Q&A about Chosen and The Chosen Series | Author Denise Grover Swank Q&A about Chosen and The Chosen Series | Author Denise Grover Swank
Denise Grover Swank

Q&A about Chosen and The Chosen Series

I’ve been asked a lot of questions in emails and comments on my blog about Chosen and Hunted and the series overall. I thought it might be good gather them and answer some in a blog post.  If this spurs a question from you, ask it in the comment section below.


Do not read if you haven’t read up to the end of Hunted.

The MOST ASKED QUESTION about The Chosen Series at this point:

When will Sacrifice be released?

****March 23****

How many books will be in the series?

Four and possibly a prequel novella featuring Alex, Raphael and the original Emmanuella in the beginning cycles. I had planned three books, but I’d hit 80,000 words in the first draft  of Sacrifice and realized I wasn’t going to be able to answer all the questions and give a satisfying ending with three books, unless it approached A Game of Thrones length.

How did you get the idea for the series?

I LOVE when random things can change the course of destiny. And obviously, destiny plays a big role in all of my books, so I seem to have a thing for it. {Pardon my spur of the moment therapy session. 😉 }

The beginning of Chosen was a fluke. I’d finished my first novel for NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month-in December of 2009 and was waiting to edit. (BTW, this first novel is chained to my hard drive and will NEVER see the light of day in it’s current state, although I have considered rewriting it. In my spare time. ROFL!)  For all of November and the first ten days of December, I had trained myself to write EVERY DAY and honestly, I was flailing without a daily writing goal. (THIS right here is the true beauty of NaNoWriMo. It makes writing part of your daily routine.)  A friend suggested I start another book. Great idea, but what in the world would I write?

One night in December, a week before Christmas, my oldest son’s girlfriend Cody was talking to me while I cooked dinner. She told me that my youngest son Ryan, three at the time, had counted to five but he could only do it if he touched her fingers. Laughing, I suggested that when he touched her fingers he could read her mind and knew the numbers from their connection.

And an idea was born. It literally was one of those “OMG” moments as I stood at my stove with a wooden spoon in my hand.

And then, of course it changed. Jake could see the future, not read minds (at the beginning of Chosen). So I had a book with a little boy with the gift of foresight. Obviously, I needed a tad bit more. I spent several days coming up with this: Jake and his mother Emma (whose name was originally Lenore before I started writing, which just seems so wrong now) where running from people sent to “collect” him. A man also shows up in the opening scene and offers to help them, however, he’s not who he appears to be. He’s been sent to bring Emma to a powerful group, and none of us know why– me included in that first week.  Anyone who has read several of my books knows that I like to twist things around so  you don’t see them coming. (hopefully) Sending this guy to capture Jake was too obvious. I wanted the reader to ask WTH?  Jake and Emma’s names had meaning to their role in the books, so the man’s had to mean something too.  After searching baby name sites, I came up with Will.

And then I wrote.

As I mentioned above, I started the week before Christmas. It took me five days to write the first chapter knowing only what I knew above. I had no idea who wanted Emma. I had no idea who wanted Jake. (Although I was still working on those details.) Honestly, I wrote that first chapter to see if I could do it. Car chases. Gun fights. What in the world did I know about those things? Sure, I have a lead foot and my children ask why we’re passing the other cars on the highway, but drifting and high speed turns? Nope.

That’s the beauty of older sons.

When I got to the car chase, my poor son Ross, then a senior in high school, had to field question after question after question. HE came up with Emma’s move to escape in chapter one.  FYI, I wrote the first chapter listening to Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD, then narrowed it down and listened to Papercut over and over and over and over while I wrote the car chase scene to get the intensity and energy. The bridge gives me chills.

The sun goes down
I feel the light betray me

I’m in Emma’s head driving down the two lane country road, my adrenaline surging, the windows down as the Bad Men. I’m just there. Obviously, music play a big part in my writing.

As I wrote the first chapter and rewrote and edited it and wrote more, I was near a panic attack. I could see it was  good start to a story.  It was a GREAT story. I was excited and terrified. I didn’t think I could write it. It was too big for me. So my friend suggested I write one more chapter.

(The first chapter as it is now is nearly identical to the original first chapter I wrote the week before Christmas 2009, although the writing was scrubbed  multiple times. I wrote three more books before I published Chosen and my writing improved with each book. I gave Chosen on last BIG scrub– with the help of the talented Jim Thomsen, my copy editor– before I published it in September 2011.)

The week between Christmas and New Year’s I wrote the second chapter. The deeper I sunk into this story the more I loved it and the more it TERRIFIED me. This was NOT my world. I was a middle class, white bread, mini-van driving mom. But I reminded myself, that’s who Emma had been before her life was turned upside down, three years before Chosen begins. Instead of looking at our differences, I needed to look at our similarities, find our connection there.

And I needed to research. I’ve said multiple times, if I’m ever accused of a crime, I’ll be arrested on my search engine history alone. I need to put a widget on my sidebar to start collecting bail money.

That’s how I wrote Chosen up until the end of chapter ten. One chapter at time. I’d finish a chapter send to to my two friends/alpha readers and feel nauseated until they emailed back. “Wow! This is great.” But chapter ten nearly toppled me over the edge of stopping. I sent out the chapter when Jake brands Will and my friend Dave called, so enthusiastic. “Oh, my God! How in the world are you going to top that?!!?!??!”

Oh, my God. How was I???

I had a plot but it was ever changing, ever evolving as I wrote. I had big things planned, only a few chapters later– the truck explosion when when Emma and Will think Jake is dead. So I knew that I was still building.

And let me insert here, I wrote that scene in Emma’s POV and it nearly killed me. I locked myself in my walk in closet with my laptop so my kids wouldn’t find me and I sobbed while I wrote it. I had also wrote it from Will’s scene, which was much better so I cut Emma’s. It was too raw. Too shattered to do much good for the story. But strangely enough, writing from Emma’s POV was very cathartic for me. After I wrote that scene, my entire attitude to the book changed. If I could write that, I could handle the rest.

As I wrote the middle of the book, I began to call Chosen “the breaking of Will.” Chosen was supposed to be more focused on Emma and her struggles, but Will was just so damn fascinating. It was easy to see early on that he needed to be the big focus of Chosen. (Emma got her turn in Hunted.) The past defines and shapes who we are and Will had to face his to move on. But Will is a strong, stubborn man and the only way to do that was to break him. I sometimes cry when I write a scene (See above) When I wrote the scene in the motel room in Denver when Will faces the possibility of Emma’s death and he accepts his feelings, I was in a deep funk for most of the day. I really like Will and *I* was causing him this pain. (Being an author is a very strange profession at times.) I had to trust in the payoff.

One more thing and then you can all wake up before I move onto the next question/answer: The end of Chosen wasn’t supposed to end the way it did. Will was supposed to leave Emma with the Vinco Potentia.  But as he walked across the compound to tell Emma goodbye, he started to inventory the men around him. In my head, I was shouting “WTF Will??? What are you doing?” Once I know my characters and I trust him or her, I put them in scene and tell them where we’re going and write down what they are doing. Will was changing it.  But I’d beat the man down and  I knew him so well, that I had to at least see where he was going with it. I owed him that.  I’m so glad I did. My original ending sucked. 😉

Why does Emma just give up after the explosion and not fight to live?

I’ll be honest, this question–which I’ve been asked and seen in reviews more than a few times–surprises me. Jake was Emma’s ENTIRE world. She gave up everything for him. Without him, she literally had no reason to live, not in those first few moments of horror. I think she would have learned to live without him, but not in those first few moments. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother. Or maybe it’s because I’ve lived through the horror and shock of losing my own husband, but I honestly, couldn’t see any other reaction from her.

Why does Emma cuss in front of Jake?

Emma is a small woman. She’s short and she’s thin. She can’t really fight someone off without a huge struggle. She had a gun, but by her own admission, at the beginning of Chosen she’d never used it. The farther she and Jake fell down the socioeconomic ladder, the rougher people they began to associate with. In the end, before Chosen begins, Emma was finding waitress jobs where she could sometimes bring Jake to work. Jake was exposed to bad language already.

Will was a large, intimidating man. In the scene after the car chase, Jake tells Emma that Will has to help them. She’s confused, scared, and doesn’t trust Will at all.  I tried to write Chosen and part of Hunted with Emma cussing when she felt threatened. I purposely have her relax this reaction the more she trusts Will in Hunted. Cussing gave her a tough appearance.  To me, it was an involuntary reflex on her part. She doesn’t know this is her reaction. Like most of us, she just reacts.  She curses– using the F word– to show Will she won’t lay down and take his shit. Jake’s safety was on the line. Cussing out Will was just one more way to protect Jake.

Is Will your ideal man?

I always laugh when someone asks me this. No. While I admire Will and he’s sexy as hell, he is not my ideal man. For one thing, he’s very intense. And for another, in my head, he belongs with Emma. Of all the male characters I’ve written, Joe from the Rose Gardner Mysteries is more my type.

Is Emma you?

No. There are traits of me in her, but Emma is her own person. All of my characters are their own people, as weird as that  sounds but that translates to the page and hopefully, makes them come to life.

Why doesn’t Emma tell Will she loves him sooner in Hunted?

Emma has known Will for a little over a month. Her son has been kidnapped and she’s trying to find him– her number one priority. Honestly, I struggled to make her admit she loved him at all. Emma doesn’t trust people. Her life has been turned upside down again. She questions the true source of Will’s feelings. She’s afraid of losing one more person she loves. Raphael has this pull on her she doesn’t understand and makes her question what is real and what’s not. I tried really hard to avoid ‘instanta love ” on her part, even though Will fell in love with her back in Chosen.

Writing Hunted was painful. Emma was hurting. Will was hurting. There were nights I’d stop writing and go to bed, my heart aching with their pain. But for me, taking  Emma down any other her path was disingenuous.

Why does Emma cry so much?

ROFL! Maybe she does. I’m a crier and maybe that part of me comes out. But mostly, I wanted Emma to be REAL. I wanted Emma to be just an ordinary woman/mother who is thrown into the hellish situation. A woman who knew nothing about gun fights and the paranormal world she was tied to.  How would *I* react? How would *you* react?  In Hunted, Will gets the shit beat out of him WHILE she completely forgets about him and makes out with Raphael. She’s on the edge emotionally already. What’s she going to do? I saw two options: she freaks or she shuts down. In my mind, she’d been through too much in the last couple of days to shut down. She needed a release. Her guilt was eating her alive.

Why don’t your sex scenes have more details?

While this series has an over arcing romance, each book is not a romance. Definition of a romance: a book that the relationship of the couple is the primary focus and the couple gets a HEA– happily ever after. If you’ve read Hunted, you know this is NOT a romance. Romance books have certain expectations of “heat” level of sex scenes.  I know that some readers want more ‘heat” in my scenes, but that’s not the purpose of this series. If the scene and the act of love making is important to Will and Emma’s relationship, I’ll show it. In Chosen, when Emma and Will made love the first time that experience needed to be shown. Several times in Hunted I carry the scene through the act because Will or Emma’ reactions are important to their insecurities and/or acceptance.

Why does Emma in The Chosen Series share the same name with your youngest daughter?

This is pure coincidence. As I said above, Emma’s original name before I began to write was Lenore. But Chosen was based off a prophesy and  destiny.  I thought how cool it would be if the meaning of their names played a part.  So I changed Lenore to Emmanuella– Emma for short. I briefly stopped to consider the significance of naming a main character the same name as my child, but they are clearly two different people in my head. I have three friends with the name Heather. I don’t confuse who they are because they share the same first name.  Worried about what readers might think, I did try to find an alternate name for Emmanuella but nothing was as perfect.  I also considered changing my daughter’s name but we were already too used to calling her Emma. >JK<

Do the characters in the series share a name with anyone else you know?

Yes. While I was writing Chosen, I reconnected with an old family friend, Scot Kraemer on Twitter.  I was researching South Dakota and he offered to help if I named a character after him. I jokingly agreed, then did. I changed his name to Scott Kramer. Ironically, the real Scot Kraemer is a youth pastor in North Dakota.  But he was invaluable with reading sections and telling me if Will was reacting like a guy and offering help with the hunting cabin. I’d spent an hour in Starbucks (my then office) researching how to break into a gun cabinet when Scot volunteered: they always leave the keys in the cabin. Nothing worse than driving hours to your hunting cabin and realizing you’ve forgotten the keys.

How could you end Hunted with Will getting captured while Emma is being mesmerized by Raphael?

Because I’m mean. Just ask my kids. 😉


I know I had a few other questions I’ve been asked, but I misplace my paper. UGH. As a reader, I like knowing inside information on books/series I read. If you want to ask a question, put it below and I’ll add it to the post.

I just have to say again, THANK YOU for reading my books, for loving them, for writing me to tell me how much you enjoyed them.  Knowing that readers really do want to read the next book gives me the energy to push through those tough moments at 2 am when I’m struggling with a scene.

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Patty Blount
Patty Blount
12 years ago

I just finished Hunted this morning so am thrilled to find this blog post.
I totally get the ‘funk’ you describe after torturing your characters to a breaking point. I was like that with Dan in SEND.
I adore Will and love that while he truly believed he was ‘bad,’ he always rose above it when it came to Emma and Jake, but still does ‘bad’ things when he has to. I love his unpredictability and loved both of these books. Can’t wait for the 23rd!

Rocio Alvarez
Rocio Alvarez
12 years ago

I just finished reading “Hunted” and I loved it, as much as I loved “Chosen”.
Just one thing I don´t get: Emma and Will´s baby was called “The Elevated One”, so seemed would be very important for the history, but died at the end of “Hunted”, I don´t understand that.
I´ll be looking forward to the third book although by the name “Sacrifice” I am guessing it wont have the happy ending I am waiting for.

Denise Grover Swank
Denise Grover Swank
12 years ago
Reply to  Rocio Alvarez

Rocio, that will be addressed in the third book. 🙂

12 years ago

Loving this series and eagerly waiting to get my hands on Sacrifice as soon as it’s out. I’m a Kansas City native so that was a fun coincidence to stumble upon and further intrigue me. I am currently.unemployed with a Master’s degree and so glad I found your books to give me a refuge from the online job searching. I am an avid reader and seem to have a knack for finding spelling/grammar/usage mistakes. Probably because I was a tutor in higher education for five years so I have spent some time checking papers. I read your first two books in the series on my kindle in record time and while reading I noticed that it would allow me to highlight and make comments so now I have a nice little list for both books. I hope this doesn’t come across as rude, I really enjoy your work and my talent is way lame compared to your wonderful gift of writing. But I was wondering if you or your editors/publisher would want to take a look at what I have. Feel fee yo contact me by email. Thanks

12 years ago

Sorry, of course I’m writing this on my kindle and leave a last sentence that is incorrect, LOL!

12 years ago

I want to say…I love your books…I cannot wait for sacrifice. I was not a book reader and it was forced but I read both of your books in a week and now I am on a roll. I’m having surgery on march 23…part of my recovery will be reading…sacrifice. So push through and keep writing..I have my husband set to buy the book on the first day. Thanks again..Carla from michigan

12 years ago

I love the series. Just finished Sacrifice. Good twister. I hate short books, just an FYI I can easily ready a 400 page book in a day. I know you were concerned that the book would be too long, but I think this story could grow and really take some interesting turns. Hate having to wait until for the next one, can’t wait to see where you take the characters. I have a love hate relationship with Alex, and Aiden I go from wanting to cut off his junk….to… I don’t know the man frustrates me. I like that Emma is becoming stronger, more mature. Give her another 10 years and I would like her much more. But, that is just me. Again, love the series….perhaps it needs to be longer than just 4 books…………..

12 years ago

I just wanted to let you know how much I LOVE this series. I was wondering if you could tell us when book 4 might be released. I’m almost done with book 3 & am dying to know how this all ends! Again – I LOVE this series!

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