Crime doesn’t pay…but when it does, it is usually in the form of a fantastic novel.
Professor Bill Rosenthal welcomed writer Michael Connelly to his New Era of Television class this past week, and had him speak to the students about his writing process, and how he turned a successful series of books into a successful series on television.
Connelly is best known for his Bosch novels, focusing on homicide detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch who works for the LAPD. While he first appeared in the novel The Black Echo in 1992, Bosch is the star of over 20 books, and the hit Amazon series Bosch, staring Titus Welliver.
“The pilot was shot in October 2013, and there was only one episode,” Connelly explained. “Amazon put it up, with a few other shows, in early 2014, and people voted on which ones they wanted to see more of.” It wasn’t long after that Amazon ordered a 10-episode series of the show, so they jumped right into shooting. Now, the second series is out, with a third on the way.
Connelly kept active during the production of the series, being in the writer’s room every day before the cameras rolled. While he had no formal production experience before, that didn’t stop him from being on set every day when they were filming.
“I was enamored of the whole thing, but I was more like a cheerleader on set than having any real value to the crew,” Connelly joked.
Connelly also talked a bit about his inspirations, and how a particular piece of writing influenced him greatly.
“Chapter 13 of Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister has inspired me for 40 years,” explained. In the chapter, Philip Marlowe, drives around Los Angeles to clear his head. “It has nothing to do with the plot, but everything to do with character. He describes the city in such a way that is still accurate to today.”
Connelly’s characters, especially since they have appeared in so many books, are amazingly complex. However, he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to pull it off.
“The first Bosch book was my first novel. I knew nothing about writing or publishing, but hoped that a publisher would see that the character could go places.” All these years later, it turns out he was right.
Connelly described his writing process as “finding momentum and keeping it.”
“I get up at 5, and start editing I did the day before. By the time the sun comes out, I start getting into new material. I break for breakfast, and then I go back into it until it’s dinner time. Once I’m in the flow, sometimes it is hard to stop.” In addition, his office has blackout shades, so he doesn’t know what time it is, so he can just focus on the words, and block out everything else.
Considering how complex his books get, I was amazed to find out that he doesn’t outline them beforehand.
“I carry it all in my head. Of course, a lot of research goes into them, but I only put onto paper the books themselves.”
Overall, it was an incredibly informative talk about his creative process. A big thank you to Michael Connelly for coming to speak with our students!