About Gerald D. Swick

To paraphrase Rene Descarte, I write, therefore I am. I am, therefore I write.

But that’s putting Descarte before the horse.

I fell in love with the written word at a very early age, and like any enthralled suitor I continue to offer my mistress tokens of that love at every opportunity. How I wrap my offerings varies according to what I’m writing, from an unadorned, objective style for encyclopedias to the freewheeling style in my West Virginia Histories books, which might be described as, “Hey, let me tell you an interesting story I found while doing research.” Articles I’ve written for America’s Civil War, American History, Travelhost and other magazines and for a coffee-table book, Historic Photos of West Virginia, fall somewhere in between, but the articles in the West Virginia Histories most closely reflect my personality: I crack one-liners, deliver asides, do a little editorializing, and insert puns while relating some intriguing historical tidbit I came across in an old newspaper or other source. After writing, my great passion is history, so it was inevitable the two would get together.

Most of the articles in West Virginia Histories originally appeared over the course of 16+ years as a weekly column in my hometown newspaper, the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram. They garnered an Associated Press Lifestyles Writing excellence in journalism award, and they were a factor in the state’s Humanities Council awarding me a literary fellowship in nonfiction writing. (When I got the letter informing me I’d received one of the limited number of literary fellowships I actually looked at the outside of the envelope again, thinking it must have been delivered to the wrong address. Another of the fellowship recipients told me he did the same thing when he got his letter.)

While most of my published work is nonfiction, I’ve also written short stories that appeared in literary magazines, genre anthologies, and game-related publications. Two of my poems were included in an anthology, Wild Sweet Notes: 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry – which amazed me as much as the literary fellowship, since I don’t regard myself as a poet. Maybe the people who have told me over the years that my writing is “poetic” knew something I didn’t.

In case you’re wondering, no, not everything I write is related to my native state. I’ve written about France, Romania and South Africa in World War II, about Abraham Lincoln’s reelection, and a host of other topics unrelated to the Mountain State. In the course of my career, I’ve also created advertising and written product descriptions and media releases to help capitalism do its thing.

By the way, my first name is pronounced Gair-ald, not Jair-ald. It has to do with some of my uncles, the First West Virginia National Guard, and Pancho Villa. To read that story, click on this Odds & Ends link, where you’ll also learn how I separated my shoulder in a gunfight, why my friends used to avoid me from March through June, how a research partner and I solved a 70-year mystery about Abraham Lincoln’s family, and other information you’ll find essential should you ever be confronted with a Gerald D. Swick category on Jeopardy.

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