Today and tomorrow, we spend some quality time with Lee Goldberg, television writer/producer and author. His television credits include Spenser: For Hire, Hunter, Nero Wolfe and Monk, and Lee wrote and produced the hit whodunit series Diagnosis Murder. His books include the non-fiction works Successful Television Writing and Unsold Television Pilots, and the novels My Gun Has Bullets and The Man With The Iron-On Badge.
His dual careers, novelist and TV writer, have merged with his excellent series of original novels based on Diagnosis Murder and Monk.
Lee is also a member of International Thriller Writers.
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AS A WRITER, ARE YOU MORE INFLUENCED BY MYSTERY AUTHORS OR MYSTERY TV SHOWS?
I'm influenced by good writing, whether it's on TV or in books. I find reading a Robert B. Parker novel can get me into the "rythmn" of writing, then again, so can watching an episode of Deadwood. I do notice, however, that my writing is always better if I am reading a novel at the same time. That said, when I am on a deadline, I feel guilty if I am reading a book, because that's time I should be spending at the computer. So I often have to force myself to read in the midst of writing.
WHAT AUTHORS DO YOU COUNT AS INFLUENCES?
So many. Here's a small sampling. Larry McMurtry. Elmore Leonard. John Irving. George V. Higgins. Robert B. Parker. Gregory McDonald (the FLETCH books). Richard Prather. Frederick Manfred. William O. Steele. John D. MacDonald. Charles Willeford. Harry Whittington.
WHAT TV SHOWS DO YOU COUNT AS INFLUENCES?
Again, there are so many, going back to when I was a kid. Maverick. The Wild Wild West. I Spy. Rockford Files. Gunsmoke. Star Trek. The Avengers. The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Inspector Morse. Columbo. Remington Steele. Dick Van Dyke Show. It Takes a Thief. The Saint. Man from UNCLE. Hill Street Blues. Bob Newhart Show. Mannix. All in the Family. Banacek.
WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
I write all day, whenever I can, but I tend to do my best work between 9pm and 2 am.
ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" OR "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
Definitely an outline person ... though my outline evolves, because I deviate from it all the time and have to revise it to take into account the changes I am making or the new ideas that come to me. I think of my outlines as "living outlines," since I am constantly revising them as I write. I usually finish writing my outline about a week or so before i finish my book.
WHEN CREATING A MYSTERY, DO YOU START WITH THE PUZZLE AND THEN WRAP THE CHARACTERS AROUND IT, OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND?
I always start with the characters and the obstacles they are facing. I ask myself what situation can I put these characters in that will really test who they are? The mystery almost always organically comes out of that question. If the characters have nothing at stake in the mystery, if it doesn't put them in conflict with others and with themselves, then who is going to care whodunit?
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Come back tomorrow for more with Lee Goldberg. Find him online at his popular blog A Writer's Life and on his MySpace page. His official Diagnosis Murder site features all sorts of behind-the-scenes info about the show and the novels, including several scripts. Lee also posts main title sequences from classic television shows at Main Title Heaven.
The USA Network has launched an official website devoted to the Monk books, with an excerpt and a video interview with Lee. (While there, check out downloads, Monk mini-webisodes, and other great features.)
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG, PT 2
Mr. Monk and the Amazon review
Diagnosis -- Murder!
Mystery TV Themes: MONK
Q&A: ROBERT WHITLOW (Mountain Top)
Q&A: ANDREW KLAVAN (Damnation Street)
Q&A: LINDA GILMORE (short story writer)
Q&A: BRANDT DODSON (Seventy Times Seven)
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