B.J. Graf is one of the authors that will appear in Fatally Haunted, Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles’ upcoming 2019 anthology.
STORY TITLE: “Blood Shadows”
Haunted by his slip-up at a crime scene, a serial killer learns he has no idea of the real mistakes he’s made.
Q: What intrigued you about the theme of FATALLY HAUNTED that led to the story you wrote?
As Detective Eddie Piedmont, the hero of what I hope will be a mystery series would say, crime, especially homicide, rips a hole in the fabric of society. The gaping hole is obviously most apparent in the family of the victim, but murder and crime also affect the family of the perpetrator. I thought it would be a great writing challenge to start with the notion of a sociopath who knows he’s made a mistake at his latest crime scene, and take it from there. “Blood Shadows” was the result. Eddie’s not in this story, but his former partner is.
Q: Is your story a who-dunit, why-dunit or how-dunit?
“Blood Shadows” is 75% why-dunit, and 25% how-dunit because of the recent updates and changes in genetic data that figure into the narrative.
Q: What is different about writing a short story? What did you learn from the experience?
I think all stories tell you what they want to be and where they want to go as you’re writing. “Blood Shadows” wanted to be a short story. The compressed structure, with the twist, and brevity demanded it. There’s a relentless quality to a short story whereas a novel has to vary the pace unless you want to either bore or tire the reader. A short story is a snap shot. A novel is a feature film.
I learned a lot about recent changes in how DNA can be used to solve cold cases, and also something about what it’s like to inhabit the psyche of a sociopath from the experience. Every time I write I also learn how much I have to learn about writing.
Q: How did your editor help you improve your story? What insights did you gain from working with her?
Laurie Stevens was invaluable in pointing to a couple of places in the interior monologue where my killer needed to show more savvy than he did in the first draft. She also pointed out a couple of spots that I thought were clear to the reader, when in fact they needed a bit more clarification.
Q: What’s next for you? What are you working on?
My background is in Classics and Film, and I’ve written a futuristic mystery novel titled GENESYS RX which I hope will be the first in a series that takes on some themes familiar from Greek mythology. This story is set in the L.A. of 2041 where teens are falling prey to Alzheimer’s. Against this background my detective Eddie Piedmont catches a homicide that takes him into dangerous waters with drug cartels and the fertility business that are tied into the Alzheimer’s crisis, and eventually leads Eddie back to very personal family issues. I hope to get the book published this year, and just signed with a terrific literary agent, Sandy Lu of the L. Perkins Agency. Sandy is sending out the book as we speak.
Q: What does your writing space look like?
I have a little office in my home crammed with mysteries and other books, but generally, I bring the books out and write at the dining room table because it has a view of the garden and more room for the cats to come and disturb me.