Thursday, 20 May 2010

Interview with Denise Grover Swank

I hope everyone's week hasn't been as cloudy and gloomy as mine so far. If anyone's got any extra sunshine hanging around, feel free to send it my way. ;)

Until then, I'm here to brighten your day with another interview. We're talking with a busy and talented woman I'm sure you'll all be pleased to meet.

Welcome, Denise. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Denise Grover Swank. I write adult thriller/paranormal and I am preparing to write a MG adventure/fantasy. I'm a single mom to six kids (three biological and three internationally adopted,) five of which still live at home. I'm currently work at home which allows me flexibility with my kids and writing.

Sounds like a full house. Let's talk about your writing. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?

CHOSEN is a thriller/paranormal.

Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

Emma Thompson was supposed to be a simple delivery for mercenary Will Davenport, but he’s repeatedly ambushed by gunmen hell bent on capturing her five-year-old son Jake, who not only sees the future, but tells Will he’s the Chosen One, the prophesied protector of his mother and the world.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

From my then three year old son. LOL One night my older son's girl friend told me Ryan counted to four, but only if he touched her fingers. I joking suggested perhaps he telepathically read her mind and that's how he knew the numbers. A light bulb went off in my head and I suddenly started playing the "what if" game. What if a boy could see the future? What if someone wanted him? What if his mother was on the run trying to protect him? And finally for a twist, 'cause I LOVE me a good twist, what if someone wanted HER and not her son?

I love good twists too. Sounds like an exciting read. Is your manuscript complete or still a work in progress?

CHOSEN is complete and ready to query. ARG!!!

Ah, the agent query-go-round. Tell us, do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

All of the above, plus one more: alpha readers.

I used four alpha readers as I wrote; two are writers (an man and a woman) and two a regular "readers" (also a man and a woman). They were crucial to help me stay on track with the story. One, just an avid reader, pointed out what she saw as a deviation from my character's motivation. She was absolutely correct and saved me a ton of future rewrites.

When I finished editing, I used both critique partners and beta readers. With my beta readers, I sent out questionnaires asking their reactions and opinions on particular areas of the book such as: what did they think of a particular scene, was the development of the relationship between Will and Emma believable? There were about 15 questions. God love 'em, they were all so enthusiastic about the book they answered my questions and offered plenty of their own opinion and insights too. I have to say, I was THRILLED to finally have someone read my book and see how much they loved it.

Sounds thorough. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part of writing is probably my criticism of my own work. I write a rough first draft but I have a friend who writes a beautiful first draft. Its hard not to compare. But I made my work shine in editing and at the end of the day, its how it reads when its finished, not when it's first written. (Thank God!)

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Read, read, read. Be open to constructive criticism. Accept that some days the words just don't flow like you want them too.

Good advice. Do you have an idea of your book’s cover art?

My reward for finishing my first draft was granting myself permission to make a book trailer. I created a book cover for the end of the trailer. The arm you see on the cover belongs to my 19 year old son. I had to do some major bribing to convince him to let me: 1) draw the tattoo on his arm 2) stand in our front yard while I 3) took his photo. (He is currently in therapy.)

LOL. Well then you've done your job as a mom. ;p Tell us about your inspirations for writing.

Music. I cannot write without music. I listen to lots of different genres, depending on the scene I'm writing. Some days I feel like I live with my headphones in my ears.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have
to have nearby when writing?

Internet. I research like crazy. I will spend 30 minutes researching something that is one sentence long. I have said if I am ever suspected of ANY crime, I will be arrested based on my search engine history alone. (gunshot wounds, how to pry open a gun cabinet, bullet proof glass, sniper tactics, you get the picture...)

I can just imagine! Pretty incriminating evidence, hehehe. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

My six kids who range from 23 to 2. They have been wonderfully supportive and never even considered that I couldn't write a book. Also, all my friends who not only begged to read my book when I was done but loved it as much a I do.

And finally, where can people find you online?


Thank you so much for letting us get to know you, Denise.

Thank you for the opportunity!

And good luck with your books!


Brandy said...

I read the rough draft and it was phenomenal, even at that point. {I have a copy of the edited version but haven't gotten all the way through due to technical issues as in my computer crashing.}

Denise is a gifted writer and Chosen is destined to be a best seller!

Liz Czukas said...

Lovely to know more about you, Denise and congrats on being finished.

Best of luck in the query process!

- Liz

Gina said...

Reminded me of Terminator a tad when reading the 'about' part, but still intrigued! Definitely agree on the reading helps to expand your horizons for enjoyment, but also as research in a way. Best of luck on your road to publication!

Another great interview, Dorothy! Thanks for bringing another author-to-be to the spotlight. On the extra sunshine request...I'll send some of to figure out how to bottle it for shipping...hmmmm.

Happy reading! ^_^

India Drummond said...

Great to meet Denise and hear about her work. I always enjoy a good interview!d

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. It's always fun to learn about books that we very well might be seeing in bookstores one day. :)

kanishk said...

Lovely to know more about you,
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