When former lawyer and bestselling author Meg Gardiner teamed up with Michael Mann for the follow-up novel to his 1995 crime thriller movie Heat, working with the legendary filmmaker was an eye-opener.
“All the legends about his proclivities for research are accurate,” Gardiner told the ABA Journal’s Matt Reynolds in this episode of the Modern Law Library. “If you want to find out how to perform a tunnel heist in a Chicago bank, you better get a bank robber on the phone and chat with him for a couple of hours.”
In 2022, Heat 2 debuted at the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list, showing that there is still a strong appetite for stories about ruthless bank robber Neil McCauley and high-octane cop Lt. Vincent Hanna, played respectively by Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in the original film.
Gardiner’s latest work is another chapter in a long and distinguished career as a thriller writer. Like many authors, she has humble beginnings, recalling how her parents told her that if she wanted to write books, lawyering might be a good backup. Even so, it wasn’t until she took a break from practicing to move to London with her family that she had a breakthrough with China Lake, her first novel.
She also explains how her writing process has evolved, how she hopes that she taught Mann a thing or two about pacing a 480-page novel, and what readers can expect to see from her next. Spoiler: When it comes to the question of whether she will write a Heat 2 screenplay, she’s not giving anything away.