David Graham has a background in telecommuncations and IT. In addition to working throughout Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, he has travelled extensively. He has a keen interest in history, economics and current affairs. David lives with his wife and two young sons in Dublin
Your debut novel is called ‘Incitement’ please could you tell me about it?
‘Incitement’ deals with a global conflict between two international drug cartels. As the conflict escalates the collateral damage in terms of innocents being dragged in and societal issues due to drug shortages put immense pressure on the authorities to stop the conflict. Diane Mesi begins to suspect that there is third-hand orchestration at the heart of the conflict but she is alone in this suspicion and forced to pursue it alone. On the other side of the conflict is a mercenary called Michael Larsen who has been tasked with fueling the conflict towards what he thinks is a worthy goal. Unbeknown to both of them is that there is much more to the conflict than either of them suspect and through their pursuit of their individual goals they are placing themselves in extreme danger.
‘Incitement’ is about Diane Mesi and Michael Larson , please can you tell me about them?
Diane is a DEA investigator who has been appointed the lead on a newly formed analytical task force. She does not have a typical law enforcement background, she joined the DEA after a completing a PhD in Economics and a couple of years in the financial sector. Due to her background she looks at things differently than her colleagues which leads her to see patterns than often escape them but also serves to isolate her. She is divorced a number of years and at the beginning of the book has a real work-life imbalance. She wishes to make a success of her new position but has to contend with resentment from people who think that someone with more seniority and field experience should have gotten the job. During the course of ‘Incitement’ she has to contend with a significant lack of support making it necessary for her to pursue some lines of investigation alone. Regardless of the powerful vested interests her investigation threatens, she is driven to keep going.
Michael Larsen is a mercenary. He was once a proud member of an elite unit of the Danish Special forces called the Jaegerkorpset. Missions he conducted on behalf of his country eroded his strong sense of pride in what he did and he resigned to become a gun-for-hire. A spiral ensued where he took contracts which were harder and harder to reconcile with who he once was. Then finally, shortly before the beginning of ‘Incitement’ he walked out on a job he found impossible to see through and his name became tarnished. He has taken on the contract to destroy the cartels, not because he believes he can achieve redemption for the things he has done but in the hope that it may redress some of the balance.
Finding out you won the John Murray Show, RTE Radio 1/RTE Guide/Kazoo competition must have felt amazing. How hard had it been up until that point to get work published and if you could go back in time and give yourself any advice on the world of publishing what would that be?
I had found it quite difficult to get published. I had a score of rejections and then disheartened, I put the book aside for a while. The idea then occurred of condensing the story and telling it through the two main protagonists’ eyes. The rewrite of the book took a number of months but between work, children and life generally I never got back to re-submitting it. Entering the competition happened purely by chance as I heard it being announced while I was in the car.
The two pieces of advice I would give are, first, keep writing regardless of the feedback, opinions differ so much but I have rarely come across a book that no one enjoyed, so just because one reviewer/agent/publisher doesn’t like it, that is not to say that another won’t love it. Secondly, when the feedback does come, if you have someone you trust to be objective and who is familiar with your work and what you are trying to achieve, ask them for their honest opinion on the feedback and, if they believe it has merit, what would be necessary to implement it. Sometimes feedback that seems to be looking for a fundamental change can be addressed more simply than may initially seem to be the case.
You’ve got a very strong female character in Incitement in the guise of DEA Agent Mesi. What inspired you to use a female in this role as opposed to the typical male?
Over the years I’ve worked with women who operated in technical environments. Despite their qualifications and accomplishments, some of them failed to attain positions they deserved or had to work harder than should have been the case. Often they found themselves on the outside of various cliques. I felt that a woman with a financial and economic analysis background who’d gone on to work in law enforcement might face similar challenges.
What Authors Inspire you?
Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke, Donna Tartt, James Ellroy, S.J.Parris, Robert B. Parker, Hilary Mantel, P.D. James, Stephen Hunter, Joe Abecrombie, Sharon Kay Penman and many, many more.
If you could only keep one book by your favourite authors which book would it be?
So difficult but, right at this moment, I think ‘L.A. Confidential’ by James Ellroy.
We’ve already heard what authors inspire but who or what inspires you from the non literary world?
Aung San Suu Kyi for her bravery in the face of such a terrible persecution, Mary Robinison for her brave stance on human rights and the resilience of people generally.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
I have just completed a second draft of a novel with the provisional title ‘Waterfall’ which I would hope to have published towards the end of the year. It deals with a scandal around an international charity and is a thriller.
If your book got picked up for a movie who would you choose to play Larsen and Mesi?
I think perhaps Julianne Moore for Mesi, although she is a little older than the character, and Viggo Mortensen for Larsen.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
You’ll regret the things you never did far more than those you did.
A big thank you to David for talking to The Love of a Good Book