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Presentation by Michael Connelly at the 2012 National Book Festival on 22 September 2013.

Video is available at YouTube, and runs 43:36.

IntroductionEdit

ANDERSON: Thank you, book lovers. I'm– I am Patrick Anderson; I do review fiction for the Post. Everyone is– at the Post is very proud to be– that the Post is a sponsor of this great event, and we're all very grateful that all of you and all the other lovers of book who have made this thing such an incredible success. I have a very easy job right now: to introduce a writer who really truly needs no introduction. I've introduced Michael before and I think the reason he draws such enthusiastic standing-room-only crowds is that so many of you have followed his career, have read his books one after another, and share my belief that his Harry Bosch novels are the finest crime series that any American has ever written.

You don't know how that makes me feel because nobody ever claps for a book reviewer. I found the one applause line. I'm just going to say a few, brief biographical things about Michael. He was born in Florida. He was a freshman in Florida University when he discovered the works of Raymond Chandler and decided that's what I want to do when I grow up. And he changed his major to journalism with the plan that he would become a graduate, become a crime reporter and this would lead to writing crime friction which plan he followed to perfection.

And first was a crime reporter in Florida and then at the Los Angeles Times, and of course Los Angeles most Chandler's city. And it was 20 years ago in 1992 that Michael published the first of the Bosch books, The Black Echo, yes. And two months from now in November, he will publish the 18th and most recent of the Harry Bosch books. It's called The Black Box and he may explain to you why those two books have black in the title.

As you--as I think you know, he also, in 2005, started a second series of some of the complementary parallel series, The Lincoln Lawyer novels. Yeah. Starring our favorite defense lawyer, Mickey Haller which are, in many ways, is wonderful as the Harry Bosch books. And of course, they are half brothers, did you know? And there's a rumor that the gentlemen who is the original model of Mickey Haller is in the vicinity. I'll let Michael explain that if he wants to. Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to introduce Michael Connelly.

PresentationEdit

CONNELLY: Thanks. I guess now you know why they say Patrick and I are old friends. When he says stuff like that about me, he has to be a good friend. Before I talk, first thing's first, Facebook. So I got a video and let's take a video of everybody here. [inaudible], right? It'd be like a wave. Everyone like wave. All right, go. Cool.

All right, what a great day for books and storytelling, and reading, and being out in a beautiful day. So thank you for coming in here and squeezing in. It's really– I'm kind of left speechless by so many people who wants so much about books being celebrated here. As Patrick said, I have a book coming out in a couple months. So it's kind of bad timing. I don't have a book out right now. And I'm going to tell you a little bit about the one coming, but for the most part I think it'd be best, I'll talk a little bit and then I always – some of you have probably seen me under this tent before.

I operate better from answering questions and I can turn the answers from– the questions into speeches and all kinds of stuff. But it's very hard for me to just kind of extemporaneously explain myself. I'm always reminded of Donald Westlake who--I love his books and he was such a good character as a man and a friend. And you know, he didn't do this at all, hardly. He--in fact, he won a big Lifetime Achievement Award a few years before he died. And when he went up to the stand to take the trophy and they were expecting a speech, he just said I'm a writer not a talker and then he--then he sat down.

So, he's my patron saint when it comes to this stuff. But when we do get to questions, it seems that people most often want to know about the process like the story behind the story, like how do you write these things, how do you come up with them, where DOES Harry Bosch come from. And the truth is: I don't have the answers to any of those. The process of writing to me is, you know– I write mysteries, but the real mystery is how they happen. And the best I can tell you is that I try to put myself in positions to be inspired and I'm confident that I will be inspired and that it will happen again and it will work again.

I'm a reporter at heart. I spent 14 years as a newspaper reporter covering cops and courts and crime. And I knew, you know, back when I was in college that I wanted to hopefully write crime fiction but--and went in to the newspaper business to get close to the subject matter I wanted to write about, also to get the daily experience of writing, the work ethic of writing everyday. And it worked out for me 'cause I met some, you know, amazing people.

I met some bad people and I saw some very interesting things and that's all going in to the creative blender and, you know, comes--gets poured out at times in my books. But I haven't been a reporter since 1994. So it's a long time ago. And I write very contemporary novel. They, hopefully, reflect a little bit about what's going on in our world in the year they're published. And so to do that, I can't rely on stories I wrote about in 1990 or something like that.

So I do put myself in positions. I spend a lot of time with cops. I spend a lot of time with lawyers. I spend a lot of time in courtrooms. The difference is I use to carry a pad or a tape recorder and I was very obvious of what I was doing. Now, I don't do that 'cause I think that can intimidate stories from coming out. So I rely on my ear mostly. And I got to tell you, this book coming out is my 25th book.

So probably, 20 out of 25 times, the idea has started with a verbal story. Somebody just telling me something that they were involved in. And because they were involved in it and because it meant something to them, there's a level of emotion in their telling of it, and somehow that inspires me. And it's never been the case where one story became one book. It's always– you take this story which sounds really good and really inspiring, and you connect it with this story that you heard this other time. And it's about building ideas and stories together.

It's like, you know, physics or chemistry or something, building compounds, you bring things together and finally you have something new and something that you think you can run with. And I've been lucky. That's the way it's been for me for 25 now. As Patrick said, this is a year I couldn't have had them a long time ago. It's the 20th year of being published, my 25th book. And when I was first published, you know, in 1992, I was just hoping I could write another book and that somebody would want it.

And it--and you kind of go like that. I can still remember when I would get an offer on those early books and I would factor my head, "Okay, that's six months that I don't have to be a newspaper reporter. That will finance me." And then I made a deal with the devil, Hollywood, and then that was like a three-year deal. I don't have to go back to work for three years. And it kind of went on mad. And now, I'm pretty sure I don't have to go back to work. [Laughter] I can keep doing this.

And that's what's--that's what's most important to me because to have uninterrupted focus on writing is just such a--something to be cherished. Patrick mentioned, I'm traveling around with what I call the Lincoln lawyers, two lawyers that allow me to be a fly on the wall in their lives, their professional lives, mostly, but to see how they do their work. And from that, I draw the stories that become Mickey Haller's stories. And it's the same thing. I don't really take notes with them. I just listen to their stories. I buy them martinis and they tell a lot of stories [laughter] and it kind of comes from that.

I remember that very significantly, I was spending time with them, I hadn't written the first one yet, The Lincoln Lawyer, and the only time I ever wrote something down was when one of them, I asked the basic reporter's question like how often do you get an innocent client, and the answer I didn't expect was one of them said, "You don't really want innocent clients because the stakes are so high. There's no client as scary as an innocent client." And--so then I grabbed the cocktail napkin and wrote that line down. That became the first line of the first book, The Lincoln Lawyer.

But for the most part, I just sit back, let it come in to me in kind of casual conversation. So the--I guess I can talk a little bit about the--remember, think of questions 'cause we're going to go to questions soon enough. I'm going to talk a little bit about the book that's coming out in the end of November called The Black Box. As I said, I've been very, very fortunate as a writer that I get to do this. I get to do it often with this character Harry Bosch.

First Harry Bosch story came out 20 years ago. So that means I was probably writing, thinking about him and dreaming him up 23, 24 years ago. And so to think I'm still writing about him is just sacred to me. I think that this book is going to be the 18th Harry Bosch Book that's probably two or three million words written about one character. It's a character that evolved over time against a city that has evolved over time. It's almost like an anthropological study in many ways. And so I really value it.

And so it was kind of playing on me that, you know, next year's book is going to be twenty years of Harry Bosch and it's going to be my 25th book, overall. So not that I don't take all my books as I'm writing them are special, but I really put, I guess, a weight on this one that I wanted it to be significant. So it--The Black Box is a twenty-year story. It starts in 1992, right at the same time we met Harry Bosch in it--it's a twenty-year case. So a case that Harry has been working on for twenty years.

I draw a lot from some personal experience as I had in that year. I was still a reporter then. And as most of you know, we had the riots in Los Angeles and I was a reporter doing those riots and I still mark those couple of days that I was involved as the most impactful story I ever covered. Just the things that happened to me, the things I saw. I love Los Angeles to see a city completely come unchained. It was really something to see them.

So it's creeped into my fiction over the years, I would say, several times but no more so than this book, The Black Box and it involves Harry Bosch. We start with Harry in 1992 during the riots. I spent some time in the research of this book with some homicide detectives who had to work cases. There were 53 deaths during the riots. And it was almost like triage homicide work. They would get to a scene and after only half hour, they would have to go to the next scene. Or, they would be in a very dangerous situation wherever these scenes were with gunfire around them, sniper fire, this like that. It was very difficult to run any kind of successful crime scene investigation.

And so, this is a case of--Harry was after about forty minutes and had to go but before he left, he did find one bullet shell, one little piece of evidence. And then twenty years later, he is affected by the twenty-year anniversary of the riots and he pulls that case and he uses that bullet shell with modern technology to connect other cases and we're off to the races. But that's essentially what The Black Box is about.

The black box, you all know the reference to the "black box" is on an airplane. When there's an air crash, the first thing the investigators try to find is the black box 'cause it has all the telemetry and all the electronic back up in it. And from the black box, they can find out what happened. And Harry believes that every crime scene has a black box or something there that if it can be discovered, will tell him what happened.

And so, when he comes to a crime scene, he's always looking for the black box. Back in 1992, he never got a chance to find it because of the circumstances. But in 2012, he comes back to the case to search for the black box. So I think that's what I want to tell you. And like I said, if some people have some questions, I think this thing won't be as boring [laughter], so. Someone--yeah, they have the microphones and you can just go on up and ask away.

Q&AEdit

Question 1Edit

[QUESTION]: And [inaudible]--this morning, I was seeing Tom Briven [phonetic] talk and it reminded me of when he was talking about the world is flat and we've got this entire world coming closer together as a writer, even in your career, and you've spanned over this time period, you've seen from book being written solely for English speaking and maybe you as audiences. Now, you got competition with the Scandinavian being translated. You've got the eBooks. All this has changed over the last 20 years. How has that affected your writing knowing that you got a whole different market and a whole different communication?

CONNELLY: The best way to approach all that is to keep your head down and write the best story you can write because no matter how that's delivered, whether it's electronically or on paper, in other languages, it really is all about the story. And you know, from my--you know, I know publishers are on pins and needle wondering how this is going to happen. Book stores, you know, will we reach an equilibrium where everyone can coexist electronic and print? And I think that will happen. But, it's probably a very selfish answer, but the truth is I don't have to worry about that because, you know, since we lived in caves, we've needed storytellers and it we will always need storytellers. And as long as there's stories that are reflected of what's going on in our world and tell us a little bit about our world and maybe give us cues on how we want to see ourselves and conduct ourselves, then there's, you know, enormous value in that. And so, you know, that's what I hold on to, my job, and all those questions which are very valid is really just to make sure I provide the best story. I can have, you know, Harry Bosch go static and the story, the evolution not change from time to time.

Question 2Edit

[QUESTION]: Thank you.

CONNELLY: But the second part of that answer--

[QUESTION]: Yeah.

CONNELLY: --would be, remember, I can turn anything into a speech, any question. [Laughter]

[QUESTION]: And also, I was saying about, you know, your competition now is, you know, multiple people being translate to English where previously, you didn't have that kind of competition.

CONNELLY: Well, I mean, I don't even look at this competition and I love the idea of reading other writers from other cultures and across oceans and all that stuff because I get the same thing. I'm welcomed in all these countries and I think it should be a two way road. And if there's anyone in here who only reads one book a year, please raise your hand. I mean there's no--there's no competition. And a good piece of fiction--a good piece of nonfiction narrative is fantastic, it's inspiring. And so, I never ran into that. But the one thing I was going to say, you're talking about the evolution of the--in the 20 years I've been writing, just think about Harry Bosch. When I was first writing about him, he had a pager, he was distrustful of phones, cell phones, computers. And now, you know, he listens to music on an iPhone. He actually uses a computer largely 'cause his daughter is teaching him the way. But--I mean, that's been one of the most fulfilling parts of this journey, is to take Harry Bosch through this time because--who was it, Shakespeare? Somebody said may you live in interesting times. And Harry is certainly has lived in interesting times.

Question 3Edit

[QUESTION]: Did you go to Vietnam to do some of those scenes? Have you ever been--

CONNELLY: No, I was--

[QUESTION]: You just--

CONNELLY: You really insulted me. I was too young to go to Vietnam, so. [Laughter]

[QUESTION]: No, no, no. I'm talking about--no, not--no, no, no. [Laughter] I'm talking about after the war to see those--you know--

CONNELLY: No, I've not been over there. I'd like to do that. But yeah, you can actually go to Vietnam.

[QUESTION]: 'Cause I was there and you did a great job on it.

CONNELLY: Oh, thank you. I had help from people who were there. So that's a great complement. Answer is such a terrible insult, but [laughter]--yeah. Yeah.

[QUESTION]: I'm a total fangirl both on your books and the show Castle. And I was just wondering if you would talk about your experience on that show and if that has any similar--like a process of that has any similarities with writing or if--you know, if it's just a fun project or are there relationship between that in writing, if any?

CONNELLY: Well, it's definitely a fun project. You know, they--I think the creators of the show wanted to have this blending of reality in their television show. So they invited real authors to be on the show and play cards and that. I mean, that's because they had that greater plan that they would put out books into our world. And so, it was a go back and forth type thing. But Castle is like--doesn't really resemble my life at all. [Laughter] You know, I hang around with detectives. They're not as beautiful as the one that she--he hangs around with. But it's fun. I mean it's--the day of shoot is just fun because they know we're not professionals. And so, they know we have to--these guys got to be nervous, they got to be scared, so we get--above all, we must make them comfortable. So there's no aloofness. Like Nathan the star, he hangs out with us. We play cards as the warming up and then we shoot the scenes and I think it comes off pretty natural. It's fun to do. I mean, I've gotten to the point where I'm telling them I want better lines and all that [laughter], more lines. So--which is why they didn't invite me back [laughter] I think, so. Yeah.

Question 4Edit

[QUESTION]: I have a tendency to become obsessed with the character sometimes that I read in a book where I start reading the series and all and I can tell when I becoming obsessed when I listen to a book on tape on the way to work and I start arguing with Harry Bosch in what he's doing and wondering why he did it.

So my question is: since you've been with him yourself for 20 years, has he ever done something in a book or in some scenes that you really didn't feel you had control of, but it had to be because of him the reason the way it was written?

CONNELLY: Yeah, there's a lot of stuff that you got to think about Harry Bosch logic and how--what will--like, what will he do in this situation and you know he's making a mistake, but that's like Harry Bosch. I mean, for example, I guess the thing that comes to mind is his child rearing. You know, he's taking care of--you know, when his daughter was 13, by circumstances, he suddenly was raising a 13-year-old, and this is a guy who's never raised a child, never had a sustained romantic, you know, relationship. And by nature, he's built himself to be bulletproof.

He's, you know, wrong or right, Harry has this idea that he has a mission in the world. He's here for a reason. And to do that the best that he could do, he can't be gotten to. So you see him sabotage relationships and be the loner, because then you can't begotten to and then suddenly he realizes he's a father and that changes, he can begotten to. And then he gotten to, and now he's raising a daughter and he makes a lot of mistakes. So I happen to have a daughter who's the same age as Harry's.

And so, I have this research in my house [laughter], but I often go in different directions because I've been with my daughter my whole life. Her mother is there. And we have the traditional family unit. And Harry doesn't have that, so he can't make the same choices that I would make. And so, you know, he makes this, you know, mistakes and he often if you get away from fatherhood just as a detective. He's often his worse enemy. The book that's coming, you know, is not a big surprise, but he gets involved in a--as the subject of an internal affairs investigation.

And he pushes it to the limit where he could've probably just gotten--had it go away. He has this standards and beliefs, and he ends up messing himself up or hurting himself because of his choices. And you know, as I'm writing that, I'm not the kind of writer who would stand up here and say, "Oh, Harry said something like--I was so shocked, he said that." Well, he didn't see anything and I didn't put in it his mouth. He doesn't do anything. So I am the marionette or whatever you want to call it. But at the same time, I know when he's doing things that he shouldn't do or that I wouldn't do, but he's Harry.

[QUESTION]: Thank you.

CONNELLY: Yup.

Question 5Edit

[QUESTION]: Hi.

CONNELLY: Hi.

[QUESTION]: You're originally from Florida and I read that you're living back in Florida, or do you? Do you ever envision any of your stories being not in LA? You know, the way Elmore Leonard moved all his from Detroit to Florida. Do you ever see a Florida series to coming out?

CONNELLY: No, I really don't. I think LA is my muse. I just--it just seems like a bottomless well of inspiration and stories, and that's where I have, you know, many connections within the world I write. I--when I lived--I lived in LA for 15 years and I wrote several books there, but I was always moving around the city. I had this idea or I have this idea of not being too comfortable, as part of the writing process, to move and find ways of being reenergized. And so then, it got into my head that I should write about LA from afar.

So I moved back to where I'm from or, more or less, where my wife is from. And that's worked for a while, but I'm now feeling that I'm drawn back to LA. So the question about Florida, I don't think that will ever happen. And I--you know, Harry goes on trips day--I call them day trips. You know, he's going to Hong Kong on stories, Mexico, Las Vegas. In this next book, he goes to wonderful Modesto, California. [Laughter] So--but the anchor is LA. It's always going to be my anchor, I think, creatively. And so, therefore, remains [inaudible]. Yup.

[QUESTION]: Well, as a native of Angelino, I sure enjoy the backdrop of LA. One thing I read about on your--I think it was your website. I read that Harry Bosch might be phased out because of his age in the next few years, and this is more of a comment than a question. I'm sure and I'm sure everybody else who would really enjoy having you maybe prolong that phasing out as long as possible.

CONNELLY: Right. Yeah, I hate that idea, phasing him out. But, you know, 20 years ago, I made a call that if I was lucky enough to be able to write about this character again and again that I would use that as a reporter to use him the chronicle of place. So the place would evolve over time. And therefore, Harry would have to evolve. And I--following my reporter's instincts, I made him very much like the detectives I covered as a reporter.

And so, I made him 42. I made him a Vietnam veteran. I did all these things. And then I got lucky and they wanted a next book and then they wanted a next book and a next book. And so, I could never have seen that 20 years later, I'd still be writing about Harry. And I, myself, as a writer would still be very much interested in him. So you live by the sword of being a verisimilitude. You got to die by it. And Harry is, you know, 62 this year, so he can't keep carrying a badge.

It doesn't mean I'm going to phase him out. There's other things I can do for him. And if you are reading the more recent books, I think there's a lot of clues as to what I'm going to do with him. But on the level of carrying a badge and a gun for the LAPD, he's got--signed a contract recently. They have the thing called the DROP and he signed the contracts so that he--so when the DROP which came out in December, he got five more years.

So we got five more years of him carrying a badge and it doesn't mean it's the end of him. There's other things I hope to do with Harry. And, you know, I view the whole series as a guy going through a tunnel towards the light and, you know, I don't know when that he'll reach that light. I think he's heading towards something good, something fulfilling. And the longer I can prolong that, I know it's torturous to him, but it gives me more opportunity for stories. So, hopefully, he'll be around for a long time. Yup.

Question 6Edit

[QUESTION]: Hi. [Applause]

CONNELLY: Yeah.

[QUESTION]: I noticed that your book store about once a year. Is that a pace you try to keep or is it more a function of just when the ideas come? Thank you.

[QUESTION]: No, it's a pace I write--I'm under no pressure to turn in books. I just write at a pace that suits me. I am very aware of the contemporary nature of the books and how I--you know, like last year, I had a book where Mickey Haller was defending foreclosures and that was what was happening in our world at that time. That's--you know, maybe that's the reporter in me. But that opportunity means a lot to me. And so, if you take three or four years to write a book, I think you lose some of that opportunity. And--you know, so I really savor that. And that is involved in my pacing.

But--and you know, I was a reporter where you had to write everyday. You had to write several stories a day. You were--word counts are high at a newspaper. So it's not being a problem for me to shift from that to writing books and having a high word count everyday. So I write at the pace that fits me. And it's always been at least one book a year. But sometimes, it's been two. Last year, I had two. And it just works out that way. Yup.

Question 7Edit

[QUESTION]: Hi. One question I've pondered probably most of my adult life is whether we are actually becoming worse as human beings and behaving worse toward each other, or whether it's just that everything is now covered in news, endless news? And in line with that, I noticed a trend of young people of more privileged background and often white are committing horrific crimes like murdering each other, lacrosse players beating their girlfriends to death, and things like that. And I'm wondering if you're--first of all, if you've written about anything like that or plan to and whether you have any kind of insight into the are we worse versus are we more covered.

CONNELLY: I don't--I hate to say that I have insight into anything. But I think you mentioned the media, and I think that media--there's more media, there's more forms in media, electronic media and so forth. So I think we're living in a time where things are brought to light more. In the LAPD, they have these leather bound volumes where they've charted every murder and it's like when a murder would occur, they would write a page into these books and they go back a hundred years. And I--they'd allowed me to sit there and look through them. And some ghastly, horrible things go back a hundred years.

So I don't think we, as people, become more violent or we become meaner or anything like that. I think that there's more attention to it. There's media attention. I think there is psychological attention. And I think we're an evolved species. But there's, you know, there's a segment of it of all the--in all societies that are violent and criminal and--but I think it's always been that way. You know, just like, you know, the advent of serial killers in the last 34 years. Well, they've been serial killers that we didn't know about for, you know, decades and decades, and you can see that in these books, though. But having said all that, I'm not an expert on all that. I write fiction, so. Okay, yeah.

Question 8Edit

[QUESTION]: Well, my question is sort of already been asked but I'm not going to give up my one moment of fame to stand this close to you.

CONNELLY: I'll answer it in a different way.

[QUESTION]: Okay. My question was going to be did you ever think about killing Harry off? But--yeah, I know, [inaudible], don't mean it. But I'll expand that. You added a second character in your series and you started writing about The Lincoln Lawyer, and you've--Harry's got maybe only got five more years. Do you think about the characters that you want to write about as you hear these stories or is--would be two--be sufficient and maybe more than you couldn't handle if you added another one?

[QUESTION]: Well, I think a lot of having Harry killed a Lincoln lawyer. [Laughter] No, no. No. you know, early in the series, I have to say that crossed my mind. How do I end the series? But then I kept writing about him and I feel like so close to him, and I have developed this idea that it's one mosaic or one long story, one guy going down a tunnel towards the light that I just can't betray him and have that light be the flash of a shotgun or something like that. I really feel he's heading towards fulfillment and some kind of happiness and some kind of self-knowledge of why he was on such a torturous path. So I don't think about that anymore.

You mentioned, do I think of other characters when I hear these stories. And I do go through a process where I think like is this a Harry story, is this a Mickey Haller stories, or should I pop out something new. And it's been a while now, so I guess seven years since I've written about a new character. And so, I'm feeling that [inaudible] that I should look around for someone new to add to this, not to say goodbye to Harry or Mickey or anything like that, but to add to this mosaic.

It's a lot of fun to start a new character. And it's a lot of fun to keep right coming back to Harry Bosch. But everything I've written, I mentioned, those two millions words about Harry Bosch, they're all chains and I have to live with those two million words, and makes it harder to find new things that works about Harry. And so, these type of things usually lead me to say, "Boy, I got to think of the breather. Let me start with somebody new where the page is blank and I can come up with whatever I want to do."

[QUESTION]: Well, I'm tempted to ask the question again so you'll give us an additional answer, but I'll stop.

CONNELLY: Okay.

Question 9Edit

[QUESTION]: Hi. Lost Light is one of my personal favorites because it's the first time in the series that we get to experience Harry's story in his own words. I'm just wondering, looking back, was that planned, was there something about that particular time in your writing career? Was it impulsive that you decided to kind of give us Harry's story through his own?

CONNELLY: Impulsive is a good answer. It was--I mean I love that book. It's one of my favorites. But in a way, it was a mistake. I had Harry the year--the book before City of Bones, he quits the police department and then he kind of works for himself. So he's working on old cases. And I flipped to first person. I wanted to challenge myself with the first person. I mean most of the writers who inspired me to want to be a writer wrote in first person, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, people like that. I thought like, well, I should try to step up to the plate and see how I would do.

And so, the plan at that time was that Harry would become like a private eye and always work his old cases and things like that. And in the writing of that book, as much as I liked it, I realized, I had made a mistake because what I had taken out of the context was two things. I can hide stuff when he's in third person and I think a lot of the connection to Harry Bosch with readers is a little curiosity of what he's up to. And in first person, if you don't tell them what you're up to, you're cheating. And I--so I missed that, that hold back.

And then the other aspect was bureaucracy. I think a big connection between Harry Bosch and readers is we all have trouble with bureaucracy and we like seeing how he handles it. And of course, he would still have some aspects of it but nothing like being in a highly politicized agency like a police department where sometimes it's the department itself that is--that you can't get out of your way. And seeing how Harry dealt with that was what I think endeared him to people. And I felt that was going to go away.

So I thought, well, I'm pretty much screwed myself here because he quit. And in police departments, when you quit, they don't let you come back. And then just serendipity, they hired a new police chief from New York in LAPD and he came in and his assessment of it was: we've had so many scandals that all the good, not all of them, but many of the good detectives have retired and going elsewhere and I'm going to start a campaign to get good people back. And so, he started a program, nicknamed the Retread Program where they hired detectives back.

And so, I saw this opening where I could realistically bring Harry back into the fold. And it was funny, I just thought long shot, but I got the chief's e-mail and I sent him an e-mail and said like how would Harry come back if you even know about Harry. And like a day later, I--he personally called me and said, "What do you need?" And he actually sent me the application that Harry would [laughter] fill out. So he was a great sponsor of bringing Harry back into the fold. So we got--I guess, your question and lady's question and then we're out of time. Okay.

Question 10Edit

[QUESTION]: Well, first, thanks for being here and thank you for all your wonderful books. I wonder if you could just comment on the decision to kill all off a recurring character like Terry McCaleb or--and particularly, Eleanor Wish and that--when that occurred.

CONNELLY: You know, fiction is not neat, it can be messy. It's not done lightly. I just gave a--half part of the answer, but it's not done lightly and there was--in those two cases, it was done for different reasons. But it's always done in terms of moving on. You know, I write other books, but I'm mostly writing about Harry Bosch. I think whatever I'm going to end up saying or standing for as a writer, it's going to be Harry Bosch. And I needed to have Harry Bosch raise his daughter and there is really only way--one way to get to that. And so, I made a very difficult decision and that's how some people get killed.

I learned a Hollywood lesson with Terry McCaleb. He was portrayed in the movie by Clint Eastwood, who was so iconic and so different from the guy in the book that it destroyed my creative process. And I realized, I couldn't write about this guy anymore without seeing Clint Eastwood. And that wouldn't work with what I'd already written in the books 'cause he is like 35 years younger than Clint Eastwood. So I just kind of realized at some point, I'm not writing about this guy anymore. So I can have either just leave him out there or I could use him one final time. And so, I used him as a victim. Yup. Last question has got to be really good.

Question 11Edit

[QUESTION]: A comment and a question. The first is: I love Harry's name and I had no idea that there was actually a real person by that name, so it inspired me to go back and learn about him. But my question is this. Earlier today, we listened to Patricia Cornwell and she mentioned that she had switched speakers or readers for her audible books and got feedback that people didn't really like the second person. She went back to the original reader. And I was wondering, as an author who must hear these voices in his head as you write it: does the reader of your books for the audible material affect your feelings about the book and how it's perceived?

CONNELLY: No. My thing on audio--first of all, I love audio books. I just don't love my own or I don't listen to my own because you're right, I have a sense of what Harry Bosch sounds like or what Mickey Haller sounds like and I could have the best reader in the world, but it won't be what I have in my head. So I've religiously not listen to my books.

At the same time, I solicit, you know, what people think 'cause I do change readers and there can be an uproar. There can be the opposite of that over time, so it's important. And I know, for me, as a consumer of books, that I like--I probably--I might listen to more than I read because on normal times reading, I can also be writing. So it's like when I'm driving and so forth that I listen. So it's an important part of it.

But I don't--I end up having to trust the people that put this stuff together to get the right people to read it. I don't know if you have to complaint. I'll take it. Okay, all right, okay. Now, the one--I have to admit, I did listen to one book. There was a time in the philosophy of my publisher where they would put a bridge book sent to--they said that we get a journeyman reader, actor reader to do your--on a bridge books and they were the main things.

But we put out a bridge and we try to get celebrity-type readers. And so, one of my books was read by Burt Reynolds and I kept getting feedback. Did you approve this and had you heard this? [Laughter] And I didn't know you were writing comedy now and all [laughter] those stuff. So I had to listen to him, not doing Harry Bosch, his point is Harry Bosch, but happened to be a book that had several black women in it. And when he was doing black women, it became a comedy. And--so that was the last time I listen to one of mine on tape.

ConclusionEdit

CONNELLY: I guess we're out--oh we got five minutes. Yeah, I'll just answer--it wasn't even a question, but I feel a speech coming on. You mentioned a name, Harry Bosch. I liked hearing what you said that you had no idea it was based on a character in history because just by so much serendipity has happened to me in my travels as a writer, but when I was in college, I studied a lot of art, art history and things like that, and I came across a painter Hieronymus Bosch from five centuries ago. And he's very obscure in this country or was, you know, 20 years ago.

And so, when I was putting together this character of Harry Bosch, I knew from my reading that, you know, people read these books. Yeah, you want a good murder or, you know, want to be surprised or whatever, but it's mostly about the character, connecting or not connecting to the character. And so, that you put anything you can into the character to help make that connection. And that would include a name. And--you know, so I thought a long time about what I would call this detective.

And originally, you know, couple of the first drafts, he was called Pierce, no last name, just Pierce, because that came from an essay that Raymond Chandler wrote about the detective being able to pierce all levels of society and all veils and all of that. And then I--something, and I don't remember it was, but something reminded me of that painter I studied about. I guess, it was about 15 years earlier. And I just thought that would be perfect because the painter's work was about a world going wrong, about chaos, the way Jesus sin. And you can take--it's a bit of leap, but you can make a metaphor connection to a crime scene.

And so, initially, when I was writing that first book, I was going to say this guy is going to be a master of the crime scene. And so, I called him Hieronymus Bosch, Harry for short. And I knew it was kind of--these are--cliche, a win-win situation that people would either know, get that. They would know the painter and get that connection, or they might be intrigued 'cause they had no idea who it was. And so, I think it worked out.

Then one gentleman asked about how my books now are in other countries. When I went to Holland to promote my books, which is where Hieronymus Bosch, he was a Flemish painter. He was from that area and he's like--he's as famous as Mickey Mantle over there and it's kind of like who is this American who's using our guy's name. But their big question was they said, "You know, what Hieronymus means?" And I said, "No. You know, it's Latin, isn't it?" And he said, "Well, it's Latin for Jerome. So our question is why is he called Harry and not Jerry?" [Laughter]

And--so, you know, sometimes you have a plan and it unravels when you least expect it. [Laughter] Thank you very much for coming here and have a great day. Thank you. [Applause].

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