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Q&A With Author Michael Connelly

As his best-seller The Lincoln Lawyer hits the screen, the mystery writer is at the top of his game

A: I hope so. I love movies. Movies have influenced me as a writer. So I’m predisposed to want to take the shot.

Q: You came up with the character of Mickey Haller at a baseball game?

A: Dodgers Opening Day, 2001. I was sitting next to a friend of a friend and just talking to him over the course of the game, being cordial. He said he was a lawyer, and I had been a journalist in LA for a number of years — including three years on the court beat — so I knew something about that world. I knew that there were literally dozens of courthouses in LA County. Turns out there are 40. I knew that lawyers would situate their offices in proximity to two or three courthouses, and that would be their region that they would work. So I asked him where his office was, and he told me it was his car. He was very quick to add that it wasn’t because he’s a failure or a bad lawyer. It’s actually the best way to do what he does.

Q: Did he call himself “The Lincoln Lawyer”?

A: No, he didn’t have a Lincoln. That was me using the old alliteration. I think he had a Toyota. “The Toyota Lawyer” didn’t sound as good.

Q: How has your writing changed as you’ve gotten older?

A: I think whatever we do, we get better at it the more we do it. I feel like I’m much more confident about myself as a writer, and that gets into the work I’m doing. I chose deliberately for Harry Bosch to age chronologically with the books. The first one came out in 1992, when he was 40, and now he’s approaching 60. With age comes a greater understanding, and a greater worldview. Hopefully, that’s what I’ve given Harry Bosch. You see some of that in Mickey as well — these are not just straight mysteries or crime stories. There’s a family component in these books. Harry didn’t have that in the beginning; now he’s raising a daughter. These are things that come out of me aging, learning more about the world and about life.

Q: Do you own an e-reader? If so, is that how you read now?

A: Well, this is my business so I own them all. I read sparingly on them. It’s more that I want to know what’s going on in my business. I’m still reading the traditional way.

Q: Is the proliferation of e-readers a good thing for the book industry?

A: It’s a positive for the publishing industry if it brings more readers in. But I’m not sure that’s happening. My real-book sales — I hate calling them real books, my physical book sales — are down, but my e-book sales are through the roof. So it comes out almost even. Now if it starts being more than that, and you end up seeing real growth in sales, then you have to attribute some of that to the e-readers. So we’ll see.

Q: You’re now active in books, movies and TV. What’s next?

A: I’m just going to write the best books I can. Right now, this is like winning the lottery, to write a book and have it made into a film that you really appreciate and love — I’m really happy. That doesn’t happen too often.

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