Scar of the Downers by Scott Keen


Scar of the Downers by Scott Keen
Publication date: February 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.
Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.
Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master’s store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings, and scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master’s house and is sentenced to death.
To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before – escape from the city of Ungstah.

What books inspired you to become a fantasy author yourself?

Usually people pick up fantasy books as children, but actually I didn’t even read that much when I was younger. My older brother and I played outside or with G.I. Joe toys as we were growing up in our rural small town in Northern New York. Our cousins would visit quite a bit as well, and so we did a lot of action-packed pretending and sports-playing every time they visited. I didn’t actually realize how much I loved reading until later in life.
Sometime in graduate school, I started reading a lot of young adult fantasy, mostly because those were the types of stories I wanted to read. Adult fantasy novels don’t always interest me because a lot of them have intrigue or mystery-solving as their focus, or can be really cynical.
When I got married, my wife had the version of this The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien that was all in one. It was this huge paperback with all three books and the epilogue, unabridged. I had already seen the first two movies, but I had no idea of the epic-ness of this story. The movies were great, but the books were amazing.
Then, I went on to (of course) read The Silmarillion. There’s something that happened when I read it and saw the true breadth of what Tolkien accomplished with Middle Earth. Here, the stories went to a new level. I had never thought about creating a new history before (instead of just working off the one I had no control over). So in this respect, it made me think outside of the box.
And somehow I picked up The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander and the fairy tales of George MacDonald (The Light Princess, The Princess and Curdie, etc.). The stories that draw a clear delineation between what is right and what is wrong are the kinds to which I’m drawn. I find enough murkiness in life, I don’t need it when I read. I want to find loyalty, trust, bravery, and strength. I want to read about things worth fighting and dying for. Some may say, cynically, these stories don’t have enough gray in them. They’re too simple. But when I read them, it tugs at those things inside of me that yearn to be pulled out – those qualities that separate us from all other species on earth. A book should make a man strive to be more. That’s what I want in it. For me and my children.
And finally, the book that I read that made me believe I could possibly write a novel was The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. It actually inspired me to finally start and finish my first one. How or why, I don’t truly know. Was it the depth and meaning of the story? Was it the lack of cynicism I found in it? Perhaps. Either way, I loved the story and the strength of Chauntecleer. It just reinforced why I love books so much.

Scott grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing – he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools.

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