AUTHOR Q&A Scott D Southard August 2018
1.What or who inspired you to be a writer?
I have always loved storytelling and reading. My parents enjoy sharing stories of me making up tales when I was very young, and becoming a writer always felt like a natural step for me.
When I was a teenager, I really started writing. Then it was short stories (I had dreams of being Ray Bradbury then). Finally, I dived into novels, and since then I have been in love with the all-encompassing, larger-than-life feeling of it.
For me, I love finding that new story, that new twist that no one else has done yet. If I get an idea that sounds like someone else’s work I will usually throw it away. I always want to try the “new.” If I am doing it right, a reader should always be surprised and moved when they pick up a Southard novel. At least, that is my hope.
2.What gave you the idea of your latest book?
When my brother was two-years old, he had an invisible friend. I am six years older than him, and I remember being fascinated about it. He would sit and play with his toys alone and occasionally talk to air. I believe his friend was named “Jack” or something. Those memories stuck with me and grew.
Now, I have two little kids of my own and I really wanted to write a book that says something about being human. A lot of my own personal philosophy about living and being a good person is hidden inside this story. It is probably my most personal novel. (Not that I am like Jerry, it is more about between the words or the meaning behind them.)
I hope this doesn’t come off as preachy. That is not the aim of the story. I’m not lecturing anyone, but it just means something more to me, I guess.
3.Who is your favourite writer and why?
I am always inspired by the storytellers daring to do something new in their plots and in how they tell their stories. Kurt Vonnegut is one big hero for his experimentation in storytelling. It is so graceful and so jarring too (great examples of what I mean are Breakfast of Champions and Cat’s Cradle). I have one of his signed pictures hanging in my house. Definitely one of my treasures.
There are a lot of writers in classic literature that I smile just thinking about. Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Jane Austen are that for me. I think I read something of theirs each year. It is like returning to a home, at least that is how it feels to me.
A current favorite is Neil Gaiman.
4.Do you read a lot? If so what are you reading right now?
When I was the book reviewer for WKAR’s Current State I was reading books like they were snack food. Now I am back to just enjoying literature at a slower pace.
Right now, I am working my way through Alan Moore’s Jerusalem. It is truly a masterpiece and a landmark of literature. It deserves to be taught and analysed in college courses. I would love to hear students trying to break the work down and unpuzzle the mysteries in it.
5.What's your favourite book of all time?
Two jump quickly to mind. The first is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen which I believe is a perfect novel, from beginning to end. If you only know it from TV shows and movies, please give the book a chance. Perfection in art is pretty rare. Jane did it between those pages.
I love The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Every time I need to be reminded of how beautiful literature can be, I pick up Gatsby. I think I read it once every other year.
6.What other writing projects are you working on now?
I always have stuff going on. I’ve been working on a play for the last few months, and there are a few novels I look forward to taking on.
On my website I pretty much do whatever I want in my blog. I’ve written short stories, posts about random topics (from Disneyland to music to movies, etc.) Recently, I’ve been writing my own versions of 1940's radio shows (The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Jack Benny). The liberating aspect of a site like that is a lot of fun.
7.What do you like most about writing?
The escapism of creation. When I am working on something I enjoy, I can lose time. It is a great feeling. Some of my favorite writing memories are those times when I lose four hours just writing away… and then suddenly I realize it is 2 AM and I have something in front of me, new and fresh.
8.Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years time?
My hope is that more readers will find my work and more of my novels will find their way into print (or back into print). I think there is an audience for new and experimental ideas, the trick is just getting to the readers. That is one of my dreams.
I’m sure I will be thinking of stories and still writing, but what I can’t say.
That is part of the fun of it for me- the mystery of what’s next.
9.What one, key writing tip would you share?
Don’t write for success. Don’t write for someone else. Write for yourself, period. Tell the stories you want to read.
Following this advice will not only focus you on creating material you enjoy, it will help when you struggle to find that agent or publisher for the book. For, in your heart, you will be happy with it. Everything else that may happen will just be a wonderful bonus surprise.
10.What would you say to educate and inspire young writers?
Writing and storytelling should be fun. If you aren’t having fun, you still have time to find that one thing that will make you happy. No one is forcing you to be a writer. However, if you do get a kick out of writing and creating tales, follow that passion.
© Stargazing Publishing 2018