Interviews / Novelists

Interview with Aaron Philip Clark: “Los Angeles is a character in most of my novels.”

Aaron Philip Clark is a native of Los Angeles, CA. He is an ITW Thriller Award-nominated novelist and screenwriter. His most recent novel, Under Color Of Law, is inspired by his experiences in the LAPD and was published by Thomas & Mercer on October 1, 2021.

Clark’s latest novel, Blue Like Me, was published on November 8, 2022, and is the second installment in the Detective Trevor “Finn” Finnegan series. As a self-described “son of the city,” Clark takes pleasure and finds inspiration in exploring the many facets of Los Angeles.

Hi Aaron, welcome to Famous Writing Routines, great to have you here with us today! Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to become a novelist and screenwriter?

 I originally pursued fine art. I wanted to be a painter and comic book artist. However, I was drawn to writing in a way that couldn’t compare to my other interests. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Writing for Film & TV, I pursued a master’s in fiction, and ultimately my thesis manuscript became my first published novel.

Your latest novel, Blue Like Me, is the second installment in the Detective Trevor “Finn” Finnegan series. What made you decide to continue writing about this character, and what can readers expect from this new book?

I always saw the series being four or five books. When a series continues too long, it can become stale, and I don’t want that to happen to Trevor. However, I’ll keep writing them as long as I’m inspired. Trevor is a compelling character with internal struggles that mirror each book’s external conflicts. Blue Like Me centers on Trevor’s desire to be a good man and make up for his failed law enforcement career and personal mistakes. He’s very much on a quest to do better, and that’s what drives him for much of the book.

Blue Like Me features the dynamic between Finn and his former partner, Detective Sally Munoz. How did you approach crafting their relationship and why was it important to the story?

In law enforcement, partners can form tight bonds. Sometimes those bonds can be more dynamic than spousal and familial relationships. Partners rely on each other to stay alive, so this intimate component already exists. Trevor and Sally had a relationship that resembled that of siblings. They were close, but that relationship ended without closure when Trevor was forced to leave the police department at the end of Under Color Of Law. So, this relationship is fraught with tension, anger, and resentment, but they need to work together to solve a case they are both heavily invested in.

You have previously worked in the LAPD, and this experience is reflected in Under Color of Law. How has your background influenced your writing in this book, and how has it contributed to the realism in your portrayal of the police force and law enforcement in general?

In this book, Trevor is no longer a police detective but works as a PI. While he doesn’t have legal authority and policing powers, he still has the necessary skill set, and when working with Sally, he knows when she’s violating someone’s rights or breaking the law. Since Trevor was seen as a ‘bad cop’ in the previous book, the story positions him as the voice of reason. He can reflect on his past mistakes and speak to what honest policing should look like.

Being a “son of the city,” you take pleasure in exploring the many facets of Los Angeles. How has the city influenced your writing and the stories you choose to tell?

Los Angeles is a character in most of my novels. The city is a microcosm of the world. It’s an incredibly diverse place to live; however, underlying social and political issues stem from the city’s sordid history. I like to explore those issues in my work. I’m also fascinated at how the rest of the United States, and the world for that matter, view Los Angeles. The city is touted as this melting pot and bastion of liberal ideas, but what exists under the surface generally deviates from that perception.

Can you tell us about your writing routine? What does a typical day look like for you?

I work as an educator during the day and write mostly at night. I start around 8 pm and finish at midnight. On the weekends, I write extensively for six to eight hours.

If you could have a conversation with any author throughout history about their writing routine and creative process, who would that person be?

Zora Neale Hurston.

I’d love to know about the books you’re reading at the moment. What have been some of your favourite recent reads?

I’m currently finishing Jordan Harper’s Everybody Knows. I also enjoyed Heat 2, the collaboration with Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner.

What does your current writing workspace look like?

Small and utilitarian.

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