Michael Connelly's mysterious computer
Like his hard-working, jazz-loving L.A. homicide detective Hieronymous
"Harry" Bosch, mystery writer Michael Connelly knows well
the value of a buck.
Before his coronation by GQ and others as "the
best mystery writer in the world," Connelly put in years as
a crime beat reporter, quietly acquiring the insider's view of police
procedures for which his novels are rightfully hailed.
In fact, had he not been swept away by the L.A.-based
crime noir mysteries of Raymond Chandler early on in his college
years at the University of Florida, this Fort Lauderdale son-of-a-son-of-a-builder
would likely have followed this father into the lucrative, if decidedly
nonliterary, family construction business.
An adventurous writer who challenges himself with
every book, Connelly reaches a new literary milestone with "The
Narrows," his 10th Bosch book and sequel to his critically
acclaimed 1996 bestseller, "The Poet." In it, he not only
enlists Bosch, who wasn't in the original, to battle the FBI-turned-serial-killer
of the title, but manages to find work for both protagonists of
his non-Bosch novels -- Terry McCaleb from "Blood Work"
and "A Darkness More Than Night," and Las Vegas thief
Cassie Black from "Void Moon."
Like Bosch, Connelly is now the doting father of
a young daughter. Although he and his wife have moved from the City
of Angels to raise their daughter in Tampa, Connelly remains very
much of the city; "The Narrows" even comes with a DVD,
"Blue Neon Night: Michael Connelly's Los Angeles" that
explores some of the author's favorite haunts.
Bankrate tracked Michael Connelly down at his Tampa
Bankrate: What was your financial life like
Michael Connelly: My dad was a developer and
a bit of an entrepreneur. It was an up and down life; my parents
had a house repossessed once and they also sent six kids to college.
Luckily, most of the time it was up time, but there were some difficult
times that actually helped me to be cognizant of money and the business
aspects of things. As a result, I have a big say in terms of negotiating
my contracts and formulating marketing programs for my books.
Bankrate: You worked as a teen, including one
job at Fort Lauderdale's Bahia Mar Marina, made famous as the moorage
spot for the Busted Flush houseboat, home to John D. MacDonald's
Travis McGee character.
Michael Connelly: Yes, I worked on and off
at Bahia Mar and another hotel on the beach. All through high school
I worked at Publix, bagging groceries and stocking shelves. I don't
think I was ever without a job.
Bankrate: How did you spend the money you made?
Michael Connelly: In high school, I used to
buy Volkswagens and fix them up and sell them for a profit. Through
high school, I must have done that eight or 10 times. I was no Donald
Trump, but I saved my money and did some pretty good stuff with
Bankrate: Did you put some away for college?
Michael Connelly: Yes, some of it. I was the
second of six kids so the second one going through did not empty
the coffer. My fifth and sixth siblings I feel bad for because they
worked all through college. I was actually a waiter for a couple
years while going through college.
Bankrate: You switched majors to creative writing
after discovering Chandler, but you also earned a journalism degree,
Michael Connelly: I had gotten far enough with
the tutelage of my parents to know that with a degree in creative
writing, I was going to end up teaching school or something. That's
why I went into journalism, for the desire to have a steady paycheck.
It was a way to learn the craft of writing as well as get into the
world I wanted to write about.
Bankrate: You won the Edgar Award in 1992 for
your first novel, "The Black Echo." Did the advance put
you in a different tax bracket?
Michael Connelly: It was more than I
ever thought I would get. I got $50,000 initially, but in the long
run I got more than that with foreign sales and royalties. My agent
was trying to prepare me for something less than that. But it wasn't
enough money to convince me to quit my job. It took me two more
books to do that.