Michael Connelly – The King of Crime is Coming

Article | Issue: May 2024

He has been labelled as the ‘international king of crime’ in the program of the 2024 Sydney Writers Festival, and while this humble veteran of the writing industry might not agree, there is no denying his global impact on the crime genre.

On the eve of his arrival in Australia to attend multiple events across both the Sydney and Brisbane Writers Festivals, SAMUEL BERNARD sat down with MICHAEL CONNELLY and asked him about writing, festivals, and his exciting new upcoming novel, The Waiting.

 

With warmth emanating from the crisp morning sun through the single window behind his writing desk in the US – directly opposed to the blistering late evening Australian sun burning a hole through mine – Michael Connelly and I connected over a discussion via Zoom.

His grounded nature strikes me early in our interview, as someone with his level of fame and success could potentially come across to an interviewer as beneath them. This was certainly not the case with Connelly, who radiates charisma and passion for his life’s work.

Michael Connelly has now released more than three dozen novels in a career that has spanned decades. Even the best jobs out there have their limits, yet Connelly still ‘treasures’ his career, his life of writing, and being able to meet fans at festivals in Australia and abroad.

While Australians and New Zealanders are quite used to having to take long flights to get almost anywhere around the world, Connelly quipped with a chuckle that, ‘… it is arduous to get there. It’s a long flight, even from LA.

‘I’ve been to four or five different [festivals] in Australia and they’re all done very well. I’ve gone to them in multiple countries around the world and Sydney is always one of my favourites,’ Connelly said with assurance as he strokes his beard.

Venturing into a writing career can be a very lonely and isolating existence for any writer. Especially for Connelly, who has been writing full-time since 1994 – a cool 30 years and still going – having left the hustle and bustle of his former life working in a newsroom.

Taking a deep breath, he explained is transition to his writing career, ‘I had a really hard time. It was very difficult to go from the comradery, the noise, the people. I didn’t have any kids yet … and my wife was still working, so for a while I had a very tough time.’

He did find a rhythm and found his way forward. With a new energy and spring in his voice, he says this was partially due to his ‘once a month’ lunches with other writers and ‘finding a new tribe’. But it was also through his interactions with fans and other writers at expo’s, conferences, and festivals, that he found connection.

‘I prefer festivals over the old book tour because it’s not just you,’ he smiled sincerely. ‘When you’re on a book tour, they’re going to show up for you or they’re not going to show up. But at a book festival, there are lots of other writers and there’s lots of people. You get to meet other writers and there’s a very strong sense of celebrating the written word. These things happen in a book tour, but not to the extent of a well-run and well-attended festival.’

While Connelly is pushing 70 years of age, he knows the value in supporting the people that have helped provide him with such an incredible career and life. When speaking of those supporters, his chin raised and his pitch shifted, markedly very proud of those close to him.

Michael Connolly author‘A lot of people, including people close to me, some of my handlers, say you’re 67 years old, you’ve written 38 books, you don’t have to go to festivals. You don’t have to get on a plane for 14 hours. But I kind of feel like I do. I feel like it’s very important. It’s a sign that you do treasure the good fortune or the good opportunity you have been given.’

On the eve of his appearance at the Sydney Writers festival I wondered whether an Australian city might ever feature in one of his novels.

‘I think there are some similarities [between Sydney and Los Angeles]. You can do a so-called fish out of water story, but you have to be careful with it.

‘I went on a trip, and I was in Sydney for a week. And on my way back I went to Hong Kong for a week, and I came back and said, I’m going to pick one of those cities and have a fish-out-of-water story.’

He ultimately veered towards the non-English speaking city, as he suggested that Bosch would be more challenged getting around in Hong Kong. However, the he didn’t rule out Sydney’s possible involvement in a future novel.

‘So, Sydney. Yeah, I can see that happening’, he says. We shared a laugh regarding the possible blockbuster 2026 release of Harry Bosch getting around Redfern or Parramatta.

Within mere months, Connelly will release this next chapter in his ‘Harry Bosch’ series. However, this time, we get to see just a little more of a character that may well take the reins from his most famous Harry Bosch in the future. Namely, Harry’s daughter, Maddie.

It is not the first we have seen of Harry’s daughter. In fact, she has appeared in over a dozen of his novels, dating back to Lost Light, the King of Crime’s 2003 bestseller. In The Waiting, we are promised to see Maddie Bosch in an entirely different role; a more major role.

The Waiting by Michael ConnellyThe Waiting follows LAPD Detective Renée Ballard as she begins tracking a cold case, that of a serial rapist. Ballard receives the help of the newest volunteer to the Open-Unsolved Unit: Patrol Officer Maddie Bosch.

When I asked Michael Connelly about his interest in cold cases and the justice system within his writing he provided a most philosophical response.

‘A cold case is an open wound on society. It’s something that sticks with you and haunts you.

‘A miniscule number of people who read my books have actually solved murders,’ he ultimately concluded. ‘But by far 99.9 per cent have not. And so, it’s a different world I’m writing about. They might not have solved a murder, but they probably remember some cold case that was a family member or something like that, that has always bothered them because there were no answers.’

Quite possibly, our chat was the first conducted about The Waiting, the manuscript of which he only submitted to his publisher in the week leading up to our interview. He spoke enthusiastically and with passion, as if it could have been his debut. He was genuinely excited to explain the journey of its genesis.

‘This novel is inspired by a story I wrote when I was a journalist. It is about a guy they labelled as the pillowcase rapist, and I use that in the book. This was in the late 80s and I was a newspaper reporter, and the whole town was scared because this guy was hitting over and over again. Then he stopped, and nothing happened. And then I moved on with my life. About 30 years later, even longer than that, just a few years ago, he was caught through a DNA match that wasn’t even really his. It’s an interesting story about how he was caught.’

The reason this story re-emerged for Connelly, were the reporters who were now covering the development in this case. They saw his name in several by-lines from his journalist days covering the original story.

When asked about the expanded role of Maddie, Harry’s daughter, and whether Maddie could be the future replacement of an aging Harry Bosch, Connelly cheekily left a little to the imagination. However, he did say that, ‘I think when I’m gone, it will be my family’s choice, but I have told them that Harry Bosch is off limits. But if you want the Lincoln Lawyer to go on, or Renee Ballard, then you make the call on that. Harry Bosch is the one that brought me to this table, and I’ve been writing him for almost 35 years, and when I go out, I want to go out with Harry Bosch.’

 

You can meet Michael Connelly at the Sydney Writers Festival and Brisbane Writers Festival during the month of May 2024.

The Waiting by Michael Connelly will be released in November 2024.

Read a Q&A with Michael Connelly about Resurrection Walk

 

Listen to a Podcast with Michael Connelly

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Connelly was born in Philadelphia, PA on July 21, 1956. He moved to Florida with his family when he was 12 years old. Michael decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing. A curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.

After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Primarily specialising in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars.

The Black Echo by Michael ConnellyIn 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism. Landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.

With over 85 million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into 45 foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today.

His very first novel, The Black Echo, won the prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1992. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel, Blood Work.

In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his #1 bestselling novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, hit theatres worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller.

Visit Michael Connelly’s website

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