Five Things That Influenced Me

SCREAM (film) — Hilariously, this was my first date. It didn’t go well, because the guy in question thought I needed hand-holding, when I was in fact enthralled with and delighted by Kevin Williamson’s post-postmodern take on how horror had nothing new left to say, and how the fact it had nothing new left to say was something brand-new and exciting to say. At one point, a character named Randy is watching John Carpenter’s Halloween and slurring “He’s behind you!” at Jamie Lee Curtis on his television. All the while, the masked killer in his own home is standing right behind him. Concurrently, a journalist who’s placed a bug in that room is...

My Five (actually Six) Favorite Novels Set In Detr...

My Six Favorite Novels Set in Detroit (or near Detroit) 1. THE DOLLMAKER, Harriet Arnow (1954) an immediate popular and critical success, THE DOLLMAKER tells the devastating story of a Kentucky family that moves north to reap the riches of the factories going up in Detroit. This book is due for another resurrection, which it enjoyed about 25 years ago when Jane Fonda starred in the TV version of it. Gertie Nevells makes a compelling hero. 2. CITY PRIMEVAL, Elmore Leonard. (!980) As with Loren Estleman, there are so many books from which to choose. With his usual flair for dialog and unerring sense of place, Leonard tells the amusing and...

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...