“I never expected you to be the successful one,” Savanna's mother told her. “Jared was always the smart kid. And the good looking one too. You never did anything but work hard.”
Born dirt poor to an alcoholic, aspiring artist mother meant a childhood of learning to adapt to rapidly changing situations. The little family moved every year or so, usually right after her mother had split with her latest man. Savanna remembers her mother with a steady stream of men– All of them charmed by her mother’s vibrant, but mercurial allure. Some of the men Savanna liked and some she didn’t, but her mother’s unpredictable temper and alcohol fits drove them all away in time. Often the men provided for the family. In spite of some level of contempt Savanna has for her mother, she acknowledges the power of her mother’s strong personality and Savanna has developed a façade that mimics this.
School wasn’t a high priority in her childhood. Her mother always said children should learn from the world, not from a cinderblock room. But even so Savanna nurtured and developed her talents for writing and observation and in high school she managed a school newspaper and even profited. She saved the money for a year, planning to use it to escape the poor Appalachian town that the family lived in that year and build a real life. Maybe one in New York City!
But on the night before the start of her senior year she discovered her mother passed out in the ditch, catatonic drunk. As she and Jared carried her inside, Savanna was struck with a suspicion and she checked her hiding spot in the floorboards behind the coal burning stove. The money had vanished and with it her hopes of escaping the filth, cold and hunger of poverty. Her mother had stolen it for a night of drink.
Savanna ran away that night. Hitchhiking landed her in a van full of groupies who followed bands across the country and she stayed with them, helping with odd tasks until they passed NYC.
A year later Savanna was working a job at a small newsletter company in Bronx and living in a rented closet in the apartment of an old German woman. She worked hard, dressed well and spoke well and it all earned her some friends in very high places. Her charisma enabled her to fit in at elite NYC parties and some of those friends became dates.
One man in particular, a stockbroker, was of particular assistance to her in those early days. With his connections she landed a job as a writer for the New York Times writing a weekly advice column. Her no-nonsense writing style and specific, direct advice was a hit and within a year Too Risqué for Radio was ranked one of the top 10 relationship columns in the US.
But then on a cold morning in December of 2014, her newish husband, the stockbroker, was discovered cold in his car with a gunshot through his right eye and Savanna was arrested on suspicion of murder. Detectives established a motive (money) and her husband’s brother testified against Savanna. Stories of death threats, affairs and fights involving furniture being splintered against walls were damning to Savanna’s case. He also disclosed that his murdered brother had intended to leave Savanna due to her manipulative and bipolar nature. But ultimately, the circumstantial evidence was not enough for a conviction and Savanna was released. The murder remains unsolved to this day.
Savanna profited greatly from his death. She used the money to establish her own podcast and her program Hearts for Bullets was a national success. Following up on a political scandal story landed her in Chenaurus right before the start of the infection. From her history of poverty and from the events of the last few months Savanna has developed a ruthless sense of self-sufficiency. She values her social skills above all else and sees it as her primary weapon. She’s much more comfortable navigating complex social situations that loading or assembling a rifle. Her charisma enables her to build social connections and alliances and this has helped her to live as long as she has.