Monday, June 18, 2012

Author Interview: D.B. Grady

by Sylvia Ney

D.B. Grady is the pseudonym of author David Brown. He is coauthor of The Command: Deep Inside the President’s Secret Army. His debut novel, Red Planet Noir, won the 2010 Indie Book Award for Science Fiction. He is a correspondent for The Atlantic, a columnist for The Week, a contributor to Mental Floss, and is presently coauthoring a book on the secrecy apparatus of the United States. (John Wiley & Sons, 2013). He was recently awarded a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Other publications include short stories and essays.

1) Please tell us about the manuscript you are working to complete. Presently, I'm finishing edits on a nonfiction book coauthored with Marc Ambinder. It is an examination of the secrecy apparatus of the United States—the deep state, as some call it, from spies and commandos to weapons contractors and government functionaries. We investigate how secrecy has shifted from a way to protect policy, to a policy unto itself, and how that policy is proving unsustainable. The book goes on to reveal details of some of the programs both corrupted and benefitted by secrecy. The title will be whatever our editor tells us it is.

2) How long did it take you to write your current MS? Eighteen months and counting, from the start of research through (presently) the final round of edits. It's been an exhausting project. I really admire authors who can work on the same manuscript for ten years or longer -- I can't even comprehend that.

3) What do you do when you have writer's block? I write anyway. The only way I can pay the bills is if I write something on the order of a thousand words a day, so it's probably not self-discipline so much as a survival instinct. On bad days, I set little milestones and reward myself for every 250 words, or whatever -- a snack, or a bit of television. But I'm really, really good at not writing.

4) Do you have an editor or agent? My agent is Janet Reid of FinePrint Literary Management. My book editor is Eric Nelson of John Wiley & Sons. They're both frighteningly smart, and always right. As someone who is frequently wrong, that takes a lot of the stress off, and lets me focus on other stressful things.

5) Best thing you’ve read online recently? A friend recently sent me a link to a piece by Ian Frazier from the February 1997 issue of The Atlantic. Without question it's the funniest thing I have ever read, ever. I won't even bother giving it a set-up. Just click and read:

6) What are you reading now? Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner. It is one of the most honest, most beautifully written histories I've ever read, and I wouldn't be surprised if he won another Pulitzer for it.

7) Please tell us a little about your blog. I'm a terrible, undisciplined blogger, and mostly use my site as a kind of portfolio for my most recent columns. It's at (D.B. Grady is my pseudonym. My real name is David Brown, which is why I have a pseudonym.) My Twitter account is @dbgrady .

8) What authors do you admire? Herman Melville, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, Christopher Hitchens, Margaret Atwood, Richard Russo. I'll stop there, but there are dozens more.

9) Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild? I'm a member of the Bayou Writers Group, which is probably the only group that's ever helped my career. All of the members are just wonderful and talented and supportive. Jessica Ferguson really started my career, and I'll never be able to thank her enough. (I'm also in the Authors Guild and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. They send me magazines that usually pile up on my nightstand unread, but I do support their work on behalf of authors and literature.)

10) What other styles do you write? My first, true love is fiction. I'm hopeful that my next book will be a novel, but my trajectory seems to be nonfiction. So we'll see.


  1. Thanks for the plug, David, but you were talent waiting to be found. It was just a matter of time. But if you insist ... maybe someday you can start MY writng career. :)

    I'm always wishing you the best.

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