Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Michael Connelly Book Signing

Michael Connelly gave a noon talk and book signing today at Barnes and Noble in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Since I am participating in the Healthy Escapes program at the Duke University Center for Living, I hopped in the Buick coupe and motored the sixty miles over there to sit at the foot of the master.
Over one hundred attended the event.
Michael spoke about the latest Harry Bosch novel, “The Closers,” explaining the genesis of the idea…read a couple of pages and took questions---giving about fifty minutes of conversation.
He considers law enforcement a noble pursuit, and the cold case detectives to be the most noble of the men in blue. He stressed that “the chorus of forgotten voices” is very real to the dedicated detectives.
He follows his instincts when writing and wanted to “shake the series up” when he had Harry retire and become a private eye. He was happy with the pair of PI novels, but felt the structure for continued PI novels would be too repetitive. He worried that would shorten the life of his main character.
Then real life stepped in and allowed Michael to bring Harry to the LAPD.
An LAPD homicide detective who retired and moved to Maine was recruited to return to the force and work in the cold case section. The detective (the real life Tim Marcia) was close to Michael Connelly and called him up to say he was returning.
Tim Marcia gave Michael lots of access to the new squad, making “The Closers” his most researched book in over ten years. The LA Opened Unsolved Unit allowed Michael Connelly to bring Harry back to the LAPD in legit fashion.
Michael was as happy as Harry Bosch was in returning to LAPD. He said Harry has found his true calling with Open Unsolved, knows how lucky he is to be there and will revel in it.
Open Unsolved in LA has about 8,000 cases going back to 1960. 1960 was chosen as the cut off as cases older would have too many witnesses, cops and contacts dead…making solutions nearly impossible.
He writes without an outline. “It is risky without an outline…an outline is like having a boss…much more fulfilling to write without one.”
His initial draft is based on momentum and velocity. Further drafts are used to “hone it down to the best possible writing…sometimes sentence by sentence.”
There have been six failed attempts at screenplays for a Harry Bosch movie…including one he did and one he worked on. He remarked that the movies rely on dialogue and action to define the character…and Harry does not say much. Much of the development of Harry is done through interior dialogue---most difficult to convey in a film.
There will be a second 2005 book out in October…”The Lincoln Lawyer.” It is a legal thriller inspired by a situation with a lawyer six years ago. The Lincoln Lawyer refers to those LA lawyers whose “office” is the Lincoln Towncar and who commute between the 39 criminal courts in the LA jurisdiction.
His first attempt at writing was a short story in high school entitled “The Perfect Murder” featuring Jack McEvoy…who later became the journalist in “The Poet.”
“I am a writer because I am a reader.”
He feels readers read more for character than plot…”and I never miss an opportunity to say something about a character.”
The music mentioned in the books is the music he is listening to at the particular time it shows up.
“Void Moon” was written off a conversation Michael Connelly had with an LAPD cop over a cup of coffee after a book signing.
After the question period he signed as many books as you brought. Every book and every person received an individual message.
Michael Connelly is most generous with his time and a most humble man. It is always a treat to attend his events.

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