Donald on being an author: ”I find writing fiction incredibly satisfying and natural.  It’s no joke that finishing a novel feels like giving birth to a full-grown elephant, but I find each step of the process to be empowering.  Layering on one level after another to bring an idea to its fully articulated, fullly emotionally-realized potential taught me more about listening and storytelling than I thought possible.  And, somehow, I feel understood when I write fiction.” 
    “Texas culture and personas blend with specifics on documentary filming and angles and Benjamin's choices and changes, melding together a seemingly-disparate set of observations from a filmmaker who finds himself drawn into his latest production in a way he couldn't have anticipated.” - The Midwest Book Review
    “We’ve all got a story we’re just dying to tell. A searing truth. An itchy secret. A deep, unresolved hurt. Sometimes, we only need a nameless stranger in a quiet place, at an opportune time, for our chance to unburden.” The opening words of Chapter 1 so profoundly resonated with me that I was immediately drawn in and held captive for the duration. It’s the artful turn of phrase and the depth and texture of his prose that connects me to the author and the story he so deftly tells. Our protagonist, Benjamin Beal, is in need of redemption, whether he knows it or not, and Mr. Griswold is a master at constructing the small quiet moments, ripe with possibilities, in which Benjamin just may find it. I reveled in the journey and was emotionally satisfied when we arrived at our destination.  - Amazon Review
    Here is a terrific novel from Texas author Donald Griswold. And it is one of the best Texas novels I have ever read. The writing is sharp. The pace is brisk. And the story is brilliant. And what a story it is. What first appears to be another 'mentor mentee death lit tear jerker' turns out to be something much more. And much bigger. Something as big as Texas.  - Goodreads Review
    As documentary filmmaker Benjamin Beal flies across the nation on the biggest production of his career, a story from his past sneaks up on him. Years of conflict with his mentor, the legendary artist Emil Bozak, come into focus following Emil’s simple call for help. Surrounded by conflict with partners, former employees and members of his own production crews, Benjamin leaves his massive production for a remote area of The Texas Hill Country to join Bozak for one last production. In a rustic ranch house seated along a lazy Texas river, Benjamin’s encounters with a cowboy Zen master, a rocking ER doctor and the locals of far-flung Uvalde County deflect him onto an unexpected spiritual journey. In his debut novel Dying Light, Donald Griswold unveils a man’s journey toward redemption through interwoven stories. Documentary filmmaker Benjamin Beal lives a life of observation and aesthetic distance. Surrounded by broken relationships and uneasy alliances, Benjamin’s single-minded drive for achievement strikes a nagging, disillusioned chord. With wry humor and touching dialogue, Griswold offers insight into a consummate artist’s warming to awareness.

    Read More Reviews

    View samples from an author interview about Dying Light and see a segment from a live reading and discussion.
    View more video here.

    Chapter 1 Sample

    Here’s a tip: let them talk.  Be the listener.  Everyone would rather talk than listen anyway, so it’s easy to do.  And don’t interrupt.  People get to the good parts soon enough without your help.

    We’ve all got a story we’re just dying to tell.  A searing truth.  An itchy secret.  A deep, unresolved hurt.  Sometimes, we only need a nameless stranger in a quiet place, at an opportune time, for our chance to unburden.  When it happens, we surprise ourselves how easily our story slips out, it feels so good.  Then, more often than not, most can’t stop once the words start flowing.

    So, on my flight, I let the blonde woman next to me talk while she drank Smirnoff, turned away from a disintegrating marriage, and questioned everything.  That was Julia in 2C.  I had the window.

    The idea itself of leaving New York for Los Angeles, even for a short time, nauseated me.  Greater Good headquartered in Manhattan.  “Be a New York production house!” my mentor, Emil Bozak, told me early in my career.  “Decide who you want to be,” he barked at me more than once.  “Make art here in New York and it will find life.  Or go to California and tailor your movies for an audience.  I wouldn’t even put an office out there.  Don’t get any of that on you.”  I listened to Emil in those days, considering the unending flow of his polarizing opinion and commentary as essential for decision-making.  However, producing The CrowdSource7 required adjustments.  The film’s grand concept needed a machine behind it which, in the movie business, necessitated West Coast partners.  That meant I headed to Los Angeles for publicity when fingers snapped.  Who else could do it?

    Chapter 4 Sample

    “After I arrived, the dead man’s mother showed up.  Upon seeing her son bloodied and lifeless, she became hysterical, lunging, flailing and falling only to pick herself up to lunge again in shock and sudden grief.  The small crowd present saw her face contort horribly, awfully, with indescribable pain.  We all heard her scream rip and detonate into the night, releasing every bit of grief she had all at once in every direction.  A large, burly police officer stepped forward and began grappling with the inconsolable mother, trying to restrain her for her own safety.  Unable to leverage his size and strength, the officer struggled with the mother as she swung her arms and writhed in uncontainable torment.  I had the perfect angle to capture that sight on one still frame of film.  For days afterwards, I felt wracked with my own guilt, feeling as if I’d invaded something so personal and private with unforgivable indiscretion. 

    Chapter 8 Sample

    The truck clattered, making a rattling sound that surrounded his words along with the rush of the air through our open windows.  Inside the cab, a light, dirty dust appeared as if it clung to every surface on the interior.  The cab smelled of the earth in a way I found familiar.  Tobias drove a workman’s truck, and it reminded me of my uncle’s truck, the one he drove on rural roads that wound around, of course, designed by hermits.

    “What does she say?”

    Tobias pursed his lips while he formulated his thoughts, no doubt seeking the shortest way available to a dead end in our conversation.  He took his time searching for that skillful fast-forward to the end, so we could move to a broad, everyman sort of conversation or, better yet, no talking at all.  We both knew that level of discourse better suited the truck’s dusty cab and the earthen, sweaty smell that dwelt inside it.  My uncle also thought no chatter made for better truck rides.  He made listening to country music on a staticky AM station his second choice to silence on such drives.  Talking to me finished a distant third, or maybe further back behind other options I didn’t know existed.  As Tobias eyed the knob on the radio, wanting to turn it on, then up, I knew he came from the same school of thought as my uncle.  Yet, I wanted answers if he had them.

    Chapter 10 Sample

    To abide by our hosts’ strict Southern Baptist ways, our amateur fire brigade quenched our mighty thirsts on their impressive variety of non-alcoholic beverages.  Otherwise, the scene might have made an excellent beer commercial.  All the men stood around strikingly, a smoky gang, some of us dirty, others thoroughly filthy.  In that vein, I noticed a new machismo in the air as the barn reduced itself to embers.  We milled around outdoors in the shade, some of us reclining on the Brigance’s porch and front steps, but all, even myself, did so with chests more puffed-out than before the firefighting.  At one point, I spotted an ash-covered Joel pouring back a large, sweaty glass of lemonade while striking a dramatic full-form pose, both silhouetted and backlit by the brilliant sun descending behind him in the late afternoon sky.  Having completed his hero’s journey, it crossed my mind that the experience just might have transformed Joel, although I doubted it.  

    Chapter 11 Sample

    Lisa cut the wheel sharply to the right, and we left the indignity of that conversation in a small cloud of dust on the farm-to-market road.  Over a small rise a hundred yards ahead, Miss Inez Moore’s house loomed austere and grand over the mostly fallow farmland surrounding it on three sides.  The property came from a dust bowl world of sepia tones and craftsmanship building.  Three stories tall, painted white with a grey shingle roof, the structure would have been a perfect set for an establishing scene from a John Ford western.  Or maybe, in past generations, authentic family drama played out there, man versus nature or man versus himself, set against the severe backdrop of plains farming.  Perhaps even at one point a resident farmer grabbed his rifle from inside and set out reluctantly on a mission to help a stranger while leaving his family behind to bring in the crops.  The house appeared that evocative.  However, as we neared, I could see that now it stood slightly crumbling with only Inez left calling it home.

    Chapter 12 Sample

    “Lately, the last few months, once a week.  We practice on Tuesday nights, and usually have a gig one night on the weekend or a Thursday night.”

    I became totally amused.  “Did you really just say that?”



    “Yeah, I gig.  We gig.”  Lisa looked at me as if I spoke some exotic language and didn’t understand her, like the concept, should have been easy enough for a child to grasp.  “I can also resect a bowel or place a breast implant if you want.  So... you know... depends on the circumstances.  Those are just gigs, too.”  A giggle bubbled up out of her, rising into full laughter.  “Ok, so, next time I see my parents, I’m going to call the ER my hospital gig!  Come to think of it, that’s what I’m calling it from now on.”

    “So I guess you’re giggin’ every day.  It just depends on where you’re doing it.”

    “That’s right!” she nodded with exaggeration, really liking the idea.  “Giggin’ every day!”

    Works in Progress

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    Gun Barrel City

    In Donald Griswold’s upcoming novel, Gun Barrel City, two men embark on connected, life-altering journeys after they witness a stranger sacrifice his life to save a child from a burning car. 

    Donald currently is writing Gun Barrel City.

    Texas By Night

    Texas by Night is an short story anthology of Donald Griswold’s short stories.  The collection includes the titles Big Cowboy on Fire, Quinquina and the titular Texas By Night.

    Donald developing stories for Texas by Night.