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Frequently asked questions


Q: Why did you choose the name Hieronymus Bosch for your ongoing series character?

A: The main reason is that when I approached the creation of this character I didn't want to waste anything. I wanted all aspects of his character to be meaningful, if possible. This, of course, would include his name. I briefly studied the work of the real Hieronymus Bosch while in college. He was a 15th century painter who created richly detailed landscapes of debauchery and violence and human defilement. There is a "world gone mad" feel to many of his works, including one called Hell — of which a print hangs on the wall over the computer where I write. I thought this would be the perfect name for my character because I saw the metaphoric possibilities of juxtaposing contemporary Los Angeles with some of the Bosch paintings. In other words, I was planning to cast my Bosch adrift in a hellish landscape of present-day Los Angeles. I should point out that this is a fictional conceit. I do not consider Los Angeles to be hellish. It can be in certain places and under certain circumstances — and this is where I place Harry Bosch. But overall I love Los Angeles and love writing about it. In naming my character after a real historic figure I was to a small extent continuing literary tradition. Many writers, including Raymond Chandler, drew the names of their characters from literature and art.

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Q: Is Harry Bosch based on any cop in particular? How much of him is based on you?

A: Harry is not based on one cop in particular. He is an amalgamation of several real cops I knew as a police reporter, plus aspects of fictional detectives — from both books and movies — that I have loved. I think and hope there are parts of Philip Marlowe in him, as well as Lew Archer, Dirty Harry Callahan, Frank Bullit and many others, to name just a few. I think that starting off Harry had very little in common with me, other than left-handedness. Over the course of the books I have written with him, though, I think that my "world view" and his are becoming more closely aligned. This probably was inevitable. The more you write about a character, the more you look inside for attributes and thoughts to give him.

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Q: Which of your books is your favorite?

A: I probably don't have a definitive favorite. I like different books for different reasons. I like the character resonance in The Last Coyote and Angels Flight. I like the plotting and tension in The Concrete Blonde. I like The Poet a lot because it sort of tweaks the expected standards of the thriller genre. I like Blood Work quite a bit because it did not use a standard archetype of the thriller protagonist yet I think it still provided the thrills and payoffs that genre requires. I like Lost Light because it was my first time writing Harry Bosch in first person. I think I can find something about each of the books that make it my favorite, so I guess that means that I don't have an overall favorite.

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Q: What is your work schedule like?

A: I work in the mornings. In the afternoon I take care of busy work. Then I like to work again at night. On the weekends I try to work a little bit in the morning, then take the rest of the day off.

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Q: Will you write about Mickey Haller, the character in The Lincoln Lawyer, again?

A: Yes, I plan to. I enjoy that character quite a bit.

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Q: What books do you like to read?

A: I read less than I use to. When you are writing this stuff you don't want to read it, so I read more non-fiction now. But mysteries? Anytime I list writers whose work I enjoy I run the risk of annoying fellow writers who I forget to mention. So, suffice it to say that I share many of the same favorites that readers of my work have. I've kind of become a collector, so I try to collect first edition L.A. crime fiction. I also like to read autobiographies.

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Q: Are you inspired by current events when creating your plots?

A: Yes, all the time. In most of my books there is what I call a grain of truth at center. What I mean is that I use a real crime or incident that I have heard about or maybe wrote about as a reporter. Or in the case of Blood Work, the story was inspired by a friend of mine who had a heart transplant. I essentially took his medical and emotional journey and dropped it into a thriller story — with his permission, of course.

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Q: How much of Harry Bosch's life is planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go with him next?

A: Not a lot is planned ahead. I usually have a few loose threads dangling from one book that I can then take to the next or even one further down the line. But I don't think a lot ahead. I think that by not planning his future out I have a better chance of keeping him fresh and current and more reflective of the moment.

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Q: Can you tell us how the TV show Bosch is different from the books?

A: In making the shift from page to screen we brought in a fair number of changes to the world of Harry Bosch. First, we wanted the story to be contemporary - LA right now - and yet we had stories going back 20 years about a character who ages in real time. We also had a character who had different romantic relationships, detective partners and supervisors during those 20 years, as well as a daughter who appears at some point. We also had a military history that would only work in LA right now if Harry was over 60 years old. So we picked and chose from all of those aspects from the books while creating a few new things as well. We built the first season from two of the books - City of Bones and The Concrete Blonde - as well as a short story called 'Cielo Azul'.

In what we are filming, Harry is 47 years old and a veteran of the first Gulf ?War in 1991, where he was part of a Special Forces team that cleared tunnels. He has now been a police officer for 20 years with a one-year exception when he re-upped with the army after 9/11, as many LAPD officers did. He came back to the force after serving in Afghanistan and again encountering tunnel warfare. In Bosch, Harry is working at Hollywood Division on the homicide squad.

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Q: What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer?

A: The main thing is being able to do what you want to do — and just having to walk down the hallway to do it. The least favorite is knowing there is no one to blame but yourself when it's not going well. Somebody once said "writin' is fightin'" and I think that is very true. It is not easy. You have to fight to get what you want to say out. So this means that when it is going well, the feeling is almost euphoric. It also means that when it is going bad, the feeling is proportionately opposite. So there are lots of highs and lows.

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Q: Do you read your reviews, good and bad, and do they make a difference to you?

A: I read them, good and bad. They rarely affect my writing because I don't think anyone can fully understand what I am trying to do but me. Good or bad, it is hard to take a review to heart unless the intelligence of the reviewer is evident to me either in the review itself or by other means such as personal knowledge or association. In other words, I don't know whether to take praise or criticism to heart if I can't figure out anything about the reviewer. Because just like book writers, reviewers are good and bad and bring everything they know and have read to the plate with them. There are a lot of amateurish reviewers out there who bring personal agendas to their task and there are many who bring thoughtful and unbiased comment. I have had both types praise and slaughter me. So in the long run I am always curious to see reviews but don't get too worked up about them, good or bad.

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Q: What are your long term goals as a writer?

A: I just want to keep on keeping on. I want to grow as a writer and get better. I want to keep the Harry Bosch series fresh and alive. I want to keep filling in the portrait of Bosch so that when I am done with him he is a fully realized and understood human being, a person that the readers who have gone the distance with him know like a brother.

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Q: What is the best advice you would you give another writer?

A: Write every day even if it is just a paragraph.

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