Inkitt Interviews: Sky Riders’ Erin Swan

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Recently, Inkitt announced that we signed our first published author, Erin Swan with Tor, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers. We are very excited about the news, but none are as excited as Erin herself. We wanted to sit down with the mastermind behind Sky Riders and ask her a few questions about her experience with writing The Rising Sun and Bright Star! Let’s see what she had to say!

Inkitt: Tell us about yourself!

Erin: I was born in a small farm town in Oregon, just before my dad joined the U.S. Air Force. After that, we moved around every few years. It was difficult at times, because I was always a very shy kid and it was hard for me to make friends. Writing, kind of became my escape amid all of it. I started writing avidly in 5th grade, and I never stopped. It was the one way I felt I could really be myself–say everything I was too shy to say out loud, imagine myself as the characters I was creating, develop a story that I felt was far more exciting than my own average life. Writing was my ultimate passion throughout the vast majority of my life, and I would write every chance I got.

When I was in high school, my family moved to San Antonio, Texas, and settled there, my dad eventually retiring from the military. I went on to college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where I majored in English with a minor in editing. After graduating, I started working as an editor in the internet marketing world, and am now a full-time marketing writer. Because I was always so shy, I never dated much. I met my husband through friends at church and when I was 24, he became my first boyfriend and gave me my first kiss. We didn’t date for very long before getting engaged, and we were married later that year. We bought our first home and are living in Utah and expecting a baby girl in just a few weeks!

My family means everything to me. My husband is my best friend, and my 2 sisters are a close second. I look up to my parents and confide in them and seek their advice on virtually everything. We’re all very close. My other passions include music (I play piano and guitar, and love singing and writings songs when the inspiration strikes), hiking, horseback riding, and soaking up the sun on warm days.

Inkitt: When did you start writing the Sky Riders series?

Erin: I first started writing The Rising Sun when I was 17, near the end of my senior year of high school. It took about a year to complete, then I spent another year, off and on, making little tweaks and revisions. Bright Star followed a few years later, near the end of my time at BYU.

Inkitt: What inspired Sky Riders?

Erin: Funnily enough, it all began as a short story. I was applying for scholarships, and there was a fantasy writing scholarship I found that I wanted to apply for. I had never written fantasy before, but after some brainstorming, I came up with what is now Chapter 2 of The Rising Sun. Obviously, after I wrote those few pages, I was incapable of leaving the story alone. I wanted to know what happened to this girl and this dragon egg, and the story blossomed from that. When The Rising Sun was finished and posted on FictionPress, I had a lot of people asking me questions about a sequel. I knew that Eliana’s story was over, but I began to think that perhaps the land of Paerolia had more stories to tell. Other questions from readers about the Dragon-Rider bond sparked the idea for Andra’s story and her relationship with Tiri. From that, Bright Star was born, and nearly 10 years later, that “short story” has led me to work on the 3rd book in the Sky Riders series!

Inkitt: Do you have any writing habits (eg. Special writing locations, listening to music, jotting ideas in a notebook… etc)?

Erin: I do all of my brainstorming as I’m laying in bed at night, trying to fall asleep. It’s always taken me a long time to get to sleep, so I spend a lot of time basically telling myself these stories in my head, thinking through plot lines and developing these characters in my head. Then, during the day, I’ll shut myself into my office and just write. I’m not really someone who works with outlines or anything like that. Though I have a basic structure inside my head, I usually just let things flow naturally. Sometimes, characters and story lines develop differently than I originally planned for them to, but I like to tell myself that the characters know where they’re headed–they just need my help to get there. So I try not to let my own preconceived ideas interfere with their development too much.

Inkitt: What do you feel is unique about Sky Riders?

Erin: Though I’ve had many comparisons made between my stories and others, I think what makes mine unique is that the focus is more on the development of the characters, not the story line. Even though the plot is obviously important, it always acts as kind of a vehicle for the development of the characters. For me, my stories aren’t actually about the wars and the rebellions. They’re about the people involved in them. They’re about the way those people change and grow, and the relationships they develop with one another. And if there’s some cool battle scenes along the way, it’s just a bonus. 🙂

Inkitt: How do you feel now that you’re getting published?

Erin: I don’t even think I can answer that question… Amazed? Overwhelmed? Thrilled? Disbelieving? More than anything, I guess I am just incredibly grateful. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to this point by any merit of my own. So many people have helped me along the way–friends and family who have supported my love for writing, teachers who encouraged me and helped me grow as a writer, online readers who made me feel like my writing might actually be worthy of publication someday, and of course the Inkitt team, who selected my story and helped me get to this point. It’s amazing to think of all of the circumstances that have led me to this opportunity, and I know that I have been truly blessed to get here.

Inkitt: Do you have any advice for other authors on Inkitt?

Erin: The best advice I can give is not actually my own. On the wall in my office, I have a quote hung up in a frame from American writer Melinda Haynes. It says, “Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” My husband found that quote for me, and it stuck with me from the moment I first read it. I didn’t write The Rising Sun and Bright Star with the intention of ever being published. I wrote them because I loved to write, because I had a story in my head that I just had to get out. I wrote them for myself and for the love of writing. I think every writer should follow the advice in this quote. Write for yourself, because it’s something you love. I believe that the rest will fall into place in time.

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