What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Jeanz! I’m Denise Grover Swank and I was born and raised in the Kansas City, Missouri area. I moved away when I was nineteen and lived in Tulsa, Little Rock, Arkansas—twice, Joplin, Missouri and Franklin, Tennessee before moving back to suburban Kansas City. The time I spent in Arkansas deeply influenced the creation of the Rose Gardner Mystery series.
You are so welcome on the blog, thank you for taking part in the Interview!
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
Even though I’ve written something in some form my entire life—I started my first novel in fourth grade—the first time I felt like I could call myself a writer is when I wrote regularly for my own blog, There’s Always Room for One More. I wrote stories about my kids and our “adventures” with a sarcastic, funny spin.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
I’m self-published. I tried without success to get an agent with three different books in three different series. I was close with my YA paranormal romance, but realized my Rose Gardner Mysteries were so different in tone than the YA and my urban fantasy series that no agent would take all three. So I self-published Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes last July. I’ve since sold over 20,000 copies.
The agent ended up not signing me, and after seeing how well Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes was doing, I decided to self-publish all my books. The Chosen, my urban fantasy series, is my most popular. Chosen, the first book has sold over 43,000 copies. In total, I’ve sold over 115,000 books since July 2012. It’s important to note that I hire professionals to work on my books. Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons had a developmental editor. My books are copy edited and professionally proof read. I hire professional cover artists. EBooks are professionally formatted.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
My Rose Gardner Mysteries just fall out of my fingers. I wrote Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes in 30 days. Twenty-Nine got split up because I had to work on revisions for Sacrifice, the third book in my UF series, but I wrote the last third of the book in 10 days. They were very long days, but I never sat in my chair and asked “what happens next?”
My urban fantasy series gets harder with each book. I’m working on the final one and it’s coming slow, slow, slow. Part of the reason is it’s the final book in the series and I’m trying to wrap everything up, but also it’s much darker and intense. I’ve dragged my characters through hell for the last three books and I’m only making it harder for them. It’s especially hard when I’ve just finished a Rose book, because the tones are so completely opposite.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
The idea for Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes came to me when I took my son to the DMV to get license plates for his new (used) car. I looked around and said, “You could get some great stories if you had a character who worked at a DMV.” My son rolled his eyes, but a loose plot for Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes was created three days later. I started writing the next day and finished thirty days later. I call that book pure magic. The idea of having Rose on a jury in Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons came after I got summoned for jury duty. I didn’t get picked—that time.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I have many of readers before a book is released, along many steps. For Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, I had two alpha readers who read Twenty-Nine in short sections as I wrote the first draft. They helped me work out plot issues (there were few with this book) character development, etc. I make changes based on their suggestions and what I see needs to be done, then I send it to my developmental editor. She reads it and makes even more suggestions.
After I revise based on her notes, I send it to five-six beta readers. They tell me if anything is unclear or if they find characters unlikeable, or anything that jumps out at them, both good and bad. I usually make tweaks based on their feedback, then send back to my developmental editor for another read through and line edits. Then it goes to the copy editor, proofreader, etc.
Lately, I’ve been looking for advanced reviewers to read an ARC so I have reviews when the book comes out.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
The title was easy. I knew Rose was going to make a list in the first book, so I arbitrarily picked twenty-eight then added“and a half” to give the title a bit of whimsy to reflect the tone of the book. My covers were designed by the incredibly talented Janet Holmes at Skeeterlegs Design.
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
I’m so excited about the debut release of YA author, Trisha Leigh. Her book dystopian, Whispers in Autumn was released July 24 and it’s so good!