Michael Connelly and Alan Russell Talk "Burning Man"
Michael Connelly, best-selling author of The Black Box, interviews fellow author Alan Russell who just released the new action-packed police procedural Burning Man now available on Kindle and paperback.
Michael Connelly: Welcome back to the world of mystery writing! Where the hell have you been for the last decade? Did you become a golf pro? (Inside joke: Connelly has seen Russell golf which is not a pretty sight).
Alan Russell: I was writing, but mostly ghostwriting to pay the bills. I had my own secret titles for the books I wrote. There was Downstairs Flooring, and My Son’s Expensive Liberal Arts College. Actually, that was a trilogy, with parts I, II, and III. There was also, Dental Work, Two Bridges and an Implant, and my classic work, Upstairs Decking.
M.C.: Someone told me you were writing movie scripts.
A.R.: True. You want to hear my Oscar speech for best screenplay?
M.C.: Speaking of Hollywood, I always wondered why they didn’t make your novel Shame into a movie.
A.R.: Anytime Hollywood wants to ruin one of my books, I’ll gladly let them.
M.C.: Maybe they’ll do it with Burning Man. What’s it about?
A.R.: It’s a cop story with two protagonists: an LAPD detective and his K-9 partner.
M.C.: Did you say LAPD?
A.R.: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
M.C.: Which subject did you find more interesting to research and write: humans or animals?
A.R.: I grew up with German shepherds, and currently have three dogs, so I am clearly a dog-lover. What I most enjoyed writing was the relationship between Gideon (cop) and Sirius (dog).
M.C.: What kind of research was needed?
A.R.: When I wrote Multiple Wounds I was assigned to a homicide team in San Diego, but without an LAPD resource I did all the reading and research I could and hope it came out right. By the way, I love the videos on your website when you bring in real LAPD detectives.
M.C.: It’s fun to do. You have to be authoritative on what you write but you can get that from many sources. For example, I get most of what I need for Lincoln Lawyer from a couple of lawyers that practice in Florida.
A.R.: Research is important; good writing is even more important.
M.C.: Tell me about the title of Burning Man. I really like it. What’s it mean?
A.R.: In the prologue Gideon and Sirius go into a canyon fire to try and capture a notorious serial killer. They get their man, but barely survive. The physical scars are one thing, the mental scars another. Gideon doesn’t want to tell anyone about his PTSD from the fire. The only positive is that his suffering brings him inexplicable insights into the cases he’s working.
M.C.: And what cases are those?
A.R.: The set-up for the series is that Gideon and Sirius work the Special Cases Unit and get the unusual and different cases.
M.C.: Such as?
A.R.: In Burning Man they investigate a modern crucifixion.
M.C.: Not your everyday homicide.
A.R.: That’s something you know more than a little bit about.
M.C.: You’re not going to disappear for another decade, are you?
A.R.: No, you won’t be that lucky. I am working on a sequel to Burning Man.
M.C.: Don’t quote me on this, but I’m glad you’re back.
A.R.: It’s good to be back.