The bear in Savage is an indication of just how wild the River Valley is in that location.
When I saw the article about the bear, I was heartened because it led credibility to the notion that a cougar could be roaming that same part of the metro area.
Though I was saddened to hear off the ultimate fate of the bear.
There were a lot of locations I considered. First and foremost I wanted it in the metro area.
Actually, there are wilder places in the area near Savage, particularly in Shakopee.
But none of the metro areas in the vicinity have the same quality as the name of Savage, which works in the story on many levels. Hence, Savage Minnesota.
Around 10-15 years ago – I believe it was in the mid-1990s – there was a sighting of a cougar down in Shakopee.
The sighting was covered by several local publications, including, I think, the Star Tribune. Stories referenced a worker who had used a camera with a motion sensor to capture images of the big cat.
Much later, when I began contemplating Sam Rivers and the kinds of crimes he would be solving, I remembered the cougar sighting and wondered, ‘what if …?’
I'm still thinking about the title--Savage Minnesota. There's no better name than Savage for a murder mystery about a wild animal!
Approximately 12-18 months, though I often have a couple projects going at one time, so it’s hard to be specific.
Because I work full time I only have 1-2 hours per day to pursue my own personal writing, and occasionally more time to devote to the effort on weekends.
I remember a couple of long weekends at the end when I put in 12-14 hours, but that’s unusual. I was actually working through a second draft of Savage Minnesota when Laurie Hertzel posted her call for manuscripts, so I was lucky and the timing of her request was perfect.
one to two hours of writing time is more than most people can manage with a full-time job. How do you juggle writing, work and family? And all that hiking you like to do?
It's a challenge. I write very early in the morning, so that's a huge help. But it's always a difficult prospect - juggling all the different parts of the day. That said, I ALWAYS find time to write - because it's a priority.
I would never start a journey without a map, and the same is true for writing novels … at least for me. I once took a ‘master novel writing’ class from the Loft. (Great organization, btw, for anyone who wants to learn more about writing.)
In that class there were six of us and I think I was the only one who actually outlined. Said another way, there are pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. They have an interesting character and/or scene and they start writing.
Plotters create an outline of their novel; some more detailed than others. Because my time to write is so limited, I like to have a clear idea of what’s going to happen throughout the novel before actually starting in on the writing.
Sometimes new ideas will occur during the writing that will require revisions to the plot and chapters already written, but I think I’m much more efficient with my time if I have a good idea of what’s going to happen before actually starting in on the book.
Ah, the Loft. They're behind so many writers in this state! So I was interested in Sarah's question about getting to know your characters. How do you do that? Where do they come from, and do their personalities change as you write?
That's an excellent question. The basic answer is that I consider the needs of the plot and what characters are needed to serve that plot. But ...
... there's definitely more to it. Once I figure out a plot, the characters are, of course, intrinsic to the story. So in the case of Sheriff Rusty Benson, I needed a main officer who would ...
... be juxtaposed against Sam River, who is much more reasonable, calmer, and frankly a better investigator an apolitical. So it largely depends on what the story needs.
Also, the characters usually don't change through the story, if I've done my plotting correctly.
Yes. I received a call from someone at the Chamber of Commerce who had heard I wrote a book about Savage.
She wants me to speak to an upcoming meeting at the Chamber, though I'm not sure she knew what the book was about.
I've got a call into her to clarify, but I hope I get a chance to speak to them, because Savage is a great town and there are several places I mention in the book that are actual places.
Cary has written three other books besides "Savage Minnesota." Two are nonfiction: “Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods” and “Opening Goliath,” which won a 2010 Minnesota Book Award. He also wrote the novel "Wolves," the first in a series of Sam Rivers mysteries, which was published last fall and was a finalist this year for a Minnesota Book Award.
This might be a good place to remind readers that while some of the places in the book are real, the characters are not. Right, Cary?
Just to remind everyone, I don't really know the Scott County Sheriff and I'm certain he/she bears no resemblance to Rusty Benson. Similarly, I don't know any policemen, Scott County deputies, or others in the book. Everyone in the story, including Sam Rivers, are entirely made up, which is a lovely way to write a story.
I don't have a background in USFW, but I've always been interested in wildlife and all the issues surrounding it.
I've done quite a bit of research on the book - about wildlife issues, cougars, the MN River Valley and more.
The internet is, of course, a blessing and a curse, but incredibly helpful in getting images and videos of cougars and much, much more.