Interview on June 14, 1999
Question: What is the basic premise of Void Moon?
Michael Connelly: The book is about a woman named Cassie Black who has been out of prison and on the straight and narrow in Los Angeles for ten months when something happens in her life that makes her turn back to crime. The book is essentially about that crime—a sophisticated burglary of an occupied casino hotel room in Las Vegas—and the consequences that follow Cassie back to Los Angeles.
Q: Where did you get this idea about a hot prowler?
MC: “Hot Prowler” is the term police use for a burglar who specializes in going into occupied dwellings. I first started thinking about a story like this when an LAPD officer told me about a hot prowler who was working the Sunset Strip, going into hotel rooms while people slept and stealing their cash, jewelry and lap tops. It made me think about the possibilities and the skill, though misplaced, it takes to undertake this sort of crime. I was looking for a new challenge and decided on this story, the challenge being to make a burglar—a criminal—sympathetic to the reader. In this story I want/need the reader to hope Cassie gets away. That’s a challenge, especially to someone who has written eight previous books from the cops’ point of view.
Q: Why did you decide to go with a woman as your protagonist?
MC: Again, it was the challenge. When I am not writing about Harry Bosch I feel I should make the most of my time off by pushing myself as a writer in ways I have not done before. This time the challenge was to write a female protagonist. Of course, I have had major characters in previous books that are female, but I have never put the whole burden of carrying a book on a female character. Though a good portion of this book is seen through the point of view of the man chasing Cassie Black, there is no doubt that she is the protagonist and the reader must like her in order to like the book.
Q: Was it hard for you to write from a criminal’s perspective this time? How about a woman’s?
MC: I found it fun. I tried to imbue my criminal character with the same character details as my cops. That is, I made her good at what she does and I gave her a code, a set of beliefs that she lives by and adheres to. Obviously, this code is different than Harry Bosch’s code, but in her sticking to it and ultimately doing “the right thing” I think it makes her a positive and interesting character. I also threw many obstacles in her path, and in her overcoming them I think I was able to build a character that should hook the reader. As far as writing from the female point of view, again I brought the same elements I bring to writing any of my other characters. I just worried about making her a highly detailed and realistic human. I did not write this book thinking, ‘What would a woman do here, what would she do there?’ and so on. I more or less thought in terms of ‘What would a person do here?’ and I went from there. I guess I’ll find out if it worked when the book comes out.
Q: Eleanor Wish, in your Harry Bosch series, has also done time in prison. Is Cassie Black like her in any way?
MC: I haven’t really thought about that. I would assume they are moving on the same plane in some respects. But Eleanor ended up in prison because of a flaw in her character. There is something missing for her and it resulted in her downward spiral. Cassie Black is different. I don’t want to give away too much of the new book but you could probably boil down what happened to her to the idea that she essentially went to prison because of love.
Q: Who is the main male character?
MC: The main male character is a private eye named Jack Karch who is hired under the table by a Las Vegas casino manager to investigate the hotel room burglary and find the culprits. Karch is a psychopath in his relentless drive and commitment to take all means necessary to find the woman who burglarized the hotel room, destroy her, and take back what she stole.
Q: Did you spend a lot of time in Las Vegas researching this book?
MC: I went to Las Vegas several times for short trips. I don’t think I have ever been in Las Vegas longer than 48 hours at a time and that is probably the best way to take that city. It is a lot like L.A. in that the desperate dreams of some of the people who go there are almost palpable. It fascinates me as a place of excess and lost inhibitions. That’s why I think it’s best to take it in short doses.
Q: What do you enjoy more, writing about the police or about criminals?
MC: I just like writing about characters. As long as there is something noble about them at their core and that motivates their actions, I don’t really care if they are cops or criminals. They are opposite sides of the same coin so there are often similarities anyway.
Q: You have written the screenplay for Void Moon already. What is happening with that?
MC: It has been fed into the Hollywood movie machinery and I have no idea if it will ever be spit out as a movie or not. I think this story may lend itself to Hollywood more so than my previous books. It is basically a caper story and a chase story. Hollywood usually can make these fairly well. We’ll see what happens with this one.
Q: Will Harry Bosch be back in the next book after Void Moon?
MC: I’ve already started my next book and Harry Bosch will be in it, but it will be different in that it will not be a typical Bosch book. Terry McCaleb, the character from Blood Work, is in this book and he may be more center stage than Bosch. It is hard to know for sure right now because I just started it. I’m not working off an outline. I am just writing it and seeing what happens.