Popular Author Connelly Talks Shop

A couple of hundred USF students turn out to hear the author talk about always being in a position to be inspired.


Author Michael Connelly signs a book for USF sophomore Valeria Compte.                                            Photo: Brandi Hollis | USF News

By Brandi Hollis

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2011) – More than 200 University of South Florida students turned out last week to hear Michael Connelly – best-selling author and crime fiction novelist – talk about the writing process and how he achieved success.


Many students, mainly from the School of Mass Communications, had copies of Connelly’s best-selling book, “The Lincoln Lawyer,” ready for him to sign. The novel has been adapted to the big screen.


But Connelly’s message wasn’t a pitch for his movie. He spoke to students about success with a degree in mass communications and how ideas and experience can come through reading.


“I was a voracious reader,” said Connelly. “A lot can come to you through reading; you can explore a lot of worlds. The creative mind is an engine and it needs fuel.”


Connelly wasn’t always an award winning author. He warned students that writing takes dedication and it may take years to develop a novel that will be published, but to not get discouraged. Connelly himself started his fiction career by writing novels that are unfinished and unpublished.


“It’s just a matter of keeping your eye on the prize,” said Connelly.


Connelly related his own journey to being an author to emphasize his point. Connelly was born in Philadelphia, moving to Florida when he was 12-years-old. He attended the University of Florida, but not for a degree in creative writing. He started out as an engineering major. After seeing the film “The Long Good-bye” adapted from a novel by Raymond Chandler, a detective fiction novelist, Connelly said he knew he wanted to write crime fiction. So he changed majors to mass communications with a minor in creative writing.


His parents were supportive and Connelly put all his efforts into his new passion. After Connelly graduated, he worked for 12 years in the newspaper business before finally finishing the novel he always knew he wanted to write. Connelly’s first novel, “The Black Echo,” was published in 1992. Connelly was 35. His dedication was well worth it. The book won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by Mystery Writers of America and was the first book to feature Det. Harry Bosch. Today, he’s written more than 25 novels that have sold more than 45 million copies and been translated into 39 languages.


Connelly advised students to use every experience, whether in your daily life or through reading to enhance your writing. He explained how working daily with the court system when he was a reporter allowed him to see and experience details about the criminal justice system and the people in it that are important when trying to bring depth to characters.


 “Try to always be in a position to be inspired,” Connelly urged students.