Interview with Danny R. Smith, Author of Nothing Left to Prove

21 Sep 2021

If you were in an elevator with a stranger and had one minute or less to describe Nothing Left to Prove before the doors opened, what description would you give?

It’s a brutally honest narrative about being a cop in L.A. and the aftermath of numerous deadly encounters on the streets and years of working in the elite sheriff’s homicide bureau.

What part of Nothing Left to Prove was the hardest to write? What part was the easiest?

The hardest parts are the deaths that touched me the most—murdered children and colleagues, and the death of a baby girl named Vanessa. It was also very difficult writing about the things that sent me over the edge toward the end of my career when I was unknowingly living with chronic PTSD. I found that many of those emotions came back, none of them good.

The easiest part was telling about the early days, an innocent childhood, and an exciting path to law enforcement. Those were the days where I lived without baggage and scars and a heavy burden to haul around with me.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Right now I’m consuming everything by Dennis Lehane—he is a phenomenal writer and all of his stories are off the charts! The stories are magnificent, but sometimes I just pause and drink in the beauty of his prose. Seriously, everyone should read Lehane. I also have some James M. Cain, James Crumly, Jake Needham, and Jack Carr novels. I did take a brief moment out from my pile of novels to read a former colleague’s memoir, Black, White, and Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds. It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys law enforcement memoirs, and Fred is a great writer.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Yes, I pretty much only read crime fiction, true crime, and the occasional military thriller (Jack Carr, for instance). I also enjoy an occasional Western, but really have to be in the mood for it.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write Nothing Left to Prove?

Hahaha great question. I write in my office and usually before the rest of the world comes to life. My Australian Shepard, Bobby (“Babbaloo”) comes into the office with me and hangs out while I eat a danish, drink my coffee, and type away until it’s time to do chores. (I live on ten acres with livestock and lots of furry friends to care for.) After chores, it’s either writing or golf, now that I’m mostly retired. Which means I get more writing done during the winter than I do the summer. (:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Never forget where you’ve been.” I was told that by a mentor as I sought to enter the field of law enforcement, and I’ve pondered it long and hard and often throughout my life. Simply put, we all have a past, we’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all had victories, and none of us are without flaws and shame and regret. I think it helps with having some humility in a time when that’s not always easy to find.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading Nothing Left to Prove what would it be?

The cops will all relate to many parts of the book, and unfortunately, they will revisit times and places they have hoped to forget. For everyone else, I hope they see the sacrifices that are made from those of us who choose public safety. And that includes all first responders as well as our dispatchers—I’d rather be under fire than hearing it on the radio and trying to keep it all together from the helm. Those are the world’s most underappreciated professionals. Them and nurses.

Danny R. Smith is the author of the new book Nothing Left to Prove

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rebecca