There’s a secret to storytelling and Tom Swan has discovered the magical way to tell or read a story and make it come to life. Children listen closely as he tells his tales and even adults are drawn into his stories.
Years ago Tom listened to the Minnesota Public Radio Show, “A Prairie Home Companion” as Garrison Keillor read “Tales of Lake Wobegon”. He read with such expression that Tom decided he would like to try telling stories too.
In order to get some first-hand experience at listening to great storytellers, Tom and his family have attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN several times. Here, all that is permitted to tell a story is a mic and a stool.
People don’t understand how entertaining stories can be if they are told with enthusiasm. Stand-up comics and one-man shows depend completely on capturing the audience through expression. Too often readers and storytellers simply read, and that’s just not enough to seize and keep the attention of the audience.
To tell a story well, the storyteller must bring back to their mind why the story is important to them. All stories are not fun; some have a poignant or nostalgic theme. Tom practices telling stories while driving his car. Most important is to memorize the first line. Once you get started the rest just flows into place.
Usually, he has an outline in his mind so the major points are covered. When he writes the story down, it’s usually after he has told the story to a group. His first storytelling adventure was with the Zanesville Christian Women’s Club where he recited the poem, Cremation of Sam McGee, in a meaningful manner.
Tom is married to Dr. Linda Swan, an obstetrician at Genesis Hospital in Zanesville. As a result, Tom has become very involved in the National AMA Alliance, which he calls The Doctors’ Wives’ Club. He has been state president and involved nationally in their organization.
Tom has led an unusual life as a housewife. Now, however, his children are adults with his daughter being in medical school and his son a State Trooper. So today he lives the life of a trophy husband when he isn’t out telling stories to places like The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, Dickens Victorian Village, the Celtic Society, and various schools and churches. This man loves a mental challenge.
Tom grew up in Cambridge, Ohio and graduated from Miami University, where he majored in zoology and was a cheerleader. Since his father and grandfather were doctors, it seemed that he might follow in their footsteps. But Tom really didn’t enjoy the studying required to be a doctor so decided to become a high school science teacher, which he did for seven years.
Frequently, he has participated in Community Theater in Cambridge and Zanesville. Handbells are something he has also played over the years and still participates in a great handbell choir at the Grace United Methodist Church in Zanesville.
Dedicated to fitness training, Tom decided to learn the Sermon on the Mount while bicycling. He then decided that he would like to portray Christ giving this sermon so Tom let his hair and beard grow so he would better fit the image. It is of great importance for a storyteller to get into the character he is portraying. He presented this program in several area churches.
While his hair was long, Tom also decided to dress as Trixie with heels and a short skirt. When he was working with the Doctors’ Wives’ Club, he auctioned off the opportunity to take pictures with Trixie and raised quite a bit of money for their projects.
The role of Judas coming back from the dead was also a fulfilling role that he portrayed. Here Judas asked that he quit being terrorized as he was sorry for the betrayal. It ends with a warning to the audience not to be like Judas.
Tom gave a bit of good advice to himself and others who find themselves overwhelmed with tasks and commitments. “Learn to say NO to anything that is neither necessary nor meaningful.” That’s great advice from a man who also likes to spend time with his granddaughter.
A favorite story of Tom’s is “Selfish Giant”, however, his favorite one to tell is “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. There he has fun using different voices to entertain children.
Tom’s goal is to make a living telling stories. If you would enjoy having Tom tell stories at one of your events, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Tom’s not telling stories these days, he enjoys riding motorbikes with his wife. He’s also been experimenting with making wine – from honey instead of fruit. Sometimes he adds a bit of cinnamon, cloves or orange for a different taste treat.
No one can say that Tom Swan lives a boring life.