This is the second of three year-end wrap-up articles, counting down what I think are my top 10 best articles that ran on during 2015. The first part, listing numbers 10, 9, 8 and 7, is here. These are not the most popular articles in terms of hits or comments, but they are the ones I believe come the closest to what I want this blog to be, and what I feel is my best work for the year. I put a lot of my heart and soul into this site, and these are the pieces I’m most proud of in the last twelve months.

james horner by starcards

6. Brave heart of music: Remembering composer James Horner.

Though I would have preferred not to have done any at all, I wound up doing five obituaries on my blog this year for creative people whose work touched my life in a personal way: Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, lawyer and writer Vincent Bugliosi, horror and SF actor Christopher Lee, film composer James Horner and heavy metal icon Lemmy Kilmister. In each of these articles I strove not merely to present a narrative of the person’s life, but also what they meant to me. I think I did that most emotionally with this article, from June, about James Horner, who died in a plane crash in California aged 61. Horner’s film credits included some of the films most meaningful in my life, including Apollo 13, Titanic and, yes, Braveheart. His music is the soundtrack of my life. My approach in this article was to let the music speak for him, and I presented YouTube clips of what I think is his best work. Rest in peace, Mr. Horner. The world is quieter and much less rich without him.

heavenallows vs pictureshow

5. Picket Fences and Dust Storms: “All That Heaven Allows” vs. “The Last Picture Show.”

Although I chose this as one of the ten best articles on my blog this year, it was not written by me. This absorbing and incredibly insightful article is by Cody Climer, a tech-head and budding movie blogger (and also my husband), which sets two completely different films head-to-head and synthesizes what they can tell us about the reality of life in suburban America in two different but similar decades, the 1950s and the 1980s. All That Heaven Allows, a passionate romance made in 1955 featuring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman as star-crossed lovers, shows an entirely different picture of small-town America in wealthy New England than the gritty, desolate Texas town in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show. Cody draws upon his own experiences growing up in such a town in the 80s for a thoughtful analysis of what these films mean, and how they mirror and distort the reality of life in post-WWII America. This really is one of the best film analyses ever run on my site.

okinawa charge pd

4. Like bathing in fire: How to write about World War II.

Believe it or not, this site started as an “author blog” to promote my books (I had two, Doppelgänger and The Rats of Midnight, come out in 2015). It grew to be much more, and it’s rare when I can incorporate writing and history into a single article. This article from October stemmed from my most important and visceral writing experience in 2015: co-authoring, with historian Lucas Erickson, a novel about World War II in the Pacific tentatively titled Eyes of War. From that experience I sought to write this piece of advice for authors who want to use the war as a subject or backdrop. But more than that, I hope this article communicates just what it’s like, emotionally, to immerse yourself in such a big and somber subject, and how much care one must take in order to do it justice. World War II was very big on my blog this year, but of all the WWII-themed articles, I think this is the best.

Stay tuned tomorrow night (New Year’s Eve) for the final three of the best of 2015. Thanks again to all my loyal readers!

For credits/licensing of the headers for individual articles, please click the associated links. The header composite, made by me, incorporates public domain images, plus film posters for All That Heaven Allows (copyright 1955 by Universal-International Pictures) and The Last Picture Show (copyright 1971 by Columbia Pictures), for which fair use is claimed; and a photo of James Horner by Flickr user StarCards and used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.