Thursday, November 5, 2009

INTERVIEW: Stan Swanson - Author - The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck

Welcome to “Up Close and Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing his views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.

Today’s interview is with Mr. Stan Swanson. Mr. Swanson worked as a writer, columnist and editor for a Denver area newspaper. He also worked as the entertainment editor for Denver Magazine. He formed Stony Meadow Publishing in 2005 as a means to writing and publishing additional works

The Dragons of Shadara was Stan’s Swanson’s first book and was released in 2003. His book, The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck, is a juvenile fantasy adventure was published in 2007. The second book in his exciting fantasy series Pandemonium in Pennywhistle will be available in 2010.

Mr. Swanson currently resides in Colorado with his wife, Joy. He has three children and four grandchildren.

E.I. Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager? What were you like? Please tell us more about Stan Swanson -- the man behind the author and journalist?

S.S. I was rather shy growing up, but I learned to play guitar when I was about 14. I was in several groups through my college days and soon got over my stage fright. I wrote a lot in my teenage years and was really into science fiction. (I also got into songwriting so you can tell I was really into the creative process in my formative years.)

E.I. Do you enjoy writing? *What is it about this art form that enchants you the most? Why have you chosen to write in the genre in which you write?

S.S. I do enjoy the writing process, but people might be surprised to find out it is work just like any job. Sometimes I can sit down and write quite easily, but at other times I really have to force myself. I don't really believe in 'writer's block'. You just need to sit down and write no matter what comes out of your pen, pencil or keyboard. I think what enchants me the most is creating something out of nothing and then actually seeing it in print. It's like scoring the winning touchdown in a football game. And I actually write in different styles for different audiences even though I really enjoy writing stuff for tweens and teens. Even though the first book I wrote The Dragons of Shadara was aimed at teens, my next two books were non-fiction works for songwriters. I then wrote the first book in the Hobart Hucklebuck series and consider it one of my favorites. The characters really came to life for me and I could really use my sense of humor. However, my latest work is strictly for adults. (Forever Zombie: A Collection of Undead Guy Tales is now available on Amazon along with my other works.)

E.I. Could you describe your path that leads you to publication--any stumble along the way? Is there anything about you that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?

S.S. After many rejections on The Dragons of Shadara, I decided that self-publishing was the best route for me to take. There was a huge learning curve in doing it this way, but it has worked out well as I now have five books available on Amazon and other online bookstores. By the way, The Dragons of Shadara was originally published through AuthorHouse. I re-published recently under my Stony Meadow Publishing company as Dragontooth: The Prequel.

E.I. Was there a central theme that you wanted readers to grasp?

S.S. There was no central theme in The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck. I just wanted to write something that kids would enjoy reading. It has received good reviews, but sales are always hard for the self-publisher who must do all their own marketing, etc.

E.I. Are there any kid or teen books rocked your world while growing up? And why?

S.S. I loved Raold Dahl, but I read mostly science fiction while I was growing up. Most people won't know what I'm talking about, but the Tom Corbett: Space Cadet books were a great series for kids. As far as books go for tweens and teens, you can't ignore the impact that Harry Potter has had upon the reading habits of kids. My only problem with the books was that they got darker and darker as the series progressed. The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck will never take that route. I don't want to alienate my original audience.

E.I. How do you imagine audience as you are writing? Do you try to do character development, chapter outlines, various novel-related brainstorming? Do you have sheets of newsprint covered in a story boards all over your walls?

S.S. I've tried everything from post-it notes on my bulletin board to index cards. But I generally develop the basics of my story in my head and don't even jot down many notes the first few days. I usually fall asleep thinking through the plotline. The, when I'm ready, I do a chapter-by-chapter outline so that when I start writing, I know exactly what's going to happen in each chapter. Sometimes that changes as I go, but for the most part, I stick with the outline. I also do character development sheets so I get to know my characters before I start writing.

E.I. Let’s talk about Hobart Hucklebuck, the protagonist in your novel The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck. How much of Hobart planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go next with his character?

S.S. By the time I started writing The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck. I could visual Hobart as easily as the kid next door. I knew what he was likely to do in any situation, but he's basically an "everyday" kid that most readers can identify. He will grow and mature to a certain extent, but as I stated earlier, I don't want my characters to grow up too fast, so future books will have only short gaps in time from the previous book.

E.I. What is a typical work day schedule when you are in full writing mode? Would you tell us a little about your process for editing, revising, and novel development?

S.S. I try not to do the same thing everyday although If I really fall into a true writing mode, I might write for several days before doing anything else. But typically I will write for 2-3 days, then do some editing on a different book (I usually have 2-3 books going at once.) And some days I will stay away from the process completely and try to enjoy something else so my brain stays fresh and it all doesn't become too "work-like". I edit my books heavily. (Maybe too much...) I edited/revised The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck 9-10 times before I felt it was ready.

E.I. How long did it take you to write “The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck” and The Dragons of Shadara.

S.S. I wrote The Dragons of Shadara over a four year on-and-off period. The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck took about two years. I wrote the second book in the series in about 3 months, but still have several edits to go before it is actually done.

E.I. What's up next? Is there another book in the works? What can you share with your fans?

S.S. I just released Forever Zombie: A Collection of Undead Guy Tales a few days ago. It is a collection of 12 short stories, but they are not your typical 'slice-and-dice' zombie tales. They all have lots of humor and endings you might not expect. I think that even a non-zombie fan would enjoy the stories. The second book in the Hobart series The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck: Pandemonium in Pennywhistle is basically finished, but still needs a couple more edits. I have also started an outline for the third book in the series. (The second book should be available in the Spring of 2010.) I'm also working on a humorous book titled The Ultimate Survival Guide for Humanity: How to Survive Attacks from Zombies, Vampires, Aliens, Ex-Lovers and Other Scary Stuff which should also be available next year.

E.I. Mr. Swanson, thank you for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know your work a little better. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?

S.S. My only suggestion for aspiring writers is just to keep writing. Don't get discouraged by rejections. All authors receive them. Many successfully books (including the Harry Potter series) were rejected many times before publication. Don't believe in writer's block -- just write, write write. And never worry about editing your stuff until you're done with the project. It just slows down the creative process if you try to edit as you go. And good luck!

To learn more about Stan Swanson please visit his website at: http://www.stonymeadowpublishing.com/

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