20th century social issues drives imagination

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Festival of Books | The Daily Wildcat Cynthia Swanson is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of "The Bookseller," which is soon to be a motion picture starring Julia Roberts.

Fascinated by the social issues of the time, Cunthia Swanson, a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, transports readers to the 20th century with her work.

“Women’s roles, families, the political climate inform (and even sometimes echo) our current times and of course the details of those times – clothes, cars, music, architecture – are so much fun to write about,” Swanson said.

Swanson has has spent time as a freelance technical and marketing writer, but been writing, specifically in the realm of fiction, her whole life.

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“I took a detour to major in Architecture in college because I love design. But after two years I changed majors to English,” Swanson said.

Swanson now identifies as a cross-genre writer whose books are a blend historical fiction, suspense and upmarket fiction.

“I find this cross-genre work particularly satisfying, because I love reading books in those genres, too,” Swanson said.  

She is most famously known for her book “The Bookseller,” which has been nominated for various awards including the Goodreads Choice Award, the MPIBA Reading the West Award, an Indie Next selection and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction.

Her latest book, “The Glass Forest,” was released this month. The book is about the Glasses, a 1940s family who harbours several complicated secrets, according to Swanson.  

“It’s a character-driven, psychologically-based mystery … not so much a “whodunit? as a whydunit?,” Swanson said.

Her idea behind “The Glass Forest” has been brewing since before she started her first novel, The Bookseller.  

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“It started with me thinking about what it would be like to occupy the home of a missing person. How could you resist looking for clues around every corner?” Swanson said. “That was the seed, and the details of the story came together over a lot of years.” 

Swanson’s favorite part of being a writer is being able to connect to readers.  

“I love meeting with readers at festivals, book clubs, library and bookstore events and anywhere else,” Swanson said. “Hearing that my books have made a difference in a reader’s life makes this journey so rewarding.”

Swanson will be meeting readers at the book festival on the Twisted Plots, Historical Fiction and Sophomore Books panels, as well as signing books in the Mostly Books booth. 


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