Interview with Dane Swan

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was 5 I wrote a short story for school. I think it was homework for our Christmas vacation. Everyone else in my class wrote a brief, ten line story -- what the teacher expected. I wrote a thirty page adventure about a kite travelling across Europe searching for home.

The best part? I had not figured out right and left yet so by accident I hand-wrote the whole story right- to-left! My poor teacher, Mrs. Davis needed to read my story using a mirror!
What is your writing process?
It depends whether I'm writing prose or poetry. With poetry I write brief notes on scraps of paper, notebooks, my cell phone, etc. Gather them up when I'm ready and piece it all together. With prose I try to be as structured as possible-- in a notepad I'll plan the direction for each chapter, details about each character that I may (or may not) share with the reader, etc.

For both I try to use a level of research to support my inspiration.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I started reading really early. By the time I was 6 I was reading poets like Robert Frost. When I was 7 or 8 my big brother, seeing how bored I was of the books for kids my age, introduced me to a book he was reading, Tolkien's "the Hobbit."

I think I spent the rest of my preteen years searching for a book half as good as that one. Tolkien's work was the first indication to me that literature could be exciting, fun and well executed.
How do you approach cover design?
I've created images for various projects but I am not a graphic designer. When I do work with a graphic designer, or visual artist I try not to embarrass myself. That means lots of research, combing through my text with a fine-comb to find anything that can inspire an image.

When I design an image myself I have to do even more research. Lately I've been studying classic Penguin Books book covers, Pelican Books book covers, and 1960 graphic design from Brazil.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I read way too much to have a list of five favorite books, but five books that are big influences for me are:

1/ "Bending the Continuum," Dane Swan -- Yes, I wrote it. It was the first time a publisher confirmed my suspicion that I was a talented writer. That first collection, or novella, or novel is a big first step. I hope anyone who reads this and wants to be a writer one day has the opportunity to have a similar moment.

2/ "Land to Light On," Dionne Brand -- Ever since I first read this collection I've felt that it's perfect.

3/ "Heavy Daughter Blues," Wanda Coleman -- This book and its use of language and form helped shape the collection of poems that I am presently completing for my publisher. It's an anthology of short stories and poems that are fearless.

4/ "On the Road," Jack Kerouac -- speaking of fearless writing and you have to mention this classic. Heck, if you live in North America, and call yourself a writer you should have already read this, and have an opinion on it.

5/ "1984," George Orwell -- Fantasy and Science Fiction have been quintessential parts of my reading since I was 7 years old. To understand any genre you should read the classics of that genre. Orwell found a way to write a timeless work that does not age. Personally, that should be the ultimate goal of every writer.
What do you read for pleasure?
Unfortunately I never was formally trained to write. That means all the books that I should have read in university I have to read now to catch up. Sometimes I get the chance to read something light. Right now I'm reading "Dreams from My Father," by a pre-federal politician Barack Obama. I live in Canada so his politics only have a small impact on me. That allows me to appreciate Mr. Obama as a talented and eloquent best-selling author.

Before this book I believe my last bit of light reading was Philip K Dick's "Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep?"
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the island of Bermuda. As a child the only things you could do there were go the beach, check out tourist spots, and have fun using your imagination. To this day I pride myself for having a vivid imagination.
What are you working on next?
Presently, I am working on a spoken-word poetry and music project, a novella (which I'm shopping to publishers), and a poetry collection for Guernica Editions.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing I'm making music, going for long walks, looking for a girlfriend (Lol.), and trying to find a less secluding job than being a writer.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is speaking to people that your work has inspired.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The opportunity to reach the goals that I have set for myself.
Published 2013-09-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

"L _ _ _" A poetic study of relationships
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 19,060. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Dane Swan -- the poet who created the collection, "Bending the Continuum," for Guernica Editions in 2011 -- presents an anthology of poetry inspired by relationships. Page poets, slam poets, event coordinators, and rappers were invited to participate via social media. The result? A powerful collection that travels from Gothic to urban verse, experimental work and everything in between.