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Friday, February 6, 2015

Fuel for success

“I believed in the concept of ‘over-performing.’  I believe anyone can achieve their goals in life if they over-perform, and that means you have to work ten times harder than anybody you see.” 
– Stephen J. Cannell

Stephen Cannell was one of television’s most successful writers and producers who ultimately also became one of the country’s best mystery writers before his death in 2010.   Born in the shadow of the Hollywood hills, he grew up in Pasadena, struggled with his education because he was dyslexic, and ultimately learned to do “great dictation,” which led to his scripting more than 450 shows and producing the 1,500 separate episodes of some 40 television series – mostly crime dramas – that he created.  Among his biggest successes were The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street and The Commish.

Tired of producing, he shifted over to writing mysteries in 1996 and released his first best-selling novel, The Plan, which was followed by four more stand-alone novels. In late 2000, Stephen introduced Shane Scully, a street-wise LAPD detective who followed his instincts and played by his own rules to catch criminals. The character was such a success that Stephen wrote nine more best-selling Shane Scully novels. 

Stephen J. Cannell

Also an occasional actor, Cannell participated in several wonderful “art imitating life” segments on the show Castle, appearing as himself in poker games with the fictional Richard Castle and other real life mystery writers James Patterson and Michael Connelly.  Once, Castle’s detective partner Kate Beckett joined them and “won” their poker showdown, much to the writers’ dismay.

Cannell spoke often about his writing successes being fueled by the support of others.  “Having a support system is huge for writers,” he said.  “My parents were always encouraging and told me they were behind me, whether or not I made it.  And my wife (his high school sweetheart Marcia) was always there for me –  through successeses and failures.”   They had been married 46 years at the time of his death.

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