Swanson, Denise 1956-
SWANSON, Denise 1956-
PERSONAL: Born December 25, 1956, in IL; daughter of Ernest W. (a farmer and mechanic) and Marie (a police, fire, and emergency dispatcher; maiden name, Votta) Swanson; married David Stybr, January 26, 1980. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Illinois, Urbana, B.S., 1979; Governors State University, M.A., 1982. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, bridge, animals.
CAREER: Young Men's Christian Association, Joliet, IL, counselor in anti-crime program, 1979-80; intern psychologist at public schools in Kankakee, IL, 1982-83; school psychologist in Prince George's County, MD, 1983-85, and in Illinois, 1986-90; Center Cass District 66, Downers Grove, IL, school psychologist, 1990—. Moraine Valley Community College, psychology instructor. Carillon Theater Guild, president, 1992-94.
MEMBER: National Association of School Psychologists, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Illinois School Psychologists Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named school psychologist of the year, Prince George's County, MD, 1983-84; Reviewers' Choice Award, best first novel and best amateur sleuth series, both Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, 2000, for Murder of a Small-Town Honey.
"SCUMBLE RIVER MYSTERY" SERIES
Murder of a Small-Town Honey, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Murder of a Sweet Old Lady, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Murder of a Sleeping Beauty, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Murder of a Snake in the Grass, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Murder of a Barbie and Ken, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), in press.
Work represented in anthologies, including And the Dying Is Easy, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2001, and Mayhem in the Midlands.
SIDELIGHTS: Denise Swanson told CA: "As a school psychologist, I rarely have any closure in my work. Even when I do, it is often not the outcome I would like to see. As an author, I can right wrongs, punish the wicked, and avenge the deserving. As an author, I am able to have control.
"I've always been an avid reader since teaching myself at the age of three. Throughout the years I've been influenced by strong female writers, such as Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, and the Brontë sisters. More currently I admire mystery writers Carolyn G. Hart, Margaret Maron, and Earlene Fowler.
"I write every day, usually in the morning. I start my books by choosing a victim, a murderer, and a motive. Using a loose outline, I write a proposal or synopsis of the plot. From there I tend to write in order, starting with Chapter 1. I revise as I write and do one final revision before submitting the book to my editor.
"I am greatly inspired by my real-life experiences when I choose the material for my books. In my first book I was working in a rural community as a school psychologist and witnessed the division of the town over their annual fair. This animosity extended to the principal and mayor having a fist fight in the school parking lot. My second book was influenced by my grandmother's decline and death. At the time I realized she knew many family secrets that would go to the grave with her, and what a relief this would be to the people involved in them. My third book was influenced by a young girl telling me how much she disliked being made to compete, but how much her mother wanted her to continue."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Denise Swanson Web site,http://www.deniseswanson.com (July 4, 2003).