Monday, April 25, 2011

MIchael Connelly- Part Five NINE DRAGONS & Q&A

This is the conclusion to the series I have run featuring Michael Connelly. There are two parts to this blog. The first interview is the formal NINE DRAGONS (Kindle edition) interview with Mr. Connelly. This was done in front of a live audience. The second part is a live Q&A on the writing process that took place after the NINE DRAGONS interview.

The interviews took place on October 14, 2009. Mr. Connelly drove from Tampa to Orlando to spend the day at my school. He taught two of my classes, had lunch with students that attended his reading in 2008, and then stayed after school for the interview. My school (The First Academy in Orlando, Florida) rolled out the red carpet. We had Mr. Connelly's name painted on the wall in the lobby, the school library looked like a Michael Connelly bookstore, and my students prepared posters for the visit.

Mr. Connelly was gracious with his time, patient with the students, and tired by the time he left. He answered a lot of questions. My students still talk about the visit. When THE LINCOLN LAWYER hit the big screen they went to see it and were able to tell their friends that they met the writer. That is what makes teaching such a joy. Michael Connelly touched many lives that day. Who knows what students met him and said to themselves, "I can do that too."

He told the story of the librarian in Fort Lauderdale who put a book in his hand and made him read. He grew up in Fort Lauderdale and played baseball in the summertime. As I have learned since my move to Florida three years ago- it gets hot down here in July. While cooling off in the library the librarian handed Connelly a copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD; and he was hooked. He eventually tried to find out the lady's name, but could never find her. He dedicated one of his books to her as a tribute.

My favorite story of that day is a small event, but it touched me deeply. My school allowed 7th and 8th graders to attend the interview (it was held in a large auditorium). The students attending were the top readers in their class. They had reserved seating up front. Their teachers wrote their names on a piece of paper and put it on their folding chair.

One little girl, I do not know her name, asked me, "Mr. Kowars, I'm not old enough to read Mr. Connelly's books, but do you think he'll sign my piece of paper?" I was a bit concerned, I had told Mr. Connelly that I would limit the number of signings that he would be asked to do. I also knew that he had a daughter about this girl's age. I said, "Sweetheart, why don't you just ask him and see what he says." She said, "I'm too nervous."

I smiled, remebering the awkwardness of youth and the fear of approaching celebrities. I said, "Well let me introduce you to him." I walked over to where Connelly was standing and introduced them. She said,"I'm not old enough to read your books- but if you sign this paper I promise I'll read all of them when I'm old enough." Connelly smiled and reached for the paper, and soon there were 40 students lined up with their papers in hand. I cringed, but he smailed. "Don't worry, Kacey," he said, "it's a pleasure." He proceeded to make eye contact and sign every one of the students' papers.

Successful authors work hard. The demands on their time are non-stop. This simple act of kindness showed me the other thing I admire about Michael Connelly. He is a nice guy. He appreaciates the success he has acheived. He is arguably the hottest writer in the world today. And I truly believe the best is yet to come.


LISTEN TO the Student Q&A:

Next week we'll move on to another author.


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