Michael, since I last interviewed you, the pilot episode of Bosch was filmed in Los Angeles and you were involved every step of the way. What was the coolest part for you?
I think it was just what you just referred to; being involved every step of the way. It is a very rare thing when the writer of the novel – in this case, novels – is invited to participate at all, let alone in the fashion I was. I had a part in writing the script, casting Harry Bosch and all the other actors, choosing locations and props, and then being on the set for every day of shooting. It was wonderful. And I wasn’t just a bystander observing. I was part of the creative process. Then when it was all over I was involved in post-production, giving my thoughts on edits, what to keep and what to lose, where to place music and what kind of music should be used. It added up to full immersion in this process which was very cool because it was so different from the creative process I am used to. I usually sit in a room by myself and write. This was a totally collaborative experience.
You shared an on-set journal on your web site during the production run and your enthusiasm was quite apparent. How do you feel now having seen the finished pilot?
I only feel more excited about it. I found that it is true what they say about things coming together in the editing process. Our editor, Dorian Harris, really put together a tight story with emotional resonance surrounding the character of Bosch. I thought I saw some of this when we were filming but the jump from watching dailies to edited story was immense. It goes from not being able to see the forest for the trees to really focusing in on both.
What has surprised you the most with this experience?
How dedicated every person is to their individual part of the process and how a team effort prevails. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked by everybody from cameramen to caterers, from makeup men to actors playing the smallest of roles if I was happy with what we were making. Everybody cared and I think that has come out in the finished product.
The first season story line combines the plots of City of Bones, The Concrete Blonde, and your short story, “Cielo Azul.” What are some of the differences people will see in the transition from books to a show?
I have always considered my books to be one large painting or mosaic, so I think it is only proper that the television show be treated the same. There is a lot of material in all of the books and the showrunner, Eric Overmyer, and I decided from the start that the show would be clearly based on all the books as opposed to one. So we felt free to take ideas, character choices, bits of investigative plotting where we saw fit. I would say the City of Bones case is the backbone of the first season but viewers will recognize moments and characters from many of the books. Internal Affairs investigator John Chastain was last seen in Angels Flight but he’s in this story. So we have really adopted a philosophy that we take what and who we need to make the best show possible. This also requires some new creation as well. The first five minutes of the pilot contain a sequence that is not in any book, but rather something Eric and I invented to introduce Harry Bosch for the first time on film. I think it all makes it very exciting for me as well as loyal Harry Bosch fans.
Tell us about Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch?
I think he’s perfect. When you start out in the casting process you are really rolling the dice. You go with your instincts about who you think could play the part. Harry is very internal and that is hard to convey in a visual medium. He doesn’t talk a lot either and this is a medium that relies on dialogue to reveal character. So its tough and it takes an actor who can show a lot with his eyes and his looks and his moves. Unfortunately for Titus, he has had some tough times in his life. Fortunately for us, those difficult experiences are in his character and demeanor and they allow him to understand and portray Bosch. Now that I have seen his work during filming and editing I remain convinced nobody else could have done this. In the first minute of the pilot Harry sees a suspect through the window of his car and says, “It’s about time.” There is something in Titus’s eyes when he sees this evildoer that is so Harry Bosch, so perfect, that I feel that one minute into the story we have confirmed Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch.
Any final thoughts for your readers?
I’m in an interesting position here. I write in books about a Harry Bosch who this year turns 64 and is quickly coming to the end of his career as a police detective. The show is about a Harry Bosch who is 15 years younger. So I look at this TV concept as a way of keeping the Harry Bosch story going strong for years to come. Sure, it’s not the printed word, but it is the character and character is at the heart of all storytelling in any culture or medium.