Jack Swanson was born to Jim and Lydia Swanson in Corinth, Mississippi, on August 9, 1995. His father taught chemistry at the local high school, and his mother was an accountant at a small company in town. Firmly middle-class, Jack grew up with all the essentials, but he was by no means spoiled.
Jack was a decent student. He coasted through his classes and had the average grades to show for it. His teachers repeatedly noted that Jack could achieve excellent grades with just a little effort, but he wasn't interested. In fact, the main reason he signed up for drama class in high school was that he would miss a few days of school each semester when the class performed the play for the area elementary schools.
Initially skeptical of getting up on stage and acting, as the preparations for the play continued, Jack found that he enjoyed being on stage. He enjoyed the spotlight, and when he spoke his lines, the whole auditorium was quiet, simply focusing on him. The attractive girls in the cast didn't hurt either.
Over the next couple of years, Jack participated in the school play each year, ultimately earning the lead role in his senior year. He harbored some aspirations of attending an elite school, probably somewhere in New York, while honing his acting craft. Unfortunately, Jack's unimpressive grades prevented him from ever getting into a big-time acting school. He settled on attending Ole Miss, where he could get a little distance from his parents and yet still be close enough to home.
His career at Ole Miss was not much more distinguished than his high school career. Jack skipped as many classes as he attended and muddled through his coursework. Even his performance in drama classes was sporadic. Some days he would be extraordinary, performing roles from Mamet and Shepard. Other days, he would be dismal, almost lost, on stage. Jack's lack of focus kept him from succeeding in the drama department.
After five and a half years, Jack finally graduated from Ole Miss. Without a real job, he remained in Oxford, working here and there. His parents continued to support his acting aspirations, although they wished that Jack would buckle down and put more effort into it. He very rarely seemed to look for acting opportunities, choosing to wash dishes or work construction rather than aggressively pursue auditions.
His biggest professional acting gig to date came when a friend who was working construction for the film Strange Weather managed to procure a spot for Jack as an extra. Jack was thrilled about the opportunity until he learned that his time on-screen would be brief, and most of it would end up on the cutting room floor.
So Jack mainly drifted from odd job to odd job. He seemed to spend most of his time hanging around the square.
While drinking an iced coffee on the porch at Square Books, he met Zoe Chase. He'd read her columns in the paper and started chatting with her. They soon began dating, although many people believed their relationship was based purely on sex. Zoe's desire to see other people as well bothered Jack, although he liked the freedom himself when it suited his purposes.
Some friends claimed to notice an increase in Jack's attention to Zoe when she signed her book contract, although Jack repeatedly said that he loved her, and the timing was just a coincidence.