As as writer, I always find it interesting what other writers consider their own influences. Most times when you read interviews, the influences usually range among the author’s favorite authors. Sometimes they range out of genre, but rarely do they range out of books.

I have talked before about how I learned to write from comic books, along with Michael Crichton and James Bond novels. Comics taught me pacing and plots twists.

But the biggest non-book influence I’ve had recently actually came after I started writing. It’s the show that taught me about location, mostly because it’s filmed in my home state. THE SOPRANOS just gets New Jersey. As silly as it seems, NJ is like that, as integrated with stupid and smart people. With people who, despite having funny accents (which I contend I don’t have) have souls deep, dark and sad. And the shots, that grainy, gritty look is part of the state I love.

Yes, we’re the Garden State. And if you watch the show, they show that part of the state too. As gritty as it looks near the Turnpike, it’s just as beautiful in South Jersey.

Part of getting a location right, however, is attitude. People act that way and are influenced by their surroundings. My favorite moments of the show have to do with “going to Booton” or meeting “Sil in Paterson.” New Jersey is close knit like that, almost like a really big city.

The Sopranos gets it, and it has helped me get it as well.


  1. Hi, Dave. The poet August Kleinzahler, who is from the Garden State but now lives in California, has an anecdote about walking down the street in San Francisco and, I think, stooping to give some money to a beggar, who said, as he walked away: “Thanks, Jersey.”

    Kleinzahler hadn’t said a word.

    Maybe you don’t need the accent!

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Dave. I love our little Garden State. Plus, we basically invented pork roll & cheese. Some people out west don’t even know what pork roll & cheese is, man. And that’s one of the reasons I can never leave Jersey. Rock on!

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