Feb 192016
 

blurred crowdLast week, while in San Francisco for a writers conference, I was walking with my young daughter on Geary Street near Mason, not far from Union Square, when I noticed him: a towering, disheveled member of the city’s vast legion of homeless people, keeping pace behind me.

I deliberately altered my pace—already considerably slower than the rest of the people who were streaming past since I was holding the hand of my toddler—to let him pass. But instead of disappearing into the upstream swim of pedestrians, he slowed, too. Continue reading »

Oct 092014
 
dscn5448-archive-reading-room1

Re-writing history requires intense research.

Grounded in my Jewish heritage, choosing to write about the Holocaust was never the question. It was how to approach it. I wanted to create something more meaningful than the recitation of facts and figures. Those brutalized by of one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity were more than nameless, faceless numbers. They deserved to be experienced as human beings. Breathing life into fictional characters to enact their stories, the voices of real people who had experienced historic events in actual places became the narrative. Stepping outside the role of WRITING history to relating its stories, my task shifted to RE-writing history. Continue reading »

Jul 282014
 

Personality disorderWant to create memorable characters with depth, complexity and an unpredictable capability for danger? Then give them a personality disorder … but don’t diagnose it.

Who could forget the character of Alex Forrest from the 1987 thriller “Fatal Attraction?” Actress Glenn Close’s ability to maintain a seemingly normal façade whilst exhibiting some of the most bizarre behavior is a testament to her power as an actress, but the part of Alex was also very well written. While most might sum her up as being “psycho,” more astute observers have noted that Alex displayed many of the characteristic traits of Borderline Personality Disorder. Since the character was never officially “diagnosed” in the film, it left her behavior and motivations – not to mention her mental health – open to interpretation. Continue reading »

Jul 062014
 

People watching and character developmentPeople-watching. It’s a never-ending source of inspiration for fiction writers who might find themselves in need of some good source material. If, like us, you abide by the somewhat cliché notion that everyone’s got a story to tell, then what better place to peruse the wall-to-wall supply of living, breathing, fictional rough drafts than in a shopping center? Continue reading »

Jun 262014
 
Tyrion Lannister from George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones

Writing great characters is, for me, at the top of the priority list for writing fiction. Whether you’re looking at the next Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones, or A Song of Ice and Fire), or Billy Lynch (Charming Billy), you are seeing a well thought out character that an author spent many an hour contemplating. If you want your fiction to shine on the level or anywhere near the level of such authors as Martin or McDermott, you can’t just pick up a pen and go, you have to spend the requisite time getting to know your characters. Continue reading »

Apr 202014
 
Mug Shot

The author as “Corey Brown”

Without even trying, I tend to be attracted to literary and film characters that, like me, share a nihilistic view of life and morality. Pretty ironic, given the fact that my day job requires me to uphold and enforce laws enacted from a bunch of handed-down, subjective truths. Perhaps it’s a bit of the Preacher’s Kid Syndrome in me, but there’s a part of me that envies those pesky trickster figures that get everyone all up in a twitter. You need ‘em to challenge the status quo; to point out the ideological hypocrisies of personal values. But above all, they’re just a heck of a lot more interesting to have around.

Back in my undercover days, I had one of the most succinct, albeit brief, conversations about this very topic with the unlikeliest of persons: a coke addict. For the past month, I’d been meeting “Ken” (not his real name) in his sad, flat apartment where, beneath the seizure-inducing flicker of a dying fluorescent light, I’d hand him $160 in exchange for an 8-ball of cocaine. Quick and simple. In-and-out. Continue reading »

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