As someone who has 38 previously published novels that have sold more than 85 million copies, New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly had some advice – as well as a tip from a storied author – to become a good writer.
Before his event on Nov. 8 at the Coronado Performing Arts Center, where he presented his newest release, “Resurrection Walk,” he told The Coronado News that the best piece of writing advice he’s been given came from author Kurt Vonnegut who penned “Slaughterhouse-Five.”
Connelly said to “make sure on every page, everybody wants something, even if it’s only a glass of water.”
“That’s how you delineate a character—what they want and how they go about getting it. I’m always conscious of that when I’m writing,” Connelly said. “I write crime novels, so it should be pretty clear he wants to solve a case, but there’s all levels of wanting different things, and that’s what makes us human.”
Humanizing characters like Harry Bosch
Connelly has humanized all of his characters, like Harry Bosch, who Connelly has been writing about for 30 plus years.
“What an amazing gift to be given to a writer,” Connelly said to the Coronado audience about being with a character for so long. “I just think part of the duty of getting that gift is to tell it like it is. Harry Bosch has aged in real time in the books.”
In “Resurrection Walk,” Bosch is a 73-year-old retired LAPD Detective who is enlisted by his half brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller, to weed through letters from incarcerated people claiming their innocence.
Bosch pulls a needle from the haystack: a woman in prison for killing her husband, a sheriff’s deputy, but who still maintains her innocence. Bosch reviews the case and sees elements that don’t add up.
The path for both lawyer and investigator is very difficult, especially considering the obstacles coming from those who don’t want the case reopened and block the Haller-Bosch team from finding the truth.
Novel’s authenticity from real life
Connelly discussed this new novel, “Resurrection Walk” to a packed crowd that included plenty of new fans.
He said his authentic articulation of the courtroom comes from his background as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, a crossover period where he began writing novels as well.
“I did spend a lot of time in courtrooms, so I have a sense of how courtrooms work and the conveyor belt of justice,” Connelly said. “Mickey Haller is really based on the exploits of two defense attorneys. One was a college roommate of mine.”
Connelly said when he first got the idea for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” he spent four years on and off being a fly on the wall of their two attorney offices.
‘No client as scary as an innocent man’
In fact, the iconic first line of “The Lincoln Lawyer” was something his college friend said after Connelly asked him how often he had a truly innocent client.
His response, “There’s no client as scary as an innocent man,” was something Connelly wrote on his martini napkin right then and there, and later made it the first sentence of the book.
This anecdote, plus plenty of other insider details to both “Resurrection Walk” and many of Connelly’s other novels (including his production of three television series), were shared at the event.
The hope is that you’d get to write about a character over and over again. That has happened as well, so I’m very fortunate, very lucky.”-Michael Connelly
“The idea would be that you’d made a comfortable living, that it could be a full-time avocation. That’s one thing, and that’s a long shot,” Connelly said about his initial hopes and dreams of becoming a crime fiction author. “I really love series, and the hope is that you’d get to write about a character over and over again. That has happened as well, so I’m very fortunate, very lucky.”