Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott
The reviews are in for “The Black Box” and they agree: Michael Connelly is not resting on his laurels. His 25th novel is, according to the New York Times’ Janet Maslin, “a standout, thanks to thoughtful plotting, the kind that ultimately jigsaws all the pieces of a story into place.” In last week’s Echo, Seamus Scanlon called it a “superb novel.”
Connelly himself didn’t think much of his first two manuscripts when starting out in the 1980s. He never sent them to publishers and even his wife hasn’t read them. He understood that something was missing in those early detective stories.
“I knew there was a lot of internal world there, a lot of internal things going on,” he told the Echo a year ago about observing a homicide detective at work. “And in my first efforts at writing novels that’s what I was missing – the internal world, the internal cost. If your job takes you to the dark corners of humanity, murder scenes, how do you keep any of that darkness from getting inside of you.”
Connelly began his writing career in journalism after college in Florida. His parents had moved to the state with their six children during an economic downturn. Their second born, Michael, was 12 at the time. The novelist – whose eight great-grandparents were immigrants from Ireland – reported that theirs was only branch of the extended family to leave Philadelphia and he has 25 cousins in that city.
He went on to work at the Los Angeles Times and his fiction is set mainly on the West Coast. Though based back in Florida, he manages to keep it real by staying in contact with a small cadre of LAPD detectives from the cold-case squad with whom he’s become friends over the years. When he’s in California he meets them for a few beers or a meal. “We go to baseball games together,” Connelly said.
Date of birth: July 21, 1956
Place of birth: Philadelphia, Pa.
Children: One daughter, 15
Residence: Tampa, Fla.
Published works: 25 novels
What is your latest book about?
LAPD Detective Harry Bosch goes back to an unsolved murder of a photojournalist during the 1992 riots that erupted in Los Angeles after four police officers were found not guilty in the police brutality case involving the beating of Rodney King.
What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?
Writing on a laptop in a soft chair by lamp light. But I can write anywhere at anytime.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Keep your head down and just write.
Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.
The Little Sister,” by Raymond Chandler; “The Goodbye Look,” by Ross MacDonald; “Red Dragon,” by Thomas Harris.
What book are you currently reading?
“The Yellow Birds,” by Kevin Powers
Is there a book you wish you had written?
“Red Dragon,” by Thomas Harris
Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.
“The Short Cut Man,” by P.G. Sturges.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
What book changed your life?
“ The Long Goodbye,” by Raymond Chandler.
What is your favorite spot in Ireland?
Having tea by the fire at the Shelbourne.
You're Irish if . . .
You can tell a story at the bar that people will keep quiet and listen to.