Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview with Ted Savas, Part 2: Personal

PG: Tell me about your family.

TS: Well, I've been married to Carol for 21 years, and we have two children, Demetrious (DT), age 13, and Alexandra Maria, age 18. DT is in 8th grade, plays saxophone and loves baseball. Alex is a sophomore in college and loves history, government, politics, and such.

PG: I wonder where she gets that?

TS: That apple barely left the branch. (laughing)

PG: What do you like to do in your free time?

TS: My hobbies are writing, baseball (playing a little, usually with my son, and watching a lot), reading, and since I don’t have a real job, sitting at my desk doing what I love with the best staff in the world is like a hobby.

PG: You said you enjoy watching baseball. What team(s) do you follow?

TS: I follow the Minnesota Twins, because I used to live in northern Iowa, and I also follow the San Francisco Giants because I live out here and I regularly get tickets to see their games. Great stadium, a solid team, and a day at the park is better than doing just about anything else.

PG: What is your favorite book?

TS: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

PG: Why?

TS: Because it identifies who you are and who you aren’t. It’s about liberty and the freedom of the individual, versus regulation and the enslavement of the individual, all for the “common good,” of course.

PG: But everyone is for individual liberty, right?

TS: No. Many who think they are act against their own interests without really realizing it because they are emotionally wrapped up in something. Think about what you support in your own life, how you conduct your own personal affairs, and then compare that to what you are willing to tolerate by public officials, and then study history. If you do that, you are forced to reevaluate who you are and what your priorities are. It can be very sobering when you scratch out a list and compare how you raise your kids and run your household with how you vote, for example, and the policies those politicians support. So often they conflict completely. There is a real cognitive disconnect out there.

PG: What would be your ideal place to live?

TS: Since I control where I live, the ideal place for me to live is where I am right now.

PG: (laughing) Not a desert island?

TS: Of course, I’d love to sling a hammock on a palm tree somewhere with coconut drinks and native dancers, but since I have to make a living, I guess where I live right now works just fine.

PG: What is your favorite movie?

TS: I really don’t have one. In the top ten would be The Prestige, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List.

PG: Do you watch TV?

TS: Not really. A little news, a little history/military channel, and some sports, but overall very little.

PG: What about your ideal meal?

TS: I would be with my wife, in a city we don’t usually visit, in a cozy authentic Thai restaurant that we’d just discovered. We would start off with old-fashioned drip iced coffee (the old French style—hard to find these days). We’d then have some coconut-based soup and spicy noodle dish, followed by a panang curry, spice basil beef, and top it off with mango sticky rice.

PG: Sounds like you’re a big Thai fan?

TS: Absolutely.

PG: What was your dream job as a child?

TS: Being a bass player for a world-famous hard rock band.

PG: Did you play any instruments?

TS: I played several: clarinet (I was so-so), classical piano through two years of college (I was pretty good), a bit of guitar, and bass guitar (which I played very well).

PG: What kind of music do you like to listen to?

TS: I love certain kinds of classical music. Primarily Mozart, Chopin, and some Bach in strings or on the harpsichord. I enjoy some soft music, like that of Dan Folgelberg and Gordon Lightfoot. But my favorite group, for the past thirty years, hands down, is Iron Maiden.

PG: Really? Iron Maiden?

TS: Yes.

PG: Why?

TS: These guys are exceptionally intelligent, amazing musicians, and are impossible to classify. Are they hard rock? Yes. Are they heavy metal? Yes. Are they something else impossible to pigeon-hole? Absolutely. Is it intelligent music? Yes. They write about grand historical events (Alexander the Great, the Charge of Light Brigade, D-Day, the Battle of Britain, etc. ) and they do it with amazing melodies and intricate scores. Their stuff is just incredible, and very few bands can play it.

PG: How did you find out about the band?

TS: I used to play in bands when I was younger, and we used to play a couple Iron Maiden (Running Free, and Transylvania). I kept listening to them over the years, and as I grew older, the band became better and better. The members are very intriguing. One of them (the lead singer) is a commercial airline pilot. In fact, he actually flies the band’s tour jet. He’s also a rated fencer in the UK. The bassist, who’s the driving force of the band, is a musical and business genius, and is also a semi-professional soccer player. These are professional musicians, exceptionally talented and lead very stable lives.

PG: What’s your favorite song?

TS: Probably The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

PG: What's that about?

TS: It's based on a very long poem of the same name written in the late 1790s by English poet Samuel Coleridge. I first heard the song live last year. Somehow I’d missed it before that. It’s a 13-minute theatrical production, really, and really close to the original poem. It’s a thing of artistic beauty to see and hear live.

PG: Who, in your opinion, is the most interesting historical figure?

TS: Jesus. Because if he lived, and if he endured what he endured, and did it for all the reasons we’ve been led to believe, then it’d be hard to say that the impact he’s had on the world has ever been surpassed by another historical figure.

PG: That’s interesting. What about your favorite military historical figure (since you publish so many military books)?

TS: There are so many. George Washington was an amazing and very complex man, and the more I study him, the more intriguing and larger than life he becomes. He’s one of the very few examples in history, maybe the only example, of a person who led a victorious army and could declare himself king, but refused the glory and left to go home. When he was elected president, he served well (who could have done better?), and when the time arrived, he stepped down and gave up power, setting the precedent for the peaceful transition of the presidency.

PG: What do you see yourself doing in the future?

TS: I picture myself doing what I’m doing now. Hopefully, I’ll be making the right decisions to grow the company, help my employees grow and thrive both professionally and financially, and do the same for our wonderful authors. I want to continue to put out books that people will read and enjoy.

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