Sunday, April 3, 2011

Michael Connelly Part Two- THE LINCOLN LAWYER interview

This picture was taken at Urban Think bookstore in downtown Orlando in October 2009 (an independent bookstore that is now closed- it was Orlando's last indie bookstore). The owner asked me to introduce Mr. Connelly that night; he was in town promoting THE SCARECROW. Several of my students accompanied me to the reading that night; a fact that surprised Mr. Connelly, he was unaccustomed to having high school students attend his readings.

I had introduced my AP students to THE LINCOLN LAWYER that year, and they loved it. They stayed after the reading asking intelligent questions about the novel and its protagonist, Mickey Haller. Mr. Connelly was so impressed that he told me that if he could make time the next school year that he would drive from Tampa to Orlando to spend time speaking to my students (which he did when NINE DRAGONS was published).

I interviewed Connelly about THE LINCOLN LAWYER in October 2005, shortly before its publication. I loved the novel and Mickey Haller. I was amazed that after writing so successfully about Harry Bosch that he would take the risk of starting another series (if indeed Haller became a series character). Not only has Haller become a success, but Connelly has now interwoven the lives of Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller in ways not even he could imagine at the time.

To me this is the mark of a gifted writer. Connelly has written stand alone novels before and my guess is that he will continue to do so. After interviewing him seven times, and spending time with him, I am convinced that he begins each new book unsure of where it will lead him. He has no fear of taking risks as a writer, that is what makes him so good.

Now THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a success on the big screen and the movie has been a boon to Matthew McConaughey's career. The cast is impressive; Marissa Tomei, William H Macy, Michal Oena, and Frances Fisher do a fine job bringing the novel to the screen. Connelly's dialogue is used extensively in the film, a wise choice by its screenwriter, John Romano. A sequel seems inevitable given the film's success.

But that is not what excites me as a reader and a reviewer. I'm excited that Mr. Connelly has bought back the rights to Harry Bosch (after a long period of litigation) and that he now has control over what happens with the film rights to Bosch (or television for that matter).

I watch several TV series that have much better writing than most movies I see. Several years ago it was THE SOPRANOS, SIX FEET UNDER, and THE WIRE that revolutionized TV (primarily shows written for HBO). Now I watch episodes of CRIMINAL MINDS, THE MENTALIST, and BLUE BLOOD and marvel at the quality of the writing. Who knows where Harry Bosch will appear?

Connelly took a risk when he wrote THE LINCOLN LAWYER. He spent years covering the crime beat in Los Angeles for the L.A. Times (his book CRIME BEAT is worth reading), yet he had no formal legal training. In the interview he talks about how pleased he was when Scott Turow wrote a 'blurb' for the back of the novel. Here is what Turow wrote:

 “Michael Connelly is fully at home in the world of a criminal defense lawyer. All the qualities that have brought him a legion of readers are on display here: brisk pacing, clever twists, artful writing, and an atmosphere of complete authority. Another terrific book from a terrific writer.”

Nobody does legal novels better than Scott Turow, so that is high praise. The interview I did with Mr. Connelly in 2005 is the most-listened to interview I have ever recorded. I am delighted that he continues to receive the acclaim he so richly deserves.

I saw the movie last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. THE LINCOLN LAWYER is #1 on the New York Times Book e-book list (the e-book list was added a month or so ago). Not bad for a book published six years ago! Just click on the link below to listen to the interview I did with Mr. Connelly in October, 2005 on the Lincoln Lawyer.




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