George Pelecanos has spent the past 30 years becoming a successful novelist and screenwriter. Along with David Simon, he’s now a co-writer and co-producer for “The Deuce,” an HBO series that debuts Sept. 10. It stars James Franco, who plays a pair of twin mobsters in Times Square. Pelecanos spoke to The Washington Post from his home in Silver Spring, Md.

Author George Pelecano (Andre Chung/for The Washington Post)

Q: How did your collaboration with David Simon on “The Deuce” come about?

A: Years ago, David and I met with a guy who had a mobbed-up bar in Times Square at the dawn of the modern pornography industry. After just a couple of hours with him, we decided to develop the story into a series. The characters were too rich to ignore. We brought in novelist Richard Price because no one writes about New York with his depth and humor. We also have Megan Abbott and Lisa Lutz, two very good novelists, on our writing staff.

Q: Did you all develop the plot, about prostitution in Times Square, together?

A: Prostitution is just a small element of the story. We have characters from all walks of life. It’s a panoramic look at a city in a moment when the selling of sex became legal. It’s also a story about labor and how people in the trenches profit the least. This time, the laborers weren’t in manufacturing. They were selling their own flesh.

Q: Is the story open-ended?

A: It will eventually encompass three different eras in Times Square history. So we hope to get three seasons out of it. Check that, because I’m an optimist: We will get three seasons. We already have it mapped out in our heads.

Q: When did you start making up stories?

A: My father owned and operated the Jefferson Coffee Shop, at 1225 19th St. in Northwest Washington, which is now Art Carlson’s beloved CF Folks. At 11 years old, in 1968, my job was to deliver food on foot, so I spent my day walking around the city. I had an active imagination, jacked up by movies. I passed the time making up stories and serializing them. My dad used to call me “the dreamer.” He was right.

Q: What turned you on to crime fiction?

A: My senior year at College Park, University of Maryland, I took an elective class in crime fiction taught by Charles C. Mish. He turned me on in a big way to reading and books. I was lucky to have a teacher who changed the course of my life.

Q: Did success come quickly?

A: After college, I spent a decade working the kinds of jobs that I write about — bartender, shoe salesman, kitchen man — while voraciously reading novels. At 31, I tried writing fiction for the first time, then sent the manuscript up to New York, un-agented and over the transom. A year later, I heard back from Gordon Van Gelder, a young editor at one of the big publishing houses. He had picked up my book off the slush pile and wanted to buy it. By then, I had nearly completed my second novel. The faucet was on.

Q: How did you start writing for “The Wire”?

A: I met David Simon at a funeral for a mutual friend in Baltimore. He had read one of my novels and asked me if I’d like to write a script for a new show he had sold to HBO. I had worked for Jim and Ted Pedas at Circle Films for nine years and done feature screenplays, so I had some experience. But working on “The Wire” was like going to graduate school. Over five seasons, I learned how to produce and write for television. David gave me that opportunity.

Q: Some of us think “The Wire” is the best TV dramatic series ever. Did it feel that way writing for it?

A: We kept our heads down and pushed a rock up a hill, day by day. But by the end of season two, it hit me that we were doing some pretty good work.

Q: You wrote four excellent novels about a D.C. private detective named Derek Strange — “Right As Rain,” “Hell to Pay,” “Soul Circus” and “Hard Revolution.” Will they become a television series?

A: I adapted “Hard Revolution,” my novel about the ’68 riots, for HBO, but it was put in turnaround. My plan now is to find another home for the Derek Strange story. I’m currently working on an anthology feature consisting of short films based on my stories. All of them are being shot in the District with local crews. I’m trying to get something going here.

Q: Will you be writing mostly TV and movies now?

A: I recently completed my 21st D.C. novel, “The Man Who Came Uptown,” to be published in 2018. I like working in television, but I’ll age out of it eventually. Then I’ll write books for the rest of my life. I’ll never retire, Pat. I’m still dreaming.

Patrick Anderson writes regularly about mysteries and thrillers for The Washington Post.