Kurt Busiek: 5 Books That Changed My Life

5 Books That Changed my Life 1. THE SCARECROW OF OZ by L. Frank Baum. I’m not sure why this one was the one to hit me, in particular — we had a beat-up copy of THE LAND OF OZ at home, and that’s the one I read over and over and over again — but THE SCARECROW OF OZ, which opened with Cap’n Bill and Trot getting swept from their boat by a storm and finding their way to Oz, was the book that first inspired me to write a novel of my own, when I was about seven. The novel was about a guinea pig on a toy boat that got derivatively swept away to Oz, and I got about a page and a half into it (including illustration!)...

5 Forgotten Writers Whose Works Inspired Me When I...

  5 Forgotten Writers Whose Works Inspired Me When I Was Much Younger   When I say certain writers are forgotten, that doesn’t mean they’re unknown. It just means that hardly anyone reads them these days. Some of them were famous in their time. Some were considered quite literary, but they never made it into college classrooms, or if they did, they were soon removed. Some of the things they wrote might not even be any good, but that didn’t matter to me at the time I was reading them, and it doesn’t matter to me now. Why? When I was growing up, nobody ever told me that there were good books and bad books and mediocre books. There were...

5 Things Writers Get Wrong About Cars & Drivi...

  5 Things Writers Get Wrong About Cars and Driving     When, as a pre-teen, I began reading books written for adults, one of the first things I noticed was that every author was a damn botanist.   Each descriptive passage, it seemed, lavished attention on Black-Eyed Susan, Pink Corydalis, Golden Jerusalem, Lamb’s Foot, Osage … you get the idea. These names meant nothing to me, and that’s still the case: I know roses, tulips, and nothing else about flora. Wait, I also know both types of trees: pine trees and not-pine trees.   I’m not proud of this ignorance; I’m merely confessing it, and hazarding a guess that I’m...

Timothy Hallinan: FIVE MOVIES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

FIVE MOVIES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE By Timothy Hallinan   I read at least twenty books, possibly thirty, for every movie I see. Books change my life virtually on a daily basis, usually in tiny increments—a glimpse of something I didn’t know, a glimmering of moral or ethical enlightenment, an original kind of humor. If I were a mosaic at least half the bits of color that define me would have been chipped, in passing, out of books.   For all I know, there may be personalities that are self-generating, but I believe that more of them are (like mine) essentially acquisitive. There’s a bivalve mollusk called the Carrier Shell...

5 Crime Novels Alex Cooper Would Love

The problem with creating a protagonist in a crime series and writing her in the first-person voice is that often readers – and my friends – confuse her traits with my own. Alex Cooper is a prosecutor in New York City – a job I held for thirty years – but unlike me, she’s got a trust fund, a lively social life that doesn’t get in the way of her courtroom appearances, and a fabulously sexy detective who covers her back while she tries to figure out whether to let him into her bed. The one thing I know for sure about Coop is what’s on her night table, as she tries to unwind with a glass of Scotch after a day on Manhattan’s mean streets....

Jeff Critser: The Five Most Influential Movies

The Five Most Influential Movies People gravitate toward a favorite film for a variety of reasons – for a hearty laugh or needed escape – but there are always a few movies that are profoundly mesmerizing, ones that we keep coming back to time and again. As a writer of thriller fiction, I’m typically drawn to movies that either have exceptionally fascinating dialogue or uproot our perceptions and challenge archetypes, a visceral assault of sorts. Rare is the film that can do both, but there are a few worthy of that distinction. Admittedly, some of these movies are edgy and disturbing and difficult to view without looking away, but it’s...