Lehane 'Dot' .com

The first part of the interview was done in early October 2009, right after the publication of The Given Day, while the presidential race was going on with Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin and also while Shutter Island was being filmed by Martin Scorsese.
The second part of the interview was conducted at the time of the French publication of Moonlight Mile (the 6th Kenzie & Gennaro book) in late June 2011, when the Boston Bruins hockey team were winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years.  Many thanks to Dennis Lehane for taking time out of his busy schedule. 

Part One
Let’s start with the most recent book, The Given Day

## Can you talk about how the whole idea came to you, and how you pieced everything together; the characters, the era, the fiction and non-fiction elements, the Babe Ruth story, etc? How did you decide to have Danny the main character and not someone else?

D.L.-- The Police Strike is something you hear about growing up in Boston, it’s back there in the historical mist somewhere. About the time I was writing Shutter Island, I came across a reference to it somewhere and one aspect of it—that almost the entire police force left the job—stopped me cold. I couldn’t get my head around it—a city with no cops for 3 days, followed by four months of military control—so I started doing some more digging.  That led me to the only non-fiction book about the strike, A City in Terror by Francis Russell, which led me to other books about the twelve months before the strike, which led me to the May Day riots, the assassination attempts on Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, the first Red Scare, the Molasses Flood of January '19, and then the Great Influenza Pandemic of '18, which ultimately led me back to Ruth and the '18 World Series. It was all pretty backward, which is usually how I construct a book. As for Danny, I was writing about cops going on strike, so I needed a main character who was a cop.

## There were so many things happening during the years covered in the book, did you do most of the research before the writing, or was it an ongoing process while you wrote and developed the story?

D.L.-- I did a year of research and then referred back to it as I wrote. The writing took four years so I forgot a lot of what I’d read and would have to double-back into the source books as I went.

## I liked the Babe Ruth story in the book. It adds to the realism of the era by placing the reader into familiar territory, it is nicely weaved through the book, it connects to other plotlines and it is also the bookends of the novel. If you take these parts out of the book, you could have a nice novella there; Delillo’s Pafko at the Wall was first published in Harper’s Magazine and later added as the intro for Underworld; have you or will you do the same with Babe Ruth in Ohio? (As a special-limited edition, maybe even illustrated).

D.L.-- It’s funny, the primary criticism in reviews thus far has been of the Ruth sections. Some critics seem to be having trouble tying it into the rest of the narrative. Yet I don’t think I could release those sections as a novella because they are, in fact, so tied to the narrative framework that, with the possible exception of the chapter where Ruth gets in a bar fight, they can’t stand on their own.

## The story focuses on the Boston Police, but it is also about a time of turmoil and emancipation for a city that is trying to define itself within the country, and a country trying to take its place on the planet. The characters live through a flu pandemic, bombings, race riots, a crumbling economy, and so much more. This is a huge book and I enjoyed every page of it; was the manuscript longer, was there anything you had to leave out, any subjects or events you wanted to get into?

D.L.-- I cut some things but they needed to be cut.

## You don’t mention the Red Sox winning the World Series in 1918 and you also leave out any mention of the details of Ruth’s trade to the Yankees (Frazee’s financial problems and the musical he wanted to produce). Was that part of the editing process?

D.L.-- I didn’t think the issue of who won the '18 World Series was particularly germane and it would have seemed odd to toss such a trivial fact into chapters concerning the flu pandemic. As for the reasons for Ruth’s trade, they’re in there. Ruth wasn’t traded so Frazee could stage No, No, Nanette; that’s a myth. He was traded because he was a pain in the ass who asked for a new contract about every third day. Plus, he refused to pitch. So the Sox unloaded him because they felt he’d become too much of a distraction and was poisoning the team ethos. It’s very similar to 2008 when the Sox unloaded Manny Ramirez, not because he was a bad player--he’s a hall of famer at the peak of his powers—but because he’d become a cancer to the club. 

## Coming back to Delillo’s Underworld, it was seen by many as an epic about New York city, through the lives of a few fictive and some real characters. I see The Given Day as an epic about Boston, almost a hundred years ago, also through the lives of fictive and real characters; a sort of coming-of-age story about a city experiencing defining moments and growing from her adolescent stage to adulthood, inside a family (the USA) going through a lot of changes. How do you present your book and do you think that those early 1920s were the beginning of what Boston has become now?

D.L.-- It’s up for the reader to interpret the events of the book as he sees fit. But certainly the country was hitting a thrilling adolescent stage right about then. The more I read into the time period, the more the U.S. of that time reminded me of a kid who’s just got her driver’s license. She’s scored a six pack and a pack of Marlboro Lights, she’s called some friends, and she’s going to take that car for a spin, you know?

## What was the aspect of the book that you enjoyed the most and got you gunning your engines; the characters, the events of that time, etc?

D.L.-- Luther and Thomas Coughlin seized my imagination pretty good. And, yeah, the events, the sense people must have had of living life inside a cannon barrel, knowing somebody had just lit the wick.

## Getting involved in a huge story arc like that (and I’m thinking also of Mystic River) with so many characters, do you get attached more to your characters? Is it difficult to detach yourself from the story and do you need a long break from writing before embarking on a new project?

D.L.-- I needed a considerable break after I finished. It’s not that I’m too attached to my characters—usually by the end of a long book they’re like house guests; no matter how much you like them, you want your couch back. It’s just that a book, particularly one this long, is a marathon. Finishing it wiped me out.

## You’ve mentioned before that you were working on a trilogy; is The Given Day the start of that trilogy? If so, how do you see the three books, and if not, what could be next? How long will readers have to wait?

D.L.-- I wish I could answer. I think it’s the first book of a trilogy and I am, as we speak, beginning to think of the second book, but I don’t know exactly what that book will be or when it will arrive.

Shutter Island

## You went where not many crime fiction writers had gone before; in the gothic world. Did you receive a lot of negative comments from readers who had enjoyed the Kenzie-Gennaro series and were expecting a similar world? A lot of readers must have felt out of place, disoriented as much as Teddy Daniels did. Did you feel in any way uncomfortable entering unfamiliar territory?

D.L.-- I’m flattered, even humbled by how much people love Patrick and Angie, but the last of those books was written nine years ago. Those characters have moved on, I’ve moved on. With Shutter Island, I wanted to pay homage to my love of gothics and 1950s B movies. Did I worry how the readers would react? No. I knew plenty of people would hate it and I’m okay with that. I knew other people would dig it, and obviously I’m okay with that. If you write to engage people, you’re a writer. If you write to please everyone, you’re a whore. Or a fool.

## I had to read it twice because although I enjoyed it the first time, I felt I had missed a few things (maybe a lot). I probably still missed some of it, but I enjoyed the ride even more that second time. Were you afraid that nobody would get it, that it would be badly reviewed by critics and readers?

D.L.-- I was sure it would be poorly reviewed. So I was surprised when that happened far less than I’d predicted. As for readers, I owe readers the best book I am capable of writing. And one hundred percent hard work and sweat to accomplish that. I don’t owe them the book they think they want to read, though. That’s not my gig. Love my work or hate my work, just as long as you never feel I phoned it in.

## It is a book of deception and we, the readers, see only what Daniels sees, and, although you keep no secrets and hide nothing, we don’t fully understand what’s going on until the end. That’s because we are also subtly pushed in one direction, following the faint light in the dark (or the storm). Is there something about that book that nobody ever mentions that makes you think might have been too subtle?

D.L.-- Not really. In the US, most people missed the political allegory, which is probably just as well, but the French and the British got it, so, you know, cool.

## Was it so much fun to write that you’d like to go back to that territory at some point? Maybe even write a horror novel? Is there another genre that you’d like to try?

D.L.-- Never say never, I guess, but it feels highly unlikely that I would. The gothic is in wonderful hands with Patrick McGrath, among others; I’m not sure I need to stick my toe in the water again.

Mystic River

## This might sound weird but while reading this book, I would often think of Shakespeare. To me, Mystic River is a modern tragedy like Shakespeare would have written if alive today. The common themes (friendship, revenge, fate, etc) are mixed in an uncommon crime novel-- the dead body is only on page 120 or 130 I think and it’s not about who did it or why but about the repercussions in the aftermath-- and the result is very good literature. Is Shakespeare an influence, were you setting out to write a tragedy in that sense?

D.L.-- I was definitely mucking around with classic tragedy. My nods to Shakespeare come with Annabeth, whose name might have been a bit more of a mouthful if I’d dubbed her AnnaMcbeth and with Jimmy, who has a bit of Prince Hal’s trajectory—trying to refuse the crown and such.

## The characters make that book but one of them (maybe even the main one) is the neighbourhood. You could have just described the place and try to make it real, but instead you wrote about its people and events that took place there, and it all came alive. Is it one of the things that can happen unconsciously while writing the book or did you plan it like that? Did you grow up in that kind of environment?

D.L.-- Thank you. That’s very gratifying to hear because I was trying to make the primary character of the book be that neighborhood. It was my stand-in for all the inner city neighborhoods of Boston that I grew up loving—Dorchester, where I was raised, South Boston, Charlestown and Brighton, all places I’d lived as an adult. I was trying to capture as much of Boston as I could wrap my arms around through this one fictional neighborhood.

## There is a big tension build-up before the body of the dead girl is found, and although you don’t need to be a parent to feel it, the reader does feel Jimmy’s pain very strongly. I’m guessing many parents felt that way; it is a reminder of one of the dangers lurking out there, not waiting for us but for our kids, and it is as fearsome as any horror story; because what is scarier than the danger you can’t see but damn well know exists? It’s probably one of the reasons for the book and movie becoming so successful; it can happen to any one of us, and the characters could be any one of us. How difficult is it to write an intense book like that without feeling depressed and losing your concentration and focus? How much does it affect you during the writing process and afterwards?

D.L.-- The issue isn’t losing your concentration; it’s finding a way not to be so focused and obsessed with the novel that you can’t live your normal life. I left the finding of Katie’s body to as late as I possibly could because I wanted it to physically hurt the readers. I wanted them in Jimmy’s shoes. I hate books where characters are killed for our salacious thrill and then the writer wraps the rest of the book in a kind of moralistic, self-righteous tone as if he’s somehow not pandering to our basest instincts from the get. As for how much of that pain or rage or whatever that I carry into my own life, sure, sometimes its hard to protect your psyche from it, but most times it’s okay. The times when it’s hard, hey, that’s what you’re paid for. Beats selling shoes, so suck it up. 

Kenzie & Gennaro

## I’ve read somewhere that they’re in a hotel room and they probably don’t want you to find them. Are they just resting for a while or slowly fading away? Will you pay them a visit?

D.L.-- They stopped answering the phone. Believe me, I’ve called. Tried everything. But they just stopped talking to me. After nine years of trying, I’m pretty sure they’re gone. I miss them, but I can’t get them back.

## You’ve tackled many themes like racism, paedophilia, serial killing, corruption and many more; fortunately, you have interesting and likeable characters that we care for. If not, we’d be very much depressed about the world! How do you include the right amount of humour in a dark story?

D.L.-- With those books it’s all in Patrick’s voice. He’s the one lightening the mood, telling the jokes, and being the master of understatement, which is a very Boston thing. The reason I miss him the most is that he represented a part of me that doesn’t lend itself to the third person point of view I write in now, and that’s the part of me that’s a goofball. Anybody who spends any amount of time around me quickly learns I’m far more apt to quote Airplane than Othello. I live for jokes, the more obscene the better. So Patrick was my other half in that respect and, once again, I miss him.

## Was it just me or Prayers for Rain was more work than pleasure for you? I’m not saying it wasn’t good, in fact I think it was a logical way to end the series; every reader probably sensed the end coming. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first four, it was gloomy and although it’s been a while, I don’t remember much humour in it. Was that a reflection of your mood while writing it? Were you tired of the series, did you know it would be the last one? 

D.L.-- I didn’t know I was tired, but Patrick did. He’s constantly mentioning how exhausted he is in that book. George Pelecanos called me after he read the manuscript and said, “This feels like the end.” I didn’t know what he was talking about at first. I was pretty sure there was another book in the series coming around the corner, but then I picked up the phone and called Patrick and he just let it ring on the other end. It’s been ringing for nine years, so I guess George was right.

## Looking back, does the K&G series seem like a training field for the following novels? How do you feel about those books now? You’ve shifted in so many directions from one book to the next since you ended the series, that I wonder how you stayed interested for five books. Could you really write the same way about K&G now, and could you sustain your interest for more than a book or two?

D.L.-- I love those books, I love those characters. I love that genre. But I’ve always been a very organic writer—I go where the river takes me, if you will. For five books, the river led me through the PI genre, and then it forked and the current I was in flowed into classic tragedy and then gothic and then the historical. None of this was planned. But all of it felt right. As for whether I could write the same way about Patrick and Angie now, well, I haven’t been able to. So I guess not.

About Teaching

## How’s life as a writer-in-residence/teacher? Does it take a lot out of your usual time for your own writing? What kind of schedule do you keep?

D.L.-- It was taking too much out of my writing, so I scaled way back. I teach intermittently—very intermittently—and do a couple of writers conferences every year. But I don’t teach three classes a semester like I used to.

## Did you discover the next Hammett, McCarthy, Crumley, Price, etc?

D.L.-- That’s a tall order. Let’s just say I’ve taught a few writers you might hear of someday.

## What do you usually teach the most; depth of character, of voice, or plotting, language, etc?

D.L.-- I teach that laws of literature concern depth—of character, of language, of structure, of insight—and that if you can learn how to put that depth on the page then you can do so in service of whatever “genre” you please. If you can write romance as good as Austen, have at it. Sci-fi as good as Bradbury or Le Guin, go with God.

## Is this a temporary gig or something you see yourself doing as long as possible? If you’d never have been published, would teaching be your everyday job?

D.L.-- I’m definitely on a sabbatical of sorts. Where that will lead me isn’t something I know yet.

## Do you notice a specific interest of subjects in aspiring writers, what do they want to talk about, what stories do they want to tell?

D.L.-- No, I don’t notice any specific common interest. Every writer’s different.

## What is their major flaw as writers, what should they work on?

D.L.-- At the undergrad level, you run into a lot of students who don’t read. I can’t overstress how idiotic I find this. It’s like deciding to become an aeronautical engineer while skipping the math.

On Writing

## What is usually more difficult for you; the first sentence of the book, finishing the book, the rewrites, etc?

D.L.-- The middle. Middles suck. That’s the valley of darkness, man, and you are on your own.

## What is the most satisfying part; the eureka moment, the whole process of discovering the story and the characters, or just finishing the book, or something else?

D.L.-- Finishing the first draft. Sitting there, looking at the stack, a little voice in your chest whispering, “This exists because I do.” That’s cool.

## Do you find it difficult to edit your own writing, can you distance yourself enough from it? Or do you need to let it simmer for a while?

D.L.-- If I could, I’d let every book sit in a drawer for two years and then go back to it cold and slaughter my darlings and every bit of show-off writing and precious grad school prose I could find. But my publisher doesn’t like this plan, so I go with them’s that brung me and I do the best I can, along with my wonderful editor, Claire, to ferret out the crap. 

## Do you fuss a lot over certain words and the structure of sentences?

D.L.-- Yes.

## When do you write short stories? In between novels or whenever it happens? Have you had novel ideas turned down to short stories and vice versa?

D.L.-- Short stories are really painful for me. I find the form’s compression so hard (not surprising coming from a guy who just published a 700-page novel) and I’m frankly in awe of people who do or did short stories consistently well—Alice Munro, Andre Dubus, Ray Carver, Chekov. Every now and then—five times in the last 15 years—I get an idea for one and I manage to write it from beginning to end. But it’s a rare and unnatural occurrence.

## Can you still have fun while doing a promo tour and can you write while on the road?

D.L.-- Until this month, I hadn’t been on a major book tour in five and a half years, so I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  I can write a little bit. Depends.

## How do you want to evolve as a writer, what pushes you to write the next book; do you want to experiment with genres, with character studies, do you want to surprise yourself, play with language and styles, etc?

D.L.-- There’s room for improvement across the board, you know? In just about every department—my plotting skills, my character development, my language—I could get better. I should get better or else why am I doing it?

## If I ask teacher Lehane, what would he say about writer Lehane?

D.L.-- He’s a little too in love with the words. Stop trying to make it so pretty and just tell the damn story.

## Name two books you wished you had written?

D.L.-- Clockers and Blood Meridian. Plus, just about anything Elmore Leonard ever wrote. No one’s as cool as that cat; no one ever will be.

## If there is a book written and you are the main character; what would be the first sentence of the book, and how would your character die?

D.L.-- I’m way too superstitious to ever answer this question.

On the Big and Small Screens

## Shutter Island is now being filmed by Scorsese-- with DiCaprio in the lead role-- are you involved at all? What is the biggest challenge in adapting that story?

D.L.-- There wasn’t terribly much for me to be involved with. Laeta Kalogridis wrote a terrific script. My only suggestion was for it to be a hair less respectful of the source material, and they took that to heart. But if you have a tight script, an impeccable cast, and a director who’s been known to direct a good movie or eight, then you can just sit back and let the process play out.

## You’ve said numerous times that you were spoiled with the adaptation of Mystic River because Clint Eastwood kept you involved for the whole ride, the cast was awesome and then the movie went on to win Oscars. With Gone, Baby, Gone also a successful adaptation, your other books are probably getting even more interest from Hollywood. Are there any other projects after Shutter Island? I’m guessing The Given Day, but you probably don’t want it to be cut into a 90-minute movie…

D.L.-- The Given Day has been optioned, but I don’t get involved in the screenwriting stage. I just hope for the best. At this point, the process is still at contract stage so no screenwriters have been hired. Once one is, I’ll wish him or her the best and be available should there be questions. But, thus far, this hands-off attitude has contributed to two really good movies, and as I said above, I’m wildly superstitious—so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

## You’ve written for The Wire for your friend George Pelecanos; how did you find the experience of writing for a television series?

D.L.-- It was a lot of fun, particularly because we knew we were working on quality TV—no discussions about the need for a car chase at the end of Act Two or product placement in Scene 33, no notes from the suits, none of the usual headaches TV writers deal with. David Simon and Ed Burns built the building—foundation, floors, walls, electrical. We just came in and painted the rooms or hung the lights. No sweat to it.

## Too bad the series is already over, but I’m glad nobody tried to squeeze the juice until the last drop. Did you receive offers to write for other TV shows?

D.L.-- Yeah, but I haven’t bit.

A Thought (or two) Before You Go

## Care to share your thought(s) on the current presidential campaign?

D.L.-- McCain strikes me as unstable and horribly out of touch. He is to real “mavericks” what Snoopy was to real dogs. Palin, though, is particularly odious. Off-script, she can’t complete a sentence. She deals from the bottom of the deck with all this fear-mongering “terrorist” talk, and her eyes give off the scary, beatific gleam of the unexamined conscience. She’s dumber than a sack of flour and her faux-populist pandering is truly noxious. Plus all that sad, “flirty” winking may set women in this country back 50 years.

Part 2
Sometimes They Come Back

## I’ve got to ask the million dollar questions: “What was the moment that brought Patrick & Angie back on the page?” and “When did you know it was the right story to bring them back?”

D.L.—They just started talking to me again. They’d been silent for 10 years and then Patrick’s voice returned to my ear one day. I flirted with a couple different plots but then realized the case that they’d never resolved their feelings about might be worthy of a revisit.

## In explaining why you weren’t writing another book in the series, you’ve said before “…those are young man’s novels. The sensibility shifted” and that you couldn’t do Patrick’s voice anymore. How did you get all of that back and did having your first child sort of rejuvenated you in that sense?

D.L.--I made a mistake when I said they were young man’s books. It was a theory I grabbed onto in order to explain to myself why Patrick had stopped talking to me, but I was obviously wrong because he started talking again. From that point, the process went something like this--having a child made me wonder if Patrick had a child. Wondering if Patrick had a child, made me wonder how he was doing financially. And that—although I didn’t know it at the time—led to me to the engine that drives the book, which is how the working class struggles to get by in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008.

## In the first part of this interview, you mentioned that you missed writing from Patrick’s perspective because he was very much like you, with your goofy side, etc. Moonlight Mile, despite its serious subject matter (and some horrible deaths), contains a lot of humor and has a much lighter feel than Gone, Baby, Gone. Even some of the meanest and dangerous characters are at times hilarious (think Yefim and Pavel). Was it necessary for you, at this point in your career, and especially after the intensity of books like The Given Day, Shutter Island, and Mystic River, to write something a bit lighter and laugh while doing it?

D.L.—Well, it was all about the balance. Moonlight Mile is, on many levels, a very august book and often a sad one; there’s a lot of loss in it—loss of innocence, loss of financial security, loss of children—but I was elated to be able to buoy that with Patrick’s voice, which to me has always been a particularly Bostonian voice. And after those three books you mention, yeah, I missed the hell out of telling jokes.
## On the other hand, aside from the major plot, you also cover serious issues that concern you and probably make you angry; like unemployment, education, child-care, and others. In these bad economic times, what do you think is the major issue on which the government should concentrate and how can the people be helped in the short-term?

D.L.—I don’t believe the government or Wall Street will do anything to help the working class. They haven’t so far. In the last three decades, they broke the unions, convinced an entire swath of the populace to vote against their best interests, and dismantled eighty years of sensible fiscal regulation and anti-trust laws, returning us to a place no different than the Gilded Age at the turn of the last century. So the only thing the financial sector learned was that they need to give themselves bigger bonuses with less fanfare and the banks need to charge higher fees. So it’s rare that I feel utterly hopeless about something, but it was crystal clear from the lack of any punitive response to Wall Street’s gutting of my country that no one’s looking out for the poor and no one’s going to start.

## Do you think Obama should put more pressure on multinationals to rehire at home instead of increasing investments and expansion abroad?

D.L.—See above. What I think Obama should do and what he will do are two entirely different things. He seems like a good man and he’s a hell of a better president than his predecessor, but he’s been utterly gutless in terms of dealing with Wall Street. A continuation of a tax cut for the uber-rich is not the solution; it’s the fucking problem and half the reason why a record Clinton surplus was turned into a record Bush deficit. But Obama decided to join the band and pick up a fiddle while Rome burns.

## Recent reports in the Boston media (Boston Globe, CBS Boston) revealed murder stats for the last couple years. The good news is that the murder rate is far from the early ‘90s numbers (152 killings in 1990) and it is down slightly in most neighborhoods, but not in Dorchester where there were 40 of the 73 murders in 2010 and 24 of 46 in 2009. Seems also like it is mostly people under 35 years of age who are victims, accounting for 112 out of 147 murders from January ’08 to November ’10. Of the 73 murders in 2010, 57 have come from firearms (up from 33 in 2009) and there were also 200 non-fatal shootings. Police reports mention that the drug trade is the major factor. Dorchester being mainly blue collar, it has been hit pretty hard recently, as most blue-collar towns are in difficult economic times; do you think it is also a cause of the higher crime rate? 

D.L.—Yeah, there’s no mystery. Economic downturns hit the poorest hardest and fastest. Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan account for over 50% of the murders in the entire city, and they’re the three poorest neighborhoods. It’s pretty academic really.

## You’ve known that neighborhood all of your life, so how different is it now?

D.L.—It’s more diverse. It’s got a much higher percentage of Vietnamese and Cambodians than it did when I was a kid. But otherwise, it’s still the same old Dot.

## Speaking of jobs, your bio mentions that you did all sorts of things but that you never had the chance to tend bar. What’s your favorite bar in Boston?

D.L.—Asking what my favorite bar is would be like asking Julia Child to choose her favorite meal. Though I am awful fond of a place called Old Sully’s in the neighborhood where I live.
## You’ve always been a very popular author in Quebec (in both English and French), especially since being awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers Award) for Mystic River. Any chance at all that the Quebecois readers might see you again in the near future, during a promo tour or maybe at a Bruins-Habs game?

D.L.—I love Quebec. I’ve been meaning to get my wife there. I keep telling her how jaw-droppingly gorgeous a city it is. So hopefully we’ll get out there. At the risk of alienating my Canadian and Quebecois friends, I’m not a big hockey fan. Baseball and football are my things.

## So what’s next? Can you give just a hint of what you’re working on at the moment, in book form, and about that TV project with George Pelecanos?

D.L.—Working on a novel set during prohibition that I’m really enjoying. George and I have a movie project with HBO but I can’t speak to specifics at the moment.

## Here’s a question from the first part of the interview and your answer to it: 
## If there is a book written and you are the main character; what would be the first sentence of the book, and how would your character die?

D.L.-- I’m way too superstitious to ever answer this question.

## It’s a question I ask every writer I interview. Now, you’re allowed to keep that answer if you want, but can you explain? Megan Abbott asked to keep her character alive. Everyone else died in some way. So, is it the Irish-Catholic in you that is afraid to answer or the writer who doesn’t want to face its eventual end?

D.L.—I’ll stick with my original. I’m very superstitious and that extends—particularly—to imagining my own death and committing it to paper.

You can visit Dennis Lehane at
Better yet, read his books.
Special thanks to Christine Caya and Theresa Milewski.

P.S.: Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos are adapting The Fence by Dick Lehr as a movie for HBO. Click here to learn more about the book.

July 2011



  1. Excellent series of interviews. Fascinating stuff. Lehane is SUCH a good writer.

    I may have to come back and read this again. And again.

  2. You're right Michael, and Lehane is also a very interesting, brilliant guy. Interviews in general are so much more interesting when the author doesn't give the same old answers.