Meet Dennis Griffin
Today I'm interviewing Author Dennis Griffin.
Marilyn: My husband and I met Denny Griffin and his wife Faith (better known as Bear) at the PSWA conference (It was Police Writers back then) right after 9/11 in Orlando FL. I'm delighted to have him visit my blog. Tell us a bit about your background, Denny.
Denny: Thanks for having me, Marilyn. I was born and raised in Rome, New York. That’s upstate between Utica and Syracuse. I served in the Navy from 1962 through 1966. After that I did some factory work and sold cars and insurance. And then in 1975 I was hired as an undercover investigator for Pinkerton’s. That led to a law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff, village cop, and finally as a NYS health care fraud investigator. After retiring in 1994 my wife Faith and I moved to Las Vegas.
Marilyn: When did you decide you should be a writer?
Denny: Shortly after moving to Vegas in 1994 I got the urge to tell the story of an investigation I’d conducted of a medical examiner’s office in upstate New York. It was a very odd case involving illegally harvesting research tissue and body stealing. Although I’d never written anything other than reports before, I decided to give it a try. I produced a fictionalized account titled The Morgue. That’s when I learned there was a lot more to the writing business than spending some time at the keyboard. I ended up self-publishing the book, but I was hooked on becoming a writer.
Marilyn: When first I met you, you were writing mysteries. Would you like to tell us more about those books?
Denny: After The Morgue I wrote two more books based to some degree on personal experiences. They were Red Gold and Blood Money. Then I started a trilogy of Vegas-based murder mysteries featuring a male and female team of homicide detectives. Killer In Pair-A-Dice was first, followed by One-Armed Bandit and Vegas Vixen. In between I wrote Pension, a fact-based story about corruption in a California retirement system.
Marilyn: What was the transition from fiction to fact?
Denny: In 2001 I was becoming frustrated with by the lack of progress with my writing career. That’s when I attended the Police Writers conference in Florida. Among the great people I met there were you and Hap, and Marilyn Olsen. While chatting with Marilyn I told her that I seemed to be treading water as a writer and that I was thinking about finding a different hobby. Marilyn suggested that because of my background I might want to try my hand at non-fiction police history and true crime. I took her advice and wrote the history of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Policing Las Vegas was published in 2005. That book led me to write The Battle for Las Vegas – The Law vs. the Mob, and CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness. I’m currently working with a former Gambino crime family soldier writing Surviving the Mob.
Marilyn: Now, you are hanging out with all these reformed gangsters which seems rather ironic. Tell us about that.
Denny: Through my writing and Blog Talk Radio shows I’ve met several former Mobsters. Three of them, Frank Cullotta (Chicago Outfit), Henry Hill (Lucchesi family) and Andrew DiDonato (Gambino family), had switched sides and become government witnesses. Two more, Tony “Nap” Napoli (Genovese family) and Anton Hosney (LA Mob) are now “retired” from organized crime. I have good working relationships with all of them, and we’re involved in multiple projects.
Marilyn: And now, new, exciting things are happening in your life, please share with us.
Denny: I certainly will. Several associates and I are putting together a proposal for a true crime-themed TV series. Filming for the pilot will be completed by mid-February. I’m also working on a screenplay with one of the actors who had a small role in Casino. And a live production that I’m involved in called The Mob Chronicles will debut at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Vegas on February 18. If the opening goes well it can lead to a number of other opportunities. I’m very excited about all these things and looking forward to a successful 2010.
Marilyn: Anything else you'd like to add?
Denny: Yes. If anyone wants to contact me with a question or comment, I can be emailed through my site at http://www.dennisngriffin.com.
Thank you so much, Denny. I'm thrilled to hear what is going on with these days. Congratulations!
Anyone interested in joining Public Safety Writers Association go to http://www.publicsafetywriter.com