On Addiction, PIs and Unlikely Heroes: MysteryPeople Q&A with David Swinson

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

In The Second Girl, author David Swinson introduces us to  private detective and drug addict Frank Marr. While robbing a drug den for their stash he inadvertently rescues a young girl, making him a reluctant hero. He is soon asked to look for another abducted girl. His search tests his skills and will, challenged by his addiction. We reached out to Mr. Swinson to see if he’s take some questions from us.

MysteryPeople Scott: What drew you to a detective like Frank Marr?

David Swinson: As a retired police detective I am a man of rules and procedure. I’m not the guy you want to watch certain crime shows or movies with because if they don’t follow correct procedure it drives me nuts. On the other hand, as a crime writer having to be bound by all those rules can be a burden. Frank Marr freed me from all that. He still has somewhat of a police code so he doesn’t do anything so stupid it’s drive me crazy, but also he’s not bound by those rules so he breaks some of them. That’s what made it fun.

MPS: What was the biggest challenge in writing a lead character who is an addict?

DS: Making him believable, but even more important, likeable.

MPS: What did you want to get across to the reader about addiction?

DS: It doesn’t happen in this book, but it will catch up with Frank Marr. This is not a book about addiction or self-medicating, but it is a major part of his character, and most of the time he will make a bad decision because of it. It rules his life. I chose cocaine because it is something a user can hide well for a longer period of time. It’s not like crack or heroin.

MPS: You DC has a gritty flavor to it. What kind of research did you do?

DS: My father was a Foreign Service officer so I grew up in DC between countries. But most of my experience comes from 16 years of police work as a DC police detective.

MPS: As a first time author did you draw from any influences?

DS: The Second Girl is actually my second book. My first book, A Detailed Man was with a tiny west coast publisher. I wasn’t influenced by any authors while writing The Second Girl, but as an author I have several influences – Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, Harper Lee, just to name a few.

MPS:  Can you tell us about your next book?

Crime Song is the second book in what I hope will be a Frank Marr Trilogy. I finished it about three weeks ago. As a former detective I remember working burglary cases, and how sometimes that one burglar you finally catch, can open a whole world of crime for you. That is what happens when Frank Marr finally catches up to a burglar he’s been looking for.

You can find copies of The Second Girl on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

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