Interview by Michael Connelly for Barnes & Noble: Meet the Writers on 25 July 2011.
Video is available at youtube.
CONNELLY: The Drop is a Harry Bosch story, and what I'm trying to do with this one is, uh, get as close to the reality of, uh, what homicide cops do and how they live their lives as I can. And the reality is, um, unlike television and most books, um, detectives don't work one case at a time. And so the challenge for me in this book was to write a story where Harry's working multiple cases. And, uh, we zero in on two cases that he's working simultaneously. One is an old case – a "cold case" – and one is a fresh kill.
Uh, the cold case comes out of his work on the Open-Unsolved Unit, and a, um– uh, some DNA from a, uh, sexually-motivated crime in 1989 has been submitted, um– uh, for– for matching, and it comes back as a hit, um, and Harry's off in the races on that case. Um, there's an anomaly involved, however, because the match is to a sexual predator, so that looks good, except the sexual predator was only eight years old in 1989. So Harry has to figure out what that means: whether there was a screw-up at the, uh, state forensics lab, or if something else is at work here.
So at the same time he's working that, he also gets assigned to, um, a– a– a brand new case that has many political implications. A man has either fallen, been pushed, or just accidentally slipped from the top balcony of the, uh, Chateau Marmont Hotel on the Sunset Strip, and Harry is called in because it's the son of City Councilman Irvin Irving, who, uh, you may know as, uh, one of Harry's long-time nemeses.
And he wants Harry, um, on this case, and– and uses his political muscle to put Harry on this case, because in a weird turnabout, he believes that Harry's integrity and his relentlessness will help him find out what happened to his son. So these two cases weave around each other, almost like the double-helix of a DNA strand, and, uh, never really quite connect. And, um, we ride with Harry towards, uh, what we hope is a conclusion in, uh, both cases.
Do you have any long term plans for Harry Bosch?Edit
CONNELLY: I do, and I don't. Um, working with Harry Bosch long range is sometimes not advisable, because I– the way I operate, I get inspired to write stories that are very contemporary, so it doesn't really serve me to think about what I'm going to do with Harry in five years, or even four years.
Um, but at the same time, Harry ages in real-time. And he's, uh, he's getting up there: he's, uh, in his 60s now. He's, uh, 61, I believe, in this book. And, uh, so that means I don't have a lot of time with him, so I should be planning the future. And in The Drop, um, one little side story in it is about Harry kind of working out how long he gets to stay in the Department, um, because, uh, Harry's a man on a mission and this is what his life's about, and so he wants to hold on to this for as long as he can.
Will Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller meet again?Edit
CONNELLY: I think it's a safe bet that, um, Harry and Mickey will always kind of cross paths, either in big or small ways. Um, I've written two books where they were kind of equal partners, and I think I'll come back to that at some point. But it's really all about, um, you know, what inspires me to bring them together: whether it's the case, or whether it's a character thing I want to explore in them, um, that really dictates whether they ever really, um, get together for something significant again.
Which is your favorite Harry Bosch novel?Edit
It's hard to pick a favorite, um, of my books. All my books– or even just the– of the Bosch books. Um, you– you kind of live in the moment. I– I've spent a lot of time on The Drop obviously recently; it's very much in my mind. Um, I– I set some challenges out for myself that I hadn't before, and so I feel pretty good about I've done. So it– so, you know, at the moment, it's– it– it might be my favorite.
But I think there's a nostalgic favorite in, um – this is going way back – to, um, The Last Coyote, um, because that's the book that's really about the, uh, the center of Harry's character. Why he's, uh, the way he is. Why he's even a detective. It's all kind of wrapped up in that book. And, uh, so it may be the most significant, uh, in the series, so that's one of the favorites too.
How do you keep coming up with fresh storylines?Edit
CONNELLY: What I try to do is put myself in a position to be inspired. What I say is, uh, I want to be– I– I put myself in a position to be lucky. Um, I really take, um, from, uh, the people around me, so I spend a lot of time with cops, and I spend a lot of time with lawyers, and they tell good stories. They're all good storytellers. And, uh, they might not tell a story knowing it's what I'm looking for, or they– they won't realize that their story has the little thing that I'm looking for, um, but that's usually how it comes.
Um, I'll hear a story and I'll think, I can– I can take that idea and put it with this idea over here, and together I might have something that can go the distance. Be the length of a book. And, uh, it's really like that– I mean, I was a– formerly, before I did this, I was a reporter– a newspaper reporter. I still really much– pretty much act like a– a newspaper reporter. Ask question. Um, sit back and wait for the answers and every now one– every now and then, one of those stories, you know, um&nadsh; the light bulb goes off over my head.
Who do you identify with more, Bosch or Haller?Edit
CONNELLY: That's a tough one. Um, I like both those characters. I spend a lot of time with both those characters. If I had to choose one, I'd say Harry Bosch. Um, and I identify with him because he has characteristics I would like to have, or I would hope that I would have. And– and probably chief among them is his relentlessness. Um, I think I have that in my life in certain areas; um, in my professional life I think I'm pretty relentless about what I'm doing as a writer. But, um, I'd like to have it in other areas of my life, and I think, um– uh, Harry's a good role model for that.
Will we ever see Harry Bosch in prequels?Edit
CONNELLY: That's tough to say. Um, there's a rich, um, backstory to Harry Bosch, and I hint at it in different books– uh, hopefully all the books, there's a little bit. I mean, my ideas is that the series moves forward; at the same time, it moves backward. You kind of fill in– it's a lot of finessing: you fill in backstory about your character as you're taking the reader on a contemporary forward-moving story.
Um, but that&nadsh; but, you know, his– his Viet Nam experiences; his– his experiences as a guy in uniform, uh, a patrol officer– um, I put a lot of hints in– in the books about those years and those times, and I would like to get back to them. Um, right now, I just love the forward progression of the series. Harry in real-time. And I'm going to keep pursuing that until that's not realistic. And then when I reach that point – which hopefully won't be for at leats three or four years – um, that's when I start thinking, well, maybe I can go back in time, or maybe I can fill in some of the spaces between the books I've written.
As you change and mature as a man and your view of the world changes, how much does that influence how you write about Harry Bosch?Edit
CONNELLY: I don't think it matters what kind of story you're writing – whether it's a crime novel, um, you know, romance, whatever – the writer takes from their own lives. And so you can't help, as you grow older, change your world view, maybe gather some more wisdom, that that ends up in your books. Um, I have a, uh– I think a pretty close connection with Harry Bosch in terms of some of our experience. Uh, most particularly, um, fatherhood. And what I'm going through Harry Bosch goes through, because our daughters are the same age.
And so you can't help but move your life, little by little, into your, uh, characters. Um, I would say going way back, when Harry was new to me, he was quite different from me. And I'm talking about world view. I've never been a cop; I don't have his kind of history or anything like that, you know, of, uh, military service and so forth. I don't have anything like that in common with him. But I do share, I think, the same world view now, and that's come from, you know– I've been writing about him for twenty years; I've been living for twenty years. I've changed over twenty years, and so has Harry.
Why did you choose to make Harry a tunnel rat in Vietnam?Edit
CONNELLY: I made Harry a tunnel rat because I saw, um, some, um, metaphoric opportunity there. I had this idea that these– these stories – if I got a chance to write more than one story – um, would be about a guy kind of moving through a tunnel towards light. Um, I like the idea, or the theme, of tunnels, and, um, and– and you see that often in– in these books.
And so I think it was appropriate that– here was this guy who, at a very young age, when, you know, he was really just a boy, was going into tunnels in a foreign country, um, in a war, and– and seeking out the enemy. I– you know, I heard about the real tunnel rats, I thought, what a harrowing experience. And I thought I would take that harrowing experience and give it, um, to this character I was writing about, and see how it informed the rest of his, uh, life.
What will you write next?Edit
CONNELLY: At this point, I don't know what I'm going to write next. Um, I, uh, have a couple different projects involving, uh, television and film that I'm going to pursue for a little while, and then I have to make the big decision. What book do I write next. Is it a Harry Bosch book? Is it a Mickey Haller book? Is it them together? Um, or is it something– something new? I do know this: in– in my mind, it's significant. My next book is my twenty-fifth book, and, uh, so I'm leaning towards writing a Harry Bosch novel, because it started with him, and it– I– I never thought I'd get to this point, where I would be writing my twenty-fifth novel. And– and it seems like if I'm writing about Harry Bosch, that would be appropriate.