Interview with Arianna Swain

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Asking what my five favorite books are is like asking what my five favorite candies are. My absolute favorite book is "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. I buy a new copy in every different country I visit. Other favorites are the Kate Daniels series books by Ilona Andrews, "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe and Wilde's "Fairytales".
What do you read for pleasure?
I read everything. Anything that captures my attention I read. I'm a big fan of classic literature. I love the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, the Hollows series by Kim Harrison and I love discovering new writers.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read a lot on my iPhone. I have a kindle, iBooks and Nook app that see a lot use.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The best book marketing you can ever have is word of mouth. If you can connect with people through your work, that's the best advertisement in the world.
Describe your desk
My desk is an example of structured chaos. I have a large hardwood desk that I partially built 12 years ago that houses my desktop, notebooks and other writing tools. There's usually a stack of notes I've taken while reading the day before's work, a coffee cup, a French press on a trivet, a notebook on a writing stand with the book that I'm currently working on, several pens and a stack of notebooks with books that I'm starting. I have a laptop that I carry around with me which generally makes the coffee table a desk about 90% of the time as well.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the south and that's definitely influenced how I write. Every character I write has a piece of someone I know in it.
When did you first start writing?
The first time I remember writing was in the first grade. I wrote a collection of horror stories after reading "In a Dark, Dark Room". My mother told me she read what I wrote and slept with one eye open for a few months. I still have that notebook and plan on publishing it one day as a collection of scary stories for kids written by a kid.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Heresy" picks up a few months after "The Living Shards" left off. It delves further into the lives of the characters as they try to cope with loss and figure out what's really important to them outside of their present circumstances. These are people who have been so trapped by the issues that plague their present that they have a difficult time focusing on their future and determining what they really want. With this book I think it's especially interesting to see how the past comes back to haunt them. I can't wait for you all to see how the story comes full circle in the next book.
What are you working on next?
After "Burned Out Yesterday", the final chapter in the Children of Apollo trilogy is finished, I am starting work on a book tentatively titled "We All Go a Little Mad". It's the origin story of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. It shows how the Hatter didn't start out mad, he was a human man living in the mortal world. The series of events that ends with him in Wonderland and truly mad is a beautiful, heartbreaking love story and I can't wait for you all to read it. Look for it in early 2015!
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur C. Clarke, Ayn Rand, William Shakespeare, Oliver Wilde, Aldous Huxley, Ilona Andrews, Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft and Kim Harrison, in no particular order. I'm also always looking for new authors to add to the list.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, I have two cats, so getting out of bed in the morning is a necessity or I'll be meow-ed to death. What inspires me to get up in the morning is that it's a new morning. Every day, every night is full of new possibilities and it makes me excited to find out what those are for the day. And of course there's coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I try to take an hour everyday to turn off the electronics and go outside. It doesn't matter if I'm going for a swim, a hike through the mountains or a walk on the beach, it's important to me to get that time to let my mind relax and let go of stress. It's a particular joy of mine to live in Los Angeles where we have so many opportunities to be outside and such beautiful landscapes to enjoy. I also spend a lot of time reading and as a side project I review films.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story that I ever wrote was in either kindergarten or first grade. It was a horror story about a family that inherited a house from an uncle and found a human skull in a hatbox in the hall closet. They kept trying to dispose of the skull in very improper ways and it kept coming back to haunt them until it finally succeeded in killing them. I still have the handwritten version of that story in a red notebook that I carried around with me for years until I filled it up with horror stories.
What is your writing process?
I do things the old fashioned way. Almost everything that I write starts out as an idea written down on a scrap of paper. The idea starts to morph into an outline that turns into a story. I hand-write everything in notebooks. It usually takes two notebooks per book and I'm terribly superstitious about the type of notebook I use. Sometimes I'm even superstitious about the pens I use. The best gift I've ever gotten from someone is a bunch of pens given to be by a group of girls I met in France several years ago. Those are the best pens and I use them for writing on an almost daily basis. The story that gets written generally only loosely matches the outline and then when it's typed into the computer I usually flesh out the story a lot. A couple of rounds of editing later and I have a full book.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I remember reading was "The Green Ribbon" from "In a Dark, Dark Room" by Alvin Schwartz. It hypnotized me. To this day I can still quote the entire story and it's still one of my favorites. Over the years I moved a lot and lost my Alvin Schwartz collection. I fell madly in love with my best friend the day he tracked down the 1980's editions of each Alvin Schwartz book I had as a child and presented them to me. Thankfully he's since forgiven me for the uncharacteristic crying in public.
Published 2014-08-05.
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