- Please tell us about your novel in 25 words or less.
Detective Bonnie is looking for a killer of young girls. She uses an unapproved type of a DNA search in her investigation.
- How hard was it to build a flawed character?
Not very if you’re honest about your own shortcomings. When I draw a flawed character I think about areas of myself where I may feel inadequate, or tempted, or have actually fallen. My motto used to be: Why is it everything I like to do is either bad for my health or against the law?
- Dealing with forensics and police work, how much research did you have to do? Did you take any liberties with the facts and twist them to suit your plot?
I worked in law enforcement for ten years, so I can write the investigation procedure and even the forensics authentically. I heard about Familial DNA Searches from a CSI officer in our department, which in the U.S., only two states even have a policy on its use, and nobody has ever been convicted at trial using this type of evidence. Most of the research I did concerned the legal issues surrounding Familial DNA searches, i.e. it’s possible violation of Fourth Amendment rights, which protect us from unusual search and seizure.
- Is your novel loosely based on a true story?
The story is purely fictional. As a 911 operator I was aware of Familial DNA searches and thought, with the legal ramifications, you could create an interesting plot. I wrote the first draft of the book before a serial killer, dubbed The Grim Sleeper, was caught in Los Angeles using Familial DNA. He will be the first person ever tried using this type of evidence, and its admissibility will be tested in in the court system. I believe California will admit the evidence, but appeals to higher courts will perhaps continue for many years. The outcome of those appeals will set precedence for the use of it in future investigations. Many of the legal issues this trial presents are conflicts I deal with in my fictional story.
- If you had to choose a theme song for The Death of Anyone, what would it be?
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
- Are you working on a new book? Can you tell us anything about it?
I am working on a story with a working title of Counting Wolves. It’s about a retired solider/police officer who retreats to a mountaintop after his wife dies. He begins feeding a pack of young wolves, which seems to rekindle his zest for life. There is what is known as a Predator Hunt organized where groups of hunters kill predators and the wolves are threatened. This poses an emotional and ethical dilemma for my character. He also one morning saves a younger woman from jumping off the mountain in an attempted suicide. She provides a romantic interest and someone for him to further explore a lot of his feelings of loss, as well as hers. It’s in a very early stage, not even close to finishing the first draft. But I have written about wolves before, have a strong affinity for them. There is a strict hierarchy in the pack and they have a rather amazing ethic; they hunt to survive, mate for life and protect their young.
Thanks so much for visiting today!
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Alpha Wolves and The Death of Anyone. You can find him at: www.magicmasterminds.com. He is a wolf expert.
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.