Mon 8.11.2014

“The Darkness Can Get Inside You”—Michael Connelly on Cops As Characters


Iconic LA novelist Michael Connelly was a natural fit for the Los Angeles Film Festival’s inaugural LA Muse section devoted to films set in and inspired by the city. Through 17 novels over more than 20 years, he’s chronicled the city through the eyes of his protagonist LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch.  Now Bosch is one of the six new series in the works to stream via Amazon Prime. All were ordered by the distributor after what’s been called “a competitive and quasi-democratic pilot season” that allowed Amazon users to watch and vote on their favorites.

The adaptation comes at the end of a very long and bumpy road. After a rights struggle with Paramount, which optioned two Bosch books in 1994 but never adapted them, Connelly bought the character rights back in 2011, reportedly spending $3 million of his own money.

Slated for an early 2015 release, the stories on the series will be culled from three books with a mixture of new material that Connelly says will be “true to the city of Los Angeles and the character of Harry Bosch.” The 10-episode series is set and shot in modern-day LA. Location was a deal-breaker for Connelly, who said his thinking was, “I’m not going to make a deal with anyone who doesn’t agree to make every shot in Los Angeles.”

It’s no surprise that such a prolific writer would be a colorful conversationalist, particularly on the subject he’s devoted so much of his career to contemplating: Los Angeles. Here are some of the standout quotes from Connelly’s Festival conversation.

On the benefits of being bi-coastal (Connelly splits his time between California and Florida)
“I’m always in search of new ways to be inspired. I know I have to be here to absorb and observe. I come to LA to get what I need and go away to write it. The heavy lifting occurs when I get back to the space I created in Florida.”

On LA’s appeal for him
“If I could answer that succinctly, I’d be done writing about it.”

On LA’s bad rap among outsiders
“I’ve always said it’s a great place to live and a tough place to visit. There’s a misconception that it’s empty and soul-less. It’s easy to jump on that bandwagon.

On his approach to researching scenes
“I just finished a book and a lot of it is set in Mariachi Plaza. I also used it as a locale in Bosch [the TV series]. I went there to absorb. I like to check the angles. I like to take pictures. If I have Harry walk across Mariachi Plaza, I want to be aware of what he’s going to see.”

On his goal as a writer
“I want to hopefully make mysteries that have a dimension other than whodunit.”

On the dark side of law enforcement
“I knew cops who committed suicide. That darkness can get inside you. I go back to these films [The Black Marble, Out of Time, The Long Goodbye] that represent what I’m doing. What interests me is the danger of someone who goes into the darkness, and how the darkness goes into him. It’s not about how cops work on cases, the best stories are about how cases work on cops.”

Pamela Miller / Website & Grants Manager