Meow! My guest today is author Denise Swanson!
New York Times Bestseller author Denise Swanson was a practicing school psychologist for twenty-two years. Good Girl Overboard is her first romance and begins the Change of Heart contemporary romance series. She also writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mysteries. Her books all feature small-town heroines with lots of heart.
Denise’s books have been finalists for the Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, RT Magazine's Career Achievement, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She has won the Reviewers Choice Award and was a BookSense 76 Top Pick.
Denise Swanson lives in Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr, and their cool black cat Boomerang.
For more information, please check her website. http://www.DeniseSwanson.com or find Denise on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/DeniseSwansonAuthor or follow her on twitter at DeniseSwansonAu
· Welcome Denise! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, I spent 22 years as a school psychologist and in my spare time I worked as a travel agent. While attending graduate school, I worked as a police dispatcher and in high school I was a pharmacist assistant, so I have a lot of diverse experiences to draw from for my stories.
· Tell us a bit about your latest SCUMBLE RIVER book
Murder of an Open Book is primarily about the influence of social media on all our lives. Because this is the eighteenth book in the series, it is also about the next step in my sleuth’s life. In Murder of a Small-Town Honey, the first book, Skye Denison was introduced to the readers as a young woman who had been jilted, fired, and was broke. In this book, Skye has just returned from her honeymoon—Murder of a Needled Knitter—and is trying to get back into her regular routine of a morning swim. This proves difficult because of an annoying teacher determined to exert her authority over Skye. When this teacher is found dead, Skye discovers that she was not the only one that had a problem with the victim.
· Tell us about your other mystery series, Deveraux Dime Store.
My other mystery series, Deveraux’s Dime Store, centers on Deveraux Sinclair. Dev spent many years as a financial consultant, but when her grandmother’s health starts to fail and her boss pulls a “Bernie Madoff” Dev ends up the proud owner of an old fashioned dime store. This series is a bit edgier than the Scumble River books. It is told in first person with Dev’s love interests telling their side of the story in third person point of view.
· How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
As a psychologist, I used to interview all my clients as a part of their psychological evaluation. When I started writing, I tweaked that interview and use it on my characters.
· How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
When I first began writing, I used an extensive outline. But as I became more comfortable, I more and more just sit down and write the story. I always know the victim, the murderer, and most of the suspects, but that’s about it.
· Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
While plot is important, I am more concerned with writing believable characters that readers will want to hang out with and want to know what happens to next.
· What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge, aside from finding an agent and getting published, is sitting down every day and facing a blank screen. It is especially difficult after a bad review or a nasty e-mail. Although I’ve tried to develop a thick skin, I do not have one so every criticism takes a lot out of me.
Conversely, the readers who love my books and share how those stories helped through tough times in their lives are my source of motivation.
· Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I had 270 rejection letters from agents. I finally was able to get my first agent when Sarah Ann Freed, an editor with Mysterious Press, read the first 50 pages of my manuscript and called it cozy writing at its finest. Using her enthusiasm, I re-queried my top 5 choices and had three offers within weeks.
· What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am currently under contract for two mysteries a year for Random House Penguin. In addition, I’m writing the Change of Heart romance series, that I am publishing myself. The first book, Good Girl Overboard, came out in March, and I’m finishing up the next two books plus a novella that will debut in late September or early October.
· What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I generally write 7 days a week. I start around 8 AM and usually try to finish up around 3 PM. My goal is 7 pages a day, every day.
· What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Always remember that it isn’t how good you are. It’s how bad you want it.
· What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Voluntarily, I walked on the live lava bed of an active volcano.
Involuntarily, because of information the school social worker and I had been gathering on a cult that was abusing children, I was chased down a school hallway by a person dressed in a mask and a robe.
· What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a huge fan of zombie books and movies.
· Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Fun or work? ;)
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Both, although I currently have a cat, I grew up with dogs.
Beach or Pool? Pool
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Diet Coke
Favorite Book? Little Women
Favorite TV Series? Walking Dead
Favorite Movie? Long Hot Summer
Favorite Actor: Paul Newman
Favorite Actress: Joanne Woodward
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Gloria Steinem
If I had just one wish, it would be Acceptance for all people
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Nora Roberts
Here’s all the places you can find Denise:
Denise runs Goodreads giveaways every month or so. She also does giveaways on her FB group Denise Swanson’s Mysteries, Romances, and More