Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Q&A with David Swykert and a giveaway


Sometimes when writing the lines between reality and fiction become a bit blurry. I began Maggie Elizabeth Harrington intending to write a historical story about a lonely woman who loses her mind after being jilted by her lover. I ended up with a novel about a young woman in a remote northern Michigan mining town trying to save a pack of wolves from a bounty hunter. It wasn’t difficult to figure out how the transition occurred. I had agreed to watch a pair of arctic hybrids for a friend and soon found myself attached to the ten week old hybrid wolf pups and fascinated by their behaviors. My reality became my fiction. Maggie would be someone who would want to protect these beautiful animals from bounty hunters. The story of Maggie Harrington and her wolves unfolded almost as if it were writing itself and the farther it progressed the further my interest in wolves   increased.
This led me to do some research on wolves, including the studies by a professor at Michigan Technological University, Rolf Peterson, who has written on the wolves of Isle Royale for thirty years. Here is a brief history of Michigan wolves. There was a time when there were abundant packs. A bounty existed on them in the early 19th century and into the twentieth century, thirty-five dollars for the head of a female, and thirty for a male. The population was decimated and for most of the second half of the twentieth century were non-existent in the state. They became protected in 1974, and the population has increased steadily since. There are about 687 recorded wolves now that live only in the Upper Peninsula, there are still none in the Lower Peninsula.
I saw my first wolf in 1994, two of them roadside near Copper Harbor howling at the Fourth of July fireworks. I have seen perhaps a half dozen since. They have been removed from the endangered species list, and managed hunting is currently allowed once again. The relationship between wolves and human beings is very ancient. We shared similar survival techniques; living in organized societies for protection and hunting in packs. Rather than compete for food sources we simply joined forces. I believe this is the origin of the bond between man and wolf, and now dogs, which are simply domesticated wolves. The gray wolf, canis lupis, and a domesticated dog, canis lupis familiaris, share the same DNA profile. You cannot forensically differentiate one from the other. 
Maggie Elizabeth Harrington ultimately became a book with multilayered themes concerning social and environmental issues. I see the book as crossing genres between romance and adventure and landing somewhere in a gray area between YA and Literary. The narrator is thirteen but I believe her ideas are adult enough to engage literary readers.
Since writing this book I have come to three significant conclusions about wolves: They work together, mate for life, and protect their young. They have a loyalty within the pack hierarchy that is beyond ours. There is no divorce in a wolf pack. Only the alpha’s mate, but they mate for life. If one of the pair is killed, the next highest ranking wolf in the pack, a beta, takes its place. They protect their young, whether it’s the alpha parent, a beta, or the omega wolf, which, although relegated to the bottom of the order in the pack, does participate in pack duties, often playing the role of a babysitter while the rest of the pack hunts. If the human race lived as wolves, the earth would be a far different place.
I still cherish the memories of stuffing both of the 150 pound wolf hybrids into my Jeep Wrangler and doing some traveling. From the time I wrote the book until I moved to Kentucky I lived in five different places, and I hauled and lodged those wolves with me at each one. I’m not sure I’d want to do that again, but they are fond memories. And what is life but memories, sweet illusions that move in all directions and linger much longer than reality. Isn’t life but perception and memories of what we are, and were, and is there really any difference? 
Links to the book:
Amazon Kindle:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPC2CJC   
Amazon Paperback:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1490515674
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, the NewerYork, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, Alpha Wolves, The Death of Anyone and The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. You can find him at: www.magicmasterminds.com. He is a wolf expert.  

David's books are historical romance.  I have read Maggie Elizabeth Harrington and Alpha Wolves and they are both good! They are both about Maggie Elizabeth and about 10 years different in the story line. In "Maggie Elizabeth Harrington", Maggie is 13 and in Alpha Wolves she is a grown woman. Both of these stories are love stories and yes there is kissing in both novels and in "Alpha Wolves" there is more than kissing but it is written in a clean way and in "Alpha Wolves" there are 2 words that some might consider to be cuss words. I really liked these 2 stories. There are references to God but these books are not what I would consider Christian but then I like to read anything that isn't erotic or have alot of cussing or too sci-fiction. I have a review on this blog for "Maggie Elizabeth Harrrington" and I will be writing a review for "Alpha Wolves" as soon as I am finished with setting up this post.

David has agreed to answer any questions you may have about his books! One lucky winner will get to choose a pdf files or an ebook or a first edition print book. This giveaway runs from Today Tuesday the 16th to Thursday the 19th at 9Am est. Please leave your email so if you are the winner we can contact you!

Let's begin!


  1. I will begin
    Have you always wanted to be a writer and do you have plans to write more books?

    1. This is David's reply to this question!
      Yes, to future novels. I'm working on a story now about a retired soldier/cop who's wife has died and he's trying to recover his zest for life. I'm still working on the first draft. No, I haven't always wanted to be a writer. My first paying job was as an accordion player at fourteen. I started writing seriously in the late 80's, long after having given up the accordion.

  2. is anyone else having a problem posting on this post

  3. Ron Howard Jr has this to say
    Good article and I was going to ask if David supported a cause that proliferates the wolf or a certain subspecies of wolf.

    1. This is David's reply
      When I lived in Michigan I supported the Humane Society, but I did not belong to any environmental group with specific aims at protecting wolves. At that time the wolf was on the endangered list and protected. They have since rebounded in numbers and have been removed from the endangered species list. There is only one species of wolf in Michigan, the Gray Wolf, which is the largest wolf on earth. An arctic wolf is the same species, but are white, an evolutionary adaptation that makes them a more viable predator. I know that breeders will deny it, but the malamute is a wolf-dog, huskies bred with arctic wolves by the Innuit Indians looking to breed a larger sled dog. They the larger dog, malamutes are huge, but lazier than a husky. They never became the supreme sled dog they were looking for. The pair had were hybrids, a husky mix with an arctic wolf. There was a demand for wolf dogs at one time and this was a common breeding habit.

  4. Carrie L Marquardt-Roach
    Do you plan on building the characters anymore for a third book?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. David's response
      When I wrote the first book with Maggie Harrington, who is a historical character that actually lived in Central Mine, I always envisioned a story that would take her to the end of her life. I actually stated a few drafts, but, maybe this sounds a little farfetched, but don't think I was mature enough at the time to write her as an elderly person. The first story, was written about fifteen years ago, so, well, I think I'm getting to the age I can authentically understand what an older Maggie would experience, especially living in a very isolated environment, Central Mine became a ghost town in the early 1900's. The short answer to you questions is: Yes, I'm going to write further with this character, begin where Alpha Wolves left off and conclude her life. In reality, the historical Maggie Harrington froze to death, her body was found in a clump of birch trees.

    3. I am eagerly awaiting this new book!