Today’s blog post is an interview with my fellow Hides the Dark Tower author and Avast Ye, Airships contributor Steven R. Southard.
I asked Steven to tell us a little about himself, and his work in Hides the Dark Tower:
How long have you been writing? About a quarter century. Sadly, over half of that was spent toying with a novel that will now never escape from its desk drawer…fortunately. I choose to file those years under ‘learning my craft,’ rather than ‘wasting my time.’
What was your reaction when you made your first sale? Do you mean before or after somersaulting, climbing on the roof and belting out a primal scream of joy? After that initial reaction, I calmly and professionally e-mailed the editor my thanks. Then, in a dignified manner, I informed my wife how positively giddy and ecstatic I was, and then obtained at least one beer from the fridge.
Where you do get your inspiration? The most believable answer is that a tiny, hovering muse (who is visible only to me, and takes the form of a Greek goddess), whispers ideas in my ear. The less believable answer involves the supernatural, and such crazy notions as letting my mind wander while mowing the lawn, taking a shower, or waiting behind the wheel for the light to change.
Have you found it difficult to market your work? Any tips for things that worked? Let me put it this way—I’ve gotten top grades in high school, graduated from an elite service academy with a degree in engineering, wooed and married a very desirable woman, served in the submarine force, and raised three children to adulthood. All were child’s play compared to marketing my fiction. I have no tips, but am anxious to learn.
Do you enjoy interacting with fans, or are you an introvert? Do you get much fan mail? I’ve had fun at writing conferences, speaking on panels and doing readings and book signings. I’m not especially introverted, so I find that sort of thing enjoyable. However, to call the folks who listened to me ‘fans’ might be presumptuous. Let’s call them ‘people who got lost while looking for a well-known author and stumbled on me instead.’ I do get plenty of spam mail—gigabytes of it. Oh, you said fan mail. Um, not really so much.
What has been your most challenging project to date? Every story is a challenge, but I’d have to say “Ripper’s Ring” was the most challenging, especially in terms of research. I had to learn about both Jack the Ripper and Plato’s Ring of Gyges, and crank out an entertaining tale from what I’d learned.
What are your other hobbies and interests? As if I have time, after writing! In truth, I enjoy reading. And there’s the day job, which holds my interest until I can get back to writing fiction.
How did you come to write “Ancient Spin” for Hides the Dark Tower? I wrote it for a contest that asked for five hundred words inspired by a picture of the Tower of Babel. Didn’t win the contest, but when I saw the call from Pole to Pole Publishing for submissions of tower stories, I refined and lengthened “Ancient Spin” a bit. It’s my alternate take on the biblical Babel story.
What does the future hold for you? A rocketing rise to celebrity-level fame, and Midas-like wealth, all as a result of my fiction. Actually, those probably are fiction. I’m still writing alternate history stories for my series What Man Hath Wrought for Gypsy Shadow Publishing. I’ll write for anthologies that interest me from time to time. I have some other short story series in mind, and will write novels at some point.
What advice do you have for new writers…or just those of us not as accomplished as you are? 😉 (1) write stuff, (2) learn and hone your craft any way you can (reading, participating in a critique group, etc.), (3) submit your best stuff, (4) keep submitting your stuff until you get published, (5) do some marketing on your website, social media, and conferences, and (6) repeat all above steps with better and better stuff.
Where can readers find you? I’d rather they find my books, which are available on Amazon, at Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and are linked to at my website and Goodreads. If readers want to find out more about me (for some reason), they can catch me on Twitter or Facebook
Thanks for joining us, Steven!