What’s happening in this post:
– How I Met Scott
– Questions I Asked Scott
– Permanent Spring Showers Jacket Copy
– Book Review
– Book Giveaway
So this is what happened:
- Discovered Scott while reading a post he wrote about Our Dangerous Fixation with Genres on his website: “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard.”
- Noticed he’d written a book about Jane Austen, asked to read it.
- Loved A Jane Austen Daydream, reviewed it on my book blog, along with an interview from Scott.
- Flattered when a blurb I wrote was featured in one of Scott’s book trailers.
- (This should be item #5 in the list – not #1 – but I don’t feel like fighting with WordPress numbering any more – my life is passing me by.) Met Scott “in real life” versus online when he traveled from Michigan to Virginia to speak at this January 2015 James River Writers “Writing Show” event: Writing Romance Like Jane Austen.
- (And yes, this should be item #6 in this list – I’m thinking it’s not so cute to leave a numbered list if your numbers are all screwed up.) Read Scott’s most recent book, Permanent Spring Showers.
- (This is #7. I should have used bullets.) Asked Scott to answer a few questions about Permanent Spring Showers. This is what we talked about – thankfully, our conversation did NOT take place inside a numbered list.
JULIE: Welcome, Scott! Few questions. Permanent Spring Showers has many characters and tales and each tale “…walks the line between reality and fantasy.” What challenges did this book present when writing it?
SCOTT: This is a tricky one to answer because I have had a long, long history with the novel. It actually began as a screenplay back when I was in college! That screenplay was inspired by Woody Allen’s classic Hannah and Her Sisters. Except, probably foolishly, I wanted to have even more characters and plots.
In transforming the story from the original screenplay it grew (actually, that is pretty obvious when you consider the script was only 130 pages or so) and each plot and character became more intricate. One thing I loved was mapping out the interweaving of the characters. A challenge certainly, but a fun one. Not everything is ever truly how it seems to everyone else in the room. I really dig that! A character may be saying something to another, but to us (the readers) we know it means something completely different. Definitely opened the door for more twists and comedy.
I’ve always been one of those writers interested in doing something new and surprising and this book is filled with that. It was a lot of devilish pleasure for me.
It’s tricky when you say fantasy in books, people immediately think of unicorns and wizards battling trolls! But you are right, fantasy vs. truth is one of the themes in it. Every character has a fantasy they want to believe about themselves and their motives. The conflict arrives when the fantasy is broken down.
In a way, we all have fantasies we like to believe about ourselves and our lives. Many find meaning in them. Heck, I know for a fact I have a pile of them.
JULIE: Can you give my readers a brief overview of the main characters and their story arcs?
SCOTT: Permanent Spring Showers begins with an affair.
Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson discovers that her husband had an affair, and it was with one of her own students. Maybe out of revenge (or because of way too many drinks) Rebecca has one of her own on a night in Chicago, but hers is with an up-and-coming painter. That evening of passion will end up inspiring one of the greatest paintings of our time. A painting the professor can never escape.
Permanent Spring Showers is the story of everyone involved with that work of art and its creation.
There is Vince, the artist (who may or may not be British) whose personality bends and changes based on his whims. His life is in many ways a creation as well.
His cohort is Jenn Gane, an author dreaming about creating her own literary genre, but to succeed she will need to manipulate a real person. Her target is their friend Steve, who recently lost the love of his life. No, his girlfriend didn’t die, she just disappeared. One day he returned home to find her gone from the apartment they shared. It’s tragedy for Steve, but for Jenn it is a literary goldmine.
These are a few of the characters that make up the book, and Permanent Spring Showers covers three months of their lives, building to a very memorable and fiery Memorial Day party.
JULIE: If you could sit beside the reader as he/she reads Permanent Spring Showers, is there anything in particular you would say to that reader, either before, during or after they read the book?
SCOTT: That’s an interesting question and a hard one to answer. See, I always like to see my work as a completed project. While I am always willing to answer questions, I also like to think that a work speaks for itself.
Permanent Spring Showers is filled with questions, and half of the fun, I believe, is watching them be resolved (of course, many times they just open new ones). So I guess if I was to say anything to my readers it would be at the beginning- I hope you enjoy the ride!
JULIE: Can you speak for a moment about the types of books you write? Now that Permanent Spring Showers is published, is there another book in the works?
SCOTT: I know you have read my A Jane Austen Daydream, one of my earlier novels (a book readers are still happily discovering). One thing I always love to do as a writer is give my readers something new, something different. So when someone looks over my catalogue, it never fits into an easy genre. Not even A Jane Austen Daydream does that (while romantic and Austen-esque, it is also pretty post-modern with some surprising experimental literary twists in it). For some it might be strange to see A Jane Austen Daydream and Permanent Spring Showers from the same author, but… well… I guess I am a little strange.
So I guess that experimental, that desire to surprise, is one of the few things that flow through all of my books, be it my genre-breaking period mystery (Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare) or my hero’s journey/time travel adventure (My Problem With Doors). If I did my job right, each of my books should have that unique and original vibe to it.
I’m currently writing a new novel (and I am really loving it), but I do have one completed that I hope to find a publisher or agent for. It is entitled Cassandra on the Island. This book is very special to me. This may sound like a weird description, but I always like to imagine the book as an impressionistic painting of a life. It is poetic and almost delicate like that.
Published by 5 Prince Books, Permanent Spring Showers is a work of literary fiction.
About Permanent Spring Showers by Scott Southard:
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.
I’m (obviously) a fan of Scott’s writing and I found this book to be very different from the first book of Scott’s that I read: A Jane Austen Daydream. You have to watch the characters closely as they move about in Permanent Spring Showers. Readers eager to read an unconventional tale told in an unconventional way will love this book. I read it on a Kindle but kept a piece of paper nearby to jot down character notes as I entered the story – easing up a bit on my notes once I got rolling with what was happening and how the author was telling the tale. Taking notes is something I always do when I’m reading a book for review, but I found it particularly helpful with this story because there’s a writer-character (Jenn) embedded in the story, seeking to write her own story (inside of Scott’s book), in a new genre she calls “new-reality fiction,” which requires her to manipulate the life of another character in order for her new genre to work – within the nooks and crannies of a larger novel being written – the one written by Scott, the actual, real-life author. A very ambitious undertaking that shows great courage and creativity on Scott’s part. Bravo, Scott.
At one point, the Rebecca character thinks:
That is not fair, she thought. My life is not a book. I am a real person, not a damn character in someone’s novel.
I really enjoyed the literary references made throughout the novel. For instance, Jenn, the writer character, writes letters to literary greats like Virginia Woolf and Zelda Fitzgerald. Vince, after watching the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice, begins speaking in a British accent, recreating the voice of Darcy, that iconic male character Jane Austen fans know and love.
At one point, comes this reference to Jane Austen from the Rebecca character that I especially enjoyed, having read Scott’s earlier work on Jane Austen (if you read my book review of A Jane Austen Daydream this will make even more sense to you):
The young man leaned forward to her, his head near hers, reaching down to turn some pages. “Here on page 120 for example.” What was it about his voice? She couldn’t say exactly why, but it made her think of Jane Austen.
I think you should read a sample of Permanent Spring Showers before committing – to see if it’s your cup of tea. This is a special book written for a special reader. Not everyone will enjoy the work that’s required to navigate the story – while others will praise the book because they got to read with active attention to a creative story unfolding in a creative way.
I said this when I reviewed Scott’s A Jane Austen Daydream way back when – he writes diverse, ambitious novels. When hearing him speak at the James River Writers event last month, I learned (and had expected) that he is a voracious reader and since childhood, has read wide and deep in the classics. This lifelong love of reading really shows in his writing. This book is ambitious; a frolicking mash-up at times. My favorite part? The introduction of the concept of a new genre – “new-reality” fiction – which I think works much like reality television – but for the page. Very interesting, indeed.
Need a sample before deciding to read? Check out Chapter 1 here.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the BOOK GIVEAWAY! YAY! I’m giving away a paperback copy of Permanent Spring Showers by Scott D. Southard. Good luck!