Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.
After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.
After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles , was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly followed up with three more Bosch books, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, and The Last Coyote, before publishing The Poet in 1996—a thriller with a newspaper reporter as a protagonist. In 1997, he went back to Bosch with Trunk Music, and in 1998 another non-series thriller, Blood Work, was published. It was inspired in part by a friend's receiving a heart transplant and the attendant "survivor's guilt" the friend experienced, knowing that someone died in order that he have the chance to live. Connelly had been interested and fascinated by those same feelings as expressed by the survivors of the plane crash he wrote about years before. The movie adaptation of Blood Work was released in 2002, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
Connelly's next book, Angels Flight, was released in 1999 and was another entry in the Harry Bosch series. The non-series novel Void Moon was released in 2000 and introduced a new character, Cassie Black, a high -stakes Las Vegas thief. His 2001 release, A Darkness More Than Night, united Harry Bosch with Terry McCaleb from Blood Work, and was named one of the Best Books Of The Year by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2002, Connelly released two novels. The first, the Harry Bosch book City Of Bones, was named a Notable Book Of The Year by the New York Times. The second release was a stand-alone thriller, Chasing The Dime, which was named one of the Best Books Of The Year by the Los Angeles Times.
Lost Light was published in 2003 and named one of the Best Books of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times. It is another in the Harry Bosch series but the first written in first person. To celebrate its release, Michael produced the limited edition jazz CD, Dark Sacred Night, The Music Of Harry Bosch. This CD is a compilation of the jazz music mentioned in the Bosch novels and was given away to his readers on Michael's 2003 book tour.
Connelly's 2004 novel, The Narrows, is the sequel to The Poet. It was named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times. To accompany this Harry Bosch novel, Little, Brown and Company Publishers released a limited edition DVD, Blue Neon Night, Michael Connelly's Los Angeles. In this film, Michael Connelly provides an insider's tour of the places that give his stories and characters their spark and texture.
His 11th Harry Bosch novel, The Closers, was published in May 2005, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The Lincoln Lawyer, Connelly's first-ever legal thriller and his 16th novel, was published in October 2005 and also debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Michael will release two books in 2006. Crime Beat , a non-fiction collection of crime stories from his days as a journalist, will be released in May. The Harry Bosch novel, Echo Park, will be released in the fall and will be Michael's 17th novel..
Connelly's books have been translated in 31 languages and have won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Dilys, Nero, Barry, Audie, Ridley, Maltese Falcon (Japan), .38 Caliber (France), Grand Prix (France), and Premio Bancarella (Italy) awards.
Michael was the President of the Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004. In addition to his literary work, Michael was one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of Level 9, a TV show about a task force fighting cyber crime, that ran on UPN in the Fall of 2000.
Michael lives with his family in Florida.
Pro-File: Michael Connelly
1 Tell us about your current novel.
It's called Echo Park and it is a Harry Bosch novel. Harry is assigned to the LAPD's open-unsolved unit and as such is assigned to take the confession of an imprisoned killer who wants to clear up old murders. One of those old ones was a case Harry worked about 13 years earlier and which has haunted him. Harry finds out during the confession that he could have caught this guy back then but made a simple mistake that allowed him to elude justice and kill other people. Harry has to deal with that guilt as well as solve a mystery that develops during the confession.
2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?
I'm in the final editing stages of Echo Park and trying to think about what I want to write for a novella that will be serialized in the New York Times Magazine this summer. I have never tackled a 35,000 word story. Most of my novels run 100,000 words, so its the form as well as the story that are taking some thought.
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
The freedom in the work as well as the freedom in life. I can work wherever I want to work. I write about LA but don't have to live there. I work at home and get to see my kid everyday when she comes home from school. Little things like that add up to great pleasure. As far as inside the work, the greatest pleasure is probably in knowing that it all comes from you. You start with a blank screen--nothing--and what you end up with is all yours.
4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?
When that blank screen isn't cooperating and what ends up on there you have to acknowledge is all yours. In other words, when its not going well it is not going well.
5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
Give writers more time to have the audience find them. I was lucky. I started only 15 years ago but I don't remember any pressure to have big sales and profit attached to my books. It seems like those expectations come down harder and sooner on writers today because of the publishing industry's increasingly bottom-line mentality.
6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?
I've been acting as sort of an advisor to the estate of Mercedes Lambert/Douglas Ann Munson. She wrote some really nice stuff about LA and I know there is at least one unpublished novel. I'd like to see her on the shelves again. They are by no means forgotten but I'd also like to see writers like Vicki Hendricks, Terrill Lee Lankford and Kent Harrington get the publishing attention I think their work merits. But I guess you could see answer 5 about that.
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.
I have a strong recollection as well. My father was dying of cancer and my five brothers and sisters and their families came from all over the country to all be with him one weekend. We knew it would be the last time we would all be together with him as a full family before the funeral. One night we were all about to get together for dinner when my agent called and said he had sold my first book. I brought my dad some ice cream before dinner because chemo was burning out his throat. That was when I told him the news. He then announced it to everyone at dinner. it was a very proud moment for him and for me. He had really been important in supporting my desire to be a writer--certainly a long shot profession for someone to choose at 19. He died before the book was published but he had kept a mock up of the cover propped up on his bureau where he could see it.