Meet Debut Novelist R.Y. Swint


One of the challenges I've tasked myself with over the past two years, is to read more fiction. Fortunately for me, there’s a large pool of She Writers writing in many genres that I can look to for just about any subject to read. That's how I came across R.Y. Swint. I am very pleased she agreed to share this exchange; our chat about her writing, and her debut novel 'The Other Side of 30.'  

From the author: R.Y. Swint, currently serving in the U.S. Army in Fort Drum, NY, is a native of Rome, Georgia, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Colorado Technical University.

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Interviewed by RYCJ/OEBooks July 2012
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OEB: What inspired you to write the other side of 30?; and how long did it take to write?

R.Y. Swint: I started writing The Other Side of 30 as a short story, in my middle 20s, during my college years.  The idea came from I was having random conversation with a married friend one day, when he ended up propositioning me.  When I declined, he said that I was being uppity, thinking too much of myself, but that it was okay for me at that time, because I was still young enough to "be that way."  He also said that my "attitude" will change soon enough.  I remember replying something like, "Well, not while I'm on this side of 30," to which he replied, "Well, see how you feel if you're still single on the other side of 30."

It started out as a writing exercise, proposed by one of my writing instructors, who challenged us to try to write from the perspective of someone else, to write about someone we didn't know, doing something we've never done, and to write without judgment.  Most of my classmates were writing from perspectives of people of different races, ages, and genders, but I wanted to do something a little less obvious.  The story of the "other woman" seemed like a good idea, so I ran with it; and it got really good feedback.  I stumbled on it a few years later, in my early 30s, and just kept adding bits and pieces, writing until I had a book-length short story.  It took about 3 years to have a complete first draft, with a beginning, middle and end.  It was another 10 years before I finally got up the nerve to publish it.

OEB: (Wow, now that's a revelation.) Which parts of the book did you find easiest to write? And then hardest?

R.Y. Swint: The love scenes were probably the easiest to write.  My imagination tends to be the most vivid when I'm celibate, which I was at the time. And that might explain why some of the scenes were a bit long in parts.  I tried hard not be gratuitous and more graphic than necessary, because I wanted people to see a story developing more than just seeing porn on the page; but I also wanted to convey the main character's love of and appreciation for sex, because sex, or lack of it, was big part of the single experience in my thirties.  And I figured a lot of women could appreciate that.

The most difficult part was to put together a credible demonstration of Sebrina's reasoning for doing the things that she did. Not just the active campaign to break up a man's marriage, which is bad enough, but her building a relationship with the man's wife, a person she would have liked and with whom she could have really been friends, if it weren't for the circumstances.  I wanted to show that her initial intentions were not to be the kind of woman that she herself despised, and to create some believable emotional conflict with her better judgment and moral code throughout the story.  That's really hard when you're making it up as you go along.  I just kept telling myself to write without judgment. 

OEB: How did/do you expect readers to take Sebrina? Is there a deeper understanding to her character you hope readers will see?


R.Y. Swint: Considering the first line of the book, I initially expected readers to receive her as a villain, just not the typical one-dimensional kind.  I hoped that as they read more of her story, they would see her as a sympathetic character who just slipped and fell, and landed on the other side of right, living life inside the glass house.  I wanted readers to see that she owned her actions, but to see her struggle to get back to a place where her life made sense, and to hopefully appreciate her as a human being.

I didn't want to create a typical chick-lit "super heroine," who readily (and always) adapts, overcomes, and conquers, or who has all of the right answers, or who stands firm and unwavering, wrapped in some mythical cloak of sanctified righteousness; but I wanted a character who people could read and see parts of themselves or someone they know.  Maybe there would even be readers who would cheer for her, a little bit.  Not in a "Team Aniston/Team Jolie" sort of way, although I guess that could be fun; but as a person capable of redemption on some level.  The story attempts to show the readers a person with feelings of uncertainty, desperation, and self-loathing, feelings that most of us have had at some point, even if we're not willing to admit to them.

I wanted people to read and relate to a person who, despite the confident and sure image that she portrays to the rest of the world, might actually be someone who's second-guessing her whole life, and who's trying to piece together what looks like happiness (from the outside looking in) before life passes her by.

OEB: Speaking of dimensions; In general, what traits or qualities do you feel best creates layers of dimensions for a character?

R.Y. Swint:  I think that qualities that demonstrate a good or bad side, or the potential to be good or bad should be written into every character. Anything that we can give to our characters to ensure that they display an imperfection or two (physical, social, psychological, etc.) will flesh them out. We should strive to write flawed characters. There should be no perfectly bad characters.

I read somewhere that no character should be written as all one way. No hero is all good. No villain is all bad. And nobody is perfect, so that makes sense to me. If we're lucky, we can write characters in a way that their good sides and bad side create some good internal conflict, which I think is so much fun. I think it's really cool when your protagonist has more bad traits than good.


Even the greatest hero should have some weakness or vice, and the bad guy should demonstrate some humanity, goodness, or vulnerability, no matter how minor. Doing that gives the reader a chance to find and peel back those layers. I mean, even Satan was an angel once.

OEB: Do you have any upcoming writing projects on the burners?

R.Y. Swint: Yes.  I have so many ideas in my head.  Some are still in the thinking stages, though.  I have a revision of The Other Side of 30 in the works, and I hope to get it ready for release by Christmas 2012.  My goal is to release a better version than the first, including more editing, a new cover, a partial audio book, with sample chapters and a soundtrack, and tightening up the storyline a little bit. 

I'm also working on a charity book project with several other contributors called Up from Here, which is also pushing for a holiday release this year.  My plan to release both titles under my own small publishing house, New Renaissance Ink, but my goodness.  There is so much work to be done when you're doing it all yourself.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to fit it all into my life.  If they are interested in more information about my projects, I invite readers to visit my website at www.newrenaissanceink.com for more information on current and upcoming projects.

OEB: And how about favorite books, and hobbies?

R.Y. Swint: Among my favorite books are Sport of the Gods, by Paul Laurence Dunbar and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  I have quite a few books on my to-read list, though.  Many of those are from new authors.  My hobbies right now are just trying to build my platform and create a presence in the literary world.  I maintain several blogs, three Facebook pages, and two Twitter pages.

OEB: Do you have any upcoming book events, or public signings scheduled?

R.Y. Swint: Unfortunately, I don't have any upcoming events scheduled, but I definitely want to schedule some, including maybe some book club appearances, if invited.  I'd like to at least have both books submitted to the printers before I have any events scheduled, but I also know that time gets away pretty quickly.   Ideally, I'll have at least two book launch events before the end of the year, one for the Up from Here project, and another for The Other Side of 30, 2nd Edition.

Thank you, so much.  I really appreciate your inviting me to talk about my book.

OEB: Thank you for sharing, and thank you for the exceptional writing, and penning a unique story I got to curl up with for an entire day. 

Visit R.Y. Swint's YouTube Video link introducing 'The Other Side of 30.'

Comments

  1. Brilliant interview. Loved reading this.

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    1. Hi, Kathryn!
      Thank you! And thanks for stopping by to read. :)

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    2. You're welcome. I'm looking forward to reading the Other Side of 30 soon.

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  2. Hi there Kathryn! Yes, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully we'll get to chat soon.

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    1. Have replied to your email. Would love to talk about Being Abigail.

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  3. lovely interview. smart questions - smart answers.

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    1. Hey there bev, and thanks! I hear the thoughts rolling, so I know I'll be by the Paperie's spot soon. ;-)

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