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Michael Connelly: ‘I think being Philip Marlowe would be much cooler’

A journalist-turned-crime-writer, Michael Connelly is the bestselling author of almost 30 novels which, collectively, have sold more than 60 million copies around the world. His latest novel, The Crossing, brings together two of his most beloved characters, retired LAPD detective Harry Bosch and "Lincoln Lawyer" Mickey Haller.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

When I was 19, I told my father I wanted to be a writer. He wanted to be a painter when he was 19 so he had a good sense about how difficult it might be to go down a creative path. His advice was to constantly put myself in positions and places where I might be inspired. He knew that was how it worked. It started with inspiration. He suggested that if I wanted to write crime novels then I should perhaps become a journalist who covers the crime beat. I followed this advice and here I am.

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Which fictional character do you wish you'd created?

I think Atticus Finch is the character for all ages. He is a guy with a code and he sticks to it and tries to pass it down to his children. He's a guy who chooses to do the right thing even at great threat to himself and those he loves. There is nothing more heroic or noble and I have always felt that Atticus is the standard bearer.

Which fictional character do you wish you were?

This is slightly different from the previous question. While I wouldn't mind being Atticus Finch, I think being Philip Marlowe would be much cooler. Marlowe is tough, cynical and funny. He always has the cool and sardonic comeback in any conversation. I wish that was me!

Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or time-travel?

Hands down, the answer has to be time travel. My favourite show as a kid was Time Tunnel and I remember the episodes like I watched them yesterday. Just being able to go back and witness history would be thrilling. Then you get into thoughts of going back and changing history. Rather than me trying to explain it, I'd just refer anyone to Stephen King's novel 11/23/63. It's a time-travel masterpiece and it makes this choice pretty clear.

What scares you as a writer?

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The number one piece of advice you get as a writer is to write what you know. I get that and it is true, but you also have to write what you don't know and what you never want to know because it scares you. I write fiction but I research in non-fiction. I spend time with real detectives and I hear stories about real killers and victims and what scares me the most as both an author and just a citizen of the world is the banality of crime and how random it can be. If you have a family, like I do, it can keep you up at night with fear. It then becomes my job to try to channel that into what I do, to get the shades of that darkness correct in my stories. It scares me a little that because the stories are fiction they can be dismissed as fiction. But I hope with at least a few readers they trigger some deeper thoughts about the violence and pain and fear humans visit upon each other.

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