Five Things: Poison Soup for the Noirish Soul

If you’re like me (Sam the Eagle voice: “And you MUST be”) you have a noirish soul. Like any kind of a soul, this occasionally needs tending to, looking after, I mean. Feeding, like a racehorse from Hell or a bonsai tree somebody gave you once but nobody really wants anymore and you’d get rid of it but, like, you can’t just throw away a dang tree, right?, especially a bonsai tree. Why, it might have a spirit in it. Maybe even a long lost relative. Hell, I forgot what I was talking about (see Item 5 below). Oh, yeah, noir things. Nourishment for the noirish soul. Five things, in fact. Here they are: 1. Movie: Out of the Past (1947): Even...

Five things I learned while writing PARAISO

This book is the second with the same editor. The first, Full Fathom Five, was non-fiction, Paraiso is fiction. I found that the same editor was much more invasive and persnickety with fiction, even down to punctuation. I happen to love ellipses (…) and he hates them. In revisions he’d take most of them out, and I’d put them back in again when the ms was returned. This kind of thing never happened with the non-fiction book. The novel went through four or five proofs, the non-fiction work through only two that I can remember. The editor took it upon himself to suggest changes in the plot and characters of the novel, which of course didn’t...

Books that scared the bejeebies out of me

This is not my list of best all-time crime books, or a list of my favorites, but instead this is a list of those books that, for whatever reason, ended up scaring the bejeebies out of me. 1. I THE JURY by Mickey Spillane (1947) – I picked this up in a used bookstore in Jerusalem, decades ago.  It was a raw looking pulp paperback with a dame on the cover. (She is always a dame in a Mike Hammer novel.)  I stayed up with it late into the night and as the murder count rose I grew ever more terrified.  Bodies were falling every which way and somehow I was certain the killer was walking the streets outside my apartment and I was next.  I prefer...

5 Books That Changed My Life

5 books that changed my life – made me want to be a writer. These are novels that suck you in and cast a spell, make you lose track of time.  Total immersion experiences. Reading each of these was such a powerful experience that I said to myself, “Cool, I want to try to do this too.” A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. I read this as a kid (9 or 10) and was utterly transported.  I still think about the amazing scene when Meg confronts It. Unforgettable. The Dead Zone by Stephen King.  I remember reading this through the night and being totally spooked.  I only recently realized, rereading it, that a long chunk of...

Five Movies That Get Me In The Mood To Write

  I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in writer’s malaise. Sometimes I just can’t get my ass in gear. When that happens I find that certain movies get the creative juices flowing and I can always rely on these five to get me sprinting to the keyboard. This isn’t a list of my favorite movies. Gun to my head I’d say that honor goes to Miller’s Crossing, but ask me next week and I might say The Great Escape or Chinatown. And this isn’t a list of great movies about writing, of which there are many. This is simply a list of the flicks that get me moving.   Butch Cassidy and the...

5 Films That Influenced Me

As a kid, I have to admit that I was never much of a reader. I didn’t like to read, preferring to watch movies instead. Maybe it was because I was an only child and watching movies with my parents was a way for us to bond somehow. Fortunately for me, my dad had pretty good taste in movies and it helped me appreciate good films from bad. The five movies that changed my life all have something in common because, like a good book, they tell a good story. In no particular order: 1. The Searchers Much has been made in recent years about whether or not this film should rate as high as it does on various lists. I first saw it on TV when I was...