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HIS LOVE, THE READER'S BENEFIT

Author Dennis Lehane credits days in the library for a job he loves.

Dennis Lehane attributes his success as an author to his time as a youngster inside the Boston Public Library.

"I am one of those rare people who have a job that I love, and I would do it whether I was paid for it or not,'' he said. "And with my success I want to be sure to advocate things that foster both the idea of reading and also outreach of literacy at a public level and social level.''

That's the main reason Lehane has agreed to be the featured writer Saturday at this year's annual Greater Largo Library Foundation outstanding author series.

Lehane's hefty resume includes the novels Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island. All were made into movies by big-name directors, respectively, Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese.

"We're very excited about him coming,'' said Scott Thompson of the foundation. "We always aim to have a nationally known writer come in for this event, and this year we feel very fortunate it's Dennis Lehane.''

Lehane's most recent novel, Moonlight Mile, released last year, will be featured in the program. In the sequel to Gone Baby Gone, Lehane, who lives part-time in St. Petersburg, brought back his longtime characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. It had been 11 years since his fans read about the two private eyes with the on-again, off-again romance. They're now married with a child.

Lehane and Kenzie have a few things in common. They're both Irish boys from Boston. They both are feeling the challenges new fatherhood brings.

For Kenzie, being the successful breadwinner of the family is his preoccupation.

For Lehane, it's finding a balance between parenting his toddler, Gianna, and his work, which includes a follow-up novel to 2008's The Given Day as well as co-directing the Writers in Paradise Writers Conference at Eckerd College, his alma mater.

"Now that I am a dad, I can't be as messy with my daily schedule. I occasionally write at night, but now I can't make that an everyday occurrence because I have to get up at 6 a.m. with (her), or I want to come home and have daddy-daughter time, too, which means everything can easily go out the window - writing, meetings, phone conversations.''

The stop in Largo will mark one of Lehane's last appearances in the area before he heads up to Boston for the summer months.

Although he considers Florida his home away from home, Lehane says his Boston roots are deepest.

"At the end of the day, I'm most closely known as a Boston novelist," he said. "All my characters are tied to Boston, and I'm writing about a city I love very deeply. The love came as a gift from my father.''

And how do folks in the library up in Boston feel about their native son?

He's a keeper, according to Amy Ryan, president of the Boston Public Library system.

"Dennis Lehane has been a tremendous supporter, both with his time as well as with his donations of books, even in other languages, to the Boston Public Library,'' she said.

When Ryan learned that the St. Petersburg Times was inquiring about Lehane, she shared a letter the author wrote to Boston Public Library supporters for a 2010 fundraiser.

"Libraries are torches that illuminate caves and vanquish ignorance,'' Lehane wrote "They feed our children knowledge. No self-respecting society could survive without them.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at pcastillo@sptimes.com.

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IF YOU GO

Dennis Lehane coming to Largo library

The Greater Largo Library Foundation will present author Dennis Lehane at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive. Lehane will read from and sign his newest book, Moonlight Mile. $25 in advance; $30 day of event. Get tickets by calling (727) 586-7398, through greaterlargolibraryfoundation.org or by visiting the library's circulation desk.

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