Why I Wrote Nine Dragons
Nine Dragons is a book long in the making. It is a pivotal story in Harry Bosch’s journey. While I think it is a book with more action than usual for me, it is also a deeply driven character story for which the inspiration was set about seven years ago, when I was writing the novel Lost Light.
In that story, Harry gets the surprise of his life. He finds out he is a father and he meets his daughter, Madeline, for the first time. Putting this young person in Harry’s life was done with a lot of thought. Up until that point in the Bosch series, I had been creating a character who viewed himself as being on a mission. He was someone who was skilled enough and tough enough to go into the abyss and seek out human evil. To carry out this mission, he knew he had to be relentless and bulletproof. By bulletproof, I mean he had to be invulnerable. Nobody could get to him. It was the only way to be relentless. And this idea or belief bled into all aspects of his life. He lived alone, had no friends, didn’t even know his neighbors. He built a solitary life so that no one could get to him.
All that suddenly changed in one moment (one page) when he locked eyes with his daughter in Lost Light. Harry suddenly knew he could be gotten to.
Over the years and stories that followed, Harry’s relationship with his daughter never moved to the forefront because I wasn’t ready to explore it. I also wanted her to grow up some and be a character who could communicate with Harry (and the reader) as a young adult before I wrote the story that explored Harry’s vulnerability. I had Madeline and her mother, Eleanor Wish, move to Hong Kong. I wanted them in an exotic place so that when I was ready to write the father/daughter story Harry would be a fish out of water.
I first visited Hong Kong and started my research after writing Lost Light. I went back again last year. In writing, you rely on your instincts in terms of what to do and when to do it. Somehow, I felt it was time to write the story. And so Nine Dragons is that story. It starts in Los Angeles, goes to Hong Kong, and then comes back to Los Angeles. It’s about Harry and his daughter. It’s about his hopes for her, his guilt over his poor performance as a father, and most of all it is about his vulnerability as a father. This is the story when Harry is gotten to.
— Michael Connelly