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The Overlook Q & A

February 2007

Question: The Overlook was originally serialized in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. For the publication of the novel you were able to re-write the story without the magazine’s space constraints. How was the experience of revisiting the story?

Michael Connelly: Well, it was good on two levels. The first one was that there were pretty strict guidelines on the NYT story. There were 16 chapters and each had to be as close to 3,000 words as possible. So I found myself cutting back in some chapters and padding others. It’s not that easy to do when you are used to—after 17 books—writing without looking at word count or chapter length, etc. So it was nice to revisit the story and pace it the way I wanted to. I think the original story in the Times had a lot of velocity but I think it has more in what I call the final version. The second level of enjoyment I got out of this is that I got a chance to revisit a story about eight months after it was supposedly finished. In the publishing world today it is rare that you get a chance to finish a story and then sort of mull it over and think about what you would add or change.

Question: How much is different in the novel versus the New York Times feature?

Michael Connelly: I think the story is more complex. I didn’t change the significant aspects of plot and character; the bad guy in the Times version is still the bad guy. But I made the bureaucratic and political obstacles that Harry Bosch faces more complicated. There is also a pretty significant story line added involving a character who was not in the Times version of the story. I also shifted the time that the story takes place. In the Times it took place right before Christmas. Now it takes place right now. This allowed me to make the story more current.

Question: The events in The Overlook are supposed to be taking place about five months after the events in Echo Park. Right away we discover that Harry Bosch has a new partner and is no longer in the Open-Unsolved Unit of the LAPD. What can you tell us about the time in-between the two books? What has Harry been doing between these two cases?

Michael Connelly: I try to make these books as realistic as possible without hindering the drama of each story. The events at the end of Echo Park I think would realistically require a major internal investigation to make sure that Harry acted appropriately. So I would say that Harry’s been waiting out an investigation and chomping at the bit to continue his mission. I don’t want to give away anything from Echo Park but it was pretty clear by the end that Harry would need to be assigned a new partner. In The Overlook he is teamed with a young detective he can mentor. I hope Ignacio Ferras is around for at least a few more books.

Question: Fifteen years ago Harry Bosch was introduced to the world in your first novel, The Black Echo. What do you think about when you look back over the years and examine the thirteen Bosch books?

Michael Connelly: I hope he has evolved as a character in a realistic fashion. I hope his changes are believable. I think they are. I look at the discovery that he has a daughter as the most important change or moment in the series so far because it is the thing that has changed him the most. In many ways Harry is still the same as he was in 1992 but in many other ways he has changed a lot because he has learned a lot.