How We Wrote THE HEIST

Janet and leeI was going to write a blog post about how Janet Evanovich and I came up with THE HEIST…and how we write together…but reporter Rich Heldenfels at the Akron Beacon Journal did such a great job doing it for me in a great interview with us, I may not bother. Here’s an excerpt:

“But with two halves miles apart. Evanovich lives and works in Florida, while Goldberg is based in Los Angeles. So there were phone calls, and some visits to Florida by Goldberg, and help from Evanovich’s daughter Alex and son Peter, both of whom work for her company Evanovich Inc.

“We spent a lot of time talking at first, and coming up with the characters, and making sure they were the characters we had been dreaming about, and who they were, what were their aspirations. We made long lists of character analysis,” Evanovich said.

But — surprising in a crime-novel writer — Evanovich said, “I suck at plotting out a book. It’s just not my thing. And Lee is brilliant at it. So, after we set up our characters and our mission statement, Lee went off and set up the plot.” A world traveler, he also knew most of the locations firsthand. (“The only place in this book I haven’t been, and Janet hasn’t been, is Indonesia,” Goldberg said. “So I called people I know who have been there, and did a lot of research.”) But there’s an Evanovich touch in the romantic-sexual tension between Fox and O’Hare.

Since Evanovich was busy with a new Plum novel, Goldberg wrote the first draft of The Heist. Along the way, he sent pages to Evanovich, who made comments before Goldberg continued.

When the first draft was done, “by that time I was done with my Plum, and I took it over,” Evanovich said. “I did a very extensive editing of it  because we wanted a product that would satisfy my readers as well as his audience. My job was to take all of the good stuff he did and put it into my voice” — while retaining a sense of Goldberg’s style.

“I learned so much from her about writing, and about telling stories, and about humor,” Goldberg said of their work together. “She has raised my game enormously. I’m learning all sorts of new things.  There’s a humor that only Janet does. She can take something that I’ve written, for instance, and just by deleting a line or two, or twisting the phrasing, suddenly raises it 1,000 percent. Or she will put in a female point of view that I never would have thought of in a million years.”

To find out more, check out the article.

3 thoughts on “How We Wrote THE HEIST”

  1. Yes, you’re right, Lee, Janet has the touch. She can take a pretty good paragraph
    or sentence and make it shine and glimmer. Some oil painters are like this. They
    can make a portrait come to life with just a few dots of white in the eyes of the

    In “Mr. Monk on the Road,” I noticed that your technique is to write a three-paragraph
    intro to a chapter, often followed by a second three-paragraph intro, and then by
    the initial action.

    For example (from memory):

    INTRO 1
    Mr. Monk doesn’t like change (paragraph)
    But change saved him (paragraph)
    It’s an irony he’ll never understand (paragraph)

    INTRO 2:
    David Blaine lived in the such-and-such section of San Francisco (paragraph)
    On one side of his house was a warehouse (paragraph)
    Across the street was a vacant lot (paragraph)

    When we arrived, Mr. Monk climbed the seventeen steps to the door (paragraph)

    I’m not so sure that a double-INTRO heightens the drama. Maybe the info in the
    double-INTRO needs to be worked into the action, which it might be good to
    start the scene with. Chapter sections often begin with an INTRO or double-
    INTRO, as well, which may slow the action a bit.

    Anyway, it’s my favorite Monk book and I’ve read it multiple times! It will be
    interesting to see if in “The Heist” there are these kind of INTRO’s.

  2. I finished the Heist yesterday, after starting it yesterday, and loved every minute of it..Had to laugh about the references to the Solano County Couthuse and the Jelly Belly Factory..Iam retired from the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Dept. and have been to the Solano County Courthouse before..I could picture it perfectly and of course the Jelly Belly Factory, who hasn’t been there.

    Also Walnut Creek, I grew up in Pleasant Hill, fun to have references I can relate to in a book I enjoyed so much..Can’t wait for the next adventure..

    Thak you for a great read, Donna Jordan

    • Thank you for your comment, Donna. I grew up in Walnut Creek and was a reporter for the Contra Costa Times….so I know the area well.


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