Les Stone Cold Killers was inspired by the 1967 YA novel X Marks the Spy, the first in a series about a young spy named Christopher Cool. I discovered a battered copy of the book in a thrift store in Tennessee and fell in love with the kitschy concept of teen agents.
I couldn’t entirely get down with the idea of a teenager teaming up with the CIA though. The idea seems dubious to me, given the blessedly rebellious nature of most young people, so I invented The Eris Agency, an anarchic group of general trouble-makers. That felt more right for me and for the girls.
I’m also not a fan of the hero/sidekick narrative device. I prefer parallel protagonists who work together as equals with unique abilities and knowledge, so I abandoned the old Lone Ranger and Tonto trope that Jim Lawrence, the ghostwriter responsible for Christopher Cool, relied on in favor of something more modern and collaborative.
I’m inspired by the style of vintage novelists like Zora Neale Hurston, Mary Stewart, and Helen MacInnes, who created stories that are full of adventure, travel, and intrigue. Perilous and Sparks would make fast friends with the daring heroines who populated their pages.
The paranoid, occult adventures of Robert Anton Wilson, Tom Robbins, and Kurt Vonnegut are probably also knocking around in there somewhere.