Monday, July 25, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Interview, Part 2

Coming August 2
Reader: It seems like you enjoy peppering your novels with all these wonderful factoids that I just can't get enough of. In THE DEAD ROOM, Teddy Mack's murder investigation uncovers little known gems like how Michelangelo learned to sculpt by breaking into the morgue at night and feeling his way through corpse after corpse. In CITY OF FIRE Lena Gamble uncovers something that blew me away as well: that if someone  comes from a family that survived the Black Plague in Europe so long ago, that person has a mutated gene and is immune to HIV. Now, in THE LOVE KILLINGS, Matt Jones comes upon a homemade silencer for a pistol that is so amazing, it has a nickname. How do you do this? Where do these cool factoids come from?

RE: One of my favorite comments about my work came from Michael Connelly after he read CITY OF FIRE. "Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to," he said. "She's tough, smart, and most of all, she's real." What I like most about Michael's quote is that he used the word "real." Anyone who's read his work and is a fan like I am knows how much he values that word.

Robert Ellis
I feel exactly the same way. I want all of my novels to be about real. I want them to be set in the real world. I want that world to play the same vital role the characters are playing. And that's why I think it's so important to give the world in the novel detail. Not enough to weight it down or get in the way of story, just enough to make everything seem brighter and more real. Having Matt sift through past murder cases from real life gives the story color, and often times, as is the case with THE LOVE KILLINGS, more depth and meaning.  Adding something few people have seen before like a homemade silencer, or determining that a teenage girl is pregnant based on something seen in her mouth -- it helps make it feel real, but it also makes the writing process more alive and fun. At least for me.

Reader: But how do you do it?

The Finished Manuscript Ready & Waiting
RE: For me it happens when I begin to focus on coming up with a new story. I see something that catches my eye in the news, or in a documentary. I read something that lights up my imagination in a book, or hear a friend talking. The trick is to make yourself write it down. If I tell myself I'll remember it in the morning ... I won't! I make notes on 3x5 cards, post-its, or whatever is on hand, then start stacking them on my desk. It's been my experience that within a few days a bit of magic happens. Like some sort of honey bee that smells a flower two miles off, my mind reaches a sharper focus, and stories begin to come every day. It's like a fisherman's net that's just been cast into the sea. I start pulling these odd stories out of nowhere until my desk looks like a pile of trash! It takes a certain amount of courage to read through them all. Some are ridiculous, some were jotted down in the dark while in bed and not legible, and some don't fit what I had in mind now, but might work for a future novel. But then I come upon one of those gems you mentioned, something that's just right for my story and theme, and I realize that putting the time in was totally worth it.

Sleep loose, guys. One more week to go before THE LOVE KILLINGS is finally here!
And many thanks!




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