Interview with Author DJ Swykert

My guest today is DJ Swykert.  Hello, DJ!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you again.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it? 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. 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.

The book was released by Bliss Press in June of 2012. It is available at these websites:


Is there anything specific that inspired you to write Maggie Elizabeth Harrington?

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.

If this book was made into a film, who would you cast in it?

I’m not sure who I’d cast today in the role of Maggie. But, when I wrote the book I would frame Jodie Foster as a young teenager in my mind when I wrote the character.

Now for some general questions.

When reading, do you prefer traditional 

printed books or ebooks?  And why?

Traditional books, and the reason is a simple one. Because I grew up holding a printed book, it’s what I’m used to. I like turning my own pages. But I think the
e-reader is the book of the future. In a couple of generations everyone will use them.

So, what are you reading now?

The sports page. Oh, you mean books, ha ha. I’ve been reading a book called Apology by Jon Pineda. It won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.

When you get an idea for a book, what comes first usually?  Dialogue, the characters, a specific scene?  Or do you plot it out before you write?

Always the character. I like to frame the characteristics of a character and then devise a plot to suit the kind of person I see them as. I don’t usually outline an entire book. I jot down notes for chapters and I usually have an ending in mind that my chapters are pointing towards.

What do you have planned next?  Or is that a secret?

No secret, I have another wolf story. It’s about an older man whose wife has died and he finds it difficult holding onto his zest for life. He moves to a remote location and begins to feed a pack of young wolves who are also struggling with survival. The idea for the story comes from a quote by Gandhi: "An act of kindness is better than a thousand heads bowed in prayer." I’m using a working title of Counting Wolves. But that may change.

Is there anything you'd like to add?  Any advice for new writers?
Writing and playing the piano are similar. You get better if you practice.

Here is the blurb for Maggie Elizabeth Harrington.

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is the story of a young woman in a remote 1890's northern Michigan mining town trying to save a pack of young wolves from a bounty hunter. A terse historical love story of a young woman's struggle with environmental and moral issues concerning the slaughter of wolves, and the churches condemnation of her love for a young man, are as real in today's global world as they were for young Maggie over a century ago.
Here is an excerpt.
We are about halfway out to Dunstan’s when we see Tommie walking down the road towards us.  He yells at us.  “Bernard shot her.  A big she wolf.  You should see her.  She’s huge.”

I think my heart is going to come right out
of my chest it starts thumping so hard, and I am having trouble breathing.  Tommie walks up to us and he tells us how the dogs found the wolf not far from the coop. 
“She must have been coming back for another chicken, and the dogs caught her scent.  When she saw the dogs she stood her ground, and was holding them off.  Bernard was not far behind his four hounds, and as soon as he saw the wolf he took aim and fired.  He got her with a clean shot.  It went right through her chest,” Tommie explained.  “The bullet lifted her right up off of her feet.  Then she dropped back down on her paws for a moment.  She looked right at me for a couple of seconds; then rolled over dead.  It was eerie, the way she looked at me for those few seconds,” Tommie said.  “It was as if she could see right inside me.”
I look at Tommie.  His brown eyes that glisten are wide and open, and I can see he is shaken by what he has seen.  He is wondering about the spirit of the dead she-wolf.  It is bothering him.  I think he got a glimpse of her spirit for a second, and saw it leaving.  He learned something about dying that he didn’t know before.  Something I have learned from watching my father drown my kittens; that all beings have a spirit, even wolves, and they understand as much about dying as we do.
Author Bio 

 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: He is a wolf expert.
Other Books:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Great interview, and the book sounds good.


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