John Connolly was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968. He’s an Irish writer who has published more than 15 novels so far. He is best known for “The Book of Lost Things” and his series of novels starring private detective Charlie Parker.
He graduated with a B.A. in English from Trinity College, Dublin, and a M.A. in Journalism from Dublin City University. Before becoming a full-time novelist, he worked as a journalist, barman, local government official, waiter and gofer at Harrods department store in London. After five years as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times Newspaper, he became frustrated with the profession and began to write his first novel, “Every Dead Thing”, in his spare time.
The “Every Dead Thing” introduced readers to the anti-hero Charlie Parker, a former police officer hunting the killer of his wife and daughter. It was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and went on to win the 2000 Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel. Connolly is the first author, outside of the US, who won this Award.
Connolly has since written many books in the Parker series and a non-Parker thriller, as well as venturing outside of the crime genre with the publication of first, an anthology of ghost stories and later, a novel about a young boy’s coming-of-age journey through a fantasy realm during World War II in England. Film and television adaptations of his works are currently in development; the earliest appearance to audiences was partially based on the short story “The New Daughter”, starring Kevin Costner and Ivana Baquero.
He also tours to promote the launch of his books. In 2007, he made book store appearances in Ireland, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan to promote “The Unquiet”.
In 2009, marked the publication of Connolly’s first novel specifically for younger readers, “The Gates”. A sequel was published in 2011 as “Hell’s Bells” in the UK and as “The Infernals” in the US. The third book in the Samuel Johnson series, “The Creeps”, was published in 2013. Connolly also collaborated with his partner, journalist Jennifer Ridyard, on “The Chronicles of the Invaders”, a fantasy trilogy for teen readers: “Conquest” (2013), “Empire” (2015) and “Dominion” (2016).
Connolly also collaborated with fellow Irish author Declan Burke to edit “Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels”, a nonfiction anthology published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2012 and by Atria/Emily Bestler Books in 2013. “Books to Die For” was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, won the Agatha Award for Best Non-fiction and won the Anthony Award for Best Critical Nonfiction Work.
He was drawn to the tradition of American Crime Fiction, because it seemed the best medium through which he could explore the issues of compassion, morality, reparation and salvation. He credits veteran authors Ross Macdonald, James Lee Burke and Ed McBain as influences, and is often praised for writing in a rich and introspective style of prose.
Connolly divides his time between Dublin and Portland, Maine; makes regular donations to the wine industry; and keeps a number of dogs in a remarkable degree of comfort.
So, for anyone who admire his writing style and want to learn more about his writing rules, here are 10 of his most famous advice for aspiring authors, who shared with his audience in an Interview in 2016:
1. Describe your writing routine, if you have one.
«Art comes out of craft; craft comes out of hard work. Out of hard work comes discipline and skill. You have to practise, it is not something that comes easily and if you have to set it aside for any length of time you become rusty. There is no point in waiting for the muse to strike. The muse is busy. If you’re not home when she calls she will go somewhere else!»
2. How do you do it?
«You need a target for every day. Most writers have a second job and that job is writing. I am lucky I can support myself with writing, but most writers support their writing by being accountants. It has to become part of a daily routine. Set yourself a very easy target, say 200 words a day. You can do it in your lunch break or wake up half an hour earlier. It has to be something that is done regularly. It has to become part of a routine!»
3. What is your daily target?
«I try to write a 1,000 words a day. When I revise I do a chapter a day. There comes a time in the middle of a book when I will go away for ten days and write 3,000 words a day and not talk to anyone apart from ordering alcohol!»
4. Where do you write?
«In the beginning I was very precious about where I wrote. I had to be in my office, but I have learned to take my writing with me. I can write anywhere!»
5. Do you plot?
«You mean books or against other people? No, I don’t. I might know the opening 1,000 words. Only after that will I know the next 1000. I like the process of discovering the book. It can make writing quite hard. One of the reasons why not plotting is difficult is because every book I have ever written I wanted to throw out after 20,000 words. All 28 of them. We start with enthusiasm, but that fades and then you get the siren call of the new idea. If plotting helps you stay on track, by all means plot!»
6. Do you ever doubt your story or abandon your books?
«I doubt every book I have ever written. If you don’t have any doubt, you are a sociopath. Doubt is part of the process for me. If you abandon things you set a pattern. You have to finish things. Most books are abandoned between 20,000 – 40,000 words. If you reach 40,000 you will finish the book!»
7. When you wrote your first Charlie Parker Novel, did you think of it as a series?
«No, you are a psychopath if you do. I was so surprised when it got accepted. It had been rejected by so many editors, but I persevered. Only around the 5th Parker novel did I start thinking about it!»
8. Do you have a plot for the series for future books?
«I am a sensible man, I go to the doctor to have my workings checked once a year, so yes I know how to end it or conclude the larger plot!»
9. You write a YA series with your partner, Jennifer Ridyard. What have you learnt about writing from her?
«How to plot. You can’t collaborate if you don’t plot. You can’t write a book with someone else if you can’t tell them what is going to happen. It was very hard for me, but I do think the series is better for having been plotted!»
10. What do you think about self-publishing?
«Time is the friend of writers. We like instantaneous responses and self-publishing gives us that, but authors should focus on their craft; not on the money!»
You are every character in your books – John Connolly