Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream (coming in April 2013), swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is, however, also the author of the award-winning novels, My Problem With Doors, Megan, and 3 Days in Rome. His eclectic writing has also found its way into radio, being the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master’s in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog (which you can subscribe to on amazon.com here- http://amzn.com/B00AYHC5WU) “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” where he writes on topics ranging from writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site (recently creating a novel in “real time” with one fresh chapter a week; it is entitled Permanent Spring Showers). His blog can be found at http://sdsouthard.com. Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his patient two children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte.
I had the good fortune to be “followed” by author Scott Southard on Twitter, and I have enjoyed reading his posts on his blog, which can be found here: http://sdsouthard.com/ . Scott’s blog is very insightful and witty, and is enjoyable to read. When he tweeted recently that he was looking for reviewers for one of his books, I jumped at the chance. Scott Southard has agreed to partake in an interview with me about his writing life and his book, MEGAN. My Amazon review of it is here: http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Scott-D-Southard/product-reviews/0980916062/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 I hope you enjoy!
S. M. Nystoriak: Thank you so much for joining me for this interview. To begin, please tell us a bit about how you came to be a writer. I think every artist, writer or otherwise, has a unique background. What is yours?
Scott Southard: I’m always nervous that my response to questions like this may come off corny, or worse, thick with some kind of destiny. But I always have wanted to be a writer, even at a young age; my mom has stories of me making up tales in car rides to pass the time. When I was in high school I started to take the dream more seriously, writing my first book and collection of short stories, which led to me getting an agent. Books have always been a passion of mine, if you can believe it I was actually kicked out of English classrooms in high school for arguing with the teachers!
Since those early days, I’ve studied writing at the University of Southern California, worked with many writers, and jumped from agents to publishers, lost in the background shuffle of the business as one could almost say. In the last few years that has begun to change, with my novels My Problem With Doors (a time travel tale), Megan, and my new book A Jane Austen Daydream coming out this April from Madison Street Publishing.
S. M. Nystoriak : How many books have you written to date? Do any of them hold special meaning for you?
Scott Southard: While my books are simply… well… books. For me, each holds a special meaning since they are in many ways a time capsule to a point in my life. I can pick up any of my works and be transported back to a different time. For example, with my novel Megan I am always sent back to a lousy temp job I had. It was work I did in the evening around data entry; and being so fast a typer I was usually done within two hours, having then six to spare. So what does someone like me do? Write a book, of course! If I didn’t have that job, I wouldn’t have this novel in many ways.
At this time I have seven books completed.
- Megan and My Problem With Doors are both published and can be found in print on amazon and in eBook format on Google Play.
- A Jane Austen Daydream comes out in April.
- Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare I plan to self-publish later this year. I’m actually documenting the entire experience of doing it on my blog.
- 3 Days in Rome was my first novel and then there is Permanent Spring Showers which I wrote in real-time on my site. I was inspired by Charles Dickens and I wanted to see if I could make up a book from week to week. I hope to find a publisher for that one in the future.
- The last book, which is unpublished, was my thesis from USC. It is called Cassandra on the Island.
S. M. Nystoriak : Does research play a big role in your writing?
Scott Southard: Great question and one that has haunted me a few times. For me as a writer, the story and characters always come first. So, for example, in a book like A Jane Austen Daydream, while it is about Jane Austen, it also isn’t; since I am “re-imagining” her life as a novel. So while I started from a place of research (reading bios, reading all of her works until I could quote almost entire chapters, etc.), all the research had to “bend” to the whims of the tale.
This also happened with my time travel adventure My Problem With Doors. It is a work of fiction first, the historical accuracy is also a little… well… bendable.
S. M. Nystoriak : Do all of your books, like MEGAN, contain fantastical made up worlds?
Scott Southard: Megan is my one fantasy so far. As a writer I have always dreamed of having a catalogue that contains a wide assortment of works, the more surprising and unpredictable the better. So you have mystery (Maximilian), fantasy, time travel (Doors), literary period romance (Austen), etc.
However, I would like to say that one of my side projects for quite some time has been a trilogy fantasy for young adults. It is a dark story, almost a thriller or horror in some ways, but that is on a different world. I finished a draft of the first book of that a few years ago. I’ve just been too distracted to return to it.
S. M. Nystoriak : One of the things I really liked about Megan, the character, was how she seems to drift into her imagination at will. I suppose that there have been plenty of times in my own life where I have needed to mentally escape the realities of life. Do you also have this in common with Megan?
Scott Southard: In some ways I have that in common with Megan but in smaller doses. I think it would be a bigger problem for me if I didn’t have avenues for my own creativity to emerge when needed (from my books to my blog). She is holding a part of herself in, hiding her own dreams. She is pretending to be someone she is not.
S. M. Nystoriak : And, an aspect of Megan the novel, that I found intriguing was her imaginary world; completely unreal, but very vivid in description. For whatever reason, it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. Was that story influential to you when brainstorming this novel, or is it just me?
Scott Southard: Megan dreams of writing and illustrating children adventures and I tried to hit as many of the standards of that genre as I could in the work. So you have magic kingdoms, trolls, dragons, princesses, kings, etc. It was when her “reality” comes crashing down that things get interesting for me in that fantasy world.
One part of Alice I think that is definitely prevalent is when the story gets… well… silly. There are two characters I definitely think are inspired by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
S. M. Nystoriak : I could definitely see the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum connection. But, as others have noted in their respective reviews, Megan bears similar characteristics to other books as well. Growing up, what books were your favorites?
Scott Southard: For me it was all about escaping and the imagination. So when I think back to my childhood, I remember afternoons reading Lord of the Rings over and over again. The Chronicles of Narnia is another. Roald Dahl was always a favorite. Discovering Ray Bradbury was a big moment for me as well.
S. M. Nystoriak : I really liked how through your writing, you interwove the present, real world of Megan (a woman with a nine to five job), with Prosperity, the fantasy land of Princess Megan. At times it was such a struggle for Megan to stay in reality. Do you think many people struggle with this problem? If so, why?
Scott Southard: Sadly, Megan is based on people I have seen in the real world. This really shocked me a little when I went from academia to a series of temp jobs (I was helping to support my wife through grad school at the time). You tell someone you are a writer, and they open up. You can always see the light turn on behind their eyes.
People that dream about going back to school, chasing a dream, traveling, painting, writing, etc., but never get around to it. Always waiting, waiting, but for what? Now that is the question.
S. M. Nystoriak : In your opinion, what is the message you want people to take away from this book?
Scott Southard: This may seem quaint but what I wanted people to take away from Megan is that life is short and you only get one shot at it (at least I’m assuming there is only one chance). If there is something you have dreamed about or want to do, you should try. What do you have to lose?
While I think what happens to Megan is a tragedy I would also argue that she was not really alive until it occurred.
S. M. Nystoriak : Here is a chance for you to plug some of your other works and works in progress. What types of work can we expect from you in the near future?
Scott Southard: I have two things people can look forward to in the next few months.
The first is my novel A Jane Austen Daydream. I spoke about it earlier. It comes out in April from Madison Street Publishing and in the book I write an adventure for Jane Austen. I give her a new life story (and a love story) with a very new and unique literary twist to it. I hope even non-Austenites will check it out to see this twist in action.
The second is Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare. It is a Victorian period mystery/thriller (or at least pretending to be one). Maximilian Standforth is an aristocratic playboy who likes to solve dangerous mysteries. He takes a dare to stay at the haunted McGregor Castle and over the course of that visit things occur that can unravel their very reality.
S. M. Nystoriak : I always like to ask this last question, and it is somewhat unrelated to the others. But as a musician/writer, I find it to be of great interest: If you could create an iPod playlist for Megan, what songs would you include? Why?
Scott Southard: Music is very important to me as a writer. I always need something on in the background. While writing Megan it was all about the music of Aimee Mann. So if I was to make a mix for her, it would be a collection from her different CDs.
S. M. Nystoriak : Thanks so much for stopping by S. M. Nystoriak’s Writer’s Block! Good luck to you!