Interview: February 2, 2001
February 2, 2001
Michael Connelly is back with his latest thriller, A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT, which is already making a big buzz in the publishing world. With DARKNESS returns Connelly's well known recurring characters --- Terry McCaleb and Harry Bosch, who is not only a major character but a suspect in this novel. Bookreporter.com's Senior Writer Joe Hartlaub dove headfirst into Connelly's most recent creation and came up with a series of indepth questions for the author. Enjoy our interview with Connelly where we find out about Harry Bosch's namesake, what's in store next for the detective, the free story available on Connelly's website, and much more.
BRC: Your new novel A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT not only marks the return of Harry Bosch but also reunites him with Terry McCaleb for the first time. When did the idea to pair up Bosch and McCaleb originate?
MC: It didn't really come to me to do this until it dawned on me that this was my 10th book and that I was very fortunate to get this far in the publishing business and so maybe I should do something that was a little different, maybe a culmination of my work so far.
BRC: Bosch, the Detective, has much in common with the work of Bosch the Painter --- dark, mysterious, riveting, horrific. A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT explores the explicit and implicit relationship Harry Bosch and his artistic namesake. Did you have Hieronymus Bosch in mind when you first created Harry Bosch?
MC: Yes, back when I was first putting the character together I wanted to try to make every detail about him a significant character stroke, even his name. I had studied the painter Bosch while in college and was familiar with his work. I decided that there was a metaphor worth exploring there --- Bosch's paintings and contemporary LA. It is mentioned in all of the books, usually just once or twice, that his name is Hieronymus.
BRC: One element of A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT that personally knocked me out were the scenes involving Bosch sitting in his living room and listening to Art Pepper's Rhythm Section album. This is a seminal jazz album --- in my opinion, easily one of the Top 10 albums ever recorded --- by a musician who made a career of recording milestone records but who is sadly underappreciated today. Your setting was perfect. Are we going to be seeing more sides of Bosch like this in the future?
MC: I hope so. I like the weaving of music and art into the books. It inspires me from the standpoint of writing. I think the music also has an inspirational aspect for Harry as well. Usually, the music that is played in the books is the same music I was playing when I wrote the scene, so it has a good way of helping me imagine the scene and write it.
BRC: A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT alludes to a case which McCaleb and Bosch worked on previously. You have written a story involving their first meeting which you are giving away via your website, www.michaelconnelly.com, to readers on your mailing list. Which came first, creatively --- A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT or the forthcoming story? And where did the idea to give the story away via email arise from?
MC: The novel came first. The short story was written a week ago, right before it was sent to the mailing list. The idea of doing it came from Jane Davis, who manages the site, and me brainstorming ways of keeping the site active and interesting as well as being a useful tool for me to let readers know about my work. It was fun to do. Since it was only a short story and I wasn't paid for it and it was going out to readers free, it gave me a lot of freedom. I wrote it in first person with the narrator being Harry Bosch, something I had never done before.
BRC: Your last book --- VOID MOON --- featured Cassie Black. BLOOD WORK, the book preceding VOID MOON --- introduced Terry McCaleb. Do you have any plans, however tentative, to continue alternating protagonists in this manner? Or can we expect to see future novels featuring individuals who we haven't encountered as yet?
MC: I think it's all of the above. After DARKNESS will come a Bosch book called CITY OF BONES. I just finished it last week. Following that, I don't know what I am going to do. It won't be a Bosch, but I haven't decided yet whether to come up with a new character or go back and dust off one of the old ones. They all still fascinate me and I hope I haven't seen the last of any of them.
BRC: On a related note, do you presently have any plans for another novel featuring Cassie Black?
MC: I liked the character of Cassie Black. I would like to bring her back but it would have to be in the right story and so far that hasn't come to me.
BRC: And, continuing on matters involving the future, what can you tell us about your next novel?
MC: CITY OF BONES involves a case where the bones of a 12-year-old boy are found buried in the Hollywood Hills after a dog disturbs the shallow grave. Harry Bosch is called in and the case evolves into an investigation that is fraught with department politics and danger to Harry.
BRC: Your website also very generously provides links to unpublished chapters of Bosch novels, for those of us unable to get enough of your published work. Do you have any more of these gems that you'll be releasing in the future?
MC: At the moment I don't have anything else. But, who knows, maybe my editor will cut a chapter out of CITY OF BONES and I'll put it on there. I think that with this short story I just wrote, I may end up doing more short pieces like this for the website.
BRC: You have an incredibly ambitious book tour in support of A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT scheduled for January and February 2001. I was extremely impressed by the breadth of the tour --- from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska, and all points in between--- as well as the obvious effort made to include stops in cities which most book tours normally miss. Could you share with us your most favorite and least favorite book tour experience?
MC: Well, there have been a lot of both. I think the absolute worse was when I was scheduled for a signing in Lexington, KY, at the same time as a University of Kentucky basketball game. Well, Lexington virtually shuts down during one of these games. It was the only signing I ever had where absolutely no one came. I even left a half hour early and wasn't missed. The best would be hard to pinpoint. I have had many fantastic experiences. I think some of the times I have been in foreign cities like Paris and London and Sydney and come into bookstores that are crowded with people who have read and liked my books. There is a measure of fulfillment there that goes beyond words. When you write a story in your little room in LA that connects with somebody half a world away, you can't beat it.
BRC: Are any of your novels scheduled to be adapted for film?
MC: I am not really sure. Three of them --- THE BLACK ICE, BLOOD WORK, and VOID MOON --- are in active development and so things could possibly happen with one or all of them this year. You never know with Hollywood.
BRC: Could you describe for us what your work habits are like when you are writing?
MC: I try to get up as early as possible and be writing before the sun comes up. I find I am most creative in the morning. I usually go to lunch and then things slow down after and I either do a little more writing or concentrate on the business side of my work. When I am writing a book, which is most of the time, I write everyday, even if it's only for a few minutes. It keeps the story alive in my head.
BRC: What authors would you consider to be your primary influence?
MC: I think the big three for me are Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald and Joseph Wambaugh.
BRC: What books have you read recently that you could recommend to our readers?
MC: The books I have liked a lot lately have been A PLACE OF EXECUTION by Val McDermid, PURPLE CANE ROAD by James Lee Burke, RIGHT AS RAIN by George D. Pelecanos, and AFTERBURN by Colin Harrison.