Printers Row membership pays off with Michael Connelly – update!

You guys remember this post, right?  Where I kvetched about being a chump for joining Printers Row and paying extra for something that I thought should be a regular part of the Chicago Tribune?  Even worse was seeing that the price went down, down, down for people who just subscribed to the journal, rather than paid for membership… the perks of which I never took advantage of.

Until now.  Yes, I went as a VIP to the Printers Row Live event where Julia Keller, whom I adore, interviewed Michael Connelly.  Third row.  Great view.  Then, thanks to my purple member wristband, I was third in line to get my book signed. He smiled.  He wasn’t tired yet.  Awesome.

Want more pics of Connelly and the event?  Check out Trib Nation’s Facebook page.

It was a great event.  Michael Connelly is a wonderful crime novelist.  His main character is LA homicide detective Hieronymus Bosch (Harry), who is motivated by his mother’s murder to solve crimes.  The new Harry Bosch book is The Black Box, wherein Harry revisits a cold case to solve the 1992 murder of a Danish photojournalist during the LA riots following the Rodney King verdict.  (I can’t believe this was 20 years ago.)  I am on page 106.   Review to come.

In the meantime, here are 10 things I learned about Michael Connelly at tonight’s event:

  1. Connelly was influenced by reading the work of James Lee Burke – and when he saw that Burke actually dedicated a book to his agent, he submitted his first novel to that agent, figuring he must be a darn good agent.  Amazingly, that agent is now Connelly’s agent.  Who is that agent?  He didn’t say, but it looks like Philip Spitzer.
  2. First memorable book read:  To Kill a Mockingbird, foisted upon him by a librarian.  He went into the library to get out of the Florida summer heat, but was required to read.  He saw it as a crime novel.
  3. He doesn’t expect the Bosch series to end with Harry’s death.  “Ten years ago, maybe.  Now I think he deserves better than being killed off.”
  4. There’s a TV series featuring Harry Bosch in the works, and evidently Connelly may have some say in who is cast.  He’d like it to be someone fabulous, but currently unknown, like Hugh Laurie was before House.  Julia Keller thinks Ed Harris (but not today’s Ed Harris, Harris when he was younger).
  5. Connelly always wanted to be a crime writer.  He’s not a journalist who turned to fiction; he’s an author who deliberately went after the crime beat in order to get closer to cops.
  6. The spark for a book almost always comes from a story.  “Cops are great storytellers,” he says.  They spin the story and the way they tell it informs the plot and the dialogue. Thus, the authentic voice.
  7. He deliberately picked 1950 as the Harry’s birth year because the cops he knew all had a similar background, similar perspective of having served in Viet Nam, and he wanted that point of view for his main character.  The books are always set in the year they are originally published and Harry ages through the series.  In the new book, Bosch is 62.
  8. The upcoming book in the works is a Mickey Haller (Lincoln Lawyer) book.  Harry Bosch is in it, as is his daughter Maddie.
  9. When he writes a book, Connelly knows the start and the end, but the middle is the “dream fugue state.”  He doesn’t outline, but because of his experience in journalism, he’s ruthless about cutting, and the books get shorter as he edits the first draft.  “I dump stuff all the time.”
  10. What book did he read recently that he really liked?  There’s one coming out in April 2013 called Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley.  He doesn’t read much crime fiction these days, more nonfiction.
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