For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series and will tell anyone who’ll listen that he’s the best writer in the business. What few of you know, however, is the profound impact he’s had on my work. There was a point in 2006 or so when I was on top of the world. I’d sold the GOD’S END trilogy to Delirium in limited edition, Snowbooks in the UK, and Random House in Germany. I was feeling invincible. And then I read Connolly’s EVERY DEAD THING and realized just how far I had to go in every respect. My prose. My characterization. My plot lines. Everything. So I found myself faced with a dilemma…Either I continued to attack the market and struck while the metaphorical iron was hot, or I took a step back and risked losing my career momentum in order to better myself as a writer.
Don’t let anyone tell you I’ve done anything in life the easy way.
So I took six months off from writing and did nothing but read. I identified my weaknesses and attempted to strengthen them by learning from the modern masters. I devoured the Parker mysteries (five books at the time). I caught up with Dave Robicheaux. I studied Aloysius Pendergast and Harry Bosch and Jack Reacher and Sigma Force. I committed myself to becoming the author I knew I could be.
The result was a book called BLOODLETTING, and the real beginning of what I would consider (in the loosest of terms) “my career.” With each subsequent title, I’ve attempted to improve myself in some way. And while nothing I write will ever be good enough for me, I will continue to push myself harder with every book until my scribblings can stand alongside the works of amazing authors like John Connolly, who showed me what the craft was supposed to be.
And this past weekend, I finally got to meet him.