Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway: Swallow by Tonya Plank

Today, I have the privilege of introducing Tonya Plank, an author who would like to tell you a little bit about her unique new book, Swallow. Lets all welcome Tonya. At the end of the guest post, you can enter the three copy giveaway for a chance to win her book.

by Tonya Plank

The novel is called Swallow and it's about a 26-year-old lawyer, Sophie, who lives and works in Manhattan. She's originally from a small, working-class town in Arizona and through hard work she ends up getting into and graduating from a prestigious law school. She's just begun her first law job, as a New York City public defender, and she's just received a marriage proposal from her boyfriend of several years when she's suddenly stricken with a psychosomatic disorder called Globus Hystericus, or Globus Sensation, which is the sensation of having a ball in your throat when there isn't actually anything there. It's an anxiety disorder but it can have very real physical repercussions, such as difficulty eating and drinking, speaking, and sometimes even breathing. Sophie suffers all these things. She begins to lose weight rapidly, which eventually makes her physically as well as mentally weak, and she also has difficulty giving oral arguments in court due to speaking problems. The novel details her attempt to overcome her problem, by figuring out what's causing it and then by learning how to handle that.

I wrote this book because I suffered from the disorder and wanted to let people know what it was like. It's really not that uncommon and there isn't really much written about it. And, some of the things that can cause it - deeply rooted low self-esteem, anxiety, for example - are things that a lot of people can relate to. Writing helped me to deal with it.

I also wanted to write about New York, and I really tried to make New York a character in the book (I actually just won an award from Independent Publisher magazine for best novel set in the Northeast). Sophie comes from a very working-class background (her father makes porn movies, her mother does clerical work in a prison, and her sister lives in a trailer) but, because she manages to graduate from Yale, she ends up finding herself in this environment with all of these very privileged people, who can sometimes be rather elitist and talk down to her without really even knowing it. At the same time, her clients are the opposite -- some of New York's poorest. So, the dichotomy can be very jarring for her, and she ends up at times identifying with her clients more than her peers. The feeling of not fitting in, of having these class differences and being talked down to a lot, of constantly defending both her clients and herself, and of having family members so different from her who really can't understand her, really takes its toll on her.

I practiced law for several years as an appellate public defender and I developed strong feelings about the way the criminal justice system treated certain people, and I wanted to write about that.

Also, I was very affected by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (I actually began writing the book in early 2002). My office was only a couple blocks away. And I really wanted to write about that -- not necessarily what happened that day, because everyone already knows that -- but about the aftermath, and how average New Yorkers were handling all the bomb scares and being fearful of people on the subways and buses all the time. You didn't want to be scared, and you definitely didn't want to fear people based on how they looked, because everyone knows how wrong that is, but it was very hard not to do that, and people struggled with it. Plus, there was the horrible sadness of it all.

And finally, I also wanted to write about a certain kind of father daughter relationship. I feel like there are a lot of novels about mothers and daughters and fathers and sons but not a lot about fathers and daughters. Sophie's father left the family when she was a child to go to LA to start a film career in soft-core porn. Through the years she retained more of a relationship with him than her sister, since he always favored her. But every time she sees him he focuses on her physicality and talks to her like she's one of his actresses and it makes her very uncomfortable. She basically has to learn how to set boundaries with him and with everyone else as well, and the novel's ultimately about claiming your own identity, about finding your own voice so to speak.

The novel was published in December and it won a gold medal for best regional fiction in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards, the gold medal for women's fiction in the 2010 Living Now Book Awards, and was a finalist in general fiction in the 2009 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and in the National Indie Excellence Awards.

I'm currently working on my second novel, which is about a police shooting. I also write a blog about dance performances that I see (I used to ballroom dance) and other things I do in New York, which you can find at You can read an excerpt of Tonya's novel here too.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to chat about my book and if you read it, I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you Tonya for that interesting piece- now, doesn't the book sound enticing? Don't you want to read it right now?

Luckily for you, Tonya is generously giving away 3 autographed copies of her new book. Just leave a comment telling us you would like to win.

Be sure to leave an e-mail contact.
Open to residents of US & Canada
Deadline to enter is June 30th at 5 P.M. (est)

Bonus entries can be earned by:
+3 posting about the giveaway or putting a link on your sidebar
+3 Tweeting and leave me a link
Good luck!


  1. I enjoyed this post very much, Kaye. I am interested in this disorder, which I didn't even know existed or rather I didn't know it had a name. What a fascinating thing. The author's information about her background and New York was interesting as well. Drop my name in the hat, please and thanks for hosting this giveaway.


  2. I had never heard of this disorder. Interesting cover and title. I did enjoy reading about the author.

    stacijoreads at gmail dot com

  3. This sounds like a great read. I would love to win.
    I am a follwer.

  4. I have never heard of this disorder before. But I think writing about it, will spread information about it.
    I would love to read the book.

  5. I would love to win this. Thanks for the chance.
    I am a follower.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  6. I have been trying to read this book for awhile. I love Tanya's blog!

    amaningat AT gmail DOT com

  7. I would love to win! Thank you for the chance.


  8. tweet;


  9. Sounds like a great read - I would love to win!

  10. Tweeted! 1

  11. I love books about New York and I like the idea of making it a character of sorts. Definitely one for me.

  12. I've never heard of this order before but the book certainly sounds very interesting.

    I tweeted about this giveaway at

    forwhlz at gmail dot com

  13. That sounds like a great book. Please include me in your giveaway.

  14. Cool stuff. No need to enter me, of course, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  15. I would LOVE to win this book. If I do, I promise to blog about it ;)

  16. Tweeted

  17. I have deep anxieties about things and it has very physical manifestations, so I totally get where she is coming from and would love to win the book!

  18. Great post! Never heard of this disorder before, but I'd love to read this one and learn more about it.

    I follow on gfc

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  19. I have never heard of this disorder, it sounds like not only a novel, but something to educate people about this disorder. It sounds like an interesting book to read.

  20. I, too, have never heard of this disorder but, am anxious to read about it. In this day & age it seems like it may be more common, like the author said, than we think. Please, enter me in this giveaway and thanks!

    gcpeach17 at aol dot com

  21. This sounds so original and interesting count me in

    and i tweeted it


  22. I'd never heard of this disorder either (actually, when I first read the title I thought the novel was about bulimia). Would very much like to find out more. Thanks!


    mdperera at hotmail dot com

  23. Haven't heard of this before, but loved this post, makes me want to read :) So yes, I'd like to win :)

  24. Thanks, please enter me!
    pinkpeonyblossom at gmail dot com

  25. I had never heard of this disorder. I found your review to be intriguing and one that I would take pleasure in reading.

    Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.


  26. This sounds like a fascinating book. I have never heard of this disease, so it would be a learning experience.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  27. I thought this was a great guest post and would love a chance to read the book.
    I tweeted about the giveaway at:

    Thanks for the chance.

    waitmantwillie at hotmail dot com


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.