An interview with Michael Connelly. Crime Writer speaks in Harrogate.

By Sarah Morgan

“The best detective writer on the planet.” That’s how Mark Bellingham describes his friend and fellow author Michael Connelly. Now a legendary figure in the detective genre, he has sold over 80 million copies of his novels worldwide and been translated into 40 different languages.

And yet, if fate had not intervened, he might never have put pen to paper. In fact, it feels like he was always destined to be a crime writer (he tells an incredible story of how, when he was 16, he followed a guy to a bar after seen throwing a gun in a bush), he just needs a nudge in the right direction.

“I was going to college, doing construction science,” he says of the moment his life changed. “I wasn’t well, but I was hanging out at the student union, where they showed the film The long goodbye circa 1974/75. I loved the movie, went to the store, bought the book, loved it, went back and bought all the Raymond Chandler novels.

“Then I drove five hours to my parents to tell them that I was not going to build houses, I was going to build stories. I had full support. My dad said, “We have to find a way to put you in a position where you’re able to do this.”

This job involved going back to college to study journalism, after which Connelly landed a job as a reporter at the Los Angeles Time.

“It helped me a lot, the work ethic for sure. I got a press pass so I could go to all kinds of places as a researcher.

Fate continued to play a role in his budding career in fiction, as it was while reporting that he met the detectives who would inspire his most famous creation, LAPD officer Heironymous ‘Harry’ Bosch.

“Bosch came from a lot of places, I met a lot of detectives through journalism,” says Connelly. “There was one guy, a Vietnam veteran, who became a homicide detective and was always emotionally involved in his cases, so he was an inspiration, but there were a lot of them.

Michael Connelly interviews Harrogate

“Things Fall in Your Lap”

“And you should never miss an opportunity to build your character, and that includes the name. Harry was originally called Pierce, but then I went to an art class and the teacher spent a month studying Heironymous Bosch. The paintings are about the wages of sin, the world in chaos. Some people get the reference, some don’t.

Since then, other serendipitous events have taken place which have influenced Connelly’s work. After being introduced to real-life detective Mitzi Roberts, he was able to use his experiences to create the character of Renee Ballard, who is now a crucial part of Bosch’s books.

Then, while filming the Bosch TV series in the small town of San Fernando, he met a cop who suggested Harry work there after he retired from the LAPD – there’s no budget for a force. full-time police, so a third of the officers are volunteers. Connelly duly wrote it down in his books.

But perhaps the most incredible twist of fate, the stroke of luck, or whatever you want to call it, came when he least expected it, allowing him to devise another long series of books.

“I was talking to a guy at an LA Dodgers game,” Connelly claims. “He told me he was a lawyer working in his car – and that’s how it was Lincoln’s lawyer was born. When things fall into your lap, you have to use them!”

On the first night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, Connelly received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his long and successful career. But it’s not resting on its laurels – there’s plenty more from Bosch to come.

“I like what he’s doing at the moment, so I’m happy, even if I’m not planning too far.”

Connelly then adds, “The joy that comes from writing hasn’t changed at all. I like to write novels. When they let you, it’s pretty special. I am the luckiest guy in the world.