Interview with Lisa Southard

Why put blog posts into a book format?
It's an easier format to follow a story through: with the blog posts people have to scroll down and end up reading stuff in reverse order. Each post works as an independent piece of writing but the whole of it also tells a story about a family, it has little journeys threaded through it that people can relate to. It seems lazy, maybe, to cut and paste to make a book but it's free so have a peek, I think you'll soon see what I mean.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember a story work book from my primary school, and drawing pictures of princesses in gargantuan dresses: not any of the words. Something fairy tale derivative I expect. I was about four. To me I have always written stories like I have always been able to speak- I don't remember the early learning process.
What is your writing process?
I have a daily writing habit (that's the blog post, usually) which I equate to an athlete doing stretching and weights, and then there's the other stuff- short stories and novels in progress, which is more on the field with a timer. The most important thing is to get words out. When they are out you can change them. When they aren't you can't. There's an element of talent and the rest is graft. I do like to go out and do physical research, like sitting in the tropical biome at the Eden Project to help set a tropical scene. I carry a notebook.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Like writing and talking, reading is something I think I have always been able to do. I do recall the Ladybird Well-loved Tales series: still have two of these so that's a good clue. Rapunzel was a particular favourite. I loved her tenacity and her weird name.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to draw in pen and ink: I'm an illustrator though not an artist or a designer. I have ideas and then I ask my brother. He is an artist and a designer, the perfect compliment. Also he is very clear about what works and what doesn't- there's no room for ego where good design is concerned. We did a print collaboration of Tae Kwon-Do stories: and none of my pictures made the cover at all! And I love the education textbook look we chose, it fits the purpose.
What are you working on next?
There are multiple projects, always. After the current novel is polished and out the main focus will be the next two novels. They are what I call 'bulk written' as in the basic story is done and there's plenty of words but they aren't necessarily the right words yet.
Who are your favorite authors?
All of the good ones! And a few of the bad ones. I pick up all sorts in secondhand shops. I love reading, love to experience different authors' work. On my bookshelves Jane Austen, Virginia Wolf, Nancy Mitford, Philip Pullman, Shakespeare, Muriel Sparks, Stephen King, Seamus Heaney, they're all fixtures. And a lot of children's books. Satoshi Kitamura, Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Dr Seuss: it's hard to pick favourites. I'll come back to this question amazed at who I left out, I suspect.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Everything. Coffee, exercise, crazy grandchildren, my polytunnel, what the weather's up to, writing, breakfast. New garden projects and foraging adventures.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, gardening, recycling things, picking fruit, making jam, Tae Kwon-Do training. I'm so rarely bored it's a novelty.
Describe your desk
Teetering and perilous. It's a 1940s oak bureaux with shelves balanced on top. Notebooks everywhere, pens, interesting pebbles, ribbons, sequins, dictionaries. Like the desk of a wizard with mild dementia.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up outside, in Cornwall, in our lovely variable temperate climate. The beach, the woods, the estuary, the river, the sand dunes, the fields, the moors, the alleyway, a selection of gardens and yards. I feel at home in all weathers. There's always something different to notice, or perhaps because the weather changes so much it encourages you to look at things anew. I like my readers to be encouraged to look at things anew, to reappraise and appreciate everyday details.
Published 2014-09-14.
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Books by This Author

Soup By Volume Two
Price: Free! Words: 48,210. Language: British English. Published: January 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » Diaries & Journals
A second collection of eccentric, pragmatic, imaginative encounters with everyday life from the Wishbone Soup Cures Everything blog.
Soup By Volume
Price: Free! Words: 53,200. Language: British English. Published: October 13, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical, Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
Quirky attitude, luminous words: warm, soulful, worth a few pence. Conveniently packaged collection of the best prose from the Wishbone Soup Cures Everything blog. Feel like you're hungry for something but don't know what? This could be the cure. Observation and imagination transform the world into a place of sustainable happiness.