Please welcome author Ariel Swan. We share a similar taste for old Victorian homes, rural New England settings, art by Lori Nix, and a make-believe world in our heads that would make Walter Mitty proud. A high school English teacher by day, Ariel loves nothing better than to find a quiet corner or shaded tree and dream up a new story. I’ve asked her to tell us about the last two books she completed, what inspired her to write, and how she found the time between grading papers and coaching teens how to embrace the inner writer within.
Take it away Ariel.
DISTILLATION is the story of Alice Towne, who has been trying to get pregnant and to be a good wife, but the smell of the dead is getting in the way. She smells their memories, sweet and sour, essences of life hanging on with the soul. When her husband can’t accept her for who she is and his disdain borders on abuse, Alice finds the strength to leave. With few options, she agrees to do a favor for her mother, caretaking a house in the hills of western, Massachusetts, where she hopes to exorcise her demons and come to terms with her curse in solitude.
In COLD SPRING FIRE, a photograph binds two women to a murder they accidentally committed as teenagers, using magic to free a friend from heartache. When the body of the boy surfaces fifteen years later, Andrea and Lailie return to Cold Spring and try to reverse the spell and face the consequences of their actions. Burdened with a history they cannot escape, the women will have to battle the devils they love in order to free their souls from the darkness of what they’ve done and to find light in their lives once again.
My inspiration for writing was Alice Hoffman. When I was in college and read Practical Magic, I had the feeling that I wished I had written that book. The story of two sisters, raised by a pair of witch aunts, dealing with ghosts both external and internal, was the kind of story I wanted to write. Witches and ghosts are my thing. Women grappling with family, love, identity, and personal goals are also my thing. So, I have always put myself in the genre of women’s fiction with supernatural elements. I am not a paranormal romance writer, or just a regular romance writer. I am influenced by literary fiction and I read mainstream contemporary fiction in all sorts of genres. I like mystery. I like poetic language. I like esoteric themes. I like magic. I am what they call a cross over writer.
I started writing DISTILLATION when my husband and I bought our house. It was a slow process as I was writing mostly over summer vacations. I started a writing group in order to get feedback on my work and to form a community of writers. This was enormously helpful to me and I will forever cherish those women for getting me through the writing of my first book. After a second draft was complete and edited, I began the agent search. This was an arduous process, and as anyone knows perseverance beyond human ability is needed. Finally, my search paid off and I am now represented by the great Victoria Lea of Aponte Literary Agency, along with D.T.
Ariel Swan grew up first among ghosts in an old Victorian and then came of age on the shores of a New England lake where she continued to hear voices in the wind and trees. These gifts stayed with her as she worked through two degrees at the University of Massachusetts, dabbling in literature, sociology, creative writing, and as many playfully wicked adventures as she could conjure. Eventually she settled on a career as a high school English teacher with the clichéd dream of writing over summer vacations. When she moved to a hill town, where the earth itself seemed tinted with enchantment, the seeds of her first novel, DISTILLATION, took root. Ariel loves small town lore, old houses, and rural New England settings. Her writing crosses genres, mixing the mystical with the literary, centered on women’s themes, strong atmosphere and vivid characters. Currently, she teaches English and creative writing in western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband, three cats, and a small flock of happy chickens.
Where to find her:
Header Image: “Floater” by Lori Nix. Check out her fabulous work at www.lorinix.com