Thursday, August 7, 2014

So...who was Anna Swan?

Anna Swan, born in 1846, stood around 8 feet tall and became a celebrity because of it. She toured Canada, America and Europe, before marrying a man who was also 8 feet tall and settling on a farm in Ohio. She plays a major role in my upcoming novel The Thunder of Giants. But who exactly was she? 

Anna Swan is only 1/3 of The Thunder of Giants; the rest of the book focuses on Andorra Kelsey, the 8 foot tall woman hired to play Anna in a film. I didn't set out to write a conventional piece of biographical fiction; I was more interested in finding a way to make history and fiction intertwine. Anna Swan lived in that world - many of the facts we have about her, including her magnificent height, are questionable because she lived in a world that dealt with hyperbole and exaggeration. Whenever history and fiction collide, we end up with myth. Myths differ from fairy tales. Fairy tales don't pretend to be real but myths are either based on reality or have some effect on the real world. No one is basing a religion around Cinderella; but the ancient Greeks built temples to Zues. So while Anna Swan is a fascinating figure, I was more interested in exploring her effect on the world decades after her death.