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He lives primarily in Florida, but also in Los Angeles, the beautiful but broken milieu of his books. Sincerity, he said, is the tool for coaxing his friends to talk. “I want to get their world right. Not just the procedure, but the interior world,” Connelly said.
A lot of stuff “drops in my lap,” Connelly said, but he added that he puts himself in a position to catch it. When a homicide detective told him about an arson fire that killed 11 people in Los Angeles in 1992, Connelly wrote something similar into a book, giving a new character a back story that involved losing her father to arson as a child.
From start to final edits, a book takes Connelly about 10 months. He’s written one a year for the past 20 years. “A lot of people equate fast with a lack of quality. I don’t. I write fast when I’m more connected to the story,” Connelly said.
Connelly maintains the sensibilities of his childhood, when his father worked in construction. “I try to remain blue-collar,” he said. “I don’t want to say I’m living in disguise. My house is bigger. I have an apartment in L.A., but I’m not pulling up to these meetings in a Maserati. I drive a pickup truck.”
Though he’s been out of daily journalism for years, Connelly speaks reverently of the “camaraderie and pranksterism” in newsrooms, the adrenaline rush of being amid 150 clacking keyboards on deadline.
Sounding as freshly satisfied as if it were yesterday, Connelly recalled the thrill of driving home after a night reporting shift on the crime beat, looking out from the freeway over the lights of Los Angeles. “I felt like I was the prince of the city because I knew stuff already — before everyone else — that was going to be in the paper tomorrow,” he said.
Connelly said he gets similar fulfillment now from writing a really good sentence or dialogue. His days on set are long now, but ordinarily he maintains a daily writing habit that starts before dawn and keeps him prolific.
“I always want to be writing,” he said. “In fact, I’m antsy right now because I want to be writing.”
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747