Please welcome David Swyket author of The Death of Anyone!
What is your book about?
The underlying theme in my latest book, The Death of Anyone, poses the Machiavellian question: Does the end justify the means? I developed this story around an impulsive homicide detective, Bonnie Benham, who wants to use Familial DNA, a search technique not in common use in the United States. Only two states even have a written policy regarding its use, Colorado and California.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I first heard about the use of Familial DNA working as a 911 operator in 2006. It came up in a conversation with officers working a case. 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.
Describe your writing in three words.
Very straight forward.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I begin a story idea by first developing characters in my head. Then I put them into a situation which creates the conflict. I write a story like you’d watch a movie, all the chapters are scenes that point towards the resolution of the conflict I’ve created.
Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?
Often my characters are based on people I’ve met or seen. Bonnie Benham in this book is modeled after a female officer I worked with. I remember watching a very large man resist being arrested by her and taking off. She chased him down the street and tackled him like a linebacker. That impressed me. Bonnie describes herself as a blond with a badge and a gun. She could tackle someone.
Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you?
This will sound very strange, but the most difficult characters I have ever killed off in a story were the wolves in Maggie Elizabeth Harrington and The Place Between. I got teary just writing the scene where they are shot by bounty hunters. Usually, as I know it is just fiction, I am not so quite affected by own writing.
If your book was made into a TV series or movie, which actors would you choose to play your main characters?
This is easy, Scarlett Johansson would be Bonnie Benham and Dermot Mulroney as Neil Jensen.
Who gets to read your drafts before they’re published?
My girlfriend, Donna, besides being girlfriend, lover, confidant, and friend, is also my editor. She’s edited every book (5) that I have in print.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled?
Antimatter. I’ve long had a fascination with physics. Mathematically, I can’t balance my check book, but I’ve long had a fascination with our origins, and those of the infinite.
What projects are you working on now?
I have a book in the final editing stages that will be published this spring that is somewhat about the infinite. It’s a story about the broken relationships and addiction of a dropout physicist who has been reduced to cleaning swimming pools, or “infinite ponds” as he refers to them titled: The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. The book should be released by a small Indie press out of Detroit, Rebel e Publishing in another month. I’ve also begun a story about a retired soldier-cop whose wife has died and he’s retreated to a family cabin on a mountaintop to try and recover his zest for living. The book has a working title: Counting Wolves. I have no idea when it will be finished, or published.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?
Stay in touch with what’s going on in our world, but then turn the TV off and read a good book. Reality TV, or “unreality” TV as I prefer to call it, isn’t worth the electrical energy to keep the flat screen on not to mention flat lining a brain cell with.
Where can readers find you and your books online?
Detroit homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of a killer of adolescent girls. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which had 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 use 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.
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.”
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?”
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Zodiac Review, Scissors& Spackle, Spittoon, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, a novel from Cambridge
Books; Alpha Wolves, a novel from Noble Publishing, and The Death of Anyone is his third novel, just released by Melange Books. You can find more about him and how to buy his books on the blogspot: http://www.magicmasterminds.com, they are also available on Amazon and at select mystery bookstores. He is a wolf expert.