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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Great incubators, journlism and 'just writing'

“I went into journalism to learn the craft of writing and to get close to the world I wanted to write about - police and criminals, the criminal justice system.   I still look at a newspaper as the center of a community.  It's one of the tent poles of the community, and that's not going to be replaced by web sites and blogs.” – Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the crime mysteries of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida.  Majoring in journalism and minoring in creative writing, he excelled at both.  He started his career as a newspaper reporter, working in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale and specializing in the crime beat, of course – Chandler’s influence shining through.
While writing during the height of a murder and violence wave rolling over South Florida, one of his pieces was short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize for features.  That attention landed him a job as a crime reporter in Los Angeles, Chandler’s old stomping grounds.   He wrote for the Los Angeles Times and then started writing creatively in what would make him a household name – mystery and crime fiction. 

I was first drawn to Connelly’s writing because of his “newspaper style” – concise, to the point, and riveting.  When I read Blood Work, one of the most clever ideas for a mystery I’d seen, I was really hooked.   In it, the protagonist, an FBI detective, receives a donor heart.  After his recovery he’s contacted by the sister of the donor to find out who murdered her, the first time he’s known that his heart came from a murder victim. 

Connelly is a master at taking current events and weaving them into his books.  He says he never starts out knowing where a book is headed, “But I have a reasonably good idea.”
His books, translated into 39 languages, have garnered every major award for mystery and crime writing, including The Edgar (several times) and the RBA International Award for Crime Writing.   He has served as President of the Mystery Writers of America, and he makes regular appearances as a card-playing partner of Richard Castle on the TV series “Castle.”
Connelly, who turns 59 today, said that besides being a journalist, a great incubator for being a writer is simply to BE a writer.  You need to write.  "Even if it's just one paragraph, write every single day."  Take those writer's moments and write them down.

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