Mix one part biography and one part historical re-imagining…add witty characters and some surprises and you have A Jane Austen Daydream. This was a delightful read.
My name is Scott D. Southard and I am the author of A Jane Austen Daydream. I have written a handful of other books and have a writing blog at sdsouthard.com where you can find out about my other works and also read my thoughts on life in general, usually with a lot of humor attached since I am figuring this out as I go along (like everyone else). I was inspired to write Daydream after doing a little exploring into Austen’s life and realized she didn’t have the romantic life she wanted for herself. So I decided to create that in novel form, using her own books and life story as a starting point. I then added into the mix a very bizarre literary twist to it that as a writer I am still nervous about…
What do you do when you are not writing?
Writing is usually what I do when I get a break from life. I am a parent of two great little kids and they take up a bulk of my home life. That usually means my writing is scheduled for the evenings between 10 and midnight. When I need to get focused or turn my active brain off, I usually turn to video games and exercising to be honest… To be very honest, I turn to video games more than exercise!
How long does it take you to write a book?
This is a hard question to answer because I have found that each book has been different for me. A Jane Austen Daydream has been…well… a daydream of mine to write for years, always wondering if I had the capability to really pull it off. It was my wife that encouraged me to take it on. I probably spent more time planning, writing, and editing that book than any other.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It’s all about scheduling and planning for me. Evenings and, my favorite, Sunday mornings at a coffee shop in town. If I am lucky there will be no one near me and I can write for over two hours… Sadly, recently, two older women keep coming in and sitting by my spot while discussing their lives quite loudly. I’m thinking of evilly adding them to a story out of writing revenge. That would be wrong, right?
What does your family think of your writing?
My family is rooted in the arts. My wife is an amazing choreographer and dancer, and I grew up around the theater thanks to a younger brother obsessed with acting. So, happily, they know not to look for themselves in my work… most of the time.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
To trust my instinct. That maybe a weird thing to say (hopefully, not very arrogant), but if given a chance I will stress and stress over a book and plot, but if I just sit down and write, the right path will show itself more organically. I need to always remember to trust myself.
If you had to sum up A Jane Austen Daydream in 30 words or less what would you say?
A Jane Austen Daydream is Jane’s life re-imagined in fiction. It is her story, and also definitely not her story. I like to think it is the story Jane would have wanted for herself- filled with love, suitors, surprises, comedy and literary invention. (That was a little more than 30… Argh! And I didn’t even get to the big twist in the book!)
Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
Jane… Definitely Jane. Not even a question. Jane could say anything, being so witty and clever. And I loved finding actual things she wrote in her books and letters and incorporating them into her speeches. The book may be questionable in some regards, but with Jane it feels real in some ways. It’s all about Jane.
What inspired you to incorporate Jane’s characters into your story as real people?
When I knew I was going to “change” her life story, I became worried that some new readers out there might confuse this with a biography, which it definitely is not. Bringing some of her characters into the novel as friends, makes it more difficult for people to do that. Yeah, it’s a failsafe for me.
Did you have a say in the design of the book cover?
I wish I could take credit for it. That is all my publisher’s doing! I was so worried it was going to be something romantic or period-esque like historical romances, but when they gave that to me, I was happily floored. It reminds me of her hometown. Yeah, I signed with the right publisher for it, no question.
Do you buy a book based on the cover?
Not usually, to be honest. Recently, I gave my nephew for Christmas a copy of Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and that has a lousy cover! If I didn’t know the book, I would have never thought to buy it (or even thought it was a good book to read). I had to explain to him a few times that it was one of my favorite novels.… Luckily, I am happy with A Jane Austen Daydream’s cover.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
Jane is filled with wonderful quotes. One of my favorites though from Pride and Prejudice is “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” I was very happy with how I was able to “incorporate” that passage in Daydream.
List 3 books you just recently read and would recommend?
Today, being so obsessed with my own writing, Jane Austen, and being a parent it would be difficult to do this, sadly. Finding more time to read for pleasure is one of my goals in the new year (I hope to start reviewing books on my site, for example). Most of the books I have read recently revolve around my children. Dare I mention the genius that is Pete the Cat?
Where can readers stalk you?
The book will be available on both print and eBook starting on April 30.