YUKON — Luke Swanson has a lot of positive qualities, but persistence may be among his best.
The Yukon High School junior recently completed “Liberty and Justice for All,” a 250-page book that is set during the Civil War. The story has been self-published on Amazon.com as an eBook.
While most kids his age dread writing even four- or five-page reports, Swanson's love of writing made creating the book a fun experience even if he didn't start out to write one.
“I've always loved reading and telling stories,” he said. “It was really a spur of the moment thing. It started out as a paragraph, and then a chapter, and then two chapters.”
Swanson, 16, did most of his writing immediately after school. He said he would think of ideas during the day and couldn't wait to get them written down. But writing wasn't always so easy.
“It was a bit tedious at times,” he said.
“I had to force myself to write sometimes. I could visualize point A and point B but drawing that line between them was a little difficult at times.”
The book focuses on Joseph, a black soldier who was the sole survivor of an attack against his unit. Life moves on, and Joseph must find a way to move along with it despite being black in a mostly white world.
While he may not be a threat to J.K. Rowling in terms of book sales, the book has sold 45 copies at $2.99 each. He got the idea to publish it as an eBook from a friend who sent him an article from The New York Times about self publishing. Swanson emailed some eBook authors for tips and ideas.
“I got a lot of good ideas on how to stand out and I got a lot of encouragement,” he said.
He sold his first copy within a few hours of the book going online, a moment he said was “really exciting.”
Swanson has a 4.0 GPA. He is involved in student council and will be the editor of the Yukon High School newspaper and yearbook next year. Journalism teacher Erik Jackson wasn't surprised Swanson was able to pull off writing the book.
“He is without a doubt one of the hardest working kids I've ever seen,” Jackson said. “There's absolutely nothing he can't do. We have a very successful journalism program here and for him to be editor of both the yearbook and newspaper says a lot about him. It's quite an accomplishment.”
Credit to family
Jackson credits at least some of Swanson's success to his family. His father is chief of staff for U.S. Rep. James Lankford, his older brother is at West Point, and his mother is an elementary school teacher in Yukon.
“They are a successful family and I think a lot of his work ethic comes from that,” Jackson said. “He is very self-motivated but at the same time, is the type of person who will do anything he can to help you.”
Swanson is working on a new book, a mystery set in Los Angeles.
“I didn't think I could write the first one,” he said. “It took me a while to find the voice within me. I'm not the most outgoing person, but I had something to say and I enjoyed the process a lot.”
I'm not the most outgoing person, but I had something to say and I enjoyed the process a lot.”