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Dennis Lehane on his writing process, 'Shutter Island,' & new books

Larry King NowMay 24 '17

New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane details his distinctive writing process, which has brought the world remarkable tales like 'Mystic River,' & 'Shutter Island'. Lehane also talks his newest novel 'Since We Fell,' a story he says will likely to be turned into a film, and reveals what type of fiction thriller he'll tackle next. 

Larry King interviews Dennis Lehane, a ‘New York Times’ bestselling author and screenwriter. Lehane has penned 13 acclaimed novels, including ‘Mystic River,’ ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ ‘Shutter Island,’ and ‘Live by Night,’ many of which have been adapted into Hollywood films. His latest novel is ‘Since We Fell,’ which features a female protagonist. Larry asks Lehane how he got the idea for ‘Since We Fell,’ and Lehane talks about having a vision of a guy’s image reflected in the glass and seen by his wife, whom he develops into his lead character, Rachel. Lehane says it’s easy for him to get into the minds of characters who are outsiders, even if they are of a different gender or race.

Though many of Lehane’s books have been made into films, he dislikes being called a cinematic writer, because books predated cinema. He typically does not get involved in the film adaptations of his writing, though he has been a producer for some. However, he usually likes the film versions of his books. Larry asks him what makes the city of Boston a good character to write about, and Lehane says it’s a fun city, a little off, but a vivid place. Larry asks who is going to play the lead Rachel in ‘Since We Fell,’ and Lehane says that though there’s a script out, he doesn’t know if it will definitely be a movie.

Larry asks how Lehane knew he wanted to be a novelist. Lehane talks about trying journalism but not liking facts, then trying to teach literature, but not liking book discussions. So he went off on a creative writing journey and published his first book at 28. One of Lehane’s first hits was ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ since President Clinton was photographed for a ‘60 Minutes’ ad with the book under his arm. ‘Mystic River’ was one of Lehane’s first super successful books that launched his fame. Larry asks about Lehane’s characters, and Lehane talks about how the writing has to stay organically true. When asked if he falls for his characters, Lehane admits that he does, and that some of his bad characters are his favorite people.

Larry asks for Lehane’s thoughts on writers who sell a lot of books that have good plots but bad characters. Lehane says there is room for all of it, and mentions there are authors whose careers have been allowed to continue because authors like James Patterson makes their publishing house a lot of money. The next step in Lehane’s career is writing for the 10-part series ‘Mr. Mercedes,’ based on a Stephen King novel, for DirecTV. For his next book, Lehane talks about playing within different forms, and wanting the book to be about a chase.