Arthur Swan was raised in North Carolina and now resides in Los Angeles, where his “day job” is a Character Supervisor for Dreamworks. He has contributed to films ranging from ‘A Beautiful Mind’ to ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’
In his spare time, when he’s not writing or swimming his morning laps, he volunteers for Young Storytellers, enjoys fishing and fireworks with his favorite niece and nephew, and on weekends he can be found hiking high climbs in early fog before the sun burns through as mist vanishes to blue sky.
His first novel, Before the Sun Hits, won the ReaderViews Reader’s Choice Award.
Q & A with Arthur Swan
What first inspired you to write?
In fifth grade, “volunteers” were selected to read our writing assignments aloud to the class. I was deathly terrified. I nearly passed out the first time I stood up there in front of the whole class, everyone staring at me as I tried to discern the slop I passed off as handwriting. After I stuttering through the first paragraph, a miracle happened—the kids laughed at my joke. And hearing their laughter, the ones who weren’t paying attention suddenly perked up. It was a transformative experience. Now the whole class was suddenly ready to hear what came next. They wanted to be entertained. They yearned for it. And I wanted to give it to them. After that, the writing assignments became my highest priority pieces of homework. I learned to type them up, so I could read them more easily, which I’m sure my teacher appreciated, as well.
Where/When do you best like to write?
I like to write at 5:30 in the morning before doing anything else. As the sun comes up and the days starts, I like to be writing. Then no matter how crazy things get later on, at least I know I got some writing done.
What do you think makes a good story?
A character who readers identify with, who must undergo a transformation.
What inspired your story?
All the people in LA who lead socially isolated lives because they are so focused on their careers, and, often, moved to LA from somewhere else, with no family or friends or local support network. I started thinking how some isolated person’s life could go totally off the rails with no one else even knowing. Even things that get reported on often get boiled down of a catchy headline. Often, so much is left out that people come to the wrong conclusion. And more often the truth is even more unbelievable than what you hear. Also I wanted to write about the difference between people who can believe in something without knowing it’s true and those who can’t.
How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?
Character. I do like the idea of starting from an event, but without a character who is changed by the event you don’t have a story.
Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp
I want readers to think about the choices they’re making, if they’re really getting where they want to go. And to think about all the misunderstandings that occur when people communicate, all the misperceptions and incorrect assumptions.
What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Getting it done. I thought it would be fun to write a horror suspense novel where I could play with spooky images. Something quick and easy. But now here I am after six years, finally launching the first installment of a quartet.
What’s the best writing advice you have ever received?
“We have to remember that the greatest triumphs and the greatest tragedies of the human race are nothing to do with people being basically good or people being basically evil. They’re all to do with people being basically people.” – Neil Gaiman.
Is there a character you identify with more than any of the others?
I identify with every one of them. When writing, I imagine I am that character. What it would be like if, for example, I weighed three hundred pounds? I do know what it’s like to want to eat even when I know it’s bad for me or I’m not hungry. When possible, I read something by someone with that experience, or talk to them. I have a friend who’s overweight and I’ve seen the effect on his self-image.
Ashley is probably the character I have the least in common with but I understand her feeling of social isolation caused by ambition, and living in LA. I’ve seen how isolated some people have become by their own wealth. I understand how living with another person’s family seeds this longing she had for one of her own.
What will LA FOG part 2 be released?
Wayob’s Revenge is currently in the editing phase. Expect it in April or May, 2022.
ABOUT THE BOOK
An ancient Mayan artifact, smuggled into Los Angeles, unexpectedly alters three lives in bizarre ways.
Gray, an aspiring artist struggling to provide for his family, Claire, his insomniac wife, and Ashley York, a wealthy socialite striving to make it as a real actress, find their paths crashing together, their dreams and their very identities threatened.
Meanwhile, Saul Parker, a detective and hobbyist magician who is self-conscious about his weight, strives to solve a strange case that seems impossible to comprehend.
Only Wayob, a mysterious chameleon-like killer, has a grasp on the dangerous power that has consumed his life and now infiltrates the others.
The Encanto, Book 1 of the LA Fog series, is an intricately woven, character-based mystery about how the choices we make inform our identity.