Swain, Heather

views updated

Swain, Heather

PERSONAL: Married; children: one daughter. Education: B.A. (anthropology and folklore), M.A. (philosophy of education).

ADDRESSES: Home—Brooklyn, NY. Agent—Sheree Bykofsky Associates, 577 2nd Ave., PMB 109, New York, NY 10016. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Worked in the restaurant business, as an English teacher in Tokyo, Japan, and as a food writer for a regional magazine.

WRITINGS:

Eliot's Banana (novel), Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Luscious Lemon (novel), Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Virgin Fiction 2, edited by Rob Weisbach Books, Harper Perennial (New York, NY), 1999; and Cold Feet, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2005. Contributor to periodicals, including Other Voices, American Baby, Salon.com, and Potpourri.

SIDELIGHTS: Heather Swain's first novel, Eliot's Banana, is an "engaging debut about death, modern romance, and growing up," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Twenty-five-year-old Junie is an aimless New York resident still searching for her purpose in life. She thinks it may have something to do with her live-in boyfriend, rock-n-roll drummer Leon, who secretly wants to leave New York with Junie and start a restaurant in a small town somewhere else. However, Junie's purpose might also involve Eliot, a cynical science-fiction novelist more than twice her age whose last successful book came out about the time Junie was born. The infatuated Junie sees Eliot as a potentially life-changing force for her; Eliot, on the other hand, sees Junie as just another young plaything who may or may not be able to kick-start his muse. As long as he gets what he wants out of their association, he does not care. While Junie and Eliot circle each other and flirt, Alfie, Eliot's cat, recognizes Junie as his soul mate from a past life. From then on, the cat does his best to get Junie's attention and alert her to Eliot's dishonorable intentions, all the while trying to win her over again. When things with Eliot go sour, Junie realizes that she has to face a series of emotional issues that have impeded her. A cathartic trip back to her Indiana homeland clears her mind and lets her look anew at the benefits of life with Leon.

In a ChickLit Books online interviewer, Swain expressed satisfaction with how well the seemingly incongruous subplot involving Alfie the cat worked for her. "I thought it worked well in the book because it allowed me as the writer to comment on what I see as the silliness and futility of searching for one perfect soul mate, which is something Junie has to figure out." The Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel"romance fiction right on target for rocker girls with a little therapy under their belts," while Harriet Klausner, writing on AllReaders.com, commented: "Readers who appreciate a powerful character study will want to savor the fruits of this tasteful tale, one of the subgenre's best of the year."

Energetic and vivacious Ellie "Lemon" Manelli seems to have it all in Swain's second novel, Luscious Lemon. Her New York restaurant, named after her own nickname, is a consistent success and sought-after hotspot after only a year in business. Boyfriend Eddie, an educated and sophisticated type who is the son of a Georgia businessman, adds to Ellie's life a dose of affection and carefree sex. When Ellie discovers that she is pregnant, she is suddenly assailed from all sides by well-meaning, but disruptive and intrusive, relatives. Despite the interference, Eddie is delighted at the prospect of being a father, and he and Ellie plan for their child's arrival, even though she is dubious about the effect that a child will have on her independence and her business. In a devastating stroke, all such concerns are rendered moot when Ellie suffers a miscarriage. This shatters her emotionally and makes her realize that she may have caused irreparable damage to her relationships with family, friends, and Eddie.

"Swain deals with the powerful emotions" of miscarriage "with seriousness, sensitivity, grace, and humor," commented Booklist reviewer Aleksandra Kostovski. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted the novel's somber theme, remarking that, "for obvious reasons, this heartfelt tale isn't exactly entertaining." Despite the serious subject matter, however, other critics found the book to be a pleasurable read. "The exquisite food references, deep emotional resonance, and an intriguing plot all make Luscious Lemon a delight to savor," commented a reviewer on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site. Klausner, in another AllReaders.com review, concluded that "readers will appreciate this well written urban drama and look forward to the next fruitful Heather Swain novel."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2004, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of Luscious Lemon, p. 210.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of Eliot's Banana, p. 936; August 15, 2004, review of Luscious Lemon, p. 774.

ONLINE

AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (October23, 2005), Harriet Klausner, reviews of Eliot's Banana and Luscious Lemon.

ChickLit Books, http://chicklitbooks.com/ (October 23,2005), interview with Heather Swain.

Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (October 23, 2005), review of Luscious Lemon.

Heather Swain Home Page, http://www.heatherswain.com (October 23, 2005).