Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chilling scene -writing exercise with famous author D.A. Graystone

‘Two Graves’ is an incredibly well written novel. Once I started reading, I was hooked. The storyline is profound, with a captivating subplot. 

This book will keep you on your toes. The tension builds from the first page. The depth of the characters deepens your experience. The players are complex and may remind you of people that you actually know.

You will cringe as you live through the killer’s memories of torment and suffering. The abusive childhood created a rage so intense-it produced a serial killer. You may try to put yourself in his shoes; try to understand his motivation. You may not like the feelings this evokes.

Your mind will race as the tension builds and the storylines meld. What is the connection with the serial killer and the mafia? Is the Kesle Police Department tied up with the mafia? Corruption is in the air.  

How will it end?

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”  



Thanks so much for joining us for an interview today, Derek. I was captivated with your book, ‘Two Graves’. It was intense, with some brutal murder scenes. I hope it sends out a message to all bullies.

 Being a Reiki Master and a Wiccan, I would guess that your personal beliefs lean more toward the peaceful & harmonious. Was there any personal inspiration for the story?


Very true, I believe in peaceful resolutions to conflicts but I am also a realist in knowing that is not always possible, especially with bullies. Much of the inspiration for the novel came from past experiences. Yes, I was bullied when I was younger. I was in the Audio Visual club (this was the 70s before computers), I got straight A’s, was always the “good” kid in class, in other words, a total geek. I hung around with geeks and I even played the violin. (No, not the flute but then the violin didn’t ‘fit’ in the novel.) I might as well have had a target on my back.

I was saved by my one talent of being a fast runner. Both because it got me away from the bullies but it also got me accepted by the jocks, some of the worst bullies out there. I was the anomaly, a geek jock. But for that one talent, and the confidence it gave me, I would most likely have been a target all my life. And now that I have children, I see the trends still continuing and have even gotten worse. My son is bullied and,regardless of the new sensitivity toward bullying, I feel just as helpless as I did when I was his age.

And that helplessness combined with my current confidence is what drove the creation of my killer. In the aftermath of a bullying, I had thoughts of ‘I should have said this’, ‘I should have done this’. Now, what if a chronic victim could suddenly turn those thoughts into ‘I can fight back and give them even worse than they gave me’. Fighting back but to a degree that for most of us, hopefully, would only be fantasy.


I understand that pain, firsthand.  I wish more kids could find a constructive way to fight back.  Unfortunately, more often than not, it seems to happen like it does in your book.  When the victim is terrorized to a certain degree it simply pushes them over the edge.  Every time you hear of a tragic massacre in a school, the perpetrators were victims of  bullying. It's just heartbreaking.  

On a lighter note, if ‘Two Graves’ is made into a movie, who would you like to see cast in the roles?


Interesting you should say that. Every book I write, I have pictures of my characters pinned up on the wall, often times just pictures of people I see but often actors. And you have to remember that it can take years to write the book and sometimes my choices age themselves out of running. I did see George Clooney as Mann and originally Julianne Moore as Dani. However, I could see Poppy Montgomery in the part Dani with no problem at all. Joaquin Phoenix was always the killer, although he would have to put on some pounds. I have also promised my 88 year old father that he can have a walk on part.


I love George Clooney as Mann.  Poppy would be great- and now she even has the red hair, like Dani. Maybe your father could play the role of a veteran cop that they call in to consult with on the case. I would have never thought of Joaquin Phoenix, but if he put on a few pounds, yes, I can see it!

Please share with us, what is your writing ritual? Where do you like to write?  How often? Do you schedule time or wait for inspiration?


I write as often and whenever I can. With my schedule, that might mean at 5 in the morning or 12 at night or anywhere in between. My preference for location is a house we go to in Exuma, Bahamas. Otherwise, I do most of my writing in my basement office that the previous owners used for a storage room. The writer in me considers it warm and cozy, with convenient access to everything in the room – doesn’t that sound better than hot, cramped and crowded. Whenever the Canadian weather allows it, I also write in my back yard around the pool.

My method is to plot and plan the entire book. I also have detailed character sketches and back stories for my characters before I start. More often than not, much of the backstory doesn’t even get into the book but it is always in the back of my mind, giving motivation to the characters. Then, after I transfer all my notes to index cards, I just start writing at the beginning and to until it ends. I also set up a schedule of X number of words a day that invariably is overly ambitious and never achieved.


I like the idea a the detailed character sketches and back stories.  I think I read somewhere that Steven King does something similar. I’m going to try that technique.

Balance seems to be an issue that most authors grapple with. You have a wife, four daughters, one son, and three granddaughters. How do you balance your personal life with your writing and the promotional aspect of writing?


I have to change my bio again since one of my daughters got married and I inherited two more granddaughters. And then we have one more coming this summer. Balance? I don’t know a fledgling Indie author who isn’t an expert juggler. Strangely, it always seems to be the writing that suffers if you are not diligent in getting at it. For me, the real secret is not having to rely on the muse to tickle my creativity. I force myself to just sit down and writing something, often complete trash but usually with some nugget I can salvage. And although I just finished saying I write from the beginning to the end, my mood might dictate what I write that day. I will occasionally skip to a scene with my killer if I have had a particularly bad day. I also usually have three or four projects on the go at any one time.

But the real saving grace for me?  In Yvette, I have the most understanding wife in the world. She supports me, even if she doesn’t understand why I feel it necessary to edit the same book over and over and over. This allows me the time and energy to work (guilt free) on the various activities associated with writing and promoting.


Congrats on your two new granddaughters and also for the baby who is on the way. What a blessing.

I agree that the support of your spouse means everything.  Thank you, Yvette- the world needs more of Derek’s books : )

It sounds like  writing a murder scene could be very therapeutic. I can see that:

A bad day at work, a troublesome boss that has you all stressed out… And then, a few minutes after you get home…he gets what he’s got coming!

I have a ritual. I like to do a “writing exercise” with the authors that I interview. I give them a scene and then ask them to re-write the scene in their own special style. Are you game?



K-Okay- here you go:

Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 
He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He didn't notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger.


This was fun! However, you might notice that my characters are usually more proactive, less prone to self-infliction and more prone to blaming others for their problems – and then taking it out of them.

Anil sat staring at the old style computer monitor, absently swirling the amber liquid in the Glencairn glass, not even noticing the enticing aroma of the whiskey. He couldn’t take his eyes off the damn screen and the smiling couple on the Facebook update. Now that she was with that smiling sack of skin, Anil knew he was forgotten, ignored. Nonexistent.

“You bitch,” he said in a low voice.

Downing his drink in a single gulp, he weighed the heavy glass in his hand. Pulling back, he threw it, exploding the monitor in a cascade of sparks and smoke, obliterating the happy couple on the screen.

Looking down, he saw a shard of the monitor in his forearm. He studied the sharp glass, watching the blood well out. In a slow, deliberate motion, he pulled the thin glass along his arm, fascinated as the already scarred skin parted and blood dripped down his arm. He felt no pain. There was a time, before he met her, when cutting himself was the only way he felt alive. The pain allowed him to feel something, anything. Now, there was only the hollowness since she deserted him. Now, even the pain was just a dull sensation – like his entire world without her.

Cutting himself had no effect.

But cutting her?

He pulled the thin glass from his arm and watched a single drop of blood fall onto his desk. What would he feel if he was to pull this across that smiling face of hers? Would he finally begin to feel again as he sliced into those perky breasts she was so proud of? She couldn’t see a life with him? He could make sure she wouldn’t see at all. What would this little shard do to those big brown eyes of hers?

He remembered her status update and smiled. So, she was getting engaged?

How would she wear that big sparking diamond if she didn’t have a ring finger?


Wow!  I did not see that coming!  That was an excellent twist to what I had expected.  I knew it would be spectacular. Thank you.

Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?


Thirteen Great Indie Authors and myself are participating in the Stock Up For Summer event, a free giveaway of our books June 14-16th. My other novel, The Schliemann Legacy, will be free those days. You can get more information about the event and some incredible authors at (a work in progress).


That sounds really exciting.  I will be checking that out.

Derek, thank you so much for joining us. It was wonderful chatting with you. Where can people find you and your work on the web?


I welcome all fans, stalkers and people who just have too much time on their hands while surfing the web…

No comments: