Saturday, September 29, 2012

Inspiration Author Saturday: Jay Swanson

Used with permission
Welcome to Inspired Author Saturday! The premise is to feature a behind-the-quill story; how an author got their idea. We'll be highlighting our favorite classics, bestsellers, little-known treasures and modern wonders. This feature is open to guest post from authors and folks who have researched a book or interviewed an author. Please contact me if you're interested in posting, and we'll get you scheduled! I'm open to suggestions too, if you have a favorite book you'd like to learn more about. 

Today I'm excited to have a guest post from author Jay Swanson. Jay is currently living in Paris, France, teaching English and working for an international medical humanitarian organization called Mercy Ships (they do have a ship, and it is a hospital). He recently finished living in Africa for two years on said ship and has just finished writing his third book (though rumor has it he's working on a novella that will be finished soon too). You can find out more about him at or his books at

The Final Scene
It turns out that my parents used to wonder where my mind was when I wasn't paying attention. I was blissfully unaware that anyone had even noticed, but apparently I used to daydream a lot. This is kind of an odd thing to admit for someone who talks as much as I do, I would imagine that people thought all I did was blabber on. In a way I suppose this only proves that I did, as my moments of silence -few as they may have been- were so pronounced as to draw attention of their own accord for their simple absence of noise.

The thing is that I've been dreaming up stories since I can remember being able to think, and I don't know what to credit for my inspiration more than music. There's something deeply emotional about a good song, and for me those emotions, intertwined with a rhythm and a melody, create compelling images in my mind.
I'll put it this way, those scenes that wind up creating themselves in my head are the type that you find at the climax of a story, or the height of action in conflict. I play those scenes over and over in my head until I can see them like they were on screen, plotting each hit and every transition to the beat, and once you have a scene like that in your head you have something to work with.

I do believe in working a story backwards. Take these characters you love at the height of uncertainty or the glory of their victory and start asking questions. Why do I like these guys? How did they get here? Suddenly you have answers that have more questions along a similar vein, taking you backwards through a series of events that eventually lead you to the beginning of their tale.

We all know that bit, but it's ultimately what inspires me to uncover these stories. It's not necessarily a life event, movie, Paris or even the music itself that inspire me (though those things, among many others, do serve to inform or inspire a scene in my head). What's special about this is the fact that it's the final scene itself that inspires me. It's what serves to drive me to complete the story and build a world. There's an intense love and joy that somehow binds me to these characters that only exist in a solitary scene, and I want to share that moment with everyone, but in order to get you to focus in on the castle I have to paint an entire landscape that points you to it properly.

Everything in my first trilogy is leading up to an ending which has been in my head since high school. There are plenty of landmarks along the way which I work to build you up to, but none of it matters if you don't read the ending and sigh. It's that desire to share what I feel and what I see with you, the reader, that inspires me to write what I do, and it's what leads to the most satisfying experience for us all in the aftermath.


  1. I agree! A good ending makes the story and, as a writer, I usually know the last scene very early on in the process.

  2. I often write the last scene first. That way I know everything I'll need to foreshadow in the earlier scenes.