Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meet C.L. Swinney

This week I am pleased to showcase suspense writer C.L Swinney, author of the exciting and successful Gray Ghost. Chris Swinney’s first writing assignment was published in Fly Fisherman Magazine. He became a Probation Officer in 1997.  He subsequently became a Detective and started working narcotic and homicide cases. His first novel, Gray Ghost, was released in July of 2013 and made the Best Sellers’ list on Amazon in paperback and Kindle for Crime Fiction and Mystery. Gray Ghost was released again on March 1, 2014 through Total Recall Publishing. The second novel in the Bill Dix series, Collectors, is also contracted and will come out mid-2014. He spends time volunteering for his church, his and other children’s schools, and still tries to fly fish from time to time.

I asked Chris to write for us what the “joy of story” means to him. Here’s what he had to say:

“Reading can mean many different things to people. For me, it’s joy. I work at a hectic and stressful job, I have a great family with two kids in sports, and I’m an author, which means I spend what little time I have left over after work and family writing and promoting.  Every once in a while I need to completely decompress and find a place to slip away from the chaos. For me, especially as I’ve gotten older, my escape has been books.

“I enjoy how other authors make me feel happiness, sorrow, anger, fear, love, and many other feelings through their words alone. The very best writers put us in places and cause us to feel emotions with their plot, characters, and dialogue.  I read books of all sorts of genres, but my favorites are mysteries.  It may sound odd, but I actually find joy in the hair standing up on the back of my neck as I cautiously turn the page of a good book waiting for the next twist or turn. There’s excitement and intrigue there. And, for that moment, my everyday life disappears as I slip through the pages. For a brief second, I no longer feel as though I’m being strangled by deadlines or worried about risking my life while chasing down suspects.

“I’ve found the very best storytellers are also the best writers.  Some speak from the heart, others through life experiences or tedious amounts of research. I feel their hard work, pain, anger, excitement, and whatever else they are pouring into their work. It makes me appreciate their lives, and helps make mine more pleasurable. Often I find myself reading whole books in a day or two and yearning for more from the author. Sometimes there isn’t anything else for me to read by them, but I know more is coming. This too is a fun time because I get to hunt for more great authors to read.

“As a writer of crime fiction and mystery, I sometimes struggle with trying to give the reader joy. My stories are intense and based on real-life events that I see on a daily basis, much of which is not enjoyable. Yet, I try to give my readers something to grab hold of, something enjoyable, to balance out the other emotions I solicit from my readers. I like to use romance, the PG-13 kind, to pull readers in and to get them to feel strongly, good or bad, for my story, plot, and characters. Finding balance is the key. I start this with my first novel in the Bill Dix series, Gray Ghost, and it carries through to the second in the series, Collectors.

Gray Ghost

While on a fly fishing vacation to Andros Island in the Bahamas, narcotics detectives Dix and Petersen discover their fishing guides were killed when a sudden blast of gunfire fractured their speedboat, Gray Ghost. Local gossip has it that Gray Ghost went to the ocean floor with a hundred million dollars' worth of cocaine in the hull.

Dix and Petersen, against their better judgment, are drawn into helping their island friends even though it could cost them their careers. Leads are chased down in the Bahamas and Miami. The two detectives identify a diabolical plot of a sinister man known only as "The Caller."

An elaborate trap is set for The Caller, but he's two steps ahead of the detectives. As the drama unfolds, it's unclear who can be trusted. When it appears The Caller will get away once again, lead detective Dix and his sidekick Petersen exhaust everything they have in an effort to capture the criminal mastermind.

For more information and/or to get your hands on a copy of Gray Ghost, visit

Author C.L. (Chris) Swinney can be found at the following social media sites:
Twitter:  @clswiney


  1. Well, put, Chris. I feel sorry for people who haven't discovered the joy of reading. And I truly believe you can't be a writer unless you're also a reader.

  2. Thanks John. I agree completely. There's a guy named Stephen King, a pretty decent writer, who says you can't be a writer without being an avid reader. As I get older, reading and now WRITING is helping me decompress. Thanks.

  3. Chris,
    For me, reading is the ultimate escape. When I'm reading, I'm living in someone else's world and all of my problems and concerns float away. Nothing else can compare!

  4. Nice job, John and Chris! Thank you.

    I also love to slip between the pages of a book and leave the real world behind. "Carry me away, great author," is what I say.

    Also, to unwind and get new plot line ideas, I watch Forensic Files (formerly Mystery Detectives) and real life crime shows like 20/20, Dateline NBC and Dominick Dunne's series on HLN right before I go to bed.

    My friends think I'm nuts (nu, duh), but those shows relax me and put me right to sleep. In the morning, I'm ready to write. Or, at least ready to think about writing. :D

  5. Great comments, Chris and John. I just cut and pasted paragraph 3, which will be read to my writing students (John knows some of them), along with info about Gray Ghost. Happy Sales (or is it Sails?) . . .

  6. Thanks to Chris, who obviously loves reading as much as I do. ANd thanks to the folks leaving comments on this post. That's what builds a writing community!