Music To Live By – Rich Zahradnik Oct22

Music To Live By – Rich Zahradnik

• “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. I was in high school from 1974 to 1978. The music was awful—disco and hair bands (Foreigner, Styx, Kansas). I discovered Springsteen and he saved me from all that. He mixed the DNA of an old-school rock and roll band with a new, powerful sound. And such great stories. As a writer, I’m drawn as much or more to the lyrics as I am to the music. It was only after setting the Coleridge Taylor series in the seventies that I realized I could have Taylor discover Springsteen and gravitate to him for somewhat similar reasons, though Taylor is older than I was at the time. At the same time, he got to discover...

Memories Tried & Maybe Not So True Oct19

Memories Tried & Maybe Not So True

How reliable is memory? According to neuroscientists, not very. While we may view any particular memory as a continuous film of a past scene, those who study how the brain processes describe it as something more like a collage. As a 2012 Psychology Today article summarized, every time we conjure a memory, we are not so much reviewing a complete set of stored data as re-configuring a complex scene from disparate parts. In other words, every memory is newly re-assembled, and even if the pieces are accurate they may be prone to reinterpretation. Our current situation may sublimate the pain of a heartbreak – or accentuate the regret over a path...

Crime Authors On Their Favorite TV Shows

I have never written a crime story that wasn’t influenced, in some small part, by The Shield. From the whip crack of the pilot right through the brutal finale, Shawn Ryan’s gang of LA cops was a veritable showcase of men and women who alternated seamlessly between charming and corrupt, who were complex and messy without ever fully sacrificing the audience’s sympathy and understanding of what made each of them tick. Ryan turned Michael Chiklis’ roly-poly Commish into the jacked and nasty Vic Mackey and gave us Walton Goggins, then a bit player with a hy-yuck accent, now a bona fide star with an Emmy nomination and an...

Power Jun17

Power

Power, money and respect. In the world of organised crime these are the end goals that people pursue, but they are not equal and they don’t walk hand in hand. In crime fiction we’ve spent countless words picking apart and examining the guts of that triangle, as well as how the three sides connect. As with any industry you can have respect without wealth or influence; a hardworking and likable person can be broadly admired without ever rising to consequence just as a rich person can be considered profoundly lazy and hatefully stupid. Respect and money are independent of each other and transient and chased only by those who fail to see the...

Can’t Leave Rachel Out! 

I wrote my first novel—GRAVE DESIGNS—on a dare from my wife. I was a young lawyer in a big Chicago law firm at the time, and I had no grand plan beyond finishing the manuscript and trying to see whether I could interest a publisher. And thus when my agent announced that she’d received an offer from the publisher for the next two books in the series, my puzzled response was, “What series?” “The Rachel Gold series, Mike. She’s a terrific character, perfect for a series.” And so it began. DEATH BENEFITS was the No. 2 in the series, FIRM AMBITIONS No. 3, followed by DUE DILIGENCE, SHEER GALL, and more in the Rachel Gold series. I took a break...

Ten Writing Lessons From Krav Maga

When I started taking Krav Maga my writing pal James Queally asked if I was taking it because I wanted to more accurately write about throwing a punch. I told him, no, that’s ridiculous. I was doing it because I was afraid of my daughter. She’s two and a half now. It’s like living with Leatherface. Peril in every direction. I’ve been doing it for a year and passed the test for P1 (there are five practitioner levels). Not to say I’m proficient in any of this—a lot of the time I still feel like Bambi slipping on the ice, sliding into a snowbank. Turns out though, James was on to something—I’ve discovered a couple of writing lessons courtesy...