Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tell Me About it Tuesday Welcomes Steven Southard!

This week another Gypsy is visiting! YAY! Go Gypsy Shadow Authors!

Without further ado, meet Steven!

The adventure books of Jules Verne and Robert Heinlein inspired a young Steven R. Southard to join the submarine service and become a naval engineer.  Now, through his own stories in the What Man Hath Wrought series, Steve conveys the wonders of science and technology in alternative history tales filled with adventure.  He has written in the historical, fantasy, science fiction, alternate history, horror, and steampunk genres. Visit his page at the Gypsy Shadow Publishing website (http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#top) and his own site at www.stevenrsouthard.com to better understand his intriguing characters and their amazing machines.

Q. Do you do any special research for your stories? 

A.  Besides reading cereal boxes and people-watching at bus stations after midnight, you mean?  For research, I’d like to say I fly my private jet to each setting for my upcoming stories and spend a month immersing myself in the local ambiance.  I’d like to say that, but instead I conduct meticulous research using the most trusted source available—the Internet.  Much cheaper than jet fuel. 

Q. What’s your favorite genre to read? Do you write it? 

A.  I read widely, but my favorite genre is so-called “hard” science fiction.  I don’t write about starships and intergalactic wars, though, probably because it’s too hard.  My slave-driving muse usually commands me to write alternative history, including steampunk.  My stories typically involve people trying to interact with unfamiliar technology, inspired by me trying to interact with my laptop. 
Q. What are you working on right now? Can you tell us about it? 

A.  I’ll reveal this much, but don’t tell anyone.  It involves Plato’s Ring of Gyges from The Republic (a ring that renders its wearer invisible) and a Scotland Yard detective investigating Jack the Ripper.

Okay...enough with the business questions! How about some fun stuff. You know, just between the two of us.

Q. The opportunity to go on a surprise vacation arises. You have 90 minutes to pack and get to the airport. Where will you go and what will you pack?

A.  I’d retrace Phileas Fogg’s fictional trip around the world in 80 days:  London to Egypt to Mumbai to Kolkata to Hong Kong to Yokohama to San Francisco to New York to London.  Naturally I’d pack what Fogg brought, a carpet bag with two shirts and three pairs of socks, a raincoat, a travelling cloak (cool!), and a spare pair of shoes. Probably some credit cards rather than Fogg’s big wad of cash. 

Q. When YOU read, what do you like to pick up?

A.  For the most part, I listen to audiobooks while on my daily work commute.  When I read print books or ebooks I feel guilty that I’m not writing, so audiobooks while driving work best for me.  I check them out at the library, since I’m such a cheapskate.  Although I prefer science fiction, I read all fiction genres, as well as nonfiction.  I try to read one or two of the classics every year. 

Q. If they make a movie about your life, who do you want to play your part?

A.  Is Robert Downey Jr. available?  He’d need to trim his van dyke goatee better, the one he wore while playing Tony Stark in Ironman.  

Now is my fave part! Tell us all about that awesome book! 

In my story “A Tale More True,” Baron Münchhausen has been known to stretch the truth a bit, then tie it in knots, toss it on the floor, and stomp on it.  But to prove him wrong, is it really necessary for Count Federmann to construct a gigantic clockwork spring and launch himself to the Moon?  In 1769?  If the Count should do so, and if he should drag his trustworthy servant along, perhaps he’ll learn enough to tell…a tale more true. 


No one on Earth could detest Baron Münchhausen more than he did. Count Eusebius Horst Siegwart von Federmann felt certain of that.

As he sat watching Baron Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von Münchhausen, the Count’s loathing of the infernal liar magnified in intensity. The Baron hosted this evening’s dinner party, and all the nobles in the town of Bodenwerder and the entire Electorate attended. Not wanting to miss the evening’s highlight, they’d gathered in the enormous parlor on upholstered walnut Rococo chairs with maple veneer.

Münchhausen sat on his chaise longue; hands sweeping with dramatic effect; his beaked nose pointing at each person; his mouth drawn up in a smile that lifted his waxed mustache; his high-pitched nasal voice squeaking like a child’s viola.

Yet he captivated the crowd, just as the Count had seen Münchhausen do at dozens of other elegant parties. His falsehoods couldn’t be more obvious, but the party-goers clapped and laughed in appreciation. He claimed to have felled over seventy birds with a single rifle shot, to have killed a wolf by turning it inside out, and to have survived in the stomach of a large fish for many hours. How could anyone believe such nonsense?

Adding to the Count’s vexation, all the beautiful, young, single women sat transfixed, hanging on the Baron’s every farcical word. Were these maidens so easily swayed? How could the buffoonish Münchhausen—that misshapen man with the door-hinge voice, a man already married—hold every fräulein’s admiring attention? Had this been a world where true justice prevailed, the maidens would be listening to the eligible bachelors, the handsome, smooth-toned ones, such as the Count himself.

Not only younger than the Baron, he ranked higher in the nobility hierarchy, was arguably better looking, and possessed a deeper voice. True, he’d not served in any military capacity, but the Baron’s actual combat experience had little to do with his popularity. People flocked to his parties, gathered around him, and sat in attentive silence for the sole purpose of hearing the man’s outlandish lies. Münchhausen might well be the most accomplished and successful liar in Europe, or even in all of history, the Count thought.

Seething with hatred, Count Federmann kept his facial expression neutral, not joining in the laughter or applause. Neither did he call on Münchhausen to provide proof for his assertions or otherwise humiliate the lying Baron. Still, he knew, something must be done.

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