Book Trivia: Interview with Epic Fantasy Author R. Scot Johns

book-triviaIt’s time to play Book Trivia! Periodically, we scour the Internet for interesting authors who would like to play Book Trivia with us. By answering our book trivia questions, we get to learn things about the author no one else knows! So, let’s get ready…let’s play…Book Trivia!

Today our guest author is R. Scot Johns, author of the heroic fantasy novel The Saga of Beowulf. Scot is a life-long student of ancient and medieval literature, with an enduring fascination for Norse mythology and fantasy epics. He first came to Beowulf through his love of J.R.R. Tolkien, a leading scholar on the subject. As an Honors Medieval Literature major he has given lectures on such topics as the historical King Arthur and the construction of Stonehenge. He owns and operates Fantasy Castle Books , a publishing imprint, and writes the blog Adventures of an Independent Author.

Thank you for playing Book Trivia with us, Scot! Here are your questions:

the-saga-of-beowulfIf Tom Hanks, in the movie Cast Away, unearthed a copy of The Saga of Beowulf, how would that help Tom find a way off the island?

He could burn it when a ship came near (although I’m sure he couldn’t bear to until he finished reading it). Actually, the Vikings were a great sea-faring race, so it might provide the motivation to build a ship as they did with little but their knives and axes.

Everyone knows rock star idol Brittany Spears is always in trouble with everything you can think of. In what way could your book help her and set her life back on track?

Reading any book would be a step in the right direction. Reading mine would keep her off the street for months on end (it’s 640 pages long). The Saga of Beowulf deals with issues such as loyalty and courage, love and honor, that might well prove instructive.

You have a chance to appear on the hit talent show for authors, American Book Idol, with judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi determining whether your book will make it to Hollywood and become a big screenplay. What would impress them more – your book cover, an excerpt or your best review – and why?

My charming personality doesn’t count? Darn. Any of the three would impress them enough to take a deeper look, but of course, the writing is what would close the deal. All of my reviews thus far have been stellar, and I’m quite pleased with the cover art I did. But I actually wrote this novel as a screenplay first, and it shows in the highly visual style of my writing. More than one reviewer has said that it reads like a major Hollywood movie. It has action and romance, epic battles and characters that actors die for.

r-scot-johns-2Hulk Hogan, the famous wrestler and star of his own reality show, has invited you and your book to appear on his show. One catch. You have to read a passage out of it to convince him you are star material. What part would you read?

For the Hulk I would read the scene in which a hundred Vikings battle to the death against a thousand screaming Frisians. Or, of course, the scene where Beowulf defeats the ogre Grendel by tearing its arm right out of the socket and beating the wailing creature with it. Or the scene where he scares away three Stone Trolls by hurling massive boulders at them. That’s a total Hulkamania scene.

They’ve invented a board game using the theme of your book. What would the title of it be that would be different from your book and which retail store would they place it to make the most sales?

Quest for Valhalla would be the name, and the players would battle to gain the most fame and gold before they died in battle and ascended to Odin’s hall of heroes in the afterworld. A guaranteed hit in every D&D gamer shop around the world.


The Arbor Day Foundation has decided to pick one tree in your honor because of your writing brilliance. What kind of tree is it and why did they choose that tree in relation to your book?

The ash tree, which was sacred to the Norse. The Cosmic Tree, Yggdrasil, is an ash, and its roots connect the three worlds of Heaven, Hell and Middle-Earth, and are watered by the Norns, the three sisters of Fate. It’s the only tree that Beowulf couldn’t easily uproot from the ground with his bare hands.

President Barack Obama has become the author of several books and he has requested your presence at a special hush hush meeting to discuss ways to promote it. Through luck of the draw, you were chosen. What would be the first thing you would tell Barack?

Start writing your next book. If you’re the President you don’t need to market your book. Promotion is only necessary for those of us the reading public doesn’t know.

Finally, you just got word that your book has received the 2009 NY Times Bestselling Book Award and you have to attend the ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. Anyone who’s anyone will be there and it’s your shot for stardom. On stage, you must give an acceptance speech. What would you say and who would you thank?

First I’d like to say that it’s an honor to become a part of someone’s life, if only for a week or a day. Writing is a shared experience that only finds fulfillment in the touching of the reader’s heart. I am greatly thankful to every one of you who read my work and pleased beyond belief that it somehow spoke to you. Thanks to all who bore with me through the long and arduous process that often made me insufferable to live with. I’d like to thank my landlord for not evicting me, and my boss for not firing me. Thanks to everyone who gave me needed inspiration, and most of all thank goodness I finally finished it!

R. Scot Johns welcomes any questions you have! Please leave comments and questions below!


Filed under Book Trivia

15 responses to “Book Trivia: Interview with Epic Fantasy Author R. Scot Johns

  1. Hello, and thanks for having me on! This was a lot of fun. I’ll be stopping by throughout the day to answer any questions readers of the blog might have, so please feel free to post your comments or questions and I’ll respond as soon as possible. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for answers that shine with wit.

    I’ll let my neighbor, T. Bollea, know that you think he would be more interested in your intense action sequences than your eleoquent and descriptive prose that flows in the softer scenes. I think he is touring Idaho soon so I’ll give him your address for a drive by, that he might afford you his direct thoughts on the matter, ‘Brotha’ – LOL.!

    More importantly thanks for the extensive excerpt you provide at your website. It is the principal reason a buyer should consider before taking a risk on a debut author. Wow 120 pages! I’m sold.

    G David Clark, Sunset Dancer

  3. Beowulf, a very interesting character or mytholoigcial figure. I once wrote a college essay on Beowulf and the symbols in the story and compared them to the symbols within the Catholic religion. It earned me an “A” on the paper. Good luck on your book tour.

  4. What a great and unique interview.

    I think I studied “Beowulf” in school. Scot, since you mentioned you wrote this as a screenplay first, has there been any interest from others in turning this book into a movie?

    What challanges did you come across when changing it over from a screenplay to a novel?

    Thanks for answering my questions.


  5. What fun! Great questions and answers. This is such a fun idea! I can’t wait to read this book!

  6. Hello again, and thanks to each of you who have left comments! I’m glad you all enjoyed this crazy “trivia” quiz. Not your average interview!

    Mr. Clark,
    Please give me regards to Mr. H (and son when he gets out of Pinellas County Jail next year), and offer my sincere apologies for implying that he has no “softer” side. I’m sure the Hulkmeister would appreciate the heart-felt romance and deep emotional content that runs throughout as much as the intensely brutal violence.

    I would love very much to read your treatise, as this is a subject very dear to my heart. How does your symbology compare with Professor Tolkien’s analysis? My personal view is that the ogre Grendel represents anti-social behavior (as an outcast from the human clan), while his Troll-Hag mother figures as the symbol of vengeance and retribution (a theme which runs strongly through the poem), and finally the Dragon symbolizes the destructive influence of hoarded wealth and greed. This, of course, has nothing to do with theological theory, but the Norse were a very clan-oriented society, and these themes are clearly present in the story.

    Excellent questions, and thank you for asking them. Thus far I have had no one approach me concerning a potential film project, but I plan to revisit the script now that the book is out, in order to update it to include many of the changes and developments the novel produced, after which I will send it out to a few studios and producers and see what comes of it.

    As for the challenges this dual-adaptation process involved, I can tell you they were many. Initially, of course, the screenplay required a severe compression of events and characters, as well as a streamlining of the plot, to fit the standard two-hour time constraints of the film medium. This turned out to be both a benefit and a curse when it came time to do the novel. On the one hand, I had to completely rework the timeline to include all of the elements that were cut from the film, many of which created great difficulties I had not forseen. For example, for the film I had combined several characters into one, then had to tear them apart and start anew for the book. In addition, when I reintroduced events I suddenly had dead people who needed to be alive for a later scene! In the end this cost me months, if not years, of additional work I would not have had to deal with otherwise.

    On the positive side, as has been noted by several reviewers, this has given to my writing a strongly visual style and forward momentum it might not have had otherwise. Having visualized many of the scenes for the screen it was much easier to describe them in rich detail in the narrative. I’d still very much love to see some of these scenes play out on the screen.

    To April (and everyone else as well),
    When you do read the book, please feel free to contact me – via my website or my blog – and tell me what you think. I always enjoy hearing the views of my readers, and would love to discuss them with you.

  7. Pingback: Virtual Book Tour: Epic Fantasy Author R. Scot Johns Visits As the Pages Turn « Let’s Talk Virtual Book Tours

  8. I do love book covers and yours is great!

    Morgan Mandel

  9. Hi Morgan,
    Thanks for the nice compliment. It comes at a particularly good moment, as the latest review I received today said my cover looked “hokey,” although overall the review was stellar. The cover is, in fact, the very first piece of art I’ve created completely on the computer, using Corel Painter and Photoshop (although I did sketch it in pencil first). So I’m pleased that you like it.

  10. I don’t think the cover looks “hokey” at all. It stunning.


  11. Thank you, Cheryl, that’s very kind of you. I much prefer “stunning” to “hokey”! But, then, art is an aesthetic appreciation, and everyone has their own taste. I just think you have good taste, and she doesn’t. Cheers,

  12. I think the cover art is wonderful, Scot. It impressed me straight away and made me glad I had it in my hands to read :)

  13. Hi Kim!
    Thanks for the compliment; I’m glad you like the cover, and I hope you like the read as well! I’m looking forward to our chat on BlogTalkRadio…

  14. I am just now learning to appreciate the epic tales centered around characters like Beowulf. I am anxious to read this. Doing research for some of my own tales has led me to pick up a book or two on the vikings and Norse people. Their history and beliefs are truly fascinating.

  15. Hi Moira,
    What are you writing currently that required research into the Norse realm? They were indeed an interesting culture, both cursed and blessed, it seems, and I did my best to bring out both sides in my book. Although, being fatalists, the darkness always seems to prevail among the Nordic clans.
    I’ll be interested in seeing what you come up with.

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