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Author Q & A

This question and answer session with Stan is geared toward his writing for children and young adults. Below you will find a second set of Q&A regarding his songwriting books.

Q: When and how did you start writing books for children and young adults?

A: Several years ago I had an idea for what I thought would be a fantasy book for adults. The working title of the book was A Boy And His Dragon. After I had written about three chapters I realized that the style and feeling of the book seemed to be geared more toward younger audiences. It sort of shocked me when I realized this, but once I accepted the fact, the book came quite easily. I think I finished the first draft in about 3 months. Of course, the book then went through 11 or 12 re-writes, but thatís a different story.

Q: So The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck isnít your first juvenile fiction work?

A: No. I actually finished the ďdragonĒ book and published it through AuthorHouse (which was then 1stBooks) as The Dragons of Shadara. I had the basic premise and outline done for Hobart about the same time, but then Harry Potter hit and I was hesitant to pursue it as my book was also about a young boy and magic. I wanted to wait and see what Harry Potter was all about. After reading the first Harry Potter book, I figured there was enough difference between the books that I should go ahead and pursue publishing Hobart.

Q: So you donít see a conflict of interest to the Harry Potter series?

A: Not at all. I figure that now that the last Harry Potter book is out that hopefully young readers will turn to something in a similar vein. I guess I actually owe J. K. Rowling a thank you for bringing so many young people back to reading!

Q: What else can you tell else about the book?

A: Hobart Hucklebuck is a ten-year-old boy living in the village of Pennywhistle. Magic is an everyday thing here and most people have magical skills of some level although the ďold-fashionedĒ art of magic is being lost. Enchantments are the newest thing, but all enchantments are done in factories. There is a big difference between magic and enchantments. Magic spells arenít permanent and wear off after a time depending on the skill of the magician. Enchanted items hold their enchantments forever. Or at least they should. Things get interesting in Pennywhistle when enchanted items begin losing their power. When Hobartís grandfather is accused of causing the problem and is eventually sent to prison, Hobart and his friends have to save ďsave the dayĒ.

Q: Do you have plans for additional Hobart books?

A: Thatís the long-range plan. I already have two or three ideas for new books scribbled down on a napkin somewhere. Actually, the second book is already in the works and should be available in the fall of 2009. The working title for that one is The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck: Pandemonium in Pennywhistle.

Q: Will you keep the same characters in the next book?

A: Most of them will be re-appearing characters. I think kids will identify well with Hobart, Specks Spacklethack and Rosie Rumpleskirt. There are a lot of great characters in the book. We will, of course, introduce a new character or two and perhaps bring Hobartís parents to the forefront, but only time will tell.

Q: You have written fiction and non-fiction books. Which do you prefer to write?

A: Thatís a good question. They are very different. Non-fiction books usually require more research. Fiction writers, for the most part, are perhaps more creative. Iím not sure every author could successfully do both though I know several who have. Maybe authors just end up enjoying one more than the other and thatís why you donít see a lot of cross-over. I probably enjoy writing fiction more, but thereís not the financial advantage that non-fiction brings to the table. At least not yet. Iím hoping that changes with Hobart or maybe my upcoming zombie titles!

Q: What else do you have in the works?

A: I am currently working on a couple of new books. One of them is a re-release of The Dragons of Shadara book I talked about earlier. Iím doing a complete re-write as I plan on it being a series as well. It will be released as Dragontooth: Book One. My wife and I have discussed collaborating on sequels. Iím also working on a couple of books aimed at more mature readers. They all have a zombie theme.

Q: What do you do with in your spare time?

A: As you can imagine, thereís not much time for spare time in my life. I have a full-time job and then spend another 25-30 hours a week writing and marketing. My wife and I like to travel when we can. I secretly love reality TV shows, but donít let anybody hear that. I love the reaction between the people on these shows. I think it helps in my writing as well. It helps me understand why people act and react the way they do in certain situations. And you can seldom predict the ending!

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The following question and answer session with Stan is geared toward his singer/songwriter talents and writing books for songwriters.

Q: How The Songwriter's Journal differ from other books on songwriting?

A: It is actually quite different from most other songwriting books I could find. And, believe me, I did plenty of research. It is not as much a book on ďhow to write a songĒ, although there are plenty of tips and tricks included, but rather a motivational book full of song ideas and exercises designed to spark the muse that resides within all songwriters.

Q: What is your background when it comes to songwriting?

A: Iíve been writing songs for more years than I care to think about. I wrote my first song when I was about fourteen and have probably written over 200 songs since then.

Q: So do you know the lyrics and music to all those songs?

A: I actually wish I did. Many of the songs I wrote years ago are lost forever. Now, in many instances, that is probably not a bad thing. But itís strange to go through a stack of lyric sheets from decades ago and not even recognize the songs, let alone remember the chords and melody. I think Paul Simon made a reference of that type in one of his songs. In ďA Hazy Shade of WinterĒ he said something like ďfunny how my memory skips while looking over manuscripts of unpublished rhyme.Ē He hit the nail on the head with that line.

Q: Do you have a CD?

A: My producer and I are actually working on my first CD right now. Itís a slow process as I am trying to market my books and am also working on a couple more manuscripts currently as well. The working title of the CD is "Driving Down To Eden" although I am also considering "Do Computers Dream of Pixelated Sheep?"

Q: Isnít that a reference to a science fiction book?

A: Yes. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Itís a great book. People probably know it better as the movie ďBlade RunnerĒ with Harrison Ford. I was an avid science fiction fan in my younger days. Well, actually, I guess I still am.

Q: So you a songwriter and an author. Do you have other creative outlets as well?

A: Iíve painted an oil picture or two, but Iím really not much of an artist. In fact, I hired a great artist (Michael Koch) to do the cover artwork for my juvenile fantasy novel, The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck. Heís done a great job capturing the feel and look of the book and its characters.

Q: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?

A: Thatís a good question. They are very different. Non-fiction books require much more research in most cases. Fiction takes a lot of creativity. Iím not sure a lot of authors could successfully do both. I probably enjoy writing fiction more, but thereís not the financial advantage that non-fiction brings to the table.

Q: The that brings us to our next question. Do you prefer creative writing or songwriting?

A: I love writing songs. Not many things are more satisfying than penning a new number. If I could make a living doing that, well, I guess thatís what Iíd be doing. Songwriting is a very different process than creative writing especially if youíre talking about entire books. Itís a quicker process, of course, and itís much easier to share your work with others. But I enjoy writing books too.

Q: What types of music do you like?

A: I like a variety of music. Life would be pretty boring if you ate meatloaf everyday for dinner. Well, maybe not for me. I love meatloaf! But you see what I mean. I listen to all types of music especially when Iím getting ready to write a new song. It stimulates the creative process and gets me out of any rut I might have fallen into. Whether itís Bob Dylan, Blind Lemon Jefferson or Glenn Miller, itís all good.

Q: What style of music would you classify your own songs in?

A: Itís folk or soft rock or somewhere in between. I guess the newest label for it is Americana.

Q: What else do you have in the works?

A: I am currently working on three or four different books at once. I guess I need to narrow that down if Iím ever going to finish any of them. I actually just finished a juvenile fantasy book which I mentioned earlier. Itís called The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck and Iím real excited about it. Iím also working on another called Dragontooth. It was published some years back as The Dragons of Shadara, but Iím doing a complete re-write as I plan on it being a series. My wife and I have discussed collaborating on the sequels. Iím also working on a a couple of books with a zombie theme. Don't ask...

Q: What do you do with in your spare time?

A: As you can imagine, thereís not much time for spare time in my life. I have a full-time job and then spend another 25-30 hours a week writing and marketing. My wife and I like to travel when we can. I secretly love reality TV shows, but donít let anybody hear that. I love the reaction between the people on these shows. I think it helps in my writing as well. It helps me understand why people act and react the way they do in certain situations. And you can seldom predict the ending!

 

Copyright 2007 by Stan Swanson. Any information from this site can be reprinted as long as a link to this site is included.

Copyright 2006-2012 by Stony Meadow Publishing

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