Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mystery Author of the Month, D.J. Swykert

Patricia: David, where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?

David: I grew up in Detroit, and continued to live in the Detroit area until the 90’s. I use Detroit as the setting for my mystery novels as it is the large urban area I am most familiar with, and with its reputation for crime, I felt it would be of interest to a broad range of mystery and crime genre readers.

Patricia: Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels?

David: I live in downtown Covington, Kentucky, near the Ohio River. I can hear the fireworks from The Grand Old American Ballpark when the Reds hit a homerun. I haven’t written a novel using this area, but I’m not through writing novels, yet. It’s more because I’m relatively new to the area than any lack of ideas about using Covington or Cincinnati, both are beautiful cities, I love the architecture and history of both.

Patricia: What inspired you to write your most recent novel?

David: I have a novel due out this summer, The Pool Boy’s Beatitude, from Rebel e Publishing out of Detroit. It’s not a mystery, but a large section of the book takes place in jail. I’d describe the story, though, as a quirky love story. It’s more literary than my mystery genre stories I’ve written. It made the semifinal list in the Faulkner Competition last summer. The story is somewhat autobiographical in the sense it’s based on personal experiences, but it is fiction.  
The Death of Anyone is my most recent mystery genre story. The idea for this story came back in 2006 while I was still working as a 911 operator. I learned from a CSI investigator about a DNA search technique called Familial DNA. When the crime scene DNA doesn’t find any match in the database, they search for DNA that is similar, and then investigate suspects related to this person. I thought it would make an interesting plot for a story and wrote The Death of Anyone, where Bonnie Benham, a Detroit Homicide Detective implores the D.A. to authorize it’s use in the hunt for a killer of young girls. I had just finished the first draft in 2010 when LAPD caught The Grim Sleeper using a Familial DNA search. They came up with the DNA of his son, and when they investigated members of his family, found out his father was the killer. Lonnie David Franklin, the Grim Sleeper, will be the first person in the U.S. ever to be tried in court based on the use of Familial DNA. All of the aspects of this case are explored in The Death of Anyone.

Patricia: When did you “know” that you wanted to be a writer?

David: When I had to get a real job. I’m kidding, but it’s not a joke that I preferred writing to the employment I’ve had, which has varied. I would say, though, besides writing, working as a 911 operator was the best job I’ve ever had.

Patricia: Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery/suspense genre. What makes them your favorites?

David: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And the reason is easy. If anyone gave the idea for CSI to its creator Anthony Zuiker it had to be Sherlock Holmes, the original crime scene investigator, using science to catch criminals.

Agatha Christie. I loved her use of red herrings, laying out false clues to mislead you as to who the real perpetrator was.

Walter Mosely. I just like his writing style and private investigator Easy Rawlins. I have an underground character, Raymond Little, who similarly operates outside the system in search of justice. He appears in all three of the mysteries I’ve written. 

You can find both of my mystery novels, The Death of Anyone and Children of the Enemy on The Death of Anyone can also be purchased from the publisher’s website,


  1. What a fascinating concept. I'll definitely be interested in getting The Death Of anyone.

    1. I believe there will be a lot of dialogue in the media about the use of Familial DNA Searches when the real trial of The Grim Sleeper begins in California.

  2. Fascinating interview. It sounds like you've put a lot of thought and research in your books.I'll be looking for them.
    Marja McGraw

    1. I learned about Familial DNA Searches while working as a 911 operator back in 2006. I thought it would make an interesting plot for a story, but never got around to writing the book until the beginning of 2010.