Wisconsin Native Cynthia Swanson Pens a Character-Driven Thriller in 'The Glass Forest'

Feb 13, 2018

Lake Effect first talked with writer and Wisconsin native Cynthia Swanson a few years ago, when her debut novel, The Bookseller, was published. It went on to become an award-winning New York Times bestseller.

The Bookseller took place in the Denver of the early 1960s, a time in US history Swanson finds fascinating. So it’s no surprise that her latest book, The Glass Forest, is also set in that era - although this book is set in Brooklyn and Westchester County, New York, and in Door County, Wisconsin.

Author Cynthia Swanson
Credit courtesy of the author

Swanson says the enormous changes going on in our society in the late '50s and early '60s, especially for women, provide a writer with a rich backdrop to place all kinds of characters and situations. In The Glass Forest, what appears to be an idyllic life in a sleepy town on the Hudson River is slowly revealed to be far different from its outward appearances.

Swanson says while it's fine to think of the book as a thriller, it is a character driven thriller: "I love that being on the edge of your seat and having that suspense in the story," she explains. "But I also really want that to be driven by who the people are. I want to know about their motivations."

She pauses for a minute. "It's not a whodunit, it's a whydunit."

Cynthia Swanson will be in conversation with Lake Effect's Bonnie North Thursday evening at Boswell Book Company.