The path to New York Times bestselling author status began for Dennis Lehane MFA ’01 when he enrolled in FIU’s nationally ranked Creative Writing Program. He credits one professor in particular with teaching him all that he now knows about plot, something he says had never come naturally. That last fact might surprise fans of his more than a dozen novels, among them mysteries and crime thrillers.
Lehane can also credit FIU faculty for pushing him to his first big success, “Mystic River,” on which the 2003 movie starring Sean Penn is based. When professors suggested that one of the short stories in Lehane’s master’s thesis needed a small tweak, he instead reworked the piece into a book over the next seven years before returning to campus to drop it off and collect a diploma.
Lehane’s 25-year career includes writing for several cable television series (he earned awards for his work for HBO) as well as screenplays. Once encouraged by his parents to seek employment as a utility worker or letter carrier, the Boston native has admitted to having talent only for making things up — much to the delight of readers and viewers.
“I looked into graduate school and decided to go for it. It was a way to hide from the world for an extra two years. It also helped me work on my craft. I felt like I wouldn’t have gotten published without FIU.”