Monday, June 16, 2014

Dwight V Swain

Art: Ed Valigursky

Dwight V(reeland) Swain was born in Rochester, Michigan, on 17 November 1915, the son of John Edgar Swain and his wife Florence Marietta (nee Vreeland). He grew up in Ohio, where his father worked as a railroad telegrapher, and was educated at Jackson Junior College and the University of Michigan, where he earned a B.A. in 1937. He later earned an M.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1954.

In order to make ends meet during the Depression, Swain pulled weeds, peddled gadgets door to door, dealt blackjack, hustled packing cases, worked for a mind-reader and interviewed murderers for true crime books. He began his career as a writer in 1934, working on the staff of various daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Oklahoma. He sold his first story to Target Magazine in around 1935 but considered his first "big" sale to True in around 1939.

He joined Flying Magazine as an editorial assistant in 1941. He joined the US Army in October 1942 and served for the duration of the war, rising to the rank of Sergeant.

Swain began writing science fiction in 1941, making his SF debut with 'Henry Holt's Super-Solvent' in the November 1941 issue of Fantastic. Over the next decade he contributed to a range of pulp magazines, including Mammoth Adventure, Mammoth Western, Mammoth Detective, Mammoth Mystery, Dime Western Magazine, Dime Detective Magazine, Giant Western, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Imagination and others. Talking later of his science fiction, he said: "Most of my print science fiction consisted of magazine novels (25,000–40,000 words) of the space opera variety—Lord knows how many I did. I feel there's still a place for adventure and strong story lines in the field, and am unhappy to see so many books coming out which are, in effect, more word photography and/or introspection. The field was infinitely more fun back in the days when Ray Palmer edited Amazing Stories/Fantastic Adventures (where I broke in), with heavy emphasis on action/conflict/humor." (Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Volume II, ed. Robert Reginald, Douglas Menville & Mary A. Burgess, 1979)

In September 1949, Swain joined the staff of the University of Oklahoma, first as a script writer in the Motion Picture Unit, scripting around 50 educational and instructional films until 1965, including films such as Mental Hospital (1953) and Time Out For Trouble (1961) for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. He joined the faculty as a professor of journalism from 1952, a position he retained until retiring in 1974.

He was vice president of B.H.S. Productions Inc. between 1961 and 1971, under which aegis he produced Stark Fear, a 1962 psychological thriller starring Beverly Garland and Skip Homeier. In 1965, he created the 'Fact and Fiction' writing course for Palmer Writers' School, and served on its national advisory board between 1966 and 1974.

In his late sixties, Swain became a field reporter on Central American guerrilla activities for Eagle Magazine in 1983-84 and wrote the column 'Pulp' for Mystery Scene from 1989.

Swain was married to Margaret Simpson, a musician and college teacher in 1942, with whom he had one son, Thomas McCray Swain; they divorced in 1968 and he married Joye Raechel Boulton, a dancer, interpreter, teacher and writer, in 1969, who was 25 years his junior. The couple raised a number of orphan children.

He lived most of his career in Norman, Oklahoma, and was made an honorary Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma in 1970. A scholarship in his name to the School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma was first awarded in 1974. He received numerous awards in Oklahoma for his writing and film work and was inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame as Grand Master in 1991.

Swain committed suicide on 24 February 1992 after suffering from asthma, heart problems and diabetes.


The Transposed Man. New York, Ace Books D113, 1955 (omnibus with One In 300 by J. T. McIntosh); London Panther 696, 1957 (omnibus with 'The Predators' by E. C. Tubb).
Monster. New York, Pinnacle Books, 1991.

Novels as Nick Carter (series: Nick Carter–Killmaster)
The Pemex Chart. New York, Charter Books, 1979; London, Star, 1980.

Novels as John Cleve (with Andrew J. Offutt)
Spaceways #16: The Planet Murderer. New York, Berkley, 1984.

Tricks and Techniques of the Selling Writer. New York, Doubleday, 1965; revised as Techniques of the Selling Writer, University of Oklahoma Press, 1974.
Film Scriptwriting: A Practical Manual. Hastings House, 1976; 2nd ed. revised, with Joye R. Swain, Focal Press, 1988.
Scripting for Video and Audiovisual Media. Focal Press, 1981; revised as Scripting for the New AV Technologies, with Joye R. Swain, 1991.
Creating Characters. How to Build Story People. New York, Writer's Digest Books, 1990.

Dimensions, with Joye R. Swain (KOKH-TV, 1982)

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