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Savage crosses genres from middle reader fantasy to horror in new books

Published: Saturday, March 2 2013 12:00 p.m. MST

Author Jeff Savage writes under J. Scott Savage on his middle reader books including the fantasy Farworld series and "Case File 13: Zombie Kid." His books, including the mystery/horror novel, "Dark Memories," is under Jeffrey S. Savage.

Provided by Covenant Communications

SPANISH FORK — Jeffrey Scott Savage is successfully doing the impossible — or at least the improbable — with his spooky stories.

Not only is "Dark Memories" his 12th book, it's a rare horror novel published by Covenant Communications.

At a time when many authors turn to self-publishing to get their words out there, Savage has three companies, Harper Collins, Shadow Mountain (an imprint of Deseret Book) and Covenant Communications, publishing his books, including the Farworld and Shandra Covington series.

The third in the Farworld series, "Air Keep" (Shadow Mountain, $19.99) is being released this month along with "Dark Memories" (Covenant Communications, $17.99).

Savage has also started a new series "Case File 13: Zombie Kid" through Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins.

"Dark Memories" is a scary story about a group of little kids who wander away from the class picnic and get lost in an abandoned mine. More than 30 years later, they face the consequences for some horrible choices.

The story involves darkness, ghosts, demons, bats, childhood cruelty, a thirst for revenge and human greed.

It's also absorbing and well told.

There are twists and turns that keep the reader working to guess what is really happening.

For initiates into the horror story realm, it's a "safe" transition, as the solid, straight-arrow police chief comes to terms with some spooky stuff as he deals with crimes that don't seem to stop.

The characters are real and the possibilities not beyond what could happen.

Savage says he's confident that horror stories can be told without blood and guts and even teach some lessons in redemption and forgiveness.

He made it clear when Covenant editor Kirk Shaw contacted him about publishing his book that he didn't want the story softened or changed in significant ways.

He was all right with the minor edits and changes, such as moving the story location from Spanish Fork to a city that doesn't really exist and to a Methodist community rather than a Mormon one.

"I began writing this book about 11 years ago," Savage told the Deseret News recently. "I was the CEO of an Internet company and on planes a lot with time to kill. I started writing a kind of high-tech thriller."

People on the plane started trying to read his stories ("Cutting Edge" and "Into the Fire") as they took shape. He then started on "Dark Memories." His fans, friends and family suggested he send them to publishers.

"At that point, the bug hit me. I loved doing it and enjoyed the feedback." He began to shop it around.

Savage — who writes under two names, Jeffrey S. Savage and J. Scott Savage, to avoid confusion with an author with a similar name who writes youth sports books — said he knew he needed to produce for the national market.

He didn't want to water down his work. "I insisted they leave the horror in. I had to go to the upper management to plead my case."

Savage said horror and supernatural novels can actually be uplifting.

"It can be one of the most redemptive genres ever. I can't make it any more black and white than that," he said.

Savage would love to see "light horror" accepted as a genre and better understood.

He tells a story about visiting with a Spanish Fork resident one day on Main Street as she planted flowers.

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