I was working in LA a couple weeks back when Michael Connelly invited me to visit the set of his TV show, BOSCH, for a couple hours. I’ve known Michael for a more than a decade now, but my history with him as an influence goes back well beyond that — when my first submitted novel was getting close to acceptance, when it seemed all over but the victory parade, and then we got bad news from the decision-makers at St. Martin’s Press.
My editor, a great editor and great guy named Pete Wolverton, one of the best, said he wanted to publish the book, but that he also wanted to see me get out of the gates with a bigger splash. He thought the plot was too quiet, which was generous, because I don’t think the book really had a plot. His superiors weren’t as enthused about the book as he was, period. So he sent me away with a bit of advice: “Re-read Michael Connelly to see how it’s done right.” I re-read them and I’d urge any would-be crime writer to do the same. I’d urge anyone who simply enjoys reading good fiction to try Michael’s work.
There’s another fun overlap on the set of BOSCH for me, though. THE RIDGE is dedicated to friend named Tom Bernardo (along with Joe Taft, of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center) and reads: To Tom Bernardo, whose generosity and friendship carried me through this one. This gives you an idea of how important his feedback was to the early drafts.
I met Tom when I moved to St. Pete, and he’s been a great friend and a critical member of my early-reading team for years. Tom also did one of the boldest things in pursuit of his craft that I’ve ever personally encountered, leaving a six-figure job as an attorney in a major firm to get an MFA in creative writing. Bear in mind, readers, that I said that was a bold thing to do and not necessarily a smart one. I don’t want the liability on my hands…
Season 2 of BOSCH is coming off a smashing success of a debut season. It was special to see Mike finally watching his baby take life in the way he’d envisioned; that was a treat for me. And to see Tom on the set, who has co-written at least two scripts this year and might work on three, and knowing how long the road was for him to get there made it even more special. (Bosch fans will even see Tom’s acting debut in Season 2. I personally think he should stick to writing…)
Watching lead actor, Titus Welliver, play the character I love from Michael’s pages, and play him note-perfect, was interesting to say the least, because Titus has a very non-Bosch personality himself, but he channels the character perfectly when the cameras are rolling. I had only a few hours but I couldn’t have selected a better scene – it was Harry in his house up in the hills, Harry receiving some hard news as he looks out over the city he polices so relentlessly, with his everyone counts or no one counts mantra. It will be a standout moment of the second season, I suspect.
In theory, I suppose we exist in a competitive business. I don’t buy into that. Most importantly, Michael hasn’t seemed to – he’s well known for his support of new writers, and younger writers. Michael actually helped me find the great publishing team I’m with now, and has always supported the books. And without Tom Bernardo, Lord knows how bad my early drafts would have been. My only beef with Tom is that we tended to throw darts while I really vented about my mistakes in the books, and he still never let me win, even on the bad days. You’d think just once….
In all seriousness, seeing that shoot was a thrill for me on three different levels. To watch two friends, great men, generous men, having success doing what they love, that’s always good. But the real highlight was seeing Harry Bosch brought to life. When it works, it’s a special thing. If you’re a fan of the books and haven’t given the show a try yet, I’d urge you to do so. They’re certainly doing the stories justice.