Interview and Giveaway with John Connolly!

 Recently I asked the amazing John Connolly to answer a few questions on the blog, and to my utter delight, he agreed! John is the author of the Charlie Parker suspense series and the Young Adult series featuring Samuel Johnson and his trusty Dachsund, Boswell. 
Please welcome John to the blog!
John, I can honestly say your Charlie Parker series is hands down, one of my favorite series of all time. Every book in the series is beautifully written, haunting, and nearly impossible to put down. You write about the American South, and beyond, as if you grew up here, but you’re from Dublin! How do you write America so well?
It’s nice of you to say. I’m probably not the best judge of whether or not what I do works. If it does, I think it’s because I’m curious about places and people, and I’m happy to go exploring as part of the process of writing a book. On the other hand, I can’t shake off my cultural and social baggage as someone born and raised in Dublin. In the end, I’d like to think that helps when it comes to writing about other places, and the US in particular. As an outsider, you’re always going to have a slightly different perspective on a location, and it’s possible that you notice things that residents, for example, have simply ceased to notice at all, or just take for granted. And I probably don’t write quite the way an American would, which is fine. After all, American mystery fiction doesn’t need writers from abroad doing pale imitations of existing forms. You have to bring something new to the mix, otherwise it’s pointless.
Charlie is such a tragic character, who’s experience much loss and heartbreak. Does it take a lot out of you emotionally when writing certain scenes?
No, because I see him as a man inching toward redemption. He is, essentially, a good human being, but he’s flawed, and in pain. Ultimately, the books are about his unwillingness to sacrifice his humanity in the face of his own suffering. Instead, it’s given him this extraordinary capacity for empathy. But he also lashes out, and some of his comfort with violence lies in the fact that it allows him to find a temporary release for some of his pain and grief. He knows that it’s self-defeating and ultimately self-destructive, but there’s an attraction for him as well.
When you first started the Charlie Parker series, did you know that you’d eventually start introducing supernatural elements into the stories, or did that just happen naturally?
Those elements were there from the start, although I didn’t set out consciously to mix genres. It just seemed like the natural thing for me to do, in part because I loved both supernatural fiction and mystery fiction, and thought they had similar roots, but also because concepts of morality, redemption, and salvation came freighted with spiritual baggage for me. I think there is still a reluctance among mystery traditionalists to accept those elements in the genre, but I’ve learned to dismiss those people entirely. Anyone who sets limits on what is or is not permissible in fiction, at least when it comes to experimenting with new forms, really isn’t worth listening to.
You’ve recently enjoyed great success with your young adult series, The Book of Lost Things, The Gates, and the upcoming The Infernals! Was it a challenge to go from writing the Charlie Parker series to writing a series for younger readers?
Not at all, and perhaps I feel that they all represent different facets of the ongoing exploration of childhood in my books. Perhaps I come at this from a slightly different perspective, but I don’t see a great deal of difference between fiction for adults and fiction for young adults, at least not in the way the prose is constructed, or in terms of the concepts that can be explored. I can remember, as a boy, that there was no such thing as young adult fiction. Instead, at the age of 11 or 12, you simply graduated from the children’s library to the adult library, and began exploring. So, apart from not including any sex or swearing – and even the Parker books don’t have much of either! – I treat younger readers as what they are: people who are on the journey to adulthood, and deserve to be treated with seriousness. The Gates and Hell’s Bells do allow me to be funny, though, which the Parker books really don’t. Ultimately, their goal is to find that young reader who thought books weren’t for him or her, and have them put down one of those books and think, you know, that wasn’t so bad. The Book of Lost Things is a little different, though: that’s a book about childhood for adults, but young adults who read it bring to it the immediacy of their own experience. They’re going through a lot of what David is going through in the book, so they tend to read it in another way. One of the best experiences of my writing life has been talking to younger readers who have loved that book. It means a great deal to me when they say that it’s meant something to them.

On a more personal note, what kinds of things do you like to see in a good book?What makes you toss a book aside in frustration?

Good writing. I love to see a writer taking care with prose, and exploring its possibilities, without necessarily drawing too much attention to the style. That’s a difficult balance to achieve.Poor writing is what will usually make me angry with a book; that, and cynicism. By now, I can tell when a book has been written solely for the money, and that depresses the hell out of me.
Many authors use music to help them write. Do you, and if so, what’s on your playlist?
No, I can’t listen to music when I write. I work in silence. When I read, I may listen to music, but it can’t have lyrics. I’ve put together three CDs so far to go with the Parker books, so I’ve managed to point readers in the direction of a lot of musicians whose work I admire. And I host a weekly radio show on 2XM which plays music from the late 70s and 80s. The playlists go up on my website each week, so I figure people can get some idea of the music I like from those, since the playlists are playable on the website. By now, I don’t think I have any musical secrets left.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t think I have any! I rewrite constantly, though, and I tend to rewrite the entire manuscript from the beginning. In other words, I won’t look at a chapter immediately after I’ve written it. I simply move on to the next one, and once that entire draft is done I go back to the beginning and start rewriting from there. Oh, and I never show my manuscripts to anyone while they’re being written. They go to my editors and my agent on the same day, and they’re the first people to see them.
You wrote an article for The Irish Times in 2001 entitled Love Hurts or The Ten Great Myths about Dating for the Lonely and Brokenhearted. What’s the best piece of dating advice you ever received? What’s the worst?
I don’t know about advice, but I once dated someone who told me that she liked me so much she’d come off her medication. She was very sweet, but that probably wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time.
Name something that makes you laugh out loud.
Laurel & Hardy movies. I have nothing but affection for them.
I loved your article “Movie Rental Hell!” What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen (aside from the gems you listed in your article)?
Angels & Demons was terrible. That may be the worst movie of recent times. I mean, those rotten Scary Movie-type spoofs are just lazy and unfunny, but Angels & Demons is conspicuous for its waste of money, energy, talent and time. Everyone involved should hang their heads in shame. Stupid beyond belief.

What’s one of your favorite films?

The Thing by John Carpenter. It’s the last great gasp of creature design before CGI sucked the soul out of fantasy film. And, out of left field, The Sweet Hereafter, which, as well as being moving and beautifully acted, has one of my favourite movie scores of all time by Mychael Danna. Buy it. It’s stunningly beautiful.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions that Americans have about the Irish, and vice versa?
That the Troubles represented some kind of noble struggle for freedom.
That all Americans are the same.
Do you like to travel, and if so, what’s one of your favorite destinations?
I love travel. Most of the travel I now do tends to be for promotion and publicity, and I don’t take holidays as I’m terrible at relaxing. Also, with all of the promotion that I do, time at home is valuable because it means I can write. Still, last year I took 10 days off in Argentina at the end of a festival and went traveling alone, which I loved. I’m a horrible travel companion. I’ve become too used to traveling by myself because of promotion, so I tend to be a bit impatient with my long-suffering family when they go anywhere with me. I’m hugely fond, too, of New Zealand, and Prague, and I’ve also enjoyed my visits to the Far East, Taiwan in particular. That was a hugely pleasant surprise, in part because of the sheer kindness of everyone I met, but also because I was able to spend so much time rambling around alone in a country with few western tourists. It was one of the highpoints of my life.
Finally, is there any news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share?
Well, next on the publication list is THE BURNING SOUL, the new Parker book that comes out in September. I’m also pleased to be involved with DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, an anthology of (mostly) essays by Irish crime writers edited by Declan Burke. I think it represents an important milestone for Irish crime writing. That comes out later in May. As for what comes after that, I haven’t decided yet. I have ideas – there’s never a shortage of ideas – but I haven’t chosen the one I want to work on. It’ll come!
**Giveaway Details**
Giveaway is now over. Thanks to everyone who entered!

About Hell’s Bells:Samuel Johnson is in trouble. Not only is he in love with the wrong girl, but the demon Mrs Abernathy is seeking revenge upon him for his part in foiling the invasion of Earth by the forces of Darkness. She wants to get her claws on Samuel, and when the Large Hadron Collider is turned on again, she is given her chance. Samuel and his faithful dachshund, Boswell, are pulled through a portal into Hell, there to be hunted down by Mrs. Abernathy and her allies. 

But catching Samuel is not going to be easy, for Mrs. Abernathy has reckoned without the bravery and cleverness of a boy and his dog, or the loyalty of Samuel’s friend, the hapless demon Nurd. Most of all, she hasn’t planned on the intervention of an unexpected band of little men, for Samuel and Boswell are not the only inhabitants of Earth who have found themselves in Hell. 

If you thought demons were frightening, just wait until you meet Mr. Merryweather’s Elves…


  1. Awesome! These look like fascinating books– I'll have to check them out:)

  2. As the Crowe Flies and Reads

    I mean this in the best possible way, but John Connolly is the main reason I have stopped reading the suspense/mystery/thiller genres. His series featuring Charlie "Bird" Parker are the best scary books I've ever read, but it took me ages to shake the "noises-make-me-jump" feeling that always accompanied the books. I really enjoyed reading this author interview, however, and I agree that he's a *very* good writer–for braver readers than I am!

  3. What a great interview – your passion for John's books really come through and his answers give so much depth to his book! I am in awe!

    I have to agree that I didn't like Angels and Demons film much either! 🙂

  4. Ashley Christine

    Very awesome interview!

    Just to let you know, in the form, you have John's twitter username as "@JohnConnollyBooks" and I couldn't find him under that name, but I did find him as "jconnollybooks" just for future references(:

  5. Ashley Christine-Fixed!! Thanks for the heads up!!

  6. Offbeat Vagabond

    Great interview hon. So with Mel, your passion for the books comes though these questions. You are a definite stalker LOL! Just kidding, but seriously, great stuff. These books sound incredible and Mr. Connolly sounds pretty cool. Definitely agree with the Angels and Demons comment LOL! Thank you both for the great interview & giveaway guys. Really great read 🙂

  7. I have read several of John Connolly books, they are really awesome.


  8. I cant wait to read this book! 😀


  9. Great interview! I think you must come in Greece and I believe it will became one of your favorite destinations.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Haven't read any of his books before. thanks for the chance !

  11. I haven't read a John Connolly book yet, maybe it's high time I did 🙂

  12. Kristi The Book Faery

    That was one of the most interesting interviews I've seen in a while! I can't believe there's someone else out there that still likes 'The Thing' (Kurt Russell rocks in this movie)-I watched it twice this weekend on Starz-No chit!

    I will definitely start this series and will be on my way to Amazon as soon as I'm done here!

    Kristin, that was a fabulous review! You really researched and knew your author very well. I bow to you :o]
    Wonderful and a pleasure to read!

    Thank you!

    Kristi-The Book Faery

  13. Thanks!

  14. Pingback: Review: The Burning Soul (Charlie Parker #10) by John Connolly | My Bookish Ways

  15. Pingback: Book news (and other fun stuff!!): January 4th, 2013 | My Bookish Ways

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