Brian Swain: Novelist

Alumni PhotoBrian Swain’s first novel, World Hunger, is about genetically modified crops whose testing leads to the creation of genetically enhanced insects. His second novel, Directed Energy, as yet unpublished, concerns a Russian-built anti-ICBM airborne chemical laser, with Chechen terrorists thrown into the international mix. Currently he is at work on his third novel, Days End.

Brian has written these novels, as well as poetry and short stories, outside his normal work day as manager of sales and channel marketing for Reliant Energy’s residential customers in Texas. He returned to writing after relocating to Houston about nine years ago.
“I wrote poetry in high school,” says Brian, “but not at Columbia because I was too busy studying engineering.” He received his MS from SEAS in 1987 and an MBA from Wharton in 1991. While a consultant in Houston, he decided to begin a novel.

“I use my engineering background in writing,” he says, “by laying out the structure much like an engineering project; I create a spreadsheet that lists chapters, characters, plot development and expected length. It is a different approach than simply typing the story until you get to the end.”

“I never have suffered from writer’s block,” he says. “I’ll work on a novel and then put it down for a month or so and work on poetry or a short story, and then go back to the book later,” he says, adding that the ability to move from poetry to short stories to the novel format has kept his creativity undiminished.

In addition to working and writing, Brian is a key member of the Board of the South Texas Columbia Alumni Club. He will be hosting a holiday party at his home on December 1st for all Columbians in the Houston area. He would love to hear from fellow engineers and can be reached at

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