put in some of the stuff that he talked about.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books and the worlds you’ve created?

Edward Savio: It’s if I can educate somebody who’s reading a book in an entertaining way. Even the stuff that I’ve written for my kids, The Stupor Heroes vs. Dr. Earwax, which I used to teach my kids different forms of speech by using fart jokes or the type of stuff that makes kids laugh. Jokes that you would not normally hear in a school. And my kids learned parts of speech from me doing that in Battle For Forever.

I want you to understand some of the historical data or things that we know, like the Wright brothers were not the first people that flew a plane. In The Velvet Sledgehammer, not only do I want people to take away the meaning of what it is to be an adult, but also certain ways that some people can find their way toward their own happiness and the happiness of others. I wanted to impart some information about how our daily lives work.

With League of Auld’s release, what are you most excited about people reading? 

Edward Savio: I’m excited about how this story and this series have grown. I wrote a book, Alexander X. And I really love the book. I think it’s great, if not as good, as the second book. And I think the third book’s better than the second. And it’s not because the first book is not good.

All I would say is that this story grows, and I think it delivers. It’s always had an underpinning of a bigger story. I knew where the series was going from the start, but I wanted to begin the story from the point of view of Alexander.

One of the things that’s really important to me in this book series is that in general, it shows how difficult it is to get through all of the things they do. It is not like, oh, we’re just fighting, and then suddenly, boom, we end up in another location. They have to fight their way through every single mile of this journey. The entire series so far takes place over ten days. 

How is League of Auld similar or different to the two previous books in the Battle For Forever series? 

Edward Savio: League of Auld is just bigger. Without giving away anything, there is also an added narrative device in the third book that doesn’t happen in the first two books, which were totally told from Alexander’s first-person point of view. It allows for a very organic way of telling this bigger story without having it be exposition and dialogue.

This book is also longer. It’s about 10,000 words longer. I just needed more time to tell this story. 

Do you have any exciting projects coming up? 

Edward Savio: Yes, the Velvet Sledgehammer comes out this summer. It’s very funny but also meaningful. There’s a lot of internal and external struggle in it. I think it’s my most personal work, and I have loved writing this book.

I normally have been very good about picking my audiobook narrators. For example, Ray Porter for The Battle For Forever series. I love these people. However, when it comes to The Velvet Sledgehammer, I couldn’t have possibly asked anyone to say the words that are in that book because they are very personal, so I’m doing the audiobook. I think it would have been hard for someone else to give it the emotional resonance it needs.

Where can people find you on social media?

Edward Savio: I do talk to fans, I do interact, and I love to hear from them. I’m not going to give you spoilers. But we do have conversations about a lot of different things. And it’s been a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’ve learned a lot.

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