Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Q&A with Lee Goldberg

Lee Goldberg is the author of the new novel True Fiction, the first in a new series. He has written more than 30 books and is a TV writer, producer, and consultant.  

Q: In an interview with Publishers Weekly, you said, referring to the main character in your new novel, "Ian Ludlow is me." Can you say more about that?

A: I wrote my first, published novel, .357 Vigilante (reprinted recently as Judgment), and the four sequels under the pseudonym Ian Ludlow so it would be on the shelf next to Robert Ludlum, the bestselling author in America at the time.

The hero of True Fiction is, like me, a TV writer who also writes crime novels. You've heard the old saying "write what you know" -- well, this time, that's what I did.  

Q: How did you come up with the plot for True Fiction, and did you need to do any research to write it?

A: I had three inspirations. One is that I love man-on-the-run spy movies like Three Days of The Condor  and The Bourne Identity, but the hero almost always has special skills that allow him to survive where an ordinary guy would be toast. And he always picks up a girl along the way who falls in love with him. I wanted to do a man-on-the-run movie that upended those cliches.

Secondly, I'm always struck by the difference between the schlubby guys who wrote kick-ass thrillers and the heroes of their novels. Lee Child certainly isn't a schlub, but nobody is going to mistake him for Jack Reacher. But what would happen if Lee Child found himself in a Reacher situation? How would he react?

And, thirdly, I know a lot of authors who were asked to consult with the CIA and Homeland Security about terrorism scenarios...and I've often wondered how the authors would feel if those scenarios came true.

I combined all of that together, stuck it in a blender with some Oreo cookies, and True Fiction is the result (and the sequel Killer Thriller, coming out in February 2019).

The only research I did for True Fiction was into surveillance technology, drones, and RFID chips. I've spent a lot of time in Seattle, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so I didn't have to travel much this time to get a feel for the locales (I've traveled a lot for the Fox & O'Hare books that I co-authored with Janet Evanovich....but those were international thrillers. This book takes place much closer to home). 

Q: Do you usually know how your novels will end, or do you make many changes along the way?

A: I always know how my novels will end. I begin with a broad-strokes outline so I know exactly where I am going and what the key plot and character moves are going to be (or, if it's a mystery, what all the clues and misdirects are).

That said, I often make changes to the outline as I'm writing the book... the characters and the story always take on a life of their own. So that's why I call my outline a "living outline." I usually finish the outline about two weeks before I finish writing the book. 

Q: As a writer and TV producer, how do the two fields overlap for you?

A: It would take a book to answer that question (lucky, I've already written it with my longtime TV writing partner William Rabkin. The book is called Successful Television Writing).

The short answer is that in television those two jobs are often melded into one because the producer, also known as the showrunner, is in charge of everything... and it all begins with the script. The great thing about being a TV writer/producer is that you end up having a great deal of control over how your script is filmed.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: The third book in the "Ian Ludlow" series of thrillers and a new mystery movie for Hallmark Channel.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I still have all of my own hair and teeth...and I'm actually 50 pounds lighter than I appear on film.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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