Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Straight Chatting from the Library: Jay Swanson

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jay Swanson will be awarding one of two print copies of Into the Nanteen to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

Farming was hard enough before the ground started eating farmers.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading Traitor Baru Cormorant literally right before writing this. So good. Go get it from your local library right now. It’s basically what happens when you give an accounting savant the opportunity to rise to power with the winds of vengeance at her back. An epic told through economics. Loved it.

Do you have any bad book habits?

I tend to give them away as soon as I’m finished with them. I also like to toss them around, just to show them who’s boss. Gently, of course.

E-Reader or print? and why?

This is where I explain why I give books away as soon as I’m done with them. I don’t have room in my life for physical books, which pains me more than you know (but I’ll try to paint a picture). About five and a half years ago I decided to move to West Africa to volunteer on the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the M/V Africa Mercy. They don’t have space for books on hospital ships; they didn’t have room for my clothes.

So I sold everything I owned, including all of my books, and made the move. I haven’t stopped traveling in the meantime so my bookshelves not only remain empty, they remain nonexistent. But never fear! eBooks have solved my traveling woes with great efficacy. I’m very, very grateful to be able to cart a full library around with me on my tablet at all times. Which makes the next question easy, too.

One book at a time or multiples?

One fiction and one non-fiction at all times (assuming I’m reading). Biographies are often the exception to this rule, where I either read them alone or as my fiction for the form of the narrative.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Depends on how nice of a bookmark I have on hand. I do occasionally wind up with paperbacks in my bag, and in those instances I tend to use whatever I have on hand as a bookmark (boarding pass, business card, withered hope and broken dreams). I did, however, dog-ear the heck out of The Buried Life by Carrie Patel.

Least favorite book you've read this year?

Marilyn Manson’s autobiography. I had hoped for greater insight than it offered, and in the end it just felt like protracted propaganda. I was really disappointed he wasn’t more honest (or perhaps I just was dissatisfied with his perspective, I’m not sure).

Favorite book you've read this year?

If I could only recommend one book out of the two I read this year, it would have to be that guide on how to make gluten-free scrambled eggs. Really simple it turns out, just don’t put bread in your eggs (I’ve been doing this wrong for years).

The other book I read this year (when I wasn’t absorbed in masterful descriptions of shells cracking and yokes sizzling) was the Darwin Elevator. I was sucked in from chapter one and I literally tweeted the author right then (foreshadowing: from an airplane) to let him know that I already understood why it was a bestseller. A really fun ride (but Baru is definitely competing for this spot – wait, how many books… it would seem I’m not an accounting savant).

When do you do most of your reading?

Airplanes. God save ‘em but they’re great places to read (and this year were the only place I really could). What better place to escape? You can pretend you’re a gallant knight in medieval France and not sandwiched between Fats McGee and the Stained Wonder.

Favorite place to read?

Anywhere that has a comfy chair and lots of chips and salsa.

Favorite genre?

I don’t have one. Like music, all literary genres have their gems and the rest is not for me. So I guess I’d say that my favorite genre is “Good Stuff” curated subjectively by yours truly.

Do you loan your books?

God no. Gifts. Books make great gifts. Libraries, of course, are the only exception to this rule; lending in their case is certainly permissible.

Favorite book to recommend?

For readers? I fall into the Mistborn trap all the time for two reasons. 1) IT’S SO GOOD. 2) It’s really easy to get into for people who aren’t accustomed to fantasy. The Metalurgic Gateway Drug, they call it. But if you want to escape that trap then tell people to read Red Rising. It’s like the Hunger Games in space with higher stakes and way cooler gadgetry.

For writers: Wired for Story. There’s no book that has better helped me develop in the craft so far than this.

For entrepreneurs: Rework.

For your readers: MY BOOKS. Ahem. My books would be a great read, thank you.

Re-reader or not?

No. Absolutely not. Which is how you know I love Rework and Wired for Story so dang much – I’ve re-read each at least three times.

What would make you not finish a book?

I dropped ASOIAF because I ran out of characters to care about and just felt plain confused on a few points (which is more a shortcoming of my own than anything). That and someone gave me the hardcover edition while I was living in Lome, Togo with absolutely no room in my life for a tome that size. So I guess it failed to overcome the “Willing to lug through Africa?” test.


Moving along the soil is the quickest way to die; for Tolly to survive she must learn to stay silent. Life on farms like hers was difficult enough in the face of plague and a decade of drought, but something worse has come to the foothills under the Highridge Mountains. Something that will destroy everything she loves.

Mere miles away, Vanig’s search for water to revive his farm is cut short when soldiers arrive bearing dark news of disaster striking farms throughout the region – and they suspect he is the root cause of it all. Those suspicions spike when a disheveled warrior appears hundreds of miles from home and takes Vanig hostage.

Death looms in the shadows of the Highridge.


Tolly had never run so hard. The house was so far off. How could she make it?

The certainty grew within her: Time was short. Why was she so sure? She could feel the panic rise.

“Tolly!” Nym was chasing her. “Come back!”

No, she thought. Bring them this way! But her lungs were already burning. She couldn’t yell any more. All she could do was run. Please, Nym, just listen.

“Little sister!” A Truan hand heard the commotion and came running from the other side of the house. “Little sister, stop! Kanda says it is not safe!”

Get out of my way, she wanted to yell. Run with me. But all of her air was spent on sprinting. The man was closing on her. She would have to dodge him somehow. She couldn’t let him stop her. He was ten feet away. Then the ground exploded beneath him.

Tolly fell, skidding to a halt as her skirts flew up around her. Scrapes burned along her thighs and up her backside. She heard screams behind her. The dust obscured her view. And then, through falling earth, she saw half of the Truan’s body thrown into the air by a tower of dirt.

No, not dirt, it was living. A snake. A worm. The monster was thicker than ten men standing together and jutted out of the ground twice as high. Three massive jawbones worked separately to hold the torso of the Truan in place. Whatever was happening within the mouth, Tolly didn’t want to see it.


Jay Swanson is the creator of Into the Nanten, the world’s first real-time fantasy blog. He is also author of a spin-off novel, Shadows of the Highridge, the standalone short novel Dark Horse, and the Vitalis Chronicles trilogy. Jay grew up in Washington State, and has lived all over the world since then. Jay served for three years with Mercy Ships, a medical charity that runs the world’s largest private hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. In each country they visit, Mercy Ships donates free surgeries to the world’s forgotten poor, alleviating the suffering that so often accompanies a lack of access to medical care. He started in IT, then worked as the editor for their international Creative Pool, and finished as the on board Media Liason.

Paris will always have a place in Jay’s heart; he lived in France for two years, but he’s currently working in the US as a consultant on electronic medical records. Basically, he lives on planes.

Jay has a background in design and video production which have been instrumental in his self-publishing endeavors. Jay was telling stories from an early age, and latched on to video as soon as he discovered he could borrow people’s cameras. The stories that would one day become the Vitalis Chronicles began to take form in Jay’s head as movie ideas while he was still in college, and he began writing them down when he realized that they might make good books as well as films (and that if he died in Africa, there would be nothing left to prove they ever existed). He started writing White Shores in May of 2010 and finished on Christmas day of that year in Applesbosch, South Africa.


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  1. If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be?

    1. Probably a saber-toothed squirrel, because I like to think I'm tough but everyone just goes "Awww" when I roar.

  2. That was fun reading about Jay's reading habits. Always a subject us bibliophiles love to talk about. Cool post.