As I read the line, "Things are very likely to get a lot worse very quickly," I immediately thought about movies like A Simple Plan and Fargo, and then I wondered what your influences are, cinematically, but literary and musically, and anything really, as well.
Oh yeah, I'd definitely agree that a lot of my influences are from the world of film. I'm a huge fan of both of those movies—really, almost anything by the Coen brothers is going to be on the list of my creative influences. Some others I can think of off the top of my head: Reservoir Dogs, The Grifters, Glengarry Glen Ross—all these stories about desperate people trying to change their lives with one big score and coming up short. I'm not sure why, but that theme of failure seems to be something I'm drawn to.
With books, it's a bit different. I will read in almost any genre of fiction if the book itself looks interesting. The first book I remember wishing I'd written was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and even though I don't write science fiction, I think that book has had a lasting influence on my approach to writing. When I was writing Afterlife, though, there were a few particular books whose influence I felt most strongly: The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky, and then what I think is the best crime novel ever written, The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins.
As far as music goes, it's a big part of my writing process, but for the most part, those direct lines of influence are less clear to me. Except for one: Lou Reed's New York album. The songwriting on that record still kills me, thirty years after its release.