Welcome to the six hundred and eightieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with crime / thriller novelist (Ernest) John Swain. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, John. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
John: Hello Morgen. I’m a retired police officer having provided armed protection for most royals, many foreign dignitaries, worked with MI5 and briefly with the American Secret Service, specializing in protection and anti-terrorism. I now live on a small hill farm, high in the Pennines of the Derbyshire Peak District. I suppose I’ve been a ‘writer’ all my adult working life but that writing was all reports and file preparation for courts. Fiction wasn’t really an option, but I carried some wonderful material in my head that led to my story writing in my retirement. The dangerous situations I sometimes found myself in and the vile characters that I encountered simply cry out to be included in fiction writing.
Morgen: For the past eight years I’ve written a variety of genres (although most of my works have ‘bodies’ in them) but I’m now concentrating on crime and it must be wonderful to have that expertise and knowledge. I interviewed crime novelist Stephen Booth and he writes about the Peaks (I’ve also met him a couple of times, he’s a great speaker). What genre do you write and have you considered other genres?
John: We’re all told “write about what you know”, and so it is with me – I write crime / thrillers but with an element of a love story and certainly with a historical base. Yes, I do write in other genres, for instance I’ve written a children’s / young adult story of magical fairies and goblins but that still sits in my computer.
Morgen: Hopefully not for too long. What have you had published to date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
John: I’ve published two books so far. The first, ‘A Surprising Legacy’, (ISBN 978-0-9574852-0-4 Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), and the second ‘The Lightning Tree’ (ISBN 978-0-9574852-2-8), (Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com).
Although everyone knows me as John, I write using my first Christian name Ernest Swain to avoid confusion with another author.
Morgen: Ah yes. It’s best to be independent. There’s a thriller author called Geoffrey Archer who I’m sure loses website traffic because his results get filtered in with Jeffrey Archer (I’ve looked). You’ve self published – what led to you going your own way?
John: Yes, both books are self published. Like most of us, rejections played a huge part in my decision. I know it’s a prejudiced view but to me it seems that most manuscripts that are submitted to publishers are rejected unread, due simply to the volume of submissions they’re faced with.
Morgen: If not unread then probably only a paragraph or so, although the larger publishing houses won’t touch an author without an agent. Are your books available as e-books? How involved were you in that process? Do you read e-books or is it paper all the way?