Recently, I gave an interview with Stargazing Publishing, the publisher of my new novel In Jerry’s Corner (coming soon). In the interview we hit a lot of different topics, including inspiration behind the new book, favorite authors, and writing tips.
Here is one excerpt:
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.
Today, there is a new interview about my novel A Jane Austen Daydream and my life as a writer for you to check out. This time I am being interviewed by author and blogger Meglena Ivanova (that name is just made for the main character in a novel, isn’t it?). It was a really fun interview and it was a thrill to do it.
Here is an excerpt from the interview (which you can read here). This is my answer to “What comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?”
I pity anyone who attempts to read my yellow notepads. Because I usually get a few ideas at a time when I am working on a story and things mesh together on the page. I write sideways, upside down, I use squiggly lines to link ideas as they arrive. So, in a way, I am saying that once I have latched onto an idea everything comes together quickly. Kind of like an accident in a snowstorm. It starts with one car sliding and soon there is this pileup.
Many of my ideas come from images to start with or an absent thought that grows. My most recent novel A Jane Austen Daydream started as a thought and a giggle. The thought was the idea of doing something for Jane, give her something that might make her laugh. The giggle part is the twist in the book, and I don’t want to ruin it here. I’ve done some research after writing this book, and there is a very good chance it might be the first time such a twist was attempted.
You can read the rest of the interview here. Thanks Meglena!
After writing my last editorial, I realized one great gaping hole in it—I didn’t discuss the actual writing process, nor give any suggestions around it. Oh, there were hints (notes about outlines and reading more), but nothing that focused on the nitty-gritty of the process.
Was I avoiding the problem? Was there a part of me that thought “They can figure it out on their own?” Possibly, but it was unfair of me personally to avoid the issue. So, I’m going to hit three of my main focuses in giving advice around writing.
However, let me say upfront, I find it hard to give actual “creation” advice. Creation is unique to everyone—where an idea comes from and how it grows into a work is as unique as your own experience learning to ride a bike. Oh, the end product may be the same (you are on the bike), but the scratches and bruises that got you onto it are your own. Continue reading →
Sometimes when I work with new novelists or self-published writers, I wonder (and this is awful to say) if they even really like books.
Why is it that people are drawn to wanting to be writers? Is the image too glamorized in books, TV, and movies? Is it for the bragging right, so they can say “Yes, I have written a book? It is right there.” Is it because it seems simple to do since we all know how to form a sentence thanks to public education? Has self-publishing companies done too good a job ruining the myth that writing is a skilled craft? What is it that draws people to take on this art, resulting in a congested market and thousands of badly written books finding their way onto amazon each year with badly made covers on photoshop?
I wish I had an answer to all of my questions, because sometimes I want to give new novelists interventions. In other words, sit them down and ask at the beginning of the process, “Do you really want to do this? Really? Why?”
The thing I am the most surprised about when working with a first-time novelist is how many rookie mistakes get made. Yet, they still come up again, and again, and, over time, I have begun to sound like a broken record. Here are four obvious errors that drive me crazy with some helpful recommendations for the newbies out there: Continue reading →