Welcome. Thanks for taking time for this Q&A. It's great to find out a bit about you and your work. First,Tell us about your current release.
Published by 5 Prince Publishing, Permanent Spring Showers is a comic and unpredictable work of literary fiction, following an eccentric cast of characters over the course of three volatile months. Here is how it is described on the back cover:
Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson is having a very bad season. Her husband has just admitted to having an affair. And it was with one of her students.
Blame it on a desire for revenge (or way too much alcohol), she then has had one of her own. Unfortunately for her, her affair was with one of the great upcoming painters of his generation. The ramifications of that one torrid evening will not only be felt across her life but over the entire art world.
Sexy, funny, and very surprising, Permanent Spring Showers is the tale of one very memorable springtime and how it impacts a group of unique artists and dreamers. From the writer who is creating a new literary movement (through outright manipulation), to the hopeful Olympian with the failing marriage, to the romantic wondering what he did wrong to drive his love from him, each tale walks the line between reality and fantasy. And waiting at the end of the line is a very important painting… and possibly the revolver used in the Lincoln Assassination.
When I describe the work to people, I like to emphasize the unpredictability of it. I’m all about surprising readers (since I like to be surprised as well when I read a book). It is definitely a unique book and that is saying something.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
The best thing about talking about Permanent Spring Showers is I get to talk about one of my favorite characters I have ever written. And this, by the way, is from an author who had Jane Austen and her family as lead characters in a novel (A Jane Austen Daydream). No, I do not say this lightly.
Vince is a character that has been with me a long time. When I first created him, he was somewhat an id for me, a daydream. He lived for his art, he did whatever he wanted (slept with whoever he wanted); his moral compass came second always to inspiration and his artwork. I guess you could almost compare him to the amplified version of Picasso.
With the novel of Permanent Spring Showers, Vince has truly become his own creation, almost completely separate from me now. He definitely does things and acts in ways that I would never consider, but for him strangely work. It may seem strange for some to read this, but he is as real as a person I might meet on the street for me. And people to him are tools, much like the paints and paintbrushes he uses to create. When he pays attention to you, it matters.
Oh, and did I mention he pretends to be British throughout the book? That’s just part of the charm of Vince. He is really dynamic.
Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?
There are two inspirations I can point to with Permanent Spring Showers. The first is Woody Allen. Forgetting all the controversies around him, I find him a fascinating story teller. And when I first began working on Permanent Spring Showers, I thought a lot about his movie Hannah and Her Sisters. Like that film, my book has a large cast with separate plots that all intermingle together. That at least was part of the inspiration at the start, and then I began to wonder where I could take my stories; so I would say that my book is a lot more “out there” than his. It has a lot of bigger twists. But, I can’t deny that inspiration at the start… Oh, and I have his autograph sitting on my desk. I’m not saying that to brag, but come on. That is sweet.
The second inspiration for the book is Charles Dickens. I have a blog (“The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard at sdsouthard.com) where I do a few posts every week. And I wondered if I could write a book like Dickens. He would publish his books chapter by chapter in a paper. So I set myself a challenge, to create a book via my site, writing it in “real time.” I would even occasionally write posts too, giving my followers an insight into what I was feeling behind the scenes of the book. And, also like Dickens, I have a lot of cast members, and some are very funny. Dickens is definitely a grandfather to Permanent Spring Showers, no question for me.
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
Oh, I wish I had a formula! It would make my life so much easier. Like I said, I am all for my books to be unpredictable and that also seems to be part of how I discover a work.
I will say this though, Permanent Spring Showers was the first (and only) work I had ever created in chronological order. Chapter one was the first chapter I wrote, for example. This is really odd for me, since typically I like to have my stories develop on their own organically.
For example, right now I am working on a book that, for the most part, is being written backwards. I’ve actually been debating whether this is a sign and I should actually release it that way. Sometimes, you gotta run with the crazy ideas, because they might work. We’ll see.
One trick I do recommend is brainstorming. I think we all know about this in other contexts, where you just on a pad start scribbling ideas around a subject to see what fits. I sometimes do this with characters. It’s amazing the crazy ideas that come to the surface when you get the brain going. I highly recommend giving it a try.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
This may come off as cynical, and I hope it doesn't. It’s realistic, but in a way kind of nice too. Here we go---
All of us authors dream of success. We dream an agent or a big publisher will sweep us off our feet and make us New York Times Bestsellers. The fact is the market is too congested for that. There are just too many writers with that dream and too few publishers left that can make it happen. At this point, a big part of it is just plain luck.
I’ve been playing the game of trying to make it in this artform since I was a kid and the one thing I have learned, the one thing that has kept me going is: Write for yourself first.
If you truly write for yourself first, not taking into consideration sales, dreams, hopes, or even an intended audience, you will be happy with your story no matter what happens after you write “the end” on the page. Granted, this is not an easy thing to do, but it will keep the creativity flowing and will keep down the negativity which is rampant out there (for there are negative query response letters just waiting for you, even before you start writing the query letter to them).
Write for yourself first.
What are you passionate about these days?
Books and writing are still very much my focus these days. Like I said, I have my blog that I like to keep updated, and I am working on a new novel (with another completed one I hope will get out soon as well). I also do the book reviews for my local NPR station, WKAR. You can hear me on their show Current State every other week. That is a lot of fun to do. They even have a podcast, you should check it out.
When I am not writing (or thinking about books), I’m usually playing with my little kids. They demand my time. They have so much creativity. What is a lot of fun for us is playing with a mashup of their toys and seeing what happens when we create a new story around them. Superheroes and Barbie hang out all the time in our house.
Beatles or Monkees? Why?
The first concert I ever saw was The Monkees. That was during their big reunion tour in the 80s and my parents took me. It was a fun show, but Mike Nelson wasn’t there. I remember being disappointed by that.
But The Beatles… Okay, they are one of my obsessions. A few years ago I had my brother (a professional photographer out in Los Angeles) create a family picture of my wife, kids and me as the Beatles based on the With The Beatles cover. I think you can see it on his site as an example of what he can do. That photo is one of my favorite things in my house. I got to be Lennon in that, which is awesome.
Recently, my Playstation 3 died and I had to get a 4, the biggest disappointment for me is I wouldn’t be able to rock out with The Beatles Rockband anymore. That still makes me sad. I could do a mean “Dear Prudence.”
Oh, and I saw Paul in concert twice. Man, he puts on a good show.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
I wish I could say I brush them off, it would make it easier. But they do stick to the skin. I once tried to calculate how many positive reviews it took to erase a bad one in my mind. I think I am still working out the final result to that.
Luckily I have had a lot of more positive reviews for my books than negative ones, which is nice. I had a few negative ones around A Jane Austen Daydream and it almost felt like they were more upset that I was a guy attempting to write about Jane. Like I was playing in the wrong sandbox or something.
I think avoiding them is impossible, especially in today’s social media world. I think in the end it comes back to what I was saying earlier about “Write for yourself first.” If you are happy with what you created, everything else is just noise. Sometimes nice noise, and sometimes… not so much.
The initial response to Permanent Spring Showers has been really positive. For me, I could not be more proud of the book.
Permanent Spring Showers
by Scott D. Southard
Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson is having a very bad season. The ramifications of one torrid evening with one of the great upcoming painters of his generation, will not only be felt across her life but over the entire art world. Sexy, funny, and very surprising, Permanent Spring Showers is the tale of one very memorable springtime and how it impacts a group of unique artists and dreamers. From the hopeful Olympian with the failing marriage to the writer who is creating a new literary movement (through outright manipulation) to the romantic wondering what he did wrong to drive away the love of his life, each tale walks the line between reality and fantasy. And waiting at the end of the line is a very important painting... and possibly the revolver used in the Lincoln Assassination.
“You’re going to be fine, aren’t you, Steve?” A male voice with a British accent said behind me as I scanned the restaurant for the person I once considered my soulmate.
“Like warm applesauce,” I mumbled in reply, not bothering to turn around and face Vince.
Vince is my age and has a resumé an arm’s length long, painter, poet, performance artist, etc.; and he looks the part for all of those roles, from his black trench coat with the collar up to the tight shirt with an obscure artistic expression on it to the jeans with the holes that are a little too perfect. He has black hair, blue eyes, and from what every girl tells me, he is frightfully handsome. Hanging out with him can make a person feel like a pre-destined wingman, chosen by a maker never to be the center of attention. Oh, by coincidence, I met Vince at the creative writing course I mentioned earlier. He spent the entire time correcting the teacher and even once he stood on his desk screaming about romantic literature (I still don’t understand half of what he said), the whole class was sure he came in drunk that day, but he might’ve been acting. There is a lot of acting around Vince. Did I mention he’s pretending to be British right now? And no, I don’t mean RIGHT now, I mean for the last four months right now.
“Applesauce?” His accent rising a little in confusion.
I didn’t bother to say anything more to him because I had found her; and, shit, she still looked like a fallen angel.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Scott D. Southard is the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors, Megan, 3 Days in Rome and Me Stuff in addition to his latest release, Permanent Spring Showers. His eclectic writing has also found its way into radio, as Scott was 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 “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. His blog can be found at http://sdsouthard.com. Scott is also the fiction book reviewer for WKAR's daily radio show Current State.
Scott D. Southard will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a signed copy of his previous title: A Jane Austen Daydream (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn host.