Welcome, readers. I’m kicking off a new week with an interview with DJ Swykert about his mystery novel that includes forensics and romance, The Death of Anyone.
DJ Swykert is a fiction writer living in the Cincinnati area. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Coe Review, Monarch Review, the Newer York, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Alpha Wolves, The Pool Boy’s Beatitude and The Death of Anyone.
Welcome, DJ. Please tell us about your current release.
Detroit homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of a killer of young women. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, but no match 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 romantically involved as they track the killer.
What inspired you to write this book?
I heard about Familial DNA searches, and the constitutional challenges, from a CSI while still working in the department. I thought it would make an excellent plot for a mystery.
Excerpt from The Death of Anyone:
The death of anyone lessens us. The death of a child devastates us. Bonnie Benham, ex-narcotics officer, ex-narcotics user, now in homicide, forced herself to look at the body of the small girl. Why am I looking at this? I could be arresting dopers, living beings, okay; somewhat living beings. Instead, I’m looking at this child. Instead, I’m here in an alley looking at death, a miserable death, an unnecessary death, the handiwork of the most miserable excuse for a human being on the planet.
Bonnie leaned over and looked closer. The little girl’s skirt was lifted up, her panties torn off and lying next to her body. She was bruised and torn, bloodied in the vaginal area. Her throat was crushed, the deep imprint of thumbs indented in the tissue, the hyoid bone broken, Bonnie guessed. I hope she was dead before the assault, Bonnie found herself thinking.
“What a way to start the weekend,” Detective Lagrow, Bonnie’s young partner, said. His shoulder touched Bonnie’s as he took a closer look.
“Won’t be any weekend,” Bonnie answered. “I’m gonna get this asshole. I’m gonna get him and I’m gonna do it before he kills another one.”
With his pen Lagrow lifted the hair up off of the dead girl’s forehead, pushed it to one side, looking for bruises, or any further evidence of physical battery, where DNA, or a fingerprint might have been left. “I was just joking about the weekend. I’ll be right with you. We’re gonna get him.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm editing a manuscript titled Abundance. It's about an elderly woman who shoots a man protecting an imaginary wolf.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I used to write poems to my girlfriend in the tenth grade.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I'm retired from law enforcement and do write everyday. My most productive periods are in the morning, but I write down story ideas on scraps of paper all the time, and have them scattered everywhere about our townhouse.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I usually have notes about how the story is going to end. I've got it firmly in my head all the way through the story. I then craft each chapter to slowly lead toward the ending I've already written.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A banker or a train conductor.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you for being here today, DJ. All the best with your writing projects!