Interview with Author DJ Swykert

My guest today is DJ Swykert.  Hello, DJ!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

My new book, The Death of Anyone, introduces readers to a DNA search technique not in common use here 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 this year. The book also introduces a new character for me, a female homicide detective. It's not the first time I've written from a female POV, but she's the first in this role. I’m hoping the book will appeal to an even broader audience than Children of the Enemy, or Alpha Wolves. There is a romance along with the mystery in the plot and some real science.

The Death of Anyone was released by Melange Books in Minneapolis the end of February. It’s available at: Melange Books, Lulu, Amazon, and Bookwire.

Is there anything that prompted your latest book? Something that inspired you?

I first heard about Familial DNA Searches while working as a 911 operator in 2006. It came up in a conversation with officers. I thought at the time it would make an interesting premise for a book. I began writing the mystery some three years later after leaving the department. I had just finished editing a first draft of The Death of Anyone in the summer 2010 when news of The Grim Sleeper’s capture in Los Angeles was released. I read with interest all the information pouring out of L.A. regarding the investigation and the problems confronting prosecutors. All of which are explored in The Death of Anyone.

This sounds fascinating!  So, when did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

I don’t know if I ever actually “decided” to be a writer. I remember the first thing I wrote, a bad poem to a pretty girl, I was a teenager, and Tennyson’s "Flower in the Crannied Wall" gave me the idea to try my hand at poetry. I still recite Tennyson’s poem. I think my desire to try writing novels came from reading them, in particular Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and when I was younger, Mark Twain. I simply enjoyed the storytelling, and think I inherited a little storytelling ability from my grandfather, who was really good at spinning a tale. 

My grandmother did the same thing.  LOL. 

Do you have any favorite authors?

I’ve already kind of answered this; Tennyson, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mark Twain. You can add Byron, Auden, Chekhov and Annie Proulx to the list. Oh, hell, there’s a host of great writers, my list could go on for pages. But these always have stuck in my head.  

I know what you mean.  I have WAY too many to count.  

So, do you write in a specific place?  Time of day?

Currently I write mornings on a desk in the garret, as my girlfriend calls it, on the third floor of our townhouse. But I’ve written just about anywhere I can find something to write with, even on a bunk in the Houghton County Jail, er… that was just once, for a short while on a traffic violation. 

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?
Keep typing, and submitting. I believe in the old Hindu saying: Given enough time, coincidence is inevitable. There is a measure of coincidence in finding a home for your writing. You have to have skill, a good story, but also some luck. You can improve your odds by applying The Law of Large Numbers, which allows prey species to survive by reproducing in large numbers. Your writing can survive in the same way, get it out there, and keep putting it out there. Be productive. And keep your fingers crossed.

Good advice.  So, readers, here is the the blurb for The Death of Anyone.

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.

Here is an excerpt from The Death of Anyone

Benham arrived first, no sign of Russo or Jensen. She got a table and told the maitre de to send them over when they arrived, and that there would be a third party, a Detective Lagrow. As he seated Benham, the maitre de informed her, “The show starts at about 12:30 pm. We have a couple of new dancers."

Benham screwed up her nose, gave him a curious eye. “Dancers?”

The maitre de nodded. “Yes, belly dancers. We have a new one I’m sure your friends will appreciate. She’s very good-young, friendly.”

Benham just shook her head. ”I’m sure they will,” she said as she sat.

“Can I get you something to drink?”

Whoa, the brake in her head told her. You know you, you know your history. You know what a slip can do to you. Doctors, psychologists, treatment, rehab, counselors, AA, each and every one of them flashed across her head as her mind absorbed the offer. “Just a coke, or, actually, would you just bring me a black coffee.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

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?”

Author Bio

  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 911operator, 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 have written in different genres; crime, romance, literary and The Death of Anyone, which is a
mystery/suspense story with romance and science in it. 

The last sentence in my writing bio is always: He is a wolf expert. I am not a biologist. I raised two arctic hybrids, had them for eleven years, and have written two books in which the wolves join the other protagonists. 

I have been fortunate enough to have my writing appear in: The Tampa Review, Monarch Review, Sand Canyon Review, Zodiac Review, Scissors and Spackle, Spittoon, BarbaricYawp and BULL. The other books I have written are Children of the Enemy, a novel from Cambridge Books, and Alpha Wolves, a novel by Noble Publishing. You can find me on the blogspot:



Other Links:




1 comment:

  1. Since I am a fan of your wolves novels I will have to get this book and read it also


Featured Post

A Character Interview with Dillon from MOUNTAIN BLAZE, plus a conversation with author Debby Grahl!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview. These character interviews, ...