As we get closer to the release of my latest novel (In Jerry’s Corner) from Stargazing Publishing, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of my previous novels. Maybe, if I am lucky, it will inspire you to check them out. Whenever I set out to write a book, I am aiming to do something unique, surprising and original. This might be a bad business model, but for me as a reader and an artist, it is a lot of fun.
Most people know me because of A Jane Austen Daydream.
It led to most of my followers on Twitter and this site, it led to me working on Current State on WKAR for three years talking about books, and it led to almost 250 reviews on Goodreads (a number which continues to grow each month).
When the book came out (after going through a separation with an old agent and two publishers, one of whom tried to massively re-edit it and then finally released it with Austen spelled wrong on the paperback), I became for many the Austen man. Every interview I did had a question that was kind of like “Hey, you’re a guy! Do you know it is strange for you to like Austen? Because you’re a guy, I mean.”
Honestly, even though I always found that question a little insulting and sexist. I never pointed it out in my responses (and I’ve given dozens of various little playful responses to it). Jane Austen is a great author and wrote probably the greatest novel in the English language. It really doesn’t matter if I am a guy or not; it doesn’t change that fact. To enjoy her writing is human.
…And, on a side note, the professor that got me into Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen’s work was a dude as well. He is sadly gone now, but I did add him in as a character in the book as a thank you. He is the local doctor in Jane’s village, Dr. Chesley. Continue reading
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. I’m not sure what I think about the new Doctor on Doctor Who.
Yes, I get why they cast Peter Capaldi, he is in an interesting choice with a vibe very different from Matt Smith and David Tennant. It’s a fresh choice. (I’m still not a fan of Clara, but really it would be hard for anyone to follow Amy, Rory, and River. It’s a pretty high bar.)
This maybe all because I thought the direction of the first two episodes felt off. A lot of people were excited to have Ben Wheatley direct the first two episodes (again a fresh choice), but there is a certain “buy in” that I didn’t feel in those two episodes. It almost (and this may seem cruel) felt like a fan’s version of Doctor Who, not truly capturing the spirit and energy of the show.
It was Doctor Who, it just didn’t feel like Doctor Who.
Oh, who knows? Maybe I am just bitter since Matt Smith is off the show and he was in many ways my Doctor. In a few episodes I might be singing a different tune (and I have no problem admitting when I am wrong).
You know, whatever happens, even if I get so out of it that I walk away from the show for a few seasons, it doesn’t mean I stop being a Doctor Who fan. I will still rewatch the seasons I love. For example, I still consider myself a Star Trek fan, even though I didn’t watch a single episode of Enterprise (did you hear that theme song?) and I thought the last film contradicted a lot of Star Trek norms (like, for example, remember when it was a big deal when Voyager could land on a planet? I guess the Enterprise could do that decades earlier.).
Let’s move on to more pleasant stuff than my possible science-fiction nerd disappointment. Here are five things for September. Continue reading
Thanksgiving bothers me.
Last year, I wrote a post on the holiday where I summed up all of my feelings around it (You can find that piece here). I wrote about how odd it is to see Woodstock eat another bird in the Charlie Brown special for the holiday and I did this deep thing about how maybe we should reconsider the holiday; as compared to the starting mark for Black Friday. In other words, a typical Southard post.
Well, that post did some good numbers on the site, so I thought it might be fun to take it on again… So I thought… and thought… and then banged my head on my keyboard. Seriously, I have nothing else to say about the holiday. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I then considered just reblogging that post, but I already did that once before. As Charlie Brown would scream “Argh!”
This year my wife is making the turkey for the first time. I’ll probably attempt to watch some of the Macy parade with my kids (which always seems to have more commercials than floats). I’m not a football dude, never have been. I think that goes back to a memory I have of one of my cousins tackling me which knocked the air out of me. After that I rarely showed interest in the sport. I was done. So I’ll watch the kids, help my wife when I can in the kitchen, and countdown the days until I can write about Christmas.
I always have something to say about that holiday.
Here are my five things that interest me this November. Continue reading
Let me begin by saying my wife is rightfully a little annoyed with me. I almost ruined a family tradition.
She is a teacher, and during her summer break we like to have themes for our TV watching. For example, last summer was the WA summer (which meant we watched nothing but Wes Anderson and Woody Allen films); the summer before that was Agatha Christie (David Suchet is a genius!); and before that- Charles Dickens.
For this summer it was to be the summer of the Doctor. Yes, Doctor Who, and I am talking just about the new series run of Doctor Who, starting with the 9th Doctor.
For years, we have had friends recommending we take on the series. And we even had tried before, watching random episodes to see what we think (we both had nightmares because of “Blink”), but it was not something we had taken serious… until this scheduled summer. Summer 2013- the summer of the Doctor.
Yes, that was the plan- starting with episode 1 and taking on each and every one of them together… Well… Until I very selfishly ruined it. Continue reading
I get why Easter is a big deal.
The change of the season from Winter to Spring (don’t we all feel a little more sane with more sunlight?), and there is the whole religious aspect for many (I was raised Catholic; of course Lent for me growing up was usually giving up something I didn’t care about, like vegetables)… But for me… honestly… this time of the year is all about Cadbury Eggs.
Man, I love Cadbury Eggs!
A piece of heaven trapped in a shell of chocolate.
Does anyone else remember when they had the orange ones out a few years ago? They had an orange filling (as compared to the caramel one that is too sticky for me and the chocolate one that is a little gross) and it was wonderful! This year I can’t find them anywhere. Bring back the orange! So I am stuck with the normal eggs. Now that doesn’t mean I am complaining, it’s just that a little variation in my favorite chocolate egg delicacies is not a bad thing. Like I said, I love Cadbury eggs.
Am I rambling?
Anyway, this year for me the holiday has been pushed aside by the priority of television.
Yes, for you this weekend may mean bunny rabbits, chocolate, and brightly-colored clothes on Sunday morning, for me it means a time-traveling police box and a long sword possibly with a white wolf’s head on the end of it.
Bring on the fantasy! Continue reading
I would sell my soul to come up with an idea like Doctor Who.
Yes, I would take an eternity in damnation, away from loved ones, baking in flames, to create a character like the man with the Sonic Screwdriver. And as I roasted, I would smile. Oh, how I would smile if that was on my resume
To think only three-months ago, I could not tell you the difference between a TARDIS and a Dalek (a TARDIS is bigger on the inside and a Dalek has a weird slimy octopus-like monster in it that likes to “ex-term-in-ate”). As a science-fiction geek, Doctor Who was already in the background for me. I knew who he was, had the basic gist of what it was about, but I never really considered giving it the time of day. I had enough sci-fi geek stuff with Tolkien, Star Trek, Joss Whedon, DC Comics, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the old one), Red Dwarf, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, thank you very much. My cup was full, please try peddling your fantasy wares and monster costumes with zippers elsewhere.
I can even say I tried one or two episodes a few years ago. I am a fan of the TV writing of Steven Moffat (Coupling is hilarious and I love Sherlock) and when I heard he took over the running of the show (and it was one of his favorites), I decided to give it a shot; but I stopped after the episode of Daleks in WWII and when they emerged in different colors and bigger. I just didn’t understand the threat. They looked (dare I type it) silly… and in different colors? So what? They are white and red now? Whatever.
Oh how naive I was then… Continue reading
Television is rarely art.
A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.
American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible. While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.
To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial idea, but the follow through from the beginning to the end, everything coming together to make a wonderful perfected whole, like a present with a bow on top. Television doesn’t have that, especially in America, and it is rare that any writer or even creator know what they are working towards. Don’t believe me? Remember when they gave an end date for the show Lost and everyone thought that was revolutionary?
So while a show might have a few great episodes, a few great seasons, it is rare you can step back and look at a complete package and say that is a well-told story from beginning to end. Continue reading
I’m in the midst of a Woody Allen summer.
Actually, it started as a W.A. summer, which meant my wife and I were able to re-watch all the Wes Anderson films we wanted, but since we were not able to get out for Moonrise Kingdom (finding a babysitter for two little ones like ours is always difficult) and I didn’t particularly want to see Bottle Rocket again, we are onto Woody Allen.
While others complain about the amount of reality shows and reruns on each summer, my wife and I have tapped into “summer theme watching” as an opportunity to explore the things we did not have time for during the rest of the year, our TV-watching bucket list if you will.
This W.A./Woody Allen summer is the third theme summer we have had, as corny as the premise of this all sounds—Does it make us sound like one of those overly cute couples that do everything together? We might be guilty of that in some ways.—the fact is it has been really great for us. Continue reading