Q: Why did you choose the name Hieronymus Bosch for your ongoing series
A: The main reason is that when I approached the creation of this character I
didn't want to waste anything. I wanted all aspects of his character to be
meaningful, if possible. This, of course, would include his name. I briefly
studied the work of the real Hieronymus Bosch while in college. He was a 15th
century painter who created richly detailed landscapes of debauchery and
violence and human defilement. There is a "world gone mad" feel to many of his
works, including one called Hell of which a print hangs on the wall over the
computer where I write. I thought this would be the perfect name for my
character because I saw the metaphoric possibilities of juxtaposing contemporary
Los Angeles with some of the Bosch paintings. In other words, I was planning to
cast my Bosch adrift in a hellish landscape of present-day Los Angeles. I should
point out that this is a fictional conceit. I do not consider Los Angeles to be
hellish. It can be in certain places and under certain circumstances and this
is where I place Harry Bosch. But overall I love Los Angeles and love writing
about it. In naming my character after a real historic figure I was to a small
extent continuing literary tradition. Many writers, including Raymond Chandler,
drew the names of their characters from literature and art.
Q: Is Harry Bosch based on any cop in particular? How much of him is based on
A: Harry is not based on one cop in particular. He is an amalgamation of several
real cops I knew as a police reporter, plus aspects of fictional detectives
from both books and movies that I have loved. I think and hope there are parts
of Philip Marlowe in him, as well as Lew Archer, Dirty Harry Callahan, Frank
Bullit and many others, to name just a few. I think that starting off Harry had
very little in common with me, other than left-handedness. Over the course of
the books I have written with him, though, I think that my "world view" and his
are becoming more closely aligned. This probably was inevitable. The more you
write about a character, the more you look inside for attributes and thoughts to
Q: Which of your books is your favorite?
A: I probably don't have a definitive favorite. I like different books for
different reasons. I like the character resonance in The Last Coyote and
Flight. I like the plotting and tension in The Concrete Blonde. I like The Poet
a lot because it sort of tweaks the expected standards of the thriller genre. I
like Blood Work quite a bit because it did not use a standard archetype of the
thriller protagonist yet I think it still provided the thrills and payoffs that
genre requires. I like Lost Light because it was my first time writing Harry
Bosch in first person. I think I can find something about each of the books that
make it my favorite, so I guess that means that I don't have an overall
Q: What is your work schedule like?
A: I work in the mornings. In the afternoon I take care of busy work. Then I
like to work again at night. On the weekends I try to work a little bit in the
morning, then take the rest of the day off.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I have finished my next book, a legal thriller called The Lincoln Lawyer,
that will be released in October 2005. I plan to write a Harry Bosch book next.
That will be released in 2006.
Q: What books do you like to read?
A: I read less than I used to. When you are writing this stuff you don't want to
read it, so I read more non-fiction now. But mysteries? Anytime I list writers
whose work I enjoy I run the risk of annoying fellow writers who I forget to
mention. So, suffice it to say that I share many of the same favorites that
readers of my work have. I've kind of become a collector, so I try to collect
first edition L.A. crime fiction. I also like to read autobiographies.
Q: Are you inspired by current events when creating your plots?
A: Yes, all the time. In most of my books there is what I call a grain of truth
at center. What I mean is that I use a real crime or incident that I have heard
about or maybe wrote about as a reporter. Or in the case of Blood Work, the
story was inspired by a friend of mine who had a heart transplant. I essentially
took his medical and emotional journey and dropped it into a thriller story
with his permission, of course.
Q: How much of Harry Bosch's life is planned out in your head? How do you
know where you will go with him next?
A: Not a lot is planned ahead. I usually have a few loose threads dangling from
one book that I can then take to the next or even one further down the line. But
I don't think a lot ahead. I think that by not planning his future out I have a
better chance of keeping him fresh and current and more reflective of the
Q: When will we see Harry Bosch in the movies? Who do you see playing Harry?
A: That is hard to say. Most of the Harry Bosch books have been spoken for in
Hollywood but so far the cameras aren't close to rolling. I think the difficulty
has been in translating the work from books to screenplay. I am partly
responsible for this. I have written two screenplays based on my books and they
pretty much did little to get the cameras rolling. At the moment there are
different Hollywood studios in various stages of developing my books for
possible movies. As far as who I would like to see play Harry I never see
anyone. My characters have visible images that come from inside me. I don't
write him or any other character with a movie actor in mind. I have had one of
my books made into a movie. Blood Work was directed by Clint Eastwood and
starred Clint as Terry McCaleb.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer?
A: The main thing is being able to do what you want to do and just having to
walk down the hallway to do it. The least favorite is knowing there is no one to
blame but yourself when it's not going well. Somebody once said "writin' is
fightin'" and I think that is very true. It is not easy. You have to fight to
get what you want to say out. So this means that when it is going well, the
feeling is almost euphoric. It also means that when it is going bad, the feeling
is proportionately opposite. So there are lots of highs and lows.
Q: Do you read your reviews, good and bad, and do they make a difference to
A: I read them, good and bad. They rarely affect my writing because I don't
think anyone can fully understand what I am trying to do but me. Good or bad, it
is hard to take a review to heart unless the intelligence of the reviewer is
evident to me either in the review itself or by other means such as personal
knowledge or association. In other words, I don't know whether to take praise or
criticism to heart if I can't figure out anything about the reviewer. Because
just like book writers, reviewers are good and bad and bring everything they
know and have read to the plate with them. There are a lot of amateurish
reviewers out there who bring personal agendas to their task and there are many
who bring thoughtful and unbiased comment. I have had both types praise and
slaughter me. So in the long run I am always curious to see reviews but don't
get too worked up about them, good or bad.
Q: What are your long term goals as a writer?
A: I just want to keep on keeping on. I want to grow as a writer and get better.
I want to keep the Harry Bosch series fresh and alive. I want to keep filling in
the portrait of Bosch so that when I am done with him he is a fully realized and
understood human being, a person that the readers who have gone the distance
with him know like a brother.
Q: Will you ever come to my city for a signing?
A: The publishers plan my tour schedule, not me. But they try to send
me to new cities on each tour. I would like to get to every state in
the USA and every country where I am published before I am through. You
can check the Signings page on the web site for all confirmed events.
Join the site's Mailing List to be notified about my tour schedule:
Q: I plan on attending your book signing. Will you sign paperbacks and your
older books too?
A: I will sign anything you put in front of me. Some bookstores have their own
policy about what you can bring in to their store, so it is always a good idea
to check with the store first. It is also a nice idea to wait at the end of the
line if you have a big stack of books so you don't slow it down for everyone
Q: Can I send you my books to get them signed?
A: No, I am sorry but I would never have time to write if I said yes to this. I
get too many requests. But I tour every year in different places around the
world. Hopefully, I will have a signing at a bookstore near you someday. I also
attend many fundraising events and book conferences every year. I am happy to
sign books on any of those occasions.
Q: I have a great story idea for you. How can I get it to you?
A: Sorry, but for legal reasons, I do not read or accept story ideas.
Q: I have written a book. Will you read it and tell me what you think?
A: Once again, I can't. I just get too many requests like this to keep up with
them and get my own work done.
Q: What is the best way to find an agent or publisher? How do I get
A: There is no best way and no magic answers to these questions. You should
consider joining the Mystery Writers Of America or another writer's organization
like it. These organizations exist to help writers. They offer symposiums and
conferences annually. They offer e-mail lists for writers to discuss subjects
like getting published, finding an agent, etc. They are a great resource. There
are also numerous web sites available for writers.
Q: What is the best advice you would you give another writer?
A: Write every day even if it is just a paragraph.
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