The Story Behind THE WALK

Here’s a new video interview with me about my thriller THE WALK, which twice hit #1 on the Amazon bestseller list and, if you don’t count my co-authored books with Janet Evanovich, is the bestselling novel of my career. It didn’t start out that way. It was a bomb when it was originally published in hardcover by Five Star, a small press, in the early 2000s. But I re-released it in a new ebook and paperback edition when the Kindle came along and it was an immediate hit. The novel has been published in a German and, starting TODAY, in a new French edition, too!

Fox & O’Hare are Back in THE JOB

TheJobSliderI’m so excited! It’s pub day for THE JOB, the third book in the Fox & O’Hare series that I co-write with Janet Evanovich. The book is available in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia…and if you want to get signed editions, autographed by me and Janet, copies are available from Target, but you better hurry, they are going very, very fast.

We had a lot of fun writing this book, which gave me an excuse to visit Nashville for research and stuff myself at Monell’s restaurant three nights in a row. The action in this story also takes Fox & O’Hare to France (where my in-laws live, so I have visited often), Spain, Portugal and Turkey. I’ve been to all of the locations in the book except for Lisbon and Istanbul, but I had friends in both cities who were able to visit all of the places we wanted our characters to go and take lots of pictures for us. And we did a ton of research reading books, watching documentaries, and spending hours on Google Earth, an author’s best friend.

All of our “regular” characters return along with some new members of the team, recruited just for this mission (and one of them is going to make a return appearance in our  fourth book).

We’ve also just released a “prequel” short story, THE SHELL GAME,  that reveals how conman & thief Nicolas Fox and FBI agent Kate O’Hare first met…and the exciting con that that started their relationship. I didn’t have to go far to research this one…it’s set in Los Angeles, a city that Janet and I know well. It’s an ebook exclusive that you can find at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore.

Meanwhile, we’re already hard at work on the fourth book in the series. I’ve already taken a research trips to Oahu and Las Vegas…and will soon be heading to Hong Kong & Macao…all to add that extra touch of authenticity to the Fox & O’Hare adventures. I can’t wait to hear what you think of THE JOB and THE SHELL GAME. Please let me know!

Flanek: The Kentucky Columbo

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Bud Flanek is a rumpled, amiable, deceptively low-key homicide detective on the Owensboro, Kentucky police force, the hero of three short, funny mystery movies that now have their own YouTube channel.

Nobody set out do a series of movies about the character… it was a happy accident. It began when Zev Buffman invited my friend David Breckman, the outrageously talented MONK writer-producer-director, to be a guest at the International Mystery Writers Festival at Riverpark Center in Owensboro a few years back.

David came up with the brilliant, insane idea of writing, producing, and directing a short film using primarily local talent … all during the course of the festival… which was, if memory serves, ran just four days. Amazingly, he pulled it off. The result was Murder in Kentucky, a twenty minute short starring Todd Reynolds as an unnamed homicide detective who solves a murder that happens during the rehearsal for a live-radio theater show. I loved it. But for reasons too complicated to go into, mostly technical, the movie only screened once and wasn’t seen again for several years (but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending to the tale).

20x30_Remaindered_Novel_Way_FestivalsNot long after that, Zev invited me to write & direct a short film in Owensboro. I decided to adapt my short story Remaindered, which had been published to some acclaim in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and was about a once-famous author on a miserable, last-ditch book tour that leads to murder. I cast Todd to play Bud Flanek, a homicide detective who appears late in the story. Although Flanek wasn’t intended to be the same character as the one Todd played in Murder in Kentucky, that’s what he became, main because he was the same actor playing a cop in the same town in the same wardrobe. And it helped that my cop had pretty much the same personality and attitude as David’s unnamed lawman.

Remaindered became a hit on the national film festival circuit, winning awards and rave reviews, including praise from writer-producer William Link, co-creator of Columbo, who loved Todd’s performance and christened Flanek “The Kentucky Columbo.” Wow.

So when Riverpark asked me to do another film, I knew I had to bring Todd back as Flanek. I adapted another short story of mine, Bumsicle, and recrafted it with Todd Reynolds in mind. Unlike Murder in Kentucky and Remaindered, though, Flanek was very much the center of this story, which was darker than the other two, but still had a few laughs.

Bumsicle also became a hit on the festival circuit and garnered lots of praise. After a year on the road, we brought the film back to Owensboro and screened it outdoors in a triple bill with Murder in Kentucky and Remaindered, drawing a crowd of over 500 people.

After that, we knew we had something special and decided to create a channel devoted to Flanek on YouTube. But first we had to tweak Murder in Kentucky a bit, which had poor sound (due to cheap equipment) and temp music lifted from Bonnie Raitt (due to the very hurried production schedule… did I mention it was written, produced, and shot in just four days?). So Firelight Entertainment Group in Hawesville Kentucky, with whom I shot Bumsicle and the Dead Man music videos, remastered the sound on Murder in Kentucky, and replaced the music. To tie the short into the series, I asked singer-songwriter Matt Branham, who did the score for my two films, to write & perform a new end theme song expressly about Flanek…”Nothing Fun About Murder”

..he even manages to mention Monk!

Now the Flanek channel is live with all three movies. Our hope is to whip up enough enthusiasm for the films to merit the funding of more short Flanek mysteries, perhaps even a webseries of 20 minute episodes. It’s in your hands.

So if you like the movies, please please PLEASE leave comments on our FLANEK channel, “like” our Flanek Facebook Page, and spread the word to all your friends!

One Reason Why I Write

Richard WheelerThere are lots of reasons why I write mystery novels and thrillers… To entertain myself. To make a living. To tell a story. But sometimes it’s not easy to put my butt in the chair and write. But then I come across a Goodreads blogpost like the one from author Richard Wheeler…and it’s a big motivator.

Each day I read to my wife a couple of chapters from one of Lee Goldberg’s Monk novels, based on the TV series about the obsessive-compulsive San Francisco detective Adrian Monk.

My wife, Sue Hart, is in an assisted living place three blocks from my home. She spent half a century as an English professor, specializing in Montana literature and other fields, before her short-term memory began to fade.

She loves the Monk novels. She had been unfamiliar with them until I started reading them to her in her room, and now she laughs and smiles right along with me, as I spin out the story for her.

There is a genius to the Monk novels. Mr. Monk is crazy and outrageous– but we don’t laugh at him, because there is the pathos about him, and what we feel is tenderness toward him, no matter how peculiar he seems.

These reading sessions, which light up my wife, have made me aware of how gifted Lee Goldberg is as a novelist and storyteller. There is something about reading a story out loud, and catching the response, that tells me more about the work than if I had read it silently to myself. And it is telling me that Lee Goldberg is a splendid storyteller with a great sense of the human condition.

I am touched, and very flattered, by Richard’s post. I’ve received quite a few letters from people who read my books while going through chemotherapy, or healing from an injury, and they tell me how much the laughter, or the mystery, or the adventure has helped them deal with, or forget, the pain. That’s just amazing to me. So now I think of those people whenever I sit down to write.

The Dead Man is REBORN

 

Reborn - A Dead Adventure
Reborn – A Dead Adventure

The “second season” finale of THE DEAD MAN, the series of action/adventure/horror novels that William Rabkin and I began two years ago, premieres on January 21st with REBORN, an action-packed, six-part Kindle Serial written by Kate Danley, Phoef Sutton and Lisa Klink. This story is big in every sense of the word… and if it succeeds, then THE DEAD MAN will most likely return in the Kindle Serial format for it’s “third season.” 

Here’s the story:

Tanis Archer is facing a miserable 25th birthday. She’s a part-time barista in her sixth year at Dallas Community College. Her life is going nowhere, fast.

Literally.

Because on her way to work, she loses control of her car and is killed in a horrific crash. That should have been the tragic end of her story. But days later, she wakes up on a cold morgue slab…and soon learns that miraculous resurrections have brutal side effects. For starters, there are people around her who look as if they are decomposing from the inside-out, victims of their rotting souls. Even worse, it’s no illusion. What she is seeing is real, a shadowy part of the world  where the bloody battle between good and evil is being fought every day by Matt Cahill, an ax-wielding “dead man” and his rag-tag army of supernatural freaks.

And she’s being asked to join him.

Obviously that’s not how Tanis wants to spend her after-life–she’d rather party with her new-found abilities–but an unimaginable horror is rising from the Black Sea, and she might just be the only person who can save humanity from an agonizing, never-ending nightmare…

 REBORN features a fresh, colorful heroine in an action-packed, darkly funny tale of adventure and terror told by an incredible dream team of award-winning, widely-acclaimed writers: USA Today bestselling author Kate Danley (The Woodcutter), Emmy Award winning screenwriter and novelist Phoef Sutton (Cheers, Boston Legal),  TV writer/producer and author Lisa Klink (Star Trek Voyager, Painkiller Jane)New York Times bestselling author and TV producer Lee Goldberg (The Heist, King City), and two-time Edgar-Award nominated writer William Rabkin (Monk, Psych).

 About six month ago, I gathered all the authors at my house and we broke the story the way we would in a TV series “writers’ room.” Like Bill and I, Phoef and Lisa are professional television writers…but this was a new way of working for Kate, but I think she liked it. We had a white board up on the wall, plenty of junk food, and only a general sense of where we wanted to go narratively. And then we brainstormed. By the end of the day, we had a story, which we divvied up into thirds for Kate, Phoef and Lisa to write. A couple of months later, when the three parts came in, Bill and I tied them together and smoothed out the rough edges, as we’ve done many times before on scripts on the various TV series we’ve produced.

We think REBORN send THE DEAD MAN series in an exciting new direction….and we hope fans of the series will agree!

 

 

The Mail I Get: Lee Goldberg Books in Chronological Order

I got this email from Lynn Donahue today:

I just discovered you while browsing on Amazon! I read an excerpt from  “Watch Me Die” and was amused enough to put it on my wish list. Which is a pretty big deal, really. It takes a lot to shove the mouse allllll the way up to the corner and click “add” when I’m smoking,  drinking coffee and coughing on cue when work calls. Whew! Luckily, I can multitask like an octopus on crack so you made it into my wish list!  However, before I start my Lee Goldberg journey, I’m wondering if there  is a chronological order to the books?

Not all of my books are series, so it’s not necessary to read them in chronological order. But here you go, Lynn, the Lee Goldberg Books in Chronological Order:

0316 Goldberg ecover JUDGEMENTThe Jury Series (aka .357 Vigilante) (mid-1980s).
Judgment
Adjourned
Payback
Guilty

Unsold Television Pilots 1955-1989 (1990)

Science Fiction Film-Making in the 1980s (with William Rabkin, Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier) (1995)

Dreamweavers: Fantasy Film-Making in the 1980s (with William Rabkin, Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier) (1995)

Television Series Revivals (1995) (republished in 2009 as Television Fast Forward)

The Charlie Willis Series
My Gun Has Bullets (1995)
Dead Space (aka Beyond the Beyond) (1997)

 

The Diagnosis Murder Series (2003-2007)
The Silent Partner
The Death Merchant
The Shooting Script
The Waking Nightmare
The Past Tense
The Dead Letter
The Double Life
The Last Word

The Walk (2004)

Watch Me Die (aka Man with the Iron-On Badge) (2005)

Successful Television Writing (with William Rabkin) (2007)

The Monk Series (2006-2013)
Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii
Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants
Mr. Monk in Outer Space
Mr. Monk Goes to Germany
Mr. Monk is Miserable
Mr. Monk and the Dirty cop
Mr. Monk in Trouble
Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out
Mr. Monk on the Road
Mr. Monk on the Couch
Mr. Monk on Patrol
Mr. Monk is a Mess
Mr. Monk Gets Even

The Dead Man Series (2011-)

The Dead Man: Face of Evil (2011) (with William Rabkin)
The Dead Man: Hell in Heaven (2011) (with William Rabkin)

King City (2012)

McGrave (2012)

hollywoodThe Fox & O’Hare Series (with Janet Evanovich)
Pros & Cons (2013)
The Heist (2013)
The Chase (coming 2/2014)

Fast Track (2013)

Ella Clah: The Pilot Script (with William Rabkin) (2013)

Anthologies
Fedora III (2004)
Hollywood and Crime (2007)
Three Ways to Die (2009)
Double Impact (2012) (includes the novels Watch Me Die and McGrave)
Three to Get Deadly (includes the novel The Walk) (2012)
Top Suspense (2012)
Die, Lover Die (2012)
Top Suspense: Favorite Kills (2012)
Writing Crime Fiction (2012)
Double Header (2012) (includes the novels My Gun Has Bullets and Dead Space)

“The Walk” Kicks off Amazon’s New Matchbook Program

The_Walk_FINAL (2)My novel THE WALK, originally published by Five Star in the early 2000s, was a critical success but a commercial failure that went quickly out of print. I republished it on the Kindle in 2009 and it has become a bestseller, selling over a hundred thousand copies. As recently as last month, it was #1 again on Amazon. Today, Amazon is featuring the book in their announcement of the new Amazon Matchbook program.

Today, Amazon launched Kindle MatchBook, a new benefit that gives customers the option to buy—for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free—the Kindle edition of print books they have purchased new from Amazon. Over 70,000 books are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook, with more being added every day. Now customers can visit www.amazon.com/kindlematchbook to see all of their print books that are eligible for the Kindle MatchBook edition. Customers can also see when a book is eligible for Kindle MatchBook on the book’s detail page.

The program was announced on September 3 with over 10,000 titles. Since then, thousands of popular books likeHeaven is for RealThe Things They Carried and The Way of Kings have been added from major publishers such as HarperCollins, Macmillan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Amazon Publishing, Wiley, Chronicle Books, and Marvel, as well as thousands of titles from Kindle Direct Publishing authors like The Walk by Lee Goldberg and Falling Into You byJasinda Wilder.

“It’s been great to see the positive response to MatchBook from both readers and publishers,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content. “MatchBook enrollment has grown from 10,000 to 70,000 titles in just a few weeks and we expect it will keep expanding rapidly in the months ahead.”

The New, Unimproved Monk

MMHH Cover

It wasn’t easy for me to walk away from writing the Monk books. After 15 novels over seven years, I’d become very attached to the characters. Monk, Natalie and the rest of the gang were always on my mind because I was always writing the books. But I decided it was time for a change (little did I know I’d soon be writing THE HEIST with Janet Evanovich!) And when I let my publisher know I was leaving, they told me they’d like to continue the series without me. They asked if I could recommend someone to pick up where I left off. I strongly recommended my friend Hy Conrad, a writer-producer on MONK and a terrific mystery plotter. He already knew the characters inside-and-out and had written some of the most beloved episodes of the TV series.  I knew the characters would be in very good hands with him, no matter what direction he decided to take the books. And that, of course, was the first, fundamental issue he had to deal with, as he explains in this guest post…

When it was announced I was taking over these novels, Monk fans started contacting me in droves, all asking the same question. Was I going to reboot the series, like a Batman or Spider-Man franchise, or just pick up where Lee Goldberg left off?

 To be honest, I never thought of rebooting. To me, the Monk characters are real. On the show, the other writers and I took Monk and Natalie to a certain place in their lives. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Lee continued to expand them, smoothing out little bumps and creating new ones.  I didn’t want to mess with that reality.

 In the new books, some things will naturally be different, because Lee and I are naturally different. For example, his Natalie knows a lot about architecture. Mine, not so much. His Monk is more obsessed with numbers and symmetry. Mine is a little more phobic.  I tried to insert some pop references into Natalie’s voice.  But the show never did many pop references and it doesn’t come naturally to me.

 In many ways, Lee strengthened the Monk franchise. For one thing, he knows San Francisco and the wonderful character of the town. We wrote the show in Summit, New Jersey, and, while we did have a San Francisco map, it was pinned on the far wall and no one wandered over there very often. I’ll try to do improve on our atmospheric quality, I promise.

 The same goes for forensics accuracy. Lee had called on a cadre of experts to make sure his details were right. Despite our own police consultant, the Monk writers tried not to burden ourselves with too many facts. At one point, the production team called to tell us our formula for bomb making was ridiculous. We replied, “Do you really want us broadcasting how to make a bomb?” That shut them up.

The good news is that we were sticklers for logic. We may not have known bomb making, but we insisted that the logic of every story always worked.  For example, when Monk was in a life-threatening predicament in Act Four, which he usually was, we knew we had to send Stottlemeyer in there to save the day.   In a lot of TV shows, the writers never ask, “Well, how did Stottlemeyer know Monk was in trouble?”  We did.  And sometimes it would take us a full day to answer the question.

 The other good news is that I was with the show from beginning to end, for all eight years. I was the mystery guy, while everyone else had come from the world of comedy. Along the way, I think I had some influence on the way Monk talked and interacted. In other words, he wound up a little bit like me, which makes writing for him a pleasure.

When I first told Monk creator/executive producer Andy Breckman that I was doing this, his response was, “Great. You can use some of the Monk stories we never got to do.”

Mr. Monk Helps Himself is one of those stories. I brought it into the writers’ room during season six. We played around with the idea until it morphed into something totally different—Mr. Monk Joins a Cult, guest-starring Howie Mandel. That’s how it happens in a roomful of writers. There are dozens of great plots, half thought through, buzzing around in our collective memory.

 I have to admit it’s nice to finally have the last word in what mysteries Monk solves and how he reacts.  I’ll try not to abuse the power.