Roger Corman, RIP

I’m sad to hear about the passing of Roger Corman. William Rabkin & I worked for him in the late 1980s/early 1990s on an unmade TV series version of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS for the USA Network (that’s a long story in itself). He was cheap, but he paid us on time, treated us well and was a wonderful, creative collaborator. But for me the best part of the experience were the anecdotes from his career that he shared with us along the way.

For instance, while giving us a tour of his Venice studio and pointing out sets that had been used dozens of times, he told us that he’d made so many movies that he had a recurring nightmare that he’d made one that he’d forgotten to release

“Did I release BODY CHEMISTRY 3 or was it SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE 3? I wake up in a cold sweat & have to double check.”

During story meetings with us, sometimes he’d take out an electric razor and just run it over his face while he pondered a story point.

He also didn’t suffer fools. At one point in our 7000th notes meeting with an idiot network executive, Roger got so frustrated that he told her that the time it had taken us to get the bible approved, stories approved, and then two episodes written, he’d made and released eight movies.

The final straw on the LITTLE SHOP project was when the idiot exec asked us to underline the jokes and to put asterisks next to the ones that were social commentary. Roger was furious. He said something like, “if you need the jokes pointed out to you, you shouldn’t be in the movie business,” got up and walked out…and we walked out with him. In the elevator, he told us he was done, he’d never develop a TV series with a network again. He couldn’t understand how we could stomach working with such stupid, indecisive people. But he was kind enough to say how much he enjoyed working with us and that he was proud of the scripts we’d written.

Some years later, he did do a TV series… but he made it himself and then sold the final product to a cable channel as an acquisition.

Executive Producers of Showtime’s “The Chi” Acquire Screen Rights to Lee Goldberg’s bestseller “Malibu Burning”

Malibu Burning

I can finally reveal the news! ID8 Multimedia, led by industry veterans Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone, have acquired the screen rights to my thriller  to “Malibu Burning.” Here’s the full story from the press release:

The high-concept, 2023 bestseller follows two Los Angeles County arson investigators who suspect that a massive wildfire raging through the Santa Monica mountains is part of an elaborate heist by a professional thief and his skilled crew. Dudley and Stone, producers on the TV series “The Chi” and “Horror Noir,” are set to executive produce the adaptation alongside Goldberg and talent manager Craig Dorfman.

“‘Malibu Burning’ embodies the pulse-pounding energy of classic cat-and-mouse thrillers like Heat, pitting a seasoned arson investigator and an ex-U.S. Marshal against a brilliant, charismatic thief trying to pull off an impossible score.” Stone said. “Derek and I are thrilled to bring this electrifying story to the screen.”

Dudley echoed Stone’s enthusiasm. “I am blessed to collaborate with Lee, Craig, and Shelby to bring ‘Malibu Burning’ to life. Lee is a prolific storyteller who creates novels filled with rich and intriguing characters. He has stuck gold again with this fast-paced, action-packed Robin hood heist in a raging inferno.”

Talent Manager Craig Dorfman brought the project to ID8. “I’ve been a fan of Lee’s since I read his 2018 bestseller ‘True Fiction‘ and my obsession continues to this day. I’m excited to work with this team on ‘Malibu Burning,’ which is full of fascinating characters, relentless action, and crackling dialogue.”

“I’m so lucky to be in business with such a creative, enthusiastic, collaborative, and successful team,” said Goldberg, who is repped for film & TV by Mitchel Stein of The Stein Agency and in publishing by Amy Tannenbaum of the Jane Rotrosen Agency. His novel “Ashes Never Lie,” a sequel to “Malibu Burning,” will be published in September. A third book is slated for Spring 2025.

With over 40 novels to his credit, among them the bestselling “True Fiction,” “Lost Hills,” “Calico” and a five-book collaboration with Janet Evanovich, Goldberg’s diverse portfolio also includes extensive television writing and producing credits, including “Diagnosis Murder,” “SeaQuest,” and “Monk,” and co-creating the Hallmark movie series “Mystery 101.”

Shelby Stone is a prolific, Emmy Award-winning producer with numerous projects in development, including “Hate to See You Go” starring Morgan Freeman and a new feature documentary from Oscar-winner Questlove (“Summer of Soul”) on Sly Stone. She is also an experienced executive, having run production companies for several high-profile stars, including Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and Common.

Derek Dudley is an industry veteran with a successful entertainment career spanning over three decades, shaping and managing the careers of music heavyweights such as acclaimed producer and record label mogul Jermaine Dupri and Academy Award winning artist, actor, author and social activist Common.

Craig Dorfman, whose client roster includes Lorraine Toussaint, Adrienne C. Moore, Joshua Malina, Patricia Richardson and Jabari Banks, is known for his keen eye for emerging talent and his adept management of established artists.

The next step is for the producers to attach a screenwriter, director and star to the project, which I hear they are hard at work doing right now. I’ve been sitting on the news for a while now, so it’s exciting to finally be able to share it with you. I hope to have more exciting news to share with you about one of my other novels as soon as the “powers that be” give me the ok.

Cover Reveal!

COVER REVEAL! The paperback edition of my genre-bending thriller CALICO is coming in July in the UK and in Sept in the U.S. But you can pre-order it now from your favorite bookseller

“A superb twin-track thriller. Could be Lee Goldberg’s best ever” LEE CHILD, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A genre-bending, gripping read” HARLAN COBEN, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“I guarantee you’ve never read a crime novel like it. The X Files meets Deadwood. Totally gripping.”  IAN RANKIN, New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author

“A mind-bending thriller unlike anything I have read before” LINWOOD BARCLAY, New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author

“If you have time for only one mystery, one Western, and one SF this year, this will ding all three targets” Kirkus Reviews

“A riveting mystery. . . Goldberg expertly paces the narrative, ensuring continuous engagement until the thrilling conclusion” Mystery & Suspense Magazine

“A genre-busting, mystery-thriller that defies easy classification” CrimeTime FM

“A cleverly complex plot wreathed in Goldberg’s brilliant humour makes this a rocket-paced story” Historical Novels Review (Editors’ Choice)

“A remarkably unconventional crime novel that is warm, thrilling, and fun to read” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“Goldberg’s plots are always first-rate, but this one is especially suspenseful and surprising”Booklist

“Goldberg has crafted is a page-turning novel that has surprises up to the final page. Calico is arguably one of his best” FirstCLUE

“Something altogether new, radical and exciting” Paperback Warrior

“A double-barreled blast, melding the tense, edge-of-your-seat contemporary police procedural with a gritty 1880s Wild West tale” The Roundup, the Magazine of the Western Writers of America

“Stunningly original – a magical mixture of a murder mystery and an old-fashioned Western” MATT WITTEN, author of Killer Story

“Lee Goldberg delivers with the unapologetically savvy Beth McDade . . .Calico couples history with good old fashioned detective work”
YASMIN ANGOE, award-winning author of the Nena Knight series

“A tour de force of a novel” JAMES ROBERT DANIELS, author of The Comanche Kid and Jane Fury, both Spur Award finalist for Best Western Novel

“One of the most compelling novels I’ve read in a long time”  JAMES REASONER, Spur-Award finalist and author of more than 350 Westerns

“A two-fisted western mystery with a compelling heroine in Beth McDade. If you like the Yellowstone series and its spinoffs, you’ll love Calico!” PETER BRANDVOLD, multiple Spur Award finalist and Western Fictioneers Lifetime Achievement Award honoree

“If you’re looking for an exciting mystery within a mystery, flawed characters who work toward redemption, and a few unexpected twists, you should read CalicoKings River Life Magazine

 

Visiting the New Age Literary Scammers

You may remember that the New Age Literary Agency called me back in February, and left a message offering to represent me and to showcase my book to “book investors” at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. So I called them back the next day and I posted the video of my conversation with them. It was a lot of fun and exposed the utter stupidity of their scam.
 
Although they claim to be a literary agents, they don’t actually sell books to publishers… or to anybody. Their job seems to be to attract some nebulous creature they call “a book investor” to take interest in an author’s novel…and their big way of doing that is to show your book off, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, at their booth. That, of course, is their real business… getting desperate, uninformed authors to cough up hundreds of dollars to have their book on a table at a booth that nobody visits.
 
New Age shared their booth with their sister company Book Trance Media, who claim to be “experienced marketing professionals,” which you’d never know from the amateurish posters in their booth or the half-hearted presentation of books by their poor clients. Booktrance is, of course, on Writer Beware‘s list of fake literary agencies and fraudulent marketing firms. But the firm is aptly named. You’d have to be in a trance to give any money to these scammers.
 
The New Age Literary Agency booth seems to exist purely as a prop they can show in photos to potential victims to legitimaze their scam, perhaps to gain some credibility with aspiring authors who probably don’t know that *anybody* can rent a booth at the Festival. The staff seemed to spend lots of time on Saturday taking pictures of themselves, dressed in New Age logo polos, in front of the booth.
Beyond that, the purpose of the booth isn’t clear. It is staffed by people who don’t know anything about the agency or the marketing firm…or even about the self-published books that they were displaying, mostly just a single copy of each title, which they offered for free to passersby (with handwritten signs taped to the booth — demonstrating the sheer marketing brilliance that Book Trance is celebrated for).
Suckers who paid even more got to have a signing hosted at the booth… I saw a couple of those and it was pathetic. The staff taped balloons to the booth, took photos with the authors, and that was that. Not a single book investor in sight. But hey, the suckers got to feel like authors for an hour…at an exorbinant price.
 
My brother Tod Goldberg and I stopped by the New Age/Book Trance booth on Sunday morning, presenting ourselves as authors looking for new representation. The video is below… but it’s not fun or amusing…it’s more sad and pathetic. These people didn’t really know why they were there or what they were supposed to be doing. Nobody at the head office in the Philippines prepared them with a script of what to say if anybody beside one of their suckers showed up. The staff couldn’t answer any of the questions we had…and when they tried, their answers made no sense. Instead, they referred us to a stack of business cards for their “Senior Literary Agents” none of whom, of course, was at the Festival.
 
As literary scams go, this is one of the lamest that I’ve ever encountered.
 
 
 

The New Age Literary Agency Scam

Yesterday I got a call from “Alex,” an agent at the New Age Literary Agency, offering me the opportunity, because I am a New York Times bestselling author, to sign my books at their booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books …and they might even consider representing me.

How exciting!

I’ve always wanted to be represented by a literary agency that charges an upfront fee & operates out of “Mail Boxes Times” in Beverly Hills. They don’t have any literary agents, but I can copy my keys, take a passport photo, or notarize my documents when I visit! They will even publish my next book for me so I won’t have to worry about selling it to a publisher. Amazing!

So I returned their call today…and recorded it (and, as it turns out, so did they!) 

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Hmmmm. This fire could work as the inspiration for an “Eve Ronin” novel or a “Sharpe & Walker”…. or another cross-over of the two series, like my upcoming ASHES NEVER LIE (Sept 2024).

For more than a decade, Rudy Serafin showed up to his makeshift office underneath the 10 Freeway as the sun came out and the roar of the morning commute shook the ground below his feet.

With a generator, his cellphone and a portable toilet, the 49-year-old immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico, worked alongside a dozen others operating small businesses in spaces they rented between the concrete columns holding up the interstate. They were mechanics, truckers, garment suppliers, recyclers and pallet distributors, struggling to get by in the region’s economy. They paid rent to a Calabasas businessman who leased the land from Caltrans and, according to court records filed by the agency, illegally sublet it to them at far higher rates.

On Saturday, many of the renters’ dreams went up in the pallet-fueled inferno that caused such severe damage to the freeway that it is expected to be closed for weeks.

While officials say the cause of the fire was arson, many who worked there, with no fire alarms or sprinklers, say it was a disaster years in the making.

CALICO is out… and I’m EVERYWHERE!

Calico by Lee Goldberg

My new thriller CALICO, a genre mash-up that (to my relief) is getting fantastic reviews, is out today. But that’s not all. I’m all ove the Internet, writing essays about the book and doing interviews to explain myself…and my decision to write this seemingly sharp departure from my usual work.

Today, in CrimeReads, I out myself as a closeted wesstern writer.

I decided to do it by writing a gritty western set in 1883 in the Mojave desert mining town of Calico, which is now a cheesy roadside attraction off the I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It’s actually a notion I’ve had in the back of my mind for years…maybe even decades.

But there have been a thousand westerns. What could I bring to the genre that nobody else had? How could I make it my own? 

The answer was obvious: I’d use the novel to reconcile my creative, split personality. And I’d do that by combining a seemingly traditional western with a present-day crime novel… a seemingly straight-forward police procedural set in the Mojave in 2019. 

Notice the repetition of the word seemingly in the previous paragraph. 

That’s because, to truly make it mine, I’d have to acknowledge the tropes of both genres…and then ruthlessly subvert them.  That’s my brand, or so I am told, exemplified by my “Ian Ludlow” trilogy of spy novels (True Fiction, Killer Thriller, and Fake Truth)

What would connect the two storylines? 

The answer was easy. 

They would share the same corpse. 

 

And I visited my friends at Rogue Women Writers to talk about how I wrote the book:

When you read a contemporary police procedural or a period western, you go into them with certain expectations about the stories, the characters, and the themes you’re going to find. Those expectations are what defines those very different genres. While some of those tropes are necessary, many of them are tired, ridiculous cliches. I set out with my thriller Calico to honor the tropes of those two genres while twisting them in new ways and bringing them together in a single, propulsive thriller.

And over at The Dossier, I was grilled about how I work.

DOSSIER: When and where do you write, and what kind of environment do you prefer? (Music/silence/ocean-front veranda where sea nymphs emerge from the water to serve you chilled Bollinger and Oreos?)

GOLDBERG: Sadly, no sea nymphs. Just my dog laying on my office couch, loudly licking his ass or barking in a dream.

I do my best writing between 8 p.m and 2 a.m. in my home office. I like to listen to instrumental TV and movie soundtracks while I work (and to drown out the canine farting). If I am writing action, I might listen to Goldfinger (or other Bond scores), The Bourne Identity, or Mission Impossible (mostly Lalo Schifrin’s original TV soundtracks, and a couple of the features). If I am writing “procedural” scenes, I might listen to Jon Burlingame’s excellent collection of Quinn Martin TV series soundtracks (Streets of San Francisco, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, etc), or Jerry Goldsmith’s Police Story, or Morton Steven’s Hawaii Five-O, for example. I have a collection of hundreds of soundtracks to choose from.

I wish I could munch on Oreos and potato chips while I write, but these days it’s Keto Bars and roasted almonds… washed down with Diet Coke.

I hope you enjoy all of that…but, most of all, I hope you will grab a copy of CALICO. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for decades and I’m so excited to finally have it out there in the world.

Shaft is Gone…

I was saddened to hear about Richard Roundtree’s passing. I had two professional encounters with him….
 
The first was back in the early 1990s. William Rabkin & I wrote a BLADE feature script for New World Pictures, which owned the Marvel library at the time. New World was courting Richard Roundtree to star. So we joined a bunch of New World execs and Roundtree at a fancy restaurant for an expensive lunch to pitch him the project. That went fine, but a few hours later, we all got horrific food poisoning. I was vomiting for days. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick. It was a bad omen. The movie…well, our version of it anyway… never got made.
 
Then, in 2004. Roundtree was cast in an episode of MISSING, a Lifetime series that we were writing & producing…and I ended up spending the day with him in an ADR studio in Sacramento, where I think he may have been living at the time, to re-record his dialogue which, for some reason, was in bad shape. He didn’t remember me, so I mentioned the BLADE meeting and he started laughing. “All I remember about that lunch,” he said, “is that it nearly killed me.”

Crown Vic

Crown Vic  is a slim new volume from Cutting Edge Books containing two previously unpublished stories about Ray Boyd, an ex-con traveling the open road in an old cop car. Ray is the anti-Reacher. He doesn’t help people in trouble. He helps himself.

Fair warning, these two violent, sexually explicit stories — “Ray Boyd isn’t Stupid” and “Occasional Risk” — are very different from anything I’ve written before (with the possible exception of “Lost Shows,” a short story I wrote for Lawrence Block‘s Collectibles anthology). I shared the stories with Larry, my agent, my brother Tod & a few friends, who all really liked them. But I didn’t know what to do with the stories after that (who publishes short stories like these anymore?) and I had two books to write, so I set Ray aside. That was a few years ago.

Recently, my brother asked me to write a new Ray Boyd story for an anthology he’s editing…and once I got into it, I realized how much I missed the character.

But should I write more about Ray Boyd?

That will depend on you and the response I get to these two stories, which Cutting Edge Books is publishing as a test run. If you like them, let me know by posting a comment here or leaving a positive review on Amazon.

I’m Everywhere!

Like SPECTRE agents, I’m everywhere… at least during the month following the release of a new book. Over the last two weeks, I’ve done a ton of interviews for podcasts, radio shows, video programs, and newspapers, discussing MALIBU BURNING, my sordid career, and the craft of writing. If you missed any of them, you can watch, listen, or read some of them below…

I did a lively interview with David Temple of The Thriller Zone, which you can see here.

Lee and Tod

My brother Tod and I were interviewed together by Erik Pedersen…and it’s by far the best one that’s ever been done with the two of us. You can read it in the Orange County Register. You can also find it in the Los Angeles Daily News, The Boston Herald, Long Beach Press Enterprise, The Pasadena Star Newsand many other newspaper sites nationwid

You can watch me and Tod being interviewed by Sandra Tsing Loh on Bookish.  It is hosted on the Southern California News Group’s YouTube channel.

I was cross-examined at length by Toni Marcolini on her show It May Interest You To Know. You can see it here.

I spoke about collaboration and other aspects of writing with Daniel Paisner on the As Told To podcast. You can listen to it here or here.

I got In Between the Pages with James Lott Jr., which you can see here.

I talked about how I create my stories with Steven James at The Story Blender. You can listen to it here.

R.G. Belsky held my feet to the fire for an interview you can read in The Big Thrill.

I had a lot of fun talking with author Sara DiVello for her Mystery Mavens show, which you can watch here.

You can also watch me being interrogated by Cyrus Webb on his Amazon Live show, here.

Finally, I was grilled by Al Warren and author Joe Goldberg (no relation) on the House of Mystery Radio Show, which you can listen to here or here.

 

Lee Goldberg and Craig Johnson

Speaking of interviews, a few years ago, I interviewed author Craig Johnson, and the cast & producers of LONGMIRE, the TV series based on his books, for a live, ticketed LiveTalksLA event. That event was filmed, and it’s finally shown up on YouTube. You can see it here.

I hope you enjoy the interviews… and that it inspires you to read MALIBU BURNING!