Sunday, September 3, 2023

Q&A with Lee Goldberg


Photo by Ron Scarpa


Lee Goldberg is the author of the new novel Malibu Burning. His many other novels include the Eve Ronin series, and he's also produced and/or written many TV shows. He lives in Calabasas, California.


Q: What inspired you to write Malibu Burning, and how did you create your character Danny Cole?


A: I've had the central notion for Malibu Burning bouncing around in my head for years, and I guess the time was finally right to tackle it. I was looking to write a new kind of procedural, one that was distinctly different, not only from my own Eve Ronin novels, but also from all the other cop series out there.


On top of that, I missed writing about heists and cons, which I hadn't done since I left the Fox & O'Hare series that I'd co-authored with Janet Evanovich. And I wanted to tell a story in a new way, with a dual timeline -- one that starts in the past and one that's set firmly in the present -- that eventually collide. 


Danny Cole is probably a combination of Bret Maverick, Thomas Crown, Simon Templar, and Jim Rockford...four of my favorite characters. A con man whose big failing is that he has an ethical code and a conscience. Yes, he's a crook, but he doesn't want to hurt innocent people.


He might deceive an "innocent" person, but not in a way that's particularly damaging or long-lasting, and even then, only in the course of taking down his big mark, who is usually a loathsome person he believes deserves to be swindled. For Danny, it's more about the pleasures of the con than it is about the value of the prize.


Q: In your Author’s Note, you write, "I admit that I am repeating myself." How does this novel relate to your novel Lost Hills?

A: The climax of Lost Hills is set within a massive wildfire in the Santa Monica Mountains. When I started thinking about the fire for this novel, which is also set in Los Angeles, it felt like I was repeating instead of running from that notion, I embraced it. I made it the same fire, only this time seen from a different perspective.


Not only that, but the detectives in Malibu Burning are members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, as is Eve Ronin, the heroine of Lost Hills. So it all fit together...and I made an oblique reference to her predicament in the book.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, “Goldberg’s well-drawn characters will keep readers rooting for both crooks and cops, and he hangs everyone’s fates on a clever, complicated con.” What do you think of that description?


A: That's exactly what I set out to do.


Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I don't know anything about firefighting or arson investigation, so I had to do a massive amount of research—interviewing experts and reading tons of books and articles.


The biggest surprise was that I came up with an arson technique that had never been done before, and when I posed it to investigators, they were worried and intrigued by the implications.


One of the experts was so fascinated by my technique that he used it to set some fires in his backyard under various scenarios just to see what evidence was left behind...and if they'd be able to detect the arson if my technique was ever used. And then he sent me the videos of his experiments.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: A sequel to Malibu Burning that's also a crossover with my Eve Ronin series. It will be out in fall of 2024.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I don’t color my hair and still have all of my own teeth.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Lee Goldberg.

No comments:

Post a Comment