Welcome Leighgendaries to the twenty fourth edition of 10 Questions With…
Today, our guest is:
Will Swardstrom is an indie author with stories in a variety of genres, but who mainly specializes in science fiction. He has a number of short stories, including a few set in Hugh Howey’s WOOL Universe. His highly-rated Dead Sleep novel has a sequel, Dead Sight, and he is currently at work on completing the trilogy.
He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife and two kids along with two cats and an extremely high-maintenance dog.
It’s time for:
10 Questions With Will Swardstrom
1.) What is something that many people might now know about you?
Hmmm…not sure. My life is mostly an open book, but I’m sure there are some things people don’t know about me. Let’s go with riding a bike. When I was young — six, seven or so — I was given a bike with training wheels. I really wanted to ride a bike, but taking the training wheels off TERRIFIED me. I decided (a wise decision at the time, I’m sure), that I would just be content to ride a bike with training wheels for the rest of my life. It didn’t matter to me that bikes with training wheels did exist for adults, let alone teenagers, it was something I was content to do. No matter what.
Then, my life turned upside down. We lived in Michigan at the time, but my dad got a new job (a recurring theme of my childhood) in Phoenix, Arizona. We packed and moved. It wasn’t the first time we’d moved, but it was the first time I could remember. It was the first time it meant something to me. I was leaving friends. I was leaving my school. I was leaving the comfort of the house I spent years in.
So when we got to Arizona, we spent a few days unpacking, but I remember one of the first nights we were there, my bike was sitting in the garage. The training wheels were off (taken off in Michigan before we’d left) and I had nothing left to tie me to that old life. I didn’t realize it at the time (I was like 8 years old for goodness sakes), but it was a metaphorical moment in many ways. I let go of my early years in Arizona and threw caution to the wind. In the dusk of an Arizona evening, I took my bike and rode it. No training wheels, no nothing. I didn’t even have grass as a fallback in case of imminent death. Our lawn in Arizona was small rocks, so there was no comfort in tipping my bike this time. I don’t know why or how, but just a few days after moving across the country, I sat on that bike and rode it. I made it mine and that bike and I went everywhere together. In retrospect, I needed that bike to get me through that transition. In the span of one evening (after countless attempts before), I mastered riding my bike and never looked back.
2.) What inspired you to write your first book?
Two things: Hugh Howey, and a funeral. I’d followed Hugh’s blog for a while and eventually it just clicked that he was a normal guy like me and if he could do it, why not me? About that same time, I was at the funeral for a friend’s mother. While in line, the entire opening scene to my first novel came to me. I got home, wrote it down and kept going. I didn’t really know at the time if there was a book there to be written and didn’t tell anyone for a long time. Eventually it got to the point where the book was mostly done and I told my wife, but I’d written over 30,000 words at that point.
3.) Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Favorite author…going to go for the multiple part answer on this one. I really adored Isaac Asimov as a sci-fi loving teenager, but I really have come to love a lot more authors as well…many that are publishing primarily independently today. I still love reading Dean Koontz, Brandon Sanderson, Ernest Cline, Andy Weir, and Hugh Howey, but as I’ve continued to read indie books, I’ve really fallen in love with Peter Cawdron’s writing (I will read anything that man writes), Jen Wells, Carol Davis, Ernie Lindsey and too many others to even count.
Instead of focusing on one author, I’ll address indie authors in general. I really love so much of the indie writing out there because indie authors aren’t afraid to limit their scope. They are literally fearless when they write. Ernest Cline’s latest book, Armada, has gotten some tepid reviews. I liked the book, but I understand where people are coming from. The passion and spark that made so many people LOVE Ready Player One are just missing from this book. It’s good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the publisher curtailed his manuscript here and there in an attempt to play it safe and not rock the boat so to speak. Cawdron, for example, could be killing his own career with titles like “Alien Space Tentacle Porn” but the guy writes such good stories you just have to read them. No fear.
4.) If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Tough one. I’ve seen a few of the earlier answers noting an introverted personality, and I would say the same here as well. Perhaps I could do a Google Hangout or a Skype call with everyone else and we can eat our own dinners from the relative privacy of our own homes. 😉
But, if I had to do an actual face to face dinner with someone, I think I might go with Howey since he was just a huge factor in my early career development, but I might also go with Cline as well. I think there would be no absence of topics with that dude.
5.) What book are you reading now?
Got a couple I’m working through. I just finished reading The Immortality Chronicles (which I’m a part of). I’m really proud of that book. I also have a few others I’m rotating between. The new gamer anthology “Press Start to Play” looks really great. I’m also reading “The Wind-Up Girl” by Paulo Bacigalupi and I have a bookmark a little over halfway through “The Grace of Kings” by Ken Liu. Next up after that appears to be Philip Harris’ “Glitch Mitchell” book and Hank Garner’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” We’ll see which one I gravitate towards first.
6.) Are there any new authors that have captured your interest?
New authors…I’d refer back to a few listed in #3, but I’ll list a few more. Artie Cabrera has some great and innovative ideas percolating in his head; Kim Wells has shown a lot in her first few works; and (maybe I’m a little biased), but my brother Paul K. Swardstrom. Paul and I are writing a book together right now (thank you Google Docs) and he auditioned and gained entrance to The Cyborg Chronicles based on a piece of that. He amazes me with his writing and I can’t wait for the world to see what he can do.
Again, so many authors…I could go on all night.
7.) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
Definitely. I’ve learned a lot since my first book. I wrote it in first person — mostly. I really wanted to write it in first person and I think that’s the way I write best — getting in to the main character’s head so to speak. But, the book took off on me and went too many directions to keep it totally in first person so there are chapters of third person from other character’s POV. The second book continues this trend, but more often due to the expanded scope of the story. Now I’m still working on the third book of the trilogy and the initial decision to write it that way has me painted into a corner sometimes. I could rewrite it all — and I may someday — but now it’s just fun to try to figure out how to get out of my self-imposed messes.
8.) Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. This is the opening chapter from my book I’m co-writing with Paul K. Swardstrom. Tentative title is “Blink.”
“Call me Smith.”
The farmer looked over Smith’s shoulder at the rest of the team of federal agents. The farmer’s wife called him Jim, but most of his buddies called him Jimmy. Ever since he made that shot in high school to win the basketball game against his school’s hated rival Thornwood, everybody in town called him Jimmy, after Jimmy Chitwood, from the movie “Hoosiers.” Of course, Smith knew all that before he even approached the man. He and the rest of his team stood out like a sore thumb in the small Iowa town. Jimmy cocked his head to the side, opening and closing his mouth a few times before finally asking his question.
“Okay, Mr. Smith, tell me again what you are wanting to do, because I lost my train of thought somewhere,” Jimmy muttered.
“What I need to do, Jimmy, is take my team of federal inspectors, inside the grain elevator over there. We have to check for safety concerns,” Smith said. He looked over his shoulder briefly, and gave a slight nod. Agent Wesson caught his drift, and flashed the screen of the tablet computer he had been using, as if to signify to the man they had important business to investigate inside.
“Okay, but I think I’m gonna have to call my boss. Ike said no one gets into the facility on the weekends. I don’t even really work here, you know. Ike just gives me a six-pack at the end of my shift for watching the elevator when no one is around.”
Smith took out a small pad of paper, and pretended to jot some thoughts down. “That doesn’t sound very legal, Jimmy. I would suggest you don’t call your boss until after we’re wrapped up here. I’d hate to get him in trouble for what we all might call an honest mistake,” Smith said.
Jimmy’s eyes widened. It amazed Smith about some of the people he came into contact with. He watched as awareness dawned on Jimmy and the effect it had on his pupils.
“Okay, I’m thinking I need to head to the gas station for some fried chicken. I haven’t had lunch yet,” Jimmy said. With a speed that he hadn’t shown in understanding the situation, Jimmy grabbed his jacket and took off down the street.
Smith turned back to the task at hand, and reached for the gate.
“Hey boss, what are we really doing here? Protecting the Midwest against some agricultural vigilante?” Agent Barney asked from the back of the pack.
“I hope so, or else this was a waste of a trip,” Agent Tinker chimed in. Smith looked back. His eyes found Agent Black, who just shrugged. That was what he liked about Black. A total team player. Quiet and efficient.
“We’ve had this guy on our radar for a little while now, and Dr. Anna says this is the site of his next attack. Right, Anna?” Smith replied. He kept walking towards the main tower of the grain elevator.
Dr. Anna wasn’t even on site with them. Wall had allowed her to stay behind to work a few other cases of concern at the Utility Company headquarters, so she was currently sitting at a desk in D.C., watching the team’s action thanks to a live feed on Agent Wesson’s sunglasses. Smith would have preferred to have her next to him, but having her on speakerphone was the next best thing.
“Absolutely. All of his attacks so far have been anonymous, or mostly anonymous. His last one just outside the Quad Cities was supposed to be his ‘coming out party’ but we were able to intercept his message to the local media. All the indications are that this is his next target,” Dr. Anna said from thousands of miles away.
“What’s this guy call himself again? The Kernel?” Wesson asked.
“The Corn Avenger,” Smith and Anna voiced at the same time. Out of the corner of Smith’s eye he saw the corners of Tinker and Barney’s mouths turn up a tick. He couldn’t blame them. The vigilante certainly could have picked a more fear-inducing moniker.
Right as he wondered about the sanity of a man who would name himself the Corn Avenger, a corn cob flew across the empty lot towards the group of agents. It landed with a soft thud on the gravel path. The men just stared at it for a moment. Smith’s eyes narrowed, noticing a flicker of a flame at one end.
9.) If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?
Illinois. I live there, so I guess that’s saying a lot. You know when they do polls of which state has the most corrupt government, Illinois is ALWAYS the winner? It’s true. For many reasons. Most governors in prison? Check. Biggest pension debt? Check. There are too many issues to go over it is ridiculous. There are many ways to fix it, but it really needs for everyone to quit and start over with a fresh slate. Fire everyone, and call the state New Missouri or something.
10.) A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
“You have to go back! You have to go back to the Island!”
Go ahead, pimp whatever book you want:
Oh goody! Let’s see — how about Dead Sleep? It’s my first novel and I’m still super proud of it. There is a sequel, Dead Sight, and I’m still working on the third book, Dead Search. I have a good chunk done, but life got in the way.
If you’re still here, you can also check out The Z Chronicles. I have a story in there — Z Ball — which is a mash-up of the zombie genre and good old American football. I’m not a huge zombie fan, so writing this story was a big deal. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it so be sure to check it out.
GIVEAWAY: Will Swardstrom is going to giveaway a signed copy of The Powers That Be: A Superhero Collection. The Powers That Be is a great collection of superhero stories. This is your chance to get a great anthology for free. All you need to do is answer the following question. Answers must be in the comment section:
Who is your favorite Superhero and why?
Due to shipping cost, this giveaway is only open to those in the United States. This giveaway will close at 8:00 am (est) on Wednesday September 2, 2015. Good luck to everyone.
I would like to thank Will Swardstrom for joining us for this edition of 10 Questions With… I hope you enjoyed learning about Swardstrom as much as I did. Swardstrom has a story that is free on Amazon this week, Ant Apocalypse. I hope you will check it out as well as the two books he pimped, Dead Sleep & Dead Sight. It is such a great series. I have really enjoyed it so far and I think you will to.
Regular, everyday ants are one thing. But what do you do when they develop a taste for flesh? How do you kill ants that are already dead?
Ant Apocalypse is a short story about one man’s struggle with the bane of the Midwest — ants.
For smalltown newspaper reporter Jackson Ellis, the answer is: nothing. Jackson wants to chart his own course – not allow his visions to influence his life. That all changes when he “meets” Kristina Walsh. He sees a future with her – a love that’s destined to be.
The trouble is, she’s lying in a casket in the local funeral home.
That’s what it looks like to the world, but Kristina’s got a secret.
Kristina has a troubled and complicated past of her own. For over a decade, a shadowy organization called The Company has controlled her, and once they discover she’s alive and out of their grasp, they’ll stop at nothing to get her back.
In this debut novel from the best-selling author of the Silo Saga story “The Veil,” Jack and Kristina wage a desperate battle for her freedom – a journey of self-discovery, love and what it means to be human.
Once, Jack could see the future. Using that amazing ability, he saved the woman he never knew he loved from a fate she didn’t deserve.
Now, that sight has vanished. He and Kristina are flying blind. The only option? To reach South Dakota and search out the last living link to Jack’s past and discover their shared destiny. They won’t rely on Jack’s vision, but instead will put their faith in a man dead for over 70 years.
Together, they’ll find that even in their weakest moments, they’ve never been stronger. They’ll discover that the secrets they uncovered in Dead Sleep are not the end of the story.
The second book in the Dead Sleep trilogy reunites the reader with Jack and Kristina, propelling them upon a perilous journey even deeper into the stunning world created by Will Swardstrom.
Bonds will be tested. Love will be lost. When faced with an impossible choice, what will Jack choose?