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WritingRoom Author Barry Eisler
The harder I work, the luckier I get.
Date of Birth 01/16/1964
Gender Male
Location San Francisco Bay Area
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    • I've been blessed with a variety of interesting jobs: a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations; attorney in an international law firm; in-house counsel at the Osaka headquarters of Matsushita Electric; executive in a Silicon Valley technology startup.

      These days I write full time: a thriller series about half-Japanese, half-American freelance assassin John Rain, whose specialty is making it look like natural causes. My agency training, my experiences in Japan, and a background in martial arts all inform my writing. If you like edge-of-your seat action, exotic locations, realistic spycraft, steamy sex, and a killer with a conscience who is "the stuff great characters are made of" (Entertainment Weekly), and if you like books by Lee Child, Joe Finder, Ian Fleming, Ken Follett, Vince Flynn, Graham Greene, Richard Marcinko, David Morrell, Daniel Silva, Trevanian, Andrew Vachss, and Marcus Wynne, the Rain series is probably for you.

      The books have won the Deadly Pleasures Barry Award and Mystery Ink Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, and have been included in numerous “Best Of” lists, including those of Amazon, Deadly Pleasures, News-Press, Publisher’s Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury News; have been translated into nearly twenty languages. The first book in the series, Rain Fall, has been made into a movie starring Gary Oldman and will be released by Sony Pictures Japan in April 2009.

      You can learn more about the books, and find tips on writing, photos of locations in the novels, and much more, on my website,

      I'm also a long time political and news junkie, and the stories I write grow out of the headlines I read. My blog, The Heart of the Matter, is my nonfiction venue for discussing what's going on in the world. Stop by and say hello.

        • A few would be:
          American Tabloid, James Ellroy (read the one page preface and tell me this man is anything other than a genius).

          Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy (No one writes like McCarthy: "They wandered the borderland for weeks seeking some sign of the Apache. Deployed upon that plain they moved in a constant elision, ordained agents of the actual dividing out the world which they encountered and leaving what had been and what would never be alike extinguished on the ground behind them. Spectre horsemen, pale with dust, anonymous in the crenellated heat. Above all else they appeared wholly at venture, primal, provisional, devoid of order. Like beings provoked out of the absolute rock and set nameless and at no remove from their own loomings to wander ravenous and doomed and mute as gorgons shambling the brutal wastes of Gondwanaland in a time before nomenclature was and each was all.")

          Fields of Fire, and especially The Emperor's General, by James Webb, are terrific books.

          Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield (What is the opposite of fear? You may be surprised...)

          The Godfather, Mario Puzo (As Tom Hanks said in "You've Got Mail," the I Ching of the West)

          Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (one of the most resonant last paragraphs ever)

          Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy (one of the best opening lines ever: "My wound is geography. It is also my anchor, my port of call.")

          Snow Falling on Ceders, David Gutterson. Gorgeous, heart-aching story of love, loss, and redemption within a community of Caucasian Americans and Japanese immigrants on an island off the Washington coast during the internments of World War II.

          And anything by Isabel Allende, Ken Bruen, James Lee Burke, George Carlin, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, T.S. Eliot, David Ellis, Joe Finder, Ian Fleming, Ken Follett, Vince Flynn, Graham Greene, Charlie Huston, Stephen King, J.A. Konrath, John le Carre, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, Eric van Lustbader, Richard Marcinko, David Morrell, Walter Mosley, Chuck Palahniuk, Terry Pratchett, Mary Renault, Anne Rice, Mary Roach, Gregory David Roberts, M.J. Rose, Richard Russo, David Sedaris, Daniel Silva, Scott Smith, Trevanian, Andrew Vachss, and Marcus Wynne.

        • God, I'm intimidated to try to fill out this section, there are so many... But judging from the number of times I've watched them, my favorites would be Blade Runner and Shakespeare in Love. Beyond that, anything written or directed by:
          The Guillermo Arriaga/Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu team (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel)

          James Cameron (Terminator, T2, Aliens, the Abyss... people know him as a director, but Cameron is an outstanding writer, too)

          Wes Craven (Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Nightmare on Elm Street, Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Scream, Redeye)

          David Goyer (Dark City, the Blade movies, Batman Begins)

          Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (A Room with a View, Remains of the Day)

          Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

          Steven Kloves (Racing with the Moon, The Fabulous Baker Boys, all the Harry Potter movies)

          Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain)

          Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge)

          David Mamet (The Verdict, The Untouchables, House of Games, Homicide, Glengarry Glen Ross, Hoffa, The Spanish Prisoner, Ronin, Heist, Spartan)

          Michael Mann (Jericho Mile, Thief, Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Collateral)

          Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake)

          Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Fame, Angel Heart, The Commitments)

          Alan Rudolph (Choose Me, Trouble in Mind, The Moderns, Love at Large)

          Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Black Rain, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator)

          Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, and my God what an actress, too)

          And pretty much any movie with John Cusack, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dianne Lane, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Edward James Olmos, Sean Penn, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, or Naomi Watts. Naomi Watts... mmmmmm. Oops, was that my out-loud voice?

        • Depends what I'm doing. A few I like to listen to while writing are:

          Eric Alexander: Young tenor saxophonist with a ton of heart. Start with Nightlife in Tokyo, of course -- nothing fancy, just terrific jazz.

          Monica Borrfors: Swedish vocalist I first heard in Bar Satoh in Osaka, world's best whiskey bar. Slowfox is a collection of songs in English, all rendered in Borrfor's warm, slightly husky, beautiful voice.

          Charles Brown: Brown's voice contains pain and hope and the wisdom of experience, and his piano is top notch, too.

          Akiko Grace: Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Akiko Grace. Her piano is that good. Love and loss and hope and elegy -- I don't know how someone so young can understand and express it all, but Japanese composer/pianist Grace does.

          Patricia Kaas: French vocalist with a wonderfully alluring voice -- try Tour De Charme, which contains two tracks in English, the rest in French.

          Marisa Monte: Brazilian pop? Jazz? Choro? Who cares? Monte's voice is so enchanting that it doesn't matter if you can't understand the Portuguese lyrics. Start with Rose & Charcoal.

          Junko Onishi: Japanese pianist I first saw in Club Alfie in Tokyo, where she provided the inspiration for the character who became Midori Kawamura. Plays like an angry Thelonious Monk, as Alfie's Mama-san might put it.

          Brenda Russell: Russell is hard to classify -- jazz, light jazz, R&B, soul...? Her voice is a caress -- she can lull you to laugh, to sleep, to tears.

          Luciana Souza: Is is jazz or choro? Who cares? Souza's vocals are a delight. Listen to the voice and you'll fall in love with the woman.

          Toku: Japanese flugelhorn player and vocalist with an assured baritone voice, and a terrific performer -- at the Tokyo live houses, Toku packs 'em in.

          The Blade Runner soundtrack blows me away.

          Also: Angie Stone, Audioslave, Bebel Gilberto, Beck, Bob Dylan, Brad Mehldau, Bruce Springsteen, Cibo Matto, Cold Play, David Bowie, Dreams Come True, Elliot Goldenthal, Erykah Badu, Eva Cassidy, Fiona Apple, Frank Morgan, George Cables, Glay, Globe, Grant Lee Buffalo, Grateful Dead, Green Day, Gustavo Santaolalla, Jerry Goldsmith, Johnny Hodges, Darin Isaacs, K.D. Lang, Kurt Elling, Mary J. Blige, Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Mr. Children, Mr. Conrad, My Little Lover, Neil Young, OMD, Pink Floyd, R.E.M., Royksopp, Sade, Seal, Smiths, Solomon Burke, Southern All Stars, U2, Utada Hikaru, The Who

        • I know there are a lot of great shows on television, but I don't get cable or broadcast, and so can use my television set only for DVDs. Here's why...
          I have all the Sopranos DVDs, though, and love the show. Fantastic writing and astonishing acting. And Lonesome Dove is the best thing I've ever seen on television. From Larry McMurtry (William Wittliff wrote the teleplay), and with Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Angelica Houston, Chris Cooper, Dianne Lane... what else could it be but a masterpiece?

        • T.S. Eliot, Edgar Allan Poe, Wallace Stevens

        • Atlantic, Economist, New Republic, New Yorker, New York Review of Books

        • Andrew Sullivan
          Fareed Zakaria
          George Will
          Glenn Greenwald
          Global Guerillas
          Global Security
          Michael Totten
          Obsidian Wings
          Scott Horton
          Sensen no Sen
          Talking Points Memo
          Thomas Barnett

        • Aung San Suu Kyi, Winston Churchill, Anne Frank, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Oscar Schindler. In fighting evil, all had to make the hardest decisions under the worst circumstances, and each made the right choice when so many around them were wrong.

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writing BarryEisler
The harder I work, the luckier I get.
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