Five Science Fiction & Military Narratives Th...

ALIENS (1986)  Where the first Alien movie was pure SF horror, the second was a straight-up military SF action flick. It was probably the most seminal influence on my teenage brain when it came to storytelling and how to do human drama and action beats. You had a kick-ass protagonist who was unlike any SF hero seen on the screen thus far. The Colonial Marines acted like real grunts—banter, bravado, and spit-in-your-face last stand heroism in battle—and they were all developed characters in their own right, not just cannon fodder. (I have managed to work an ALIENS reference into every Frontlines novel so far. It may be a chapter title, or a...

Five Movies that have Influenced My Writing

Five Movies that have Influenced My Writing Die Hard (1988) – This was the first movie I watched while reading the script. The exercise was assigned as homework for one of the many on-line classes I took in my quest for better writing skills. Immediately establishing character with the opening scene was a difficult concept for me until I watched the first few minutes of this movie. That wasn’t the only lesson I took away, but it remains etched in my brain like no textbook ever. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The concept of identifying the main character’s problem for a novel was clarified for me by trying to define Dorothy’s goal for the movie....

Reese Hirsch: 5 Books That Changed My Life

5 Books That Changed My Life By Reece Hirsch Here are five books that had a huge impact on me and my writing: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone. I first read Robert Stone’s novel about a heroin deal gone very wrong for the first time when I was a teenager but I reread it every couple of years as a reminder of how much can be packed into a thriller without sacrificing narrative momentum. Dog Soldiers is my Platonic ideal of what a thriller can be – it’s fast, violent, sharply written and conveys so much about what America, and particularly California, was like in the early 70s in the hung-over morning after the Summer of Love. It’s like Joan...

Five Things Dumb Criminals Do Online

FIVE THINGS DUMB CRIMINALS DO ONLINE (A THRILLER WRITER’S GUIDE)   While conducting research for my novel, The Advocate’s Daughter (St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur, March 22, 2016), I came across several reports about criminals who were caught because of their Google search history or social media posts. I wasn’t surprised at the rise of digital evidence used against defendants. But I was taken aback by how frequently criminals are caught because of their own ineptitude. Here are five things dumb criminals do online. 1. Googling how to commit the crime. No, you say. No one is dense enough to use their own computer or phone to search how to...

Adam Dunn and 5 Books that Influenced Him

THE MERGER: THE CONGLOMERATION OF ORGANIZED CRIME by Jeffrey Robinson. The sequel to his bestseller THE LAUNDRYMEN, this survey opened my eyes to the fluid, intertwining currents between legitimate commerce and its illegal mirror image on a universal scale. THE DELTA STAR by Joseph Wambaugh. My favorite novel by one of my earliest literary icons. Taught me the method—but more crucially the value—of providing as much depth to every character introduced, no matter how small their role. LOW LIFE: LURES AND SNARES OF OLD NEW YORK by Luc Sante. A sweeping, majestic, delicious history of the slums and slum dwellers of New York City, offering one...

Five Things That Changed My Life: S.G. Redling

1984 by George Orwell I read this early in high school – one of those assignments I waited until the last possible moment to complete, which resulted in my reading the entire book in one sitting. At this point in my life, I’d been reading a lot of horror and thrillers that, while dark, always ended with a certain flare of justice and righteousness. My young, naïve mind was wholly blown by the totality of Big Brother’s victory, that a book could go that far, that the “hero” could be so utterly dismantled. Plus, those rats… “Crazy on You” by Heart This is a visceral memory. I’m the youngest of four kids so I grew up listening to my...