Sean. B. Fraser is the author of Betrayal and Deception, an action thriller about a case of identity theft and misplaced trust. To read more about Sean go to seanbfraser.com Sean took the time out of his busy writing schedule to ask me about Michael Connelly’s conversation with Michael Robotham at the recent Sydney Writers Festival.
Sean Gina, I know you attended the Michael Connelly conversation at the Sydney Writers Festival recently and I’d like to ask you a few questions about what you as an emerging author takes home from an encounter such as this.
Gina If I could point to just one moment that reinforced my desire to be a writer it was when Michael Robotham asked Michael Connelly what was his initial motivation to write crime? Connelly replied without hesitation. ‘Negative motivation.’ Apparently when he was a crime reporter with the Los Angeles Times, his editor told him he could not write. With more than 58 million copies of his books sold worldwide, I think he has proven him wrong. As writers, we are filled with self-doubt and it takes a certain personality and strength of character to endure editorial criticism and complete a manuscript. Connelly gave my self-belief a shot in the arm. Choose not to believe what negative people tell you and keep on writing, that’s the message I took home.
Sean It must be refreshing to come from a discussion between two great authors and feel energized about your own projects. So tell me a little about your latest book.
Gina It’s the third novel in the Detective Jill Brennan series, and it’s called Asylum. It is set in the grounds of Callan Park which was once a mental asylum. There’s a few months work left but I’m happy with the current progress.
Sean We know Michael Connelly began writing a series featuring the police detective Harry Bosch in 1992 and he’s explored Harry’s life for the last twenty odd years. Do your books explore the one protagonist in great depth.
Gina Yes, (Gina laughs), but he’s the master of it. Nineteen books in the series! When you write your first novel the characters are being developed but then as the work progresses the main character takes on a life of their own. Although creating a successful series is somewhere in the back of your mind, it’s not uppermost when you start out. You just work hard to finish that first book. My two protagonists Detective Jill Brennan and Detective Inspector Nick Rimis age through each of the books so I guess I’m following Connelly’s approach especially Killing Sunday.
Sean One of the great aspects of Connelly’s development of his character is that not only does Harry age through the series but he reflects the changes of Los Angeles.
Gina I think Harry is now 63 and he loves and knows his character well. It was interesting to hear him say that when the TV series was being produced, he stipulated it must be shot in LA. That’s how close he feels the tie between his character and the city. He also mentioned Harry Bosch, in some way, has become the mouthpiece for his own social concerns. Place and character are intrinsic in his books and I think I strive to achieve that outcome as well. The location for my crime novels is very important to me, so too, the description of the crime scene because it is here the truth about the murder is played out.
Sean So how did you come to be a crime writer?
Gina I’ve always had a fierce attraction to the written word but I convinced myself that it was better to stick to what I knew. It’s easier being a reader than a writer. Strangely it was the death of a neighbour that finally ignited my desire to start writing. There were some unusual circumstances surrounding her death and I couldn’t stop thinking about scenarios of misadventure and intrigue. The nagging thoughts eventually wore me down and I sat at my desk and was on the way to completing the first chapter of Secrets and Lies.
Sean What do you feel you have in common with Michael Connelly as a writer?
Gina Well, he is the best of his kind, 58 million copies sold, so there is no comparison, but both the Harry Bosch books and my books might be classified as police procedurals and that’s as far as it goes at the moment, so I think I’ll be happy with that thin claim. Really I just get inspiration from authors like Michael who share their time, experiences and journeys to success with their readers and aspiring writers.
Sean Gina thanks so much for your time and all the best and great success with your writing.
Gina Thank you Sean. I’ve just finished reading Michael Connelly’s latest book in the Harry Bosch series The Burning Room. Another great read from the master of crime.