Scott D. Southard

Current State Contributor

Current State contributor Scott D. Southard is author of A Jane Austen DaydreamMaximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors, and Megan. Scott received his Master's degree in writing from the University of Southern California. More of his writing can be found at his blog, The Musings and Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard.

Literature is filled with stereotypes about us Michiganders. If, for example, a character in a book is from Ann Arbor, you can expect them to be smart. If they are from Detroit, they probably grew up rough and tumble in the inner city. They might be tough, but they will have a hidden heart of gold. And if a character is from northern Michigan or the UP, they’ll be poor, struggling, and have a strong attachment to hunting and beer. Also flannel. There will be lots of flannel.

I never got the whole Stephen King thing. Growing up in the 80's, it was impossible to avoid him. Everyone seemed obsessed with King’s books and a new one seemed to hit the shelves each month. Of course, it wasn’t just the literary world, there was also always a new television mini-series or film in the works too. Stephen King was everywhere.

Literature has always loved a good road trip. From Homer’s "Odyssey" to Tolkien’s adventures in Middle Earth to Kerouac’s "On The Road", the storyline has never left us. These road narratives often follow the same themes. The trip is usually a metaphor for growth and self-discovery. And when the hero returns home, he is a stronger person, more resolute, and ready to take on problems that would have vexed him before the trip.

Every year we drown in new holiday movies, books, and TV specials. And yet it is so rare that any of them last more than one season. They all disappear in time, discarded like used wrapping paper after Christmas morning.

What makes a story engrossing? Is it a surprising plot? A new twist? Or is it about the characters? Maybe a little quirk in their personalities that we find amusing? Is it an ability to see a bit of ourselves in the pages? These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself since reading "We Are Not Ourselves" by Matthew Thomas.