An Interview With Wesley Southard

Wesley Southard

Hey, Wesley  Thanks for joining us.

You are a contributor to Grindhouse with your fantastic short, Home Invasion… another bullet in your armoury of published shorts. So, tell us, when did you first start writing and how long was it before you were published?

 I started writing back in 2007, spending most of that time working on a novel, but my first short story, “With Many Thanks to Newark,” was published in last year’s Big Book of New Short Horror from Pill Hill Press.

Where do you live and where were you born?

I was born and raised in Southwestern Indiana, which is where I still live, except for the two years I attended the Atlanta Institute of Music in Atlanta, Georgia.  Although, I would really like to move to Pennsylvania to be closer to my writer friends and my girlfriend’s family.  Maybe someday…

Is it the brown sauce or tomato ketchup on that bacon roll?

Bacon roll?  Is that a British thing?  Ketchup, I guess.  I’m afraid to ask what brown sauce is.

What’s next on the cards? Tell us what you are currently working on?

Well, I just had a new short story released through Sam’s Dot Publishing’s June 2012 issue of Cover of Darkness magazine.  I believe the Grindhouse anthology will be out in a week or so.  I’ll have a story in Horror World Press’s Eulogies II anthology, coming out later this year.  And a flash story will be out later this year or early next year.  I keep my website (www.wesleysouthard.wordpress.com) updated regularly with any new story sales and current news, so feel free to browse.

As for what I’m currently working on, I’m trying to finish two different short stories for separate anthologies, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed on those.  After they’re completed, the rest of my year will be focused on my novel, which I hope to have the final edits completed by the end of summer.  After that I’ll finally get to the two or three novellas I’ve been dying to write for so long.  The next six months are going to be very interesting.

Featuring Wesley’s story, “Between Those Walls”.

It’s 8pm on a Saturday night; what are you doing?

I should say writing, because I know two certain individuals who would beat me with a rabid weasel if said anything else… (But I’d probably be watching a Blu-ray movie, since they’re my new favorite obsession.)

Why horror?

I guess I’ve always liked the dark stuff.  I remember my dad early on getting me into The Evil Dead and Phantasm, and can also remember staying up late to watch re-runs of Tales from the Crypt and Monster Vision with Joe Bob
Briggs on Friday and Saturday nights.  The horror fiction didn’t come until later, but it definitely started with the movies.  I wish Joe Bob would come back.  We all miss him.

Who is your biggest inspiration, professionally?

Definitely Graham Masterton and Ray Garton.  I truly believe they are two of the most underrated authors in the genre.

Masterton has written some of the best horror fiction of the last thirty plus years, and now in his sixties still cranks out two to three novels a year.  The man is a master of his craft.  He still manages to thoroughly disturb his readers.  Trust me, it takes a lot to disturb me, but he has a few stories and/ or passages in his work that still make me cringe when I think back on them.

Garton, on the other hand, has a style to envy.  His prose is so damn smooth.  I’ve always said there are people who have to learn how to write, and there are those who are born with it.  In my opinion, Garton was born with it in spades.  You can tell in his flawless writing style, how he never goes overboard with his detail and descriptions.  He’s written not only some of the most memorable horror novels ever penned–Live Girls, Seductions, The New Neighbor–but has numerous dark crime novels–Sex and Violence in Hollywood, Shackled, Trade Secrets–that have long stuck with me after reading.

Obviously there are numerous others who I really look up to: Richard Matheson, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzalez, Kelli Owen, Robert Ford, Simon Clark, etc.  Yes, I could go on for days.

You are in bed, a bump in the night wakes you, you have to go investigate. Using only implements from your bedroom, what is your weapon of choice?

The shotgun in my closet.  ‘Nuff said.

You are stranded on a desert island. Before the ship went down you managed to rescued two books, a comic and DVD. What were they?

Yikes!  Uh… for the books I guess I would have to say my original hardback of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and my hardback of Jeff Strand’s collection Gleefully Macabre Tales (hey, I need something to keep my spirits up).  I’ve never been much into comics, but if I still had them, maybe an AVP comic.  And for the movie, it’ll always be my copy of From Dusk till Dawn.

Axe or Chainsaw?

Since gas is so expensive these days, and chainsaws are particularly messy, I’d take the axe.  Not only do you look badass carrying one, but they’re quiet, and you get to burn calories while swinging it.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Since “Home Invasion” was my first venture into a co-writing project, it was very different from how I typically enter writing a new story.  Normally I have to know exactly how my story is going to end before I even begin writing.  I know every writer is different in their approach, and some authors hate knowing how their story is going to end, preferring to let the finale surprise even them, but my brain won’t let me work that way.  Since I started our story, we decided early on that Nikki would end it, and I knew it was in very competent hands.  Trust me, she didn’t disappoint.  I know that some people are scared to collaborate with other authors on projects, but would gladly recommend it to any new author.  We’re so used to working on our own, and I found it interesting and quite rewarding to see how someone else developed their own characters and subplots to further enhance the story.

As for characters, with my own work I try to set out to make as realistic of a cast as possible.  I love giving every character their own voice, maybe a certain quirk or speaking style.  For instance, “Home Invasion” was set in southern Tennessee, so we gave a lot of the cast accents–albeit over-exaggerated accents for humor–but it added to the over-the-top story line and gave it flavor.  The same goes for my recently released short “Between Those Walls” (in the above mentioned Cover of Darkness June 2012 issue).  It is set in a Louisiana prison, so I gave the majority of the cast southern accents, but some of the major characters, like Warden Jerome Dempson, I had to give a more sophisticated dialect to add to the fact that he’s an arrogant son-of-a-bitch, but has class while being so.  Again, it adds flavor and gives the reader an entertaining reading experience.

And for formula… Other than giving myself a set word count limit, I don’t really have a formula.  Every story is different, but I can typically tell before I start how long the story will be, so I set a word limit and try to stay under it.  It’s easy to go overboard with adjectives and adverbs, so giving myself a limit keeps me from getting too wordy.  To keep the reader’s (and the editor’s interest), short stories have to move.  It may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

Have you ever suffered writers block?

Nope, because Writer’s Block is bullshit.  It’s an excuse not to write.  There’ve been plenty of times where I couldn’t figure something out in a story, but I’ve never given up and blamed it on Writer’s Block.  Just walk away for a bit and think about something else–maybe water the garden, scoop a litter box, scratch your ass–then come back, sit down, and try again.

If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?

I love to reminisce about a great book, even more so to other readers.  I especially love remembering a specific passage in a book, a certain scene or line that sticks with you long after you’ve read it.  Something that several years after reading it you can still remember it and get that same chill it gave you the first time, that same laugh or cringe. That one scene that you could visualize so perfectly in the movie playing in your head.  If I could leave behind one thing, it would be that–those types of stories that stay with you because they were different.  I can only hope in thirty years something that I’ve written will have that some affect on someone.

Chocolate cheesecake or Ice-cream sundae?

Neither.  Double Scoop Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream on a waffle cone.  Yum.

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world on a novel, who would it be, why? What’s the story about?

That’s a tough one. I’d love to work with Nikki McKenzie again, maybe on something longer, if given the chance, but if I could collaborate with someone on the pro level, I’d love to work with John R. Little.  Little is one of the most talented authors out there today and has a real gift for very emotional story telling–something that’s rare in our genre.  I think anyone would learn quite a bit from working with him.

Finish the headline of the newspaper “Wesley Southard is….”

…dead at 94 years old.  But that doesn’t mean you can touch his book collection. Just leave them be.

Thanks, Wesley.

Grindhouse is released on 11/6/12 for Kindle and 23/7/12 in Paperback.  The Cover Of Darkness Magazine featuring Wesley’s story, “Between Those Walls,” is released in June from Sam’s Dot Publishing

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~ by crowdedquarantine on June 7, 2012.

One Response to “An Interview With Wesley Southard”

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