Friday, February 16, 2007

Beefed-Up Connelly

Separation Anxieties

In an interview on his Web site, Michael Connelly tries to make the case that his novel The Overlook (due out in the States in May, and in the UK in June) is significantly different from the version serialized over the last few months in The New York Times Magazine.

(Just in case you thought you could get away without having to buy the hardcover.)

He’s asked right up front what it was like to rewrite this Harry Bosch story “without the magazine’s space constraints.” Connelly response:
Well, it was good on two levels. The first one was that there were pretty strict guidelines on the NYT story. There were 16 chapters and each had to be as close to 3,000 words as possible. So I found myself cutting back in some chapters and padding others. It's not that easy to do when you are used to--after 17 books--writing without looking at word count or chapter length, etc. So it was nice to revisit the story and pace it the way I wanted to. I think the original story in the Times had a lot of velocity but I think it has more in what I call the final version. The second level of enjoyment I got out of this is that I got a chance to revisit a story about eight months after it was supposedly finished. In the publishing world today it is rare that you get a chance to finish a story and then sort of mull it over and think about what you would add or change.

Then comes the promotion and sales part of this exchange ...

Question: How much is different in the novel versus the New York Times feature?

Michael Connelly: I think the story is more complex. I didn’t change the significant aspects of plot and character; the bad guy in the Times version is still the bad guy. But I made the bureaucratic and political obstacles that Harry Bosch faces more complicated. There is also a pretty significant story line added involving a character who was not in the Times version of the story. I also shifted the time that the story takes place. In the Times it took place right before Christmas. Now it takes place right now. This allowed me to make the story more current.
Later in that interview, Connelly alludes to “a pretty significant story line added involving a character who was not in the Times version of the story.” According to the It’s a Crime! (or a mystery) blog, this bonus plot thread involves FBI agent Rachel Walling, a love interest last seen in Echo Park (2006).

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