Denis learned from his older brother Pete Hamill who would phone in stories from around the world to Denis, who would type them up, and then call the New York Post. A copy boy would come and pick up the copy. The next morning, there it was, in the paper. Denis learned about forming an opinion based on look-see reporting, active verbs, concrete nouns and hard deadlines during his apprentice to one of New York City’s most lauded and beloved daily newspaper columnists.
Denis reported for:
(1) Flatbush Life/Weekly/paid $100 week 1976 (2) Village Voice/Legendary Weekly Alternative Newspaper, Home of controversial, incendiary, provocative writers and reporters who told it exactly as they saw it. In 1977 Denis won the prestigious Meyer Berger Award from Columbia University for best NYC reporting (3) New York Magazine – City Hall column called The Koch Watch and feature stories (4) Los Angeles Herald Examiner - Was called by the legendary editor Don Forst to move out west, cover the city of Los Angeles, and write a three-times-a-week cityside column. And learn how to drive. Hamill was so homesick for Brooklyn that he wrote his first novel, “Stomping Ground,” for Delacorte Press about criminals from Brooklyn. (5) Boston Herald-American - Don Forst moved back East and took Denis along, to cover Boston and write a three-times-a-week cityside column. While there Hamill wrote his second novel, “Machine,” a political thriller set in the corrupt netherworld of the Brooklyn Democratic machine. (6) New York Newsday - When Newsday created an all-new newspaper for New York City in addition to the original on Long Island, the choice for editor could only have been Don Forst. And once again, Forst hired his columnist of choice. Denis covered the city with a column for six years – until he signed with the New York Daily News – but took time in between to write his third novel “House on Fire,” for Grove Atlantic about a Brooklyn family of cops and firefighters. (7) New York Daily News - Denis spent 24 years of covering all things New York in his column and wrote seven more novels and various movie projects.