Interview with New York Times Best Selling Author Denise Swanson

Me: Thank you for being so willing to speak to me on My Reading Rainbow.  So what inspired you to start writing the Scumble River Mysteries, or more precisely where did you get the idea?

Denise Swanson: Scumble River is inspired by Coal City, my hometown, along with the two adjacent towns of Braidwood and Wilmington. As a school psychologist myself, my sleuth, Skye Denison's profession was a natural. A lot of her adventures, with the exception of finding a dead body, were inspired by my own experiences while working in the public education.

Me: I remember the first book I picked up of yours was the fifth book in the Scumble River Mysteries because the title, Murder of a Barbie and Ken, caught my attention.  Actually, my eyes just saw the words Murder of Barbie and Ken.  Barbie and Ken being an icon and something I played with as I child that I wondered how you could murder Barbie and Ken. It seems you have such a knack for coming up with some good titles for your books as you did it again with the second book in your new series; the title being Nickeled and Dimed to Death.  Please, tell us how you come up with these eye-grabbing titles?

Denise Swanson: Most of the titles are from my own imagination, but occasionally my editor comes up with a better one than I do. Her assistant actually suggested Murder of a Barbie and Ken. I was calling the book Murder of a Sacred Cow, which everyone at my publishing house hated. For Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death, I did a web search for any phrase that had dime in it because I wanted tie the book to the dime store theme. And every once in a while, the title comes to me before the story, which was the case for my September release, Murder of a Stacked Librarian.

Me: With media trying telling us that woman should have a small figure and be model-worthy beautiful, it was a fantastic idea that you made Skye Dennison of Scumble River an average woman with the average weight issues.  Did you know that would be a great seller with your readers, and that is why you went that route instead of making her sound like a Barbie?

Denise Swanson: Since I've struggled with my own weight and self-image for so many years, and I knew other women had these issues as well, I thought Skye would be a heroine with whom many people could identify. As a voracious reader, myself, it always annoyed me that all the main characters were so beautiful and perfect. Back in 1997 when I started writing Skye, there were few if any characters like her. But now, I seem to have started a trend. ;)

MePlease, tell us something about your new series, the Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries.

Denise Swanson: Devereaux’s Dime Store Mysteries are about a woman who when faced with several situations she can't control—her boss pulled a Ponzi scheme so she can no longer work in the world of finance making her MBA worthless, her father is in prison for vehicular manslaughter, and her grandmother's memory is failing—decides to buy the dime store in her hometown and take care of her grandmother. She has two close friends, Poppy who owns Gossip Central, the local hot spot, and Boone a small town lawyer. In order to help her profit margin, Dev has added a basket making business to the dime store. It includes erotic baskets, and in the first book, the contents of one of those erotic baskets are used to murder Dev's ex-boyfriend's fiancé.

MeLastly, Ms. Swanson, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Denise Swanson: My best piece of advice is to remember it's not how good you are, it's how bad you want it. Keep writing. Keep polishing. And most of all, keep submitting.

            Thank you again for chatting with me.  My followers may want to check out Denise Swanson’s new book Murder of a Stacked Librarian, which hits the shelves at your nearest Barnes & Noble store on September 3rd.

You can also check out her latest book from her Devereaux’s Dime Store series, Nickeled and Dimed to Death, which is on the shelves now.

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