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Dennis Lehane gives us career advice

Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane came back to Boston this weekend to speak at Emerson College’s commencement ceremony on Sunday. The best-selling author from Dorchester will also make an appearance Monday night at the Brattle Theatre, where he’ll read from his latest novel, “Since We Fell.” We spoke to him about what it’s like living in Los Angeles, what he misses about Boston, and asked him for some career advice.

What’s the best career advice you ever received?

I just take from the maxim that all business is personal. That’s my career advice. You know, being a dick is never a really good long-term career plan, unless you have so much talent that people have to deal with you.


I don’t know if I got that as career advice, but I would say the one thing that I always look back on as a ‘thank God’ moment was when I was putting my first book on the shelf to move on to something else. I had kind of writerly ADHD back then, and I would just move from project to project, and zig and zag. And the book was I think 80 percent completed, and my mentor at the time, a former teacher of mine, when I said that to him, we were out having lunch, and he just looked me in the eye as hard as he could and said, “you finish that book.” He said until you write the end, at the end of a long project, you’ll never absolutely know for sure whether you can do it. It was the single best advice I ever got as a novelist.

That is good advice. Now you’re living in LA now, right?


How long have you been out there?

Almost four years now.

Are you liking it? How’s LA different from out here?


Oh, it’s night and day. There’s almost nothing . . . almost no similarities. You know look, as far as places to be exiled, it’s pretty good. I get a lot of work here, I’m around a lot of creative people, and I’ve built up some really good relationships. My kids love it, so in that regard, you know, it’s mostly win-win. But I have to live with the fact that it will never be home to me. I’ll always be an expat here.

What are some of the places you miss out here in Boston?

Oh God, I miss everywhere. I miss everywhere. The list is truly endless. I get jealous when my friends call me and bitch about [expletive] weather. Just the list of places is just too long to go into. I miss everything about that city.

Well, we miss you, too.

Aaaaw . . .

Here’s a random question for you: what’s the first concert you ever went to?

[laughs] ELO . . . Electric Light Orchestra.

When was that?

’79, or ’80 maybe . . . at the Garden.

Now you’ll be speaking at Emerson’s graduation this weekend, right? Can you tell me some of the things you’re going to be talking about?

No way, man. No way, my friend.

So you’re keeping it under wraps! That’s OK, I understand.

It’s so funny, I was on Larry King the other day and he said, ‘Tell me something nobody knows about you,’ and my response was, I said ‘no.’

There you go. That’s a good answer.


Dennis Lehane will present his latest novel, “Since We Fell,” at the Brattle Theatre on Monday, May 15, at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. General entrance tickets cost $5, and the event includes a book signing.