Monday, September 19, 2011

Interview with Denise Grover Swank

This week's interview is with author Denise Grover Swank. She's giving away an ebook to one lucky winner, so after you read the interview be sure to leave a comment with your name and email!

What first got you into writing?

I started writing as a kid. I loved to read and coming up with my own stories was a natural extension of that. Of course, all of my stories were about me. They were my daydreams written on paper.

Now on to the important bit, your book. Can you tell us about it?

On a very basic level, Chosen is about a mother who will do anything to protect her son.  Emma has a five year old son who can see the future. For three years they’ve been on the run from men who keep finding them and wanting to take him. The book opens with them getting ready to run when Will shows up and offers to help. Jake insists that Emma trust him. But Will has been hired by a powerful group to bring Emma to them, not Jake. As they begin their two day trip from Texas to South Dakota, they encounter gunmen several times and Jake reveals that Will has set an ancient prophecy in motion. Because of Will everything is changing.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The title for Chosen was easy. In fact, I had it before I even started the book – which is a total fluke for me. As I plotted the story I was playing around with themes in my head and it occurred to me that none of the three main characters were willing participants in the course of events. They were all chosen.

Is this your first book?

It’s my second published book and the second book I wrote.  I think it was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. The characters were so different from who I am and the book was so much darker than the humorous family blog I used to write that it scared me. But I find that fear is often a good thing and pushes us to do extraordinary things that we might not have done otherwise.

Do you have plans for more?

Yes, Hunted, the second book of the Chosen series, will be out in November and then the third and final book, Sacrifice, will be out late next winter. I also have a young adult romance involving an alternate universe coming out in early December. And I released a humorous southern mystery with a paranormal element in July, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. I plan to write the next book in that series after  I complete Sacrifice. I hope to have that out by early next summer.

Which comes first the character or the plot?

It’s different each time. For Chosen it was the idea. What if there was a boy who could see the future and someone wanted him? And it built from there. What would his mother do to protect him? Who were the people after him? I originally saw the book as a story about the mother, Emma, and her son.  Will, the man who helps them but has ulterior motives of his own, wasn’t supposed to be a secondary character, but not be so front and center. He’s a very strong character and demanded more attention than I expected. I also realized that in first book, he had the strongest story.

Is there a certain author that influenced you in writing?

One? No, many. As a kid I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved early Stephen King. I loved LaVerle Spenser—total romance all the way there.  And Dean Koonz. But I love the writing of magical realism author Sarah Addison Allen. I’ll read it and study how she’s combined the words to make it read so lyrical. I love paranormal romance author Shannon K. Butcher’s world building. I’m very eclectic in my reading which probably shows in the various genres I write.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts. It's a YA apocolyptic that explores the breakdown of a society.

What is your favourite scene?

Wow. That's hard. Probably the cornfield scene when Will really looks at Emma and his whole attitude begins to change. It was a fun scene to write but also challenging because he's so alpha male and I had to make his transition believable.

Can we read it?

She turned to look at him, the loose strands of long brown hair dancing in the breeze around her face. She looked wild and ruthless. “Look, we can take care of ourselves.”
This turn of events had completely changed his plans. Of course, nothing about this job was what he expected. They never told him she had a kid and he’d complained bitterly when he found out. He didn’t do kids. He was explicit about that. But the group who hired him said they didn’t care about the kid. They wanted her and raised their offer. It was hard to refuse. Somewhere along the path of their self-destructive course he thought of a Plan B, which was much better than his original plan. Maybe things were turning his way. “Let me help you.”
She pulled up to a stop sign at the four-lane highway. “No, thanks, we’re good.”
“We can trust him,” a small voice in the back said.
She looked up sharply and spun around to look at the kid in the back.
Will turned, too. The boy looked like a cherub out of one of those Renaissance paintings he had studied back in his college art appreciation class. Short blond curls framed his face of pale skin with rosy cheeks. Big blue eyes with long dark eyelashes. Will thought the kid’s beauty was wasted on his gender.
“We can trust him,” the boy repeated.
She turned to look out the windshield and hung both of her arms over the steering wheel. “Are you sure?” she asked, staring straight ahead.
She rested her chin on her hands and closed her eyes. He decided she must be trying to figure out how to deal with this change of events. Personally, Will thought it was going too far on the permissive parenting scale letting a preschooler make a decision like that, but hey, it worked in his favor. He sure wasn’t going to protest.
“Okay,” she finally said, sitting up. “I need to leave town. They know we’re here so we’ve got to leave as soon as we can.”
“Who exactly are they?” Will asked. As far as he knew, he was the only one on this job. He’d be pissed if they hired someone else as backup.
“You don’t need to know that,” she said, turning at the corner. “How do you plan on helping us?”
“I can help you leave town.”
“Why would you do that?” Her eyes narrowed as she looked behind for signs of the SUV.
Will had seen the damage. The SUV wasn’t going anywhere. Where the hell had she learned a move like that?
He gave her his rugged, bad boy smirk and shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress.”
“Do better than that,” she snorted.
He liked that she wasn’t easily snowed, even if it made his job more difficult.
“Let’s just say I’m hoping to get lucky, and maybe if I’m nice enough, I will.” He gave her a slow, lazy smile as he leaned against the door, crossing his arms.
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t count on it.”
“Don’t crush a man’s hopes. Just wait and see. I might grow on you.”
Raising her eyebrows, she twisted her lips into a wry smile. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
He laughed. God, this might actually be fun.

Where can readers connect with you?

I have a website— I’m also on Twitter @DeniseMSwank – warning I Tweet a lot. I’m also on Facebook under my name.

Where can readers purchase your book?

It’s available in print and eBooks at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and autographed copies are available through my website.

If you'd like to win a copy of Chosen please leave a comment with your email address in the following format: parayournormal(at)gmail(dot)com. We will announce the winner this Sunday. Make sure to tune in to our radio show when we chat live with Denise this Wednesday at 3;30 Pacific Time. You can set a reminder for the show here.


  1. Ah, that teaser was great. I love Denise's work, to be honest if I were asked who inspires my writing, one of my answers would be Denise. Thank you for interviewing her and the Chosen teaser.

  2. Looks like a really great book! I loved the excerpt, and the premise is really interesting. Usually it's the protagonist who's got the paranormal ability and is on the run- how neat to read about it from a mother's perspective. Now I'm dying to read it.
    vickikeire (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. Thanks for taking the time to do this. This book sounds really interesting!! Thanks to PYN for another great find. :)