Friday, October 13, 2006

Meeting Michael Connelly

So yesterday I went to the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ, which is a crime fiction/mystery bookstore. It is a unique little shop, which somehow manages to book best-selling authors on a weekly basis. This week it was Michael Connelly who was in town for a few minutes for a Thursday afternoon book signing. His new book has just been published, but I just wanted to jot down a few notes related to his discussion of writing and his work that I found interesting.

I have heard Connelly speak before, he is passionate about his writing and very professional. He was a journalist prior to his career writing fiction, which I think lends an air of realism to his work. Additionally, his sense of setting is amazing. He writes primarily about Los Angeles and it is clear that in addition to having lived in L. A., Connelly loves the city. In many ways the city is a character in his novels. Unlike the shiny facade that L. A. likes to project, Connelly's Los Angeles is a bleak, solitary place where people are lured to chase their dreams and stay out of a sense of longing. This is a perfect setting for crime, because it seems that everyone in the city is either chasing a dream or selling one. When Connelly was speaking about L. A., he mentioned that prior to starting every Harry Bosch book, he reads Raymond Chandler, to remind him of why he fell in love with L. A. originally. I don't think it will be too long before people who write about Los Angeles will be reading Connelly for the same reason.

The other thing about the signing that I found interesting was the interaction of Connelly and his fans. There is a sense of ownership that fans have that is interesting. Many times these people feel that the characters are theirs, which in a strange way is true. They live with these characters far longer than the writers do. Most writers rarely read their novels once they become published, and the fans will often know more about the characters than their creators do. There were several crazy ideas/suggestions that were brought out in the Q&A that clearly had Connelly uncomfortable.

I'm not sure what my point is here other than to introduce the idea that I will be writing my own reviews of books here in Homer's Haven. They won't always be new releases, or even related by genre in any way. I just thought it would be interesting to try to explain why I feel a book is good or bad.

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