My guest today is DJ Swykert, author of a great, fast paced read, The Death of Anyone. Welcome, DJ. Now that everyone is comfy, and have their favorite cyber beverage in hand, let’s talk writing...
Anne - Tell us a little about yourself.
DJ - I’m a blue collar person from Detroit. I’ve worked as a truck driver, dispatcher, logistics analyst, operations manager, and ten years as a 911 operator, which was the very best job of them all. I write stories like you’d watch a movie and put them down on paper. I’ve been fortunate to have my work appear in: The Tampa Review, Monarch Review, Detroit News, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp, Bull, and others. You can find me on the blogspot: www.magicmasterminds.com. I am a wolf expert.
Anne - Sounds like you’ve had many interesting and various life experiences that just beg to be written down. Mind if I dig a little deeper? Is there something about yourself you’d normally only share with close friends?
DJ - It may not be apparent, but I’m very sentimental.
Anne - Another important element for a writer. Okay, time to move on. When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?
DJ - The first thing I ever wrote was a poem to impress my art student girlfriend. That was right after high school. It wasn’t very good, but she was impressed that I made the effort. I’ve been scribbling things down ever since.
Anne - What one or two lines best sums you up as an author.
DJ - My writing is very straightforward. I think dialogue is what I do best.
Anne - Tell us about The Death of Anyone.
DJ - The Death of Anyone was released by Melange Books in February, 2013. The book introduces readers to a DNA search technique not in common use in the U.S., Familial DNA. A lot will be written on this subject as the real life trial of Lonnie David Franklin, The Grim Sleeper, unfolds in California later this year. The trial will set precedence for future use of this DNA search technique and I suspect will eventually lead to a Supreme Court decision on its admissibility. The defense is going to severely question LAPD investigating Lonnie Franklin as there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime.
Detroit Homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of the killer of adolescent girls. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which has not been detected on the other victims. But no suspect turns up in the FBI database. Due to the notoriety of the crimes a task force is put together with Bonnie as the lead detective, and she implores the D.A. to authorize an as yet unapproved type of a DNA Search in an effort to identify the killer. Homicide Detective Neil Jensen, with his own history of drug and alcohol problems, understands Bonnie’s frailty and the two detectives become inseparable as they track this killer of children.
Anne - I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I took The Death of Anyone with me while on vacation in early April, and could not put it down. Would you share an excerpt with us?
DJ - Of course!
Benham sipped her coffee and looked through her brief notes of the case. They were very brief, there was little to put in them. A young girl, perhaps ten, dead, strangled, almost for certain assaulted, lying in an alley for a few hours. And it had only been a few hours—Pierangeli seemed pretty sure she hadn’t been there long. She was found at around nine-thirty am, so she died maybe around eight am. She lay there, choked, defiled, beautiful, and dead, and nobody was looking for her. She had to have been taken pretty early this morning, so it’s been about five hours she’s been gone, and nobody loves her enough to miss her. Benham could feel the anger rising from within, from the source where feelings come from, from deeper but inclusive of the stomach, from the birthplace of emotion.
A hand touched her shoulder and startled her. “Me and Jensen are here, bring on the dancing girls,” Dean Russo bellowed, joyous almost, and that irritated Bonnie a little. There was nothing to be happy about this day.
“You’ll get your wish. The belly dancers will be here in a few,” Benham said, with a bit of obvious disdain that Russo picked up on.
“You picked the place.”
“Yeah, I know,” Bonnie answered, feeling a little sorry now she sounded so disapproving. “Yeah, I picked it. Didn’t think about belly dancers, but, hey, we’re here, and I love pastitio, and they have the best. Sorry if I sound pissy, it’s only because I am. Once you see the girl you won’t be dancing in the street either.”
Russo quit laughing. “How long you been in homicide, Benham?”
Bonnie could see she rubbed something, “A couple of months.”
“You were in narcotics?”
“Yeah, I was in narcotics. I was in it and it—I was narcotic.”
There was a pause. Jensen looked across at Russo, glared a little, trying to shut him up with a look. And out of the corner of his eye let Bonnie know he saw her, too. He wanted her to keep this cool.
But it was a little late, and Bonnie was a bit volatile. “You know fucking well I was in narcotics. And you fucking know why I’m in homicide. I got myself transferred out for becoming more narcotic than narc. Quit beating around the bush. What’s your point?”
Anne - Thank you. As I said above, The Death of Anyone is a terrific read. Do you belong to writer organizations, critique groups, or depend on beta readers?
DJ - I belong to a small Cincinnati writing group. We get together once a month, have dinner first, then read our work and offer suggestions. Writing is a process, like learning to play the piano, practice does make perfect, or at least make you better. I believe in the editing process. My long time live-in girlfriend is my first editor, and of course then there is the editing process with the publisher. Everyone plays a role in the final product.
Anne - In this book what are you most proud of? Why?
DJ - The Death of Anyone crosses several genres; mystery, suspense, romance and even some real science. I am particularly fond of the two homicide detectives, Bonnie and Neil. They are really good people, but a bit flawed, which I think makes them both interesting and believable. I think readers will both empathize and sympathize with them.
Anne - Final question, DJ. Where can readers find you online?
DJ - I belong to an artistic collective and have a page there: www.magicmasterminds.com I'm on Facebook. Or you can just email me, I’m gabby, and always willing to talk to readers and writers: email@example.com
Anne - Thanks so much for dropping by, DJ. I wish you every success with The Death of Anyone...and can’t wait for your next release.
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