Some masters of horror in there. Why don’t you write horror then? Tell us more about Dylan and Cohen.
We already have a King of Horror, Edgar Allan Poe and with Stephen King on his heels, what could I possibly add? I read Salem’s Lot in grade six, followed by 'The Tommy Knockers' and became an overnight King fanatic! Only discovered Poe years later and got so obsessed that much of my ink is about him. Even his apparent dying words, ‘Lord help my poor soul’.
I love both Dylan and Cohen’s music, but it’s the lyrics that fascinate! Bob actually has one book of fiction ‘Tarantula’. The whole book of short stories is written in prose and poetry, and it’s mind-blowing. Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan have written some beautiful poetry that has never been put to song. I’m currently working through Dylan’s songbook which is 1098 pages of pure brilliance.
On the subject of music; do you listen to music while writing? If so, any different from what you’ll normally listen to?
German music for writing. By that I mean Rammstein, ha-ha. I normally listen to soulful, bluesy music, but find it distracting when I write. Metal works well for writing, with the exception of Korn, because they also distract me.
Firstly, the main characters should be likable and relatable to the reader. Secondly, there has to be something mysterious, something to keep them guessing all the time. It should never be predictable! A bit of humour and romance doesn’t hurt.
What's your goal as a writer?
Honestly, to leave something behind. A legacy, if you will.
What other hidden talents do you have?
I'm great at stuffing up my love life. Ha-ha. I wouldn't call it a talent, but I have written some pretty decent songs/poetry because of it.
What’s your superpower?
I wish my son could tell you. I can make boys run like hell when they get to close to my daughter.
Tell us about your book.
It's not like anything else you’ll have read. I don't think so anyway. It's called ‘I'm a Killer’ so that does give a lot away, but it was never intended to be a surprise.
Winston Lee Dennis is a 40-year-old criminal defence lawyer, bored with his life.
He became a superstar after winning a case that was supposed to be a slam dunk for the state, back when he was in his early 30s.
He got divorced soon after and has been living alone ever since. Parties and girls were getting old and not filling the void.
So, he kills someone. Just to see if he could get away with it. Getting away with murder is hard, especially when you fall in love with the lead investigator on the case.
To add to his troubles, a religiously driven serial killer starts to target someone close to him. He begins getting vivid nightmares and even has a few hallucinations where he meets the angel of death, AKA Grimm!
Your main character is Winston, a criminal defence lawyer. He's very unusual as a lead, and the story does have a cinematic feel to it. Were you inspired by TV programs such as Dexter?
I loved Dexter but wouldn’t say I was inspired by it. Mr. Brooks probably comes close. I wanted to create something original. The original idea was a story based on my life, but with some parts being fictional. That idea didn’t last long, as Winston quickly grew into a person on his own, along with all the other characters.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I wrote a short story and a song, both with the title 'Straathoek Blues' (street corner blues in English). I told myself that I can’t write about something I have never experienced. Most of my stories are about murder, and I’m not built for prison, so I took my guitar and did the street corner thing. It was fun, educational and quite an eye-opener.
Other than personal loss and drama, what has made you cry the hardest?
Sex scenes. I suck at them! Pun most definitely intended.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
DON’T DO IT! BECOME A MEDIOCRE SINGER!
I love writing, but writing is the only nice thing about being a writer.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I actually like writing from a female point of view. It’s not as hard as you think. Just be a smartass.
How do you select the names of your characters?
It’s actually quite difficult, especially at first. It’s like naming your children. Every character is unique and if the name doesn’t do him/her justice, it’s half the battle lost. Even in real life names make all the difference, JFK was supposedly shot by Lee Harvey Oswald and Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. The most infamous serial killers even had fitting names: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Ed Gein, to name a few.
Lee Harvey Oswald was the inspiration to my main character’s middle name, Winston Lee Dennis. This was really tricky because he isn’t exactly the ‘bad guy’ in 'I’m a Killer'. But, somehow it works.
Anything you want to tell your fans?
LOL! I have fans, sounds so wrong! Well, if you don’t read my book, I’ll send Winston!
Keep on Keeping on!
The Birth of 'I'm a Killer'
David J Grunter's Creative Process
'The book was never meant to be published, as I was writing for myself and my sanity. However... the more I wrote the more I realised that it had potential.'
Writing has never really been a dream of mine, even though I use to write the best stories in school. After I realised that I wasn’t going to be a star cricketer or Batman, life happened. I got married and had kids at a young age, so I had to provide.
In 2018 a series of unfortunate events had me at a crossroads. Either give up or write that story! Starting was the hardest part and after page five, the story was writing itself.
Writing didn’t cross my mind a lot, but I thought I had at least one good story to tell, my own. I may have been wrong about that, but I’ve had a trying life and the idea was to use my experience, character and add a fictional twist. That changed within the first 20 pages.
The title had been: 'Ranting of a Madman', 'Memoirs of a Madman', 'I’m a Killer - The Truth About Winston Lee Dennis', then just 'I’m a Killer'.
I quickly learned that my creativity blossomed behind the keyboard when I’m writing, not plotting. Before each new entry, I had a general idea of what I wanted to say but seldom kept to it. I loved the fact that I didn’t even know where I was heading with it.
The book was never meant to be published, as I was writing for myself and my sanity. However, I showed the manuscript to a writer friend at about 30k words, and she really made me believe that I was good enough. The more I wrote, the more I realised that it had potential.
I came to a point, around 50,000 words, where I almost gave up. I didn’t have the slightest idea where to go with the story, never mind an ending! For about three weeks I didn’t touch my laptop, not even for other purposes.
(Aspiring writers: sometimes walking away can be the best thing for your book!)
I came back and reached 58,000 words, still with no idea of how to end the story. I had a few options, but none of them seemed worthy.
63,000 words I just knew, there was only one possible ending and finished the book on 64,000 words. I remember typing, ‘The End.’ Sitting back, staring at the curser and shouting, “What the fuck!” I’m not sure if it was because of the end, or the fact that I actually wrote a book. Probably a bit of both.
I believe my story is unique, original and told from a surprising point of view. Through in a few twists and turns, tension building all the time and a crazy ass serial killer: I give you 'I’m a Killer'!
This will always be my baby, even if I am so lucky as to write a million books. It’s a personal story and one of the reasons I wanted to use a pseudonym. Ignorance of youth! Ha-ha. Although the story isn’t about me, I’m sharing an emotional rollercoaster and a piece of me. A piece of my journey through extreme heartache, personal loss, health issues (mostly mental), self-doubt, soul searching and on the verge of giving up - more than once.
To finally get this book published means so much to me, I don’t think I could ever describe it. I’m doing acknowledgments in the book, but I have to thank Lesley and Scott Martin Productions for the opportunity. I’m sure Lesley has aged quite a lot since meeting me. I’m sorry!
'I’m a Killer': proof of life.
David J Grunter blog interview
He Talks About His Life and Work
'This book is proof of life. A new start. Finally something I am actually good at. They say the best revenge is success.'
David J Grunter featured in blog interview
(From another website - reproduced with permission)
We have a special treat for you today. The up and coming South African author, David J Grunter, has given us an exclusive interview. David's first novel, I'm a Killer, will soon be available world wide.
Let's see what he has to say about his book and other interesting information.
A: I'll tell you when I'm all done growing up. Haha. Yes, I spent most of my life in White River.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: Uhhhm, I never really wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a cricket player, then a rock star, then a lawyer. I did however always wanted to write a story, but being a writer was never part of my dream. Now it's all I want to do.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: I'm a Killer took about four months. I didn't know anything about the industry when I started and I am sure it will take longer now.
Q: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
A: For some reason I write better at night. When I'm in full writing mode, I'll start working around eight PM and work till the sun comes up. Usually a bit more than that.
Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
A: Difficult to say, ask my fans, haha. I think my point of view is always unique. I try and keep things simple and going forward. I don't plot a story from start to finish. I start off with an idea and give myself freedom to be creative behind the keyboard. I try to make the endings a WTF moment and usually I do get that kind of responses.
Q: How do books get published?
A: That was a very difficult process for me. I didn't know what to do with my manuscript after I wrote it. Took me almost a year to get to the right people. I always tell people, the easiest part of being a writer, is writing. Especially for a guy like me, who doesn't know much about technology. Caveman.
Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
A: Ideas are all around us and having an over active imagination helps. I like to talk to people when I'm looking for information, rather than reading up, but Google does help out from time to time.
Q: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
A: I like spending time with my children. I play the guitar, not well, but I like it. I'm and huge cricket fan, so I spend a lot of time watching the gentleman's game. Of course reading.
Q: What does your family think of your writing?
A: They love it. But never trust those close to you, they're biased.
Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
A: I did a lot of crime statistics research and was dumbstruck about the amount of crimes that goes unsolved in South Africa. Also how many cases gets lost in court, because of incompetent police officers.
Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
A: This is my first full novel. I have however written a few short stories. I'm a Killer is my baby. I will always like this one the most, even if I do write something better. (Which I doubt.)
Q: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
A: Yeah, don't do it. Haha. It's a very cut throat industry, there's a reason only two percent of writers makes it. You have to be able to listen. Most of us are very hard headed and we don't listen to criticise. You have to be able to let go of your ego and ask yourself one question. Is your manuscript the best it can be? If you can make a good move, don't do it. Wait for a great move.
If you don't believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? If you don't, fake it till you make it.
Q: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
A: My few fans love my work. I get asked a lot of questions. Especially with my short stories. I like to end on open endings and have heard, "Is there a part two coming?" many times. I always say, if the reader doesn't have any questions, I didn't do a proper job.
Q: Do you like to create books for adults?
A: I haven't thought of it as such. The people who read my stuff, are people from all ages. The younger generation adults will definitely enjoy my work the most.
Q: What do you think makes a good story?
A: Firstly, the main characters should be likable and relatable to the reader. Secondly there has to be something mysterious, something to keep them guessing all the time. It should never be predictable!
Q: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A: That changed so much. I think professional cricketer was my biggest dream.
Q: What are your greatest accomplishment? Other than writing.
A: I can drink a beer in under a minute. Haha. My children.
Q: What's your goal as a writer?
A: To be a successful and reach many people. I would love to get to a point where, I'm a Killer becomes a Hollywood sensation.
Q: Who's your favourite authors and where do you get inspiration from?
A: I'm great at stuffing up my love life. Haha. I wouldn't call it a talent, but I write pretty decent songs. Although I'm still very new at doing that. Before I had so many problems with my body, I use to have quite a lot of ball skills.
Q: Tell us about your book?
A: It's not like something you have read. I don't think so anyway. It's called I'm a Killer, so that does give a lot away, but it was never intended to be a surprise.
Winston Lee Dennis, is an 40 year old criminal defence lawyer, bored with his life.
He became a superstar after winning a case, that was supposed to be a slam dunk for the state, back when he was in his early 30's.
He got divorced soon after and has been living alone ever since. Parties and women was getting old and not filling the void.
So he kills someone. Just to see if he could get away with it. Getting away with murder is hard, especially when you fall in love with the lead investigator on the case.
To add to his troubles, a religiously driven serial killer starts to target someone close to him. He begins getting vivid nightmares and even has a few hallucinations where he meets the angel of death.
Can he and his best friend, Tim West, get to, The Messiah, before he rips them all apart?
You can count on a few twists and turns along the way and a look of utter disbelief, as you close it.
Q: Why should anyone buy it?
A: You won't be disappointed. Not all will be saved, but all will be touched.
Q: Anything else you want to tell your fans?
A: Keep on keeping on and thanks for the support you guys. I love you all and thank you for believing in me.
Ladies, David has asked me not to mention this, but he is single and quite a handsome fellow.
Look out for David J Grunter's, I'm a Killer. Available soon!
Interview between Lesley Atherton of SMP and David J Grunter
'You know what they say, aim for the moon and you may just be lucky and hit a star.'
Do you read to your kids? Do you read them your own work? Do you read to them in English or Afrikaans or both? No, I don't. I tell them stories. I like to tell them my stories, and they love to listening. My boy is always astounded. He always asks, "Did you really make that story up?" Haha. This usually happens in Afrikaans, but I've had to do a few in English. Last Christmas I was a Scottish King and had to speak English, with the worst Scottish accent ever, for about four hours. I forgot about the game at one point and my five year old daughter said, "King David, since when can you speak Afrikaans?" Nearly wet myself.
As an Afrikaans writer, why did you decide to write 'I'm a Killer' in English?
Firstly, the book was never intended to be for publication. I didn't think I would get to 20k words, never mind 64k. I also didn't think Afrikaans readers would like my style or genre. I was wrong about that! I found out that there really isn't a massive market for English fiction, by SA writers.
You say in a previous interview that you don't think a good story should ever be predictable. This book has elements of tradition in the writing style which does have echoes of Dean Koontz but also of the old style detective novels of Ed McBain, Raymond Chandler and others, but it is also very quirky with many unexpected elements to it. Is this all intentional? Also how do you make sure your work does not become predictable?
I'm flattered to be mentioned with those names.
No, I don't think it's intentional at all. I have a very strange way of writing. I don't plot a story from start to finish. 'I'm a Killer' didn't go near where I intended. I get so into the story when I'm in full writing mode, that the world around me can go up in flames and I wouldn't know a thing. The humorous and quirky dialog just comes up. In my mind, it's the characters who are quirky, not me. I sometimes forget they are just a figment of my imagination.
Even the small amount of people who didn't like my book, still said the ending was a shocker. I think the main reason for that, is that I didn't even know how to end it. I was between 55k and 58k words and still had no idea. I almost gave up on the book at that point. I never plot a story from start to finish and that does play a role in having a surprise element.
Your main character is Winston, a criminal defence lawyer. He's very unusual as a lead, and the story does have a cinematic feel to it. Were you inspired by TV programmes such as Dexter?
I do watch Dexter and similar programs, but I can't say that was the inspiration behind Winston. To be honest, initially Winston was built around me. That changed little by little as the book grew and Winston became a life on his own. I can't really say that there was any specific inspiration behind him. I was asked to name a movie, that's closest to my story. That's a difficult thing to do, but I would say Mr Brooks, maybe. Haha.
What's your next step in your writing? Have you started your next book, or is it still bubbling under in your mind's dark recesses?
I do have a few different ideas I'm working on, but I'm conflicted about the future. I like writing in both Afrikaans and English, but like I said, there is almost no market for English in South Africa. Not by SA authors anyway. I do want to try an Afrikaans book at some point, but I think the next one will be English as well.
Crime is one of the biggest selling genres. Have you considered writing in another genre at all?
There's absolutely no way. I don't think I will be successful in any other genre. I was thinking of trying a horror story, but not any time soon. Definitely not romance.
I like to describe my book as a psychological thriller, in the crime genre. What makes it different, is the fact that it's not from a detective's point of view. My main character is the killer, but not necessarily the 'bad guy' and the reader still wants him to succeed.
“We loved with a love that was more than a love” Edgar Allan Poe
A lot of people have said a lot of things about David J Grunter's writing, and it's all good!
'Passionate, sincere, emotional, humorous and witty... A non conforming, philosophical free thinker, a Rebel with a cause. A true King of hearts... A man that'll leave you captivated, long after the conversation has ended, the book has been put down' - Lee-Anne Stroebel
'David is an excellent author. I met David on social media, we just clicked, maybe because we like to write in the same genre, and like me, he doesn't like to be put in little boxes. He likes to think outside the box, his work is astonishing. David is funny, eccentric, but also true to himself and stands up for what he believes. He is an amazing author and a friend' - Santi Kruger
'David is weird! No, the weirdest, a night walker like a zombie. Eats like an obese child; but stays thin. Weird, eccentric and not very neat. He has more talent than he realises and really can do anything he puts his mind on. He really is a strange person. But he has a good heart' - Marie van Niekerk
'I'm so angry with Jakkals, or David J Grunter. I am not a reader and he has me reading! I started out reading his poetry, the his Afrikaans short stories, then his columns and finally, I'm a Killer. I was up for a whole night, because I couldn't put the book down. He is without a doubt the strangest person I know, but also one of the best people. He doesn't even know how good he actually is. I see a prosperous future for David' - Not a reader
'David, oh David. What a weirdo. Have you heard him sing? Despite the fact that he can write (we all know that already), he plays the guitar and has started writing his own songs. He reminds of Bob Dylan or even Anton Goosen. I do believe he can do anything he wants and be very successful. It's a shame that he is only seeing his own potential now. Wishing you luck my friend' - DVDJ