Today I am interviewing S. Andrew Swann, author of the new fantasy novel, Marked.
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DJ: Hi S. Andrew! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Andrew Swann: I’ve been writing SF and Fantasy for a little over 25 years now, averaging a book a year during that time. I live in the Cleveland area, the setting for a number of my stories, including MARKED. I’m married and share a small sort-of farm with my wife, a horse, three sheep, two Boxers and a pair of cats.
DJ: What is Marked about?
Andrew: It’s about a woman, Dana Rohan, who has a tattoo-like mark on her back that allows her to go to various alternate pasts and futures. She doesn’t know the source of the mark or its powers, and she’s kept it hidden from those around her. She’s built a life as a police detective, where she’s secretly used the mark’s powers to help her in her job. Her life is upended when an apparently crazy man accosts her speaking a language she doesn’t know and is abruptly killed by an armored swordsman coming out of nowhere. The dead man bears a mark like her own. Soon after she’s chased by zombie-like creatures bearing their own perverse marks, and is racing through myriad alternate worlds in a quest to find out about the mark and her own past.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Marked?
Andrew: The most direct and obvious influence is Roger Zelazny’s AMBER series which I read in high school. It gave me the seed of the idea that would eventually become MARKED. But there are a lot of other influences, from various police procedurals, to the more recent DAWN OF THE DEAD and WORLD WAR Z. We can also blame the airships on GIRL GENIUS by Phil and Kaja Foglio.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main character? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Andrew: Superficially, Dana Rohan is in love with her Dodge Charger and listens to various flavors of metal. On a more serious note, she’s had this physical mark and this ability tied to it that she’s been keeping hidden all her life. This has had the side effect of isolating her from the time she was a child. She’s not very good at relating to people on a social level and has no truly close friends. So, of course, once hell starts breaking out around her, she also finds she has to open up to people for the first time in her life— which is almost as terrifying as the zombies.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
Andrew: I think Dr. Lefevre may be my favorite side character. He’s a French scientist who only appears in one extended scene. But I just loved watching his arrogance deflate as he dealt with Dana and her Mark.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Marked like?
Andrew: The world of MARKED is a multiverse consisting of a vast formless Chaos where every possible alternate past and future bubbles into and out of existence. People called Walkers can travel through Chaos to visit these different past and future universes, and they are singled out by the Marks they all bear. Saying much more would venture into spoiler territory, other than to say that one of these alternate universes has Napoleonic airships.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Marked?
Andrew: I’d never done a true time-travel story before (if you discount some plot elements of my space-opera series HOSTILE TAKEOVER & APOTHEOSIS) and that was fun. I also really enjoyed coming up with all the different alternate universes the characters travel through.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Andrew: Probably one of two things: What is Dana going to do with her abilities after the story’s over. Or what are the larger implications of the various alternate worlds they pass through in the course of the novel.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Marked? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Andrew: Writing MARKED started just as me indulging in a story that’s been itching at me since high school. As I was writing, I was most interested in how Dana was going to handle everything I was throwing at her. The story is generally the first thing with me. I don’t write with any sort of agenda to impart. Whatever messages are there, are those that simply seep in inevitably, because I do have a point of view (everyone does). Thematically, one of the recurring motifs in the story is how isolation can be self-destructive.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Marked that you can share with us?
Andrew: This quote contains my favorite hardboiled simile that I’ve ever written: “The storefront was tucked between a liquor store hiding behind vistas of yellowing cigarette and lottery ads, and a payday loan office that was so antiseptic and sterile it looked like a set from Star Trek. Between them, Asia FX stood out like a drag queen at an Amish funeral.”
DJ: Now that Marked is released, what is next for you?
Andrew: I’m working on a game under contract with Choice of Games. The second one I’ve done for them. After that’s done, in about another six months, we’ll see how MARKED is doing and go from there.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/sandrewswann
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Marked that we haven’t talked about yet?
Andrew: While the setup is common to most Urban Fantasy, I can guarantee that the story goes to some unique places. If you want something different, MARKED is probably it.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add? (Or add your own question).
Andrew: If you liked MARKED, I have a bunch of other books you might like. If you liked the Urban Fantasy aspects of it, you might enjoy DRAGONS & DWARVES. If you liked the Historical or the borderline Horror aspects of it, you might like WOLFBREED and WOLF’S CROSS. You can find a full bibliography of my stuff here: http://www.sandrewswann.com/books
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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Buy the Book:
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This dark portal fantasy introduces Detective Dana Rohan, an officer who solves crimes using the Mark that allows her to travel to alternate pasts and futures.
Detective Dana Rohan has an excellent arrest and conviction rate. But even her partner doesn’t know the real reason why.
All her life Dana has borne a Mark of unknown origin that she’s kept secret. A Mark that allows her to walk into alternate pasts and futures. A Mark that allows her to go back and see any crime as it’s being committed. But the life she’s carefully built around this secret ability begins to crumble when she’s assaulted by a ragged old man. He babbles an incoherent warning that “the Shadows are coming,” right before he is killed by an armored monstrosity out of another century. The armored attacker vanishes, leaving the old man to die in Dana’s arms, and she realizes that he bears the same Mark she does.
Soon Dana finds herself hunted by Shadows coming from out of Chaos. She must flee through a host of alternate worlds as she finds out the true meaning of the Mark on her skin, and why someone wants to kill her for it.
About the Author:
S. Andrew Swann is the pen name of Steven Swiniarski. He’s married and lives in the Greater Cleveland area where he has lived all of his adult life. He has a background in mechanical engineering and— besides writing— works as a Database Manager for one of the largest private child services agencies in the Cleveland area. He has published over 26 novels since 1993. He has just recently completed Marked for DAW books, published January 2019.