A self-confessed dreamer, gossip, and matchmaker, Jane emerges from a prophetic meeting and sets out to discover her soul mate. As Jane writes through the twists and turns of her turbulent romances, Southard ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years – did she ever find love? And what would that be like if Jane could write it? Binding fact with fiction, courting brave new literary twists, and written in the style of Jane Austen herself, A Jane Austen Daydream is the tale of Jane’s life as a novel. It contemplates the eventual fate of Jane’s heart, and uses her own stories to fill the gaps that history left to the imagination. Scott D. Southard, author of A Jane Austen Daydream, granted an interview with Stella, our Forum Manager. Read on to find out about his perception of Jane Austen, his upcoming novel (available April 2013, from Madison Street Publishing), and sneak a preview of this new work.
1. Which Austen novel influences you the most in your writing style?
This is an interesting question to answer since A Jane Austen Daydream, my novel, is very singular in my collection of works. Usually, when I take on a book I try to find a different “voice” for it, and my catalogue is pretty eclectic because of it. For example, my time travel book, My Problem With Doors is a very deconstructive version of Vonnegut and my new novel about artists and relationships, Permanent Spring Showers (which I am writing in real time and sharing on my site- sdsouthard.com), is much more contemporary. To capture Jane’s voice (or my own hybrid, if you will), I was reading her work again and again as I was working on it. Looking back over e-mails of that period I can even see her voice sneaking in there! Each volume of my book reminds me of a different one of her books in style. The first volume reminds me of Emma, the second of Pride and Prejudice, and the third of Persuasion.
2. If you had a choice to live in the 17th or 18th century which one would it be and why?
To be honest, I would be lousy in either century. I like my technology. The idea of having to write with an inkwell (shiver).
3. What do think Jane Austen's next novel would have been if she had been able to continue into her 50's? J
Jane was a single woman, never married, and I would have loved to have seen her perception of that kind of a life in that society (since it was all about marrying young, and everything else was considered failing). We get a little of it in Emma with Miss Bates, and, of course, there is Persuasion. But an entire book of that reality (maybe living with a relative’s big family, solving problems, being witty) would have been fascinating in my opinion.
4. Jane Austen famously quotes "I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life" Do you consider your work romance, contemporary or historical?
This is an interesting question and one I have been trying to answer since writing the book. It is unique, in many ways to other books out there. It is historical in that it happens in a period of history, but it is also not since there is so much fiction embedded in it (and so much history thrown away in favor of plot). It is not contemporary, of course. There is love in it and a love story, but I am hesitant to just throw it under romance (there is a lot of baggage that comes along when you use that word). I would say it is a playful character study with hints of romance and a very surprising twist. It is the twist where all bets are off the table. As I like to say to people, I might be the first writer to attempt this in a novel, but we’ll see.
5. Which is your favourite Austen quote from her novels?
I have always loved
"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"
from Pride and Prejudice and it is special to me as well because of how I use it in A Jane Austen Daydream. Not to give it away, but it always tugs on the heartstrings for me, no matter how many times I have read and edited that moment in Daydream.
6. How do you think your academic background helped you along to the path of writing an Austen inspired novel?
My first experience with Pride and Prejudice was in a college classroom with a professor who adored the work. Not only did he inspire us about the book, but he walked us through each of the points that proved how great a work of fiction it is. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have read Austen at some point or another (I’ve always been an aggressive reader), but it added to the reading experience. It inspired me to learn more.
7. If you could meet any one of the characters from the Austen novels who would that be?
Liz Bennet. Not even a question. Can you imagine just sitting around talking to her for a few hours? Keeping up with that wit! Darcy is a lucky man.
8. Which was your first Austen read?
I started with Pride and Prejudice and as I said it was in a college setting. Was it a “dude” thing that I didn’t get to Austen earlier? Possibly. But I can say that after that class I read all of her work over the next summer. Over the course of writing A Jane Austen Daydream I read each of her books between five and seven times.
9. Have you visited any of the parts of England Jane called home if not which would you want to visit?
When I graduated from college the first time, I explored England hitting as many literary sites as I could. For Jane I visited Chawton and Bath. I would love to go back and explore more, of course.
10. If you had to choose one favourite Austen novel, what would it be and why?
Pride and Prejudice is, in my opinion, one of the two only perfect works in literature (the other being A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens). The plot, the character development, the dialogue, the pacing… okay, I am going to use the word “perfect” again, but it’s the book that made me fall in love with Jane’s writing. It is, frankly, perfect.
Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is, however, also the author of the award-winning novels, My Problem With Doors, Megan, and 3 Days in Rome. His eclectic writing has also found its way into radio, being 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 (currently creating a novel in "real time" with one fresh chapter a week; it is entitled Permanent Spring Showers). Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his patient two children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte. A Jane Austen Daydream is available from Amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats. Click here to read A Review of A Jane Austen Daydream All copyrights to this interview are of the Jane Austen Centre Forum ( Jane Austen Centre) and the Author any copies will have to be approved by the Forum, Centre and the Author