After graduating from the University of Florida in 1980, Connelly got a job as a crime beat writer at the Daytona Beach News Journal where he worked for almost two years until he got a job at the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel in 1981. There, he covered the crime beat during the South Florida cocaine wars, an era that brought with it much violence and murder. He stayed with the paper for a few years and in 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of the 1985 Delta Flight 191 plane crash, a story which earned Connelly a place as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The honor also brought Connelly a job as a crime reporter at the Los Angeles Times. He moved to California in 1987 with his wife Linda McCaleb, whom he met while in college and married in April 1984.
After moving to Los Angeles, Connelly went to see the High Tower Apartments where Raymond Chandler's famous character, Philip Marlowe, had lived (in The High Window), and Robert Altman had filmed. According to Connelly, the marks of cigarette burns still existed on the walls, something that the current tenant hadn’t dared to paint over. Connelly even got the manager of the building to promise a phone call in case the apartment ever became available. Ten years later, the manager tracked Connelly down and he decided to rent the place. This apartment served as a place to write for several years, but it was more based on the nostalgia of the place than the comfort of it – it didn’t have air conditioning.
After three years at the Los Angeles Times, Connelly wrote his first published novel The Black Echo, after previously writing two unfinished novels that he had not attempted to get published. The novel was sold to Little, Brown to be published in 1992 and went on to win the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for best first novel.¹
"I've heard stories about the subconscious taking over and the characters taking on lives of their own. I don't experience that. I don't even understand that. To me, writing is a craft and I work at it. So when I compose my stories no characters — let alone the main character — do things I don't expect. They do what I tell them — through the writing — to do." ~ Michael Connelly
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