ALA 2010: Dennis Lehane's Debt to Libraries

“I’m a writer because of libraries,” said best-selling author Dennis Lehane at this morning’s Auditorium Speaker program at the Washington Convention Center. Having grown up in a working-class Boston neighborhood where money was tight and books were scarce at home, he appreciated the value of libraries from an early age. “Libraries say to working-class and poor kids that they matter, that they can read the same books as the children of the hedge fund managers.”

In a casual question-and-answer session following a brief reading from Moonlight Mile (Morrow, Nov.), the highly anticipated sequel to his best-selling Gone, Baby, Gone, Lehane covered a range of topics with down-to-earth Irish humor. On the book that changed his life, Richard Price’s The Wanderers showed the budding author that he could write about the people around him. Regarding his reading tastes, Lehane described himself as the “bastard child” of two literary traditions: high-brow literature and classic pulp fiction. While he enjoys such popular authors as Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and Lee Child, Lehane won’t read books that don’t pay attention to or show a love of the English language.”With amusement park fiction, I’ll wait for the movie.”

As for the process involved in producing his first Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro novel in 12 years, Lehane admitted that the first draft was the worst he had ever written. “Rewriting is everything.”

Visit ALA Annual Conference News for ongoing coverage of the conference by the editors of Library Journal and School Library Journal, and see LJ‘s Flickr page for pictures of various show events.

Wilda Williams About Wilda Williams

Wilda "Willy" Williams ( is LJ's Fiction Editor. She specializes in popular fiction and edits the Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian Fiction, and Word on Street Lit columns.