Writing Influences

When I was younger and not married/without kids, I read a lot. I discovered speed reading in high school and have used those skills to devour books. Seriously, I can finish a novel in six hours. As a result, I read a lot of series fiction. I’m also a movie fan, as you will learn if you keep reading.

In the nineties, I read Tom Clancy novels. “The Hunt for Red October” is the best political thriller of all time. I admit that Clancy’s Jack Ryan series got a little ‘out there’ in the later stories, but the earlier ones were superb. Clancy excelled at attention to detail and ‘do it or die’ action sequences.

My husband introduced me to Elmore Leonard novels in 2001, and I became an instant devotee. If you’ve ever only seen the movies- “Get Shorty”, “Out of Sight”, “Jackie Brown” – based on his stories, you’re missing out on the genius that was Elmore Leonard. Yes, fellow Leonard fans, I know there are dozens of other movies, but I’ll save those for another blog post. Leonard defined the pulp fiction genre -bad guys with a heart, good guys that aren’t so good. There are no innocent characters in his stories – only complicated people stuck in complicated situations. These are not feel good stories. The sudden violence shocks the senses and the endings leave you wondering who the hero of story really was. Oh, Mr. Leonard, how I miss you. At least we have Raylan Givens for another season of “Justified”.

I confess that it’s taken me a few years to admit my third major influence – Joss Whedon. I was a fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” way before it was cool to be one. I mean, what super hero girl doesn’t want a hot boyfriend? She doesn’t care if he’s a vampire. She just doesn’t care. Oh, and the collection of complicated friends- that’s something we can all identify with. And then Whedon went and did “Firefly”. Let me make this clear – Joss Whedon bent the unbendable rule of television. He mixed western and science fiction into a delicious campy cocktail. “Firefly” fans are fans for life. But, Whedon really proved himself as a movie writer and director with “The Avengers”. I don’t think he’s received enough credit for managing to take all the Marvel super heroes and weave them into one story. Let’s face it, up to that point, as far as stories went, the “Hulk” movies were terrible, “Captain America” was dry, and “Thor” was silly. Only John Favreau’s “Iron Man” movies had a true story arc and character development. “Avengers” would have been little more than a Saturday morning cartoon without Joss Whedon’s magic touch.

“Operation Angelica”, has hints of all these influences – moody protagonists, disparate team members, intense action, and characters struggling against their flaws.  I can only hope that my stories are as accurate as Clancy’s, intense as Leonard’s, and as fun as Whedon’s.

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