D.J. Swykert

D.J.  Swykert’s short fiction and poetry have been published in The Tampa Review, Monarch Review, Sand Canyon Review, Zodiac Review, Scissors and Spackle, spittoon, Barbaric Yawp and BULL. His novel, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, won a literary competition with The LitWest Group in Los Angeles in 2002.  Alpha Wolves, D.J.’s Noble Publishing’s bestselling novel, was released in April, 2012.  Children of the Enemy, D.J.’s OmniLit’s bestselling novel, was published for the first time in 2009 and a third edition published in September 2012 by Cambridge Books.

Hi D.J., Please tell everyone a bit about yourself.

David SiguertD.J.: 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 all of them. I write stories like you’d watch a movie and put them down on paper. I have written in different genres; crime, romance, and even a little bit in literary fiction. 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 they join the other protagonists.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

D.J.: 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 with my effort. I’ve been scribbling things ever since.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

D.J.: I’ve always wanted a career that I enjoyed. I looked at writing as a possible means to that end. I’ve had some small success, enough to be encouraging, but I’ve always worked for a living. If there’s a central theme to my writing it’s that all life has value. My characters tend to question norms. I tend to question what is considered normal. I like animals, I have empathy for the hardships they endure and my protagonists usually do as well.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

TheDeathOfAnyoneD.J.: The Death of Anyone is essentially a mystery/suspense story with romance and a little science in it. The story centers on homicide detective Bonnie Benham’s search for the killer of young girls.

This book has a couple of the same characters from an earlier unpublished novel I hold the rights to titled Sweat Street, but I wouldn’t consider it a sequel. If I have some success with The Death of Anyone I may look to publish the first book. And perhaps consider another story with Detective Bonnie Benham. This is not the first time I’ve written from a female POV, but it’s the first time for a female police detective.

What’s the hook for the book?

D.J.: The book 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 trial will set precedence for future use of this DNA search technique and I suspect will eventually lead to a Supreme Court decision on it’s admissibility as evidence. The defense is going to severely question LAPD investigating Lonnie Franklin in the first place as there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

D.J.: They say write what you know, so I set my story in Detroit, where I grew up and lived for a long time and can authentically describe the city and places for the scenes in my story. When I make up a character I usually visualize someone in my head and then give them the characteristics I believe suits the character in my story. I wrote a story about a thirteen year old girl trying to save a pack of young wolves from a bounty hunter. In my mind I visualized Maggie Harrington as Jodie Foster in an old film, Taxi Driver, where she played a thirteen year old prostitute. I used Jodie’s image to describe the girl and my own feelings for animals to impart her emotions concerning the wolves. This is how I generally develop a character.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

D.J.: I think Bonnie Benham is both unusual and likeable. She was originally in narcotics, but washed out. In her own words she became more “narcotic” than “narc.” As she investigates the murders of adolescent girls she is trying to resurrect herself as well as seek justice for the victims. This makes Bonnie a very edgy homicide cop. The story contains several suspects who are both likeable and unlikeable.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

D.J.: I’m a ponderer.  I do a lot of thinking about my character and the story in my head before I begin to write. I usually have figured out how I wish to end the story. When I begin to write I put my character into a situation and from there the chapters all point towards the ending. It doesn’t always work out quite as simply as this sounds, but this is how I begin.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

D.J.: I think my best writing is in first person. But The Death of Anyone and Children of the Enemy are in third person past tense, which most readers I think prefer. First person works good as a narrative for a strong character in a short book, but since it can only get into the one character’s head it can get a bit tedious.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

D.J.: I grew up in Detroit, so, for crime or mystery stories I’ve set them in Detroit, which unfortunately has held the Murder Capital of the World title several times. I have also written stories set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I lived on the Keweenaw Peninsula for a decade. Love it up there, a true wilderness much like Alaska only with smaller mountains. But the winter is extremely long, turbulent and prohibitive.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

D.J.: I liked this review left on Amazon:

The Death of Anyone by David Swykert, reads like a Jessie Stone movie, was a true page turner for me. His subject is close to our hearts and the viewpoint is an eye opener. He has interwoven the personal problems of some of his Characters making them real. He also has a flair for writing some romantic scenes that most ladies will find endearing. If you enjoy a mystery, some anxiety and a little romance I would recommend you read The Death of Anyone.

What are your current projects?

D.J.: I have an offbeat/quirky romantic tale titled The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. The book will publish this summer by a small Indie press out of Detroit, Rebel e Publishing. They do have a book distributor and a small print run will be done. It’s the story of an alcoholic physicist who drops out and is cleaning swimming pools to earn a living, skimming what he refers to as the “Infinite Pond.” The story follows the human orbit of Jack Joseph and his trail of broken relationships until he ultimately lands himself in a county jail.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

D.J.: I have a page on an artistic collective called: www.magicmasterminds.com You can find information about my work, and me on the site, and see a host of other amazing artists, musicians and writers.

Thanks for joining us today, D.J.!

D.J.: Thanks so much for the opportunity.

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Press Release: Bend Me, Shape Me

New Libri Press announces publication of the second Street Stories suspense novel, Bend Me, Shape Me, by author Debra R. Borys, available in ebook with trade paperback to follow. Contact Stasa Fritz (above) with review or interview requests.

www.BendMeShapeMe.net

Painted BlackBend Me, Shape Me is the second novel in the Street Stories suspense series and tells the story of Snow Ramirez, a bi-polar street kid about to turn 18. She’s convinced that psychiatrist Mordechai Levinson is responsible for one kid’s suicide, and may be targeting her brother Alley as his next victim. Once again, reporter Jo Sullivan finds herself the only person willing to listen to one of Chicago’s throwaway youth.

Snow Ramirez hasn’t trusted anyone in a very long time, not even herself. Memories of her childhood on Washington’s Yakama Reservation haunt her even on the streets of Chicago.

When her squat mate Blitz slits his own throat in front of her, she knows it’s time to convince someone to trust her instincts. Blitz may have been diagnosed bi-polar, like Snow herself, but no way would he have offed himself like that if the shrink he’d been seeing hadn’t bent his mind completely out of shape.

Normally she wouldn’t care. Who wasn’t crazy in one way or another in this messed up world? After all, she’d gotten out from under the doctor’s thumb weeks ago and it was too late for Blitz now, wasn’t it? Snow’s little brother Alley, though, there might still be time to save him. If only she can get reporter Jo Sullivan to believe her story before Snow loses her own mind.

EXCERPT:

Squatting with her arms tight around her legs and forehead pressed to her knees, Snow rocked on the balls of her feet. To the south, the hum of traffic along the Eisenhower Expressway. Nearer, beneath the dumpster, the scurry of rats looking for supper. That feeling in her center, the one she couldn’t describe except to say when she was a kid she thought it meant she was going to die, tightened her chest, filled her mouth, made it hard to breathe. “You must learn to trust,” the shrink had told her. “You must learn who to trust. Your brother is learning that, even if you can’t.”

AUTHOR BIO

Debra BorysDebra R. Borys is the author of the STREET STORIES suspense novels.The first book in the series, Painted Black, was published by New Libri Press in 2012. A freelance writer and editor, she spent four years volunteering with Emmaus Ministries and the Night Ministry in Chicago, and eight years doing similar work at Teen Feed, New Horizons and Street Links in Seattle. The STREET STORIES series reflects the reality of throw away youth striving to survive. Her publication credits include short fiction in Red Herring Mystery Magazine, Downstate Story and City Slab.

deb@debra-r-borys.com
www.debra-r-borys.com/

Praise for PAINTED BLACK

“Painted Black is about the young faces we see on the streets, covered in dirt, wearing worn out clothes, shrouded in looks of hate, pride, and fear…. There isn’t a part of this book you don’t feel, it reaches into your core…. There are many enjoyable books out there, but there aren’t many that make you feel, make you think, make you sit back and contemplate the uglier side of life we try so hard to ignore its existence. This was a very well written book on all accounts.”
—Darian Wilk, author of Love Unfinished and Reinventing Claire

“Painted Black has a Silence of the Lamb’s feeling about it…..there’s something dark and ominous going on here.…. Fiction can be a great vehicle for exposing the darker side of the human experience in ways that are both important and meaningful and I think that Painted Black fits into this category.”
—Quinn Barrett, Wise Bear Books All Things Digital Media interviewer

“Borys gives us a glimpse into the vagaries of street life for teens without wallowing in sentimentality or false compassion. The mystery here is not who did it, but how finding the truth will change the life of a street kid we’ve come to care about.”
—Latham Shinder, author of The Graffiti Sculptor and professional memoir ghostwriter

New Libri Press | http://www.NewLibri.com

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