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Interview with Dennis N. Griffin, True Crime Writer

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Dennis N. Griffin, is a true crime author. He’s written six books, the newest of which is Cullotta: The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness. Griffin recently took time out of his writing and researching to answer a few of my questions.

Please describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer:

The real-life story of a former mobster and killer-turned-government-witness.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

When I wrote my first Las Vegas-based true crime book — The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. the Mob — I told the story primarily from the side of law enforcement. I wanted very much to get the perspective from the other side. Meeting Frank Cullotta gave me that opportunity.

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

I’d like readers to learn the real story about what transpired in Las Vegas during the so-called Tony Spilotro era. The 1995 movie Casino, in which actor Joe Pesci played a character based on Spilotro, told some of the story. I believe Cullotta tells the rest.

Where do you like to write your books (in bed, a coffee shop, an office)?

I have a small in-home office where I do the actual writing. But my research and related interviews take me to public buildings, offices, private homes, and often coffee shops or restaurants. And I do a lot of thinking about my projects while in bed. It’s not uncommon for me to come up with a solution to a sticking point in the wee hours, get out of bed and put the idea on paper.

What is your favorite book, and why?

I’d have to say that overall my favorite book is Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. I’ve been interested in organized crime history for most of my adult life, and this book really grabbed me.

What book are you currently reading?

I‘m currently reading Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler. This is the first of his books that I’ve read without Dirk Pitt being the lead character. It took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable with the new hero, Juan Cabrillo. But I’ve now and am enjoying the story.

What are you working on now?

I’m presently finishing a fiction called Vegas Vixen, the third in my trilogy featuring Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department detectives Steve Garneau and Theresa “Terry” Bolton. I have three true crime projects under consideration for when I finish Vixen.

What one tip would you give to any of our readers who want to become writers?

My advice to anyone considering becoming a writer would be to research all aspects of the writing business — including publishing options and marketing — before they put pen to paper. The more knowledge they have, the better decisions they’ll make.

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